Farhud is Arabic for “violent dispossession.” This is the word used to describe the pogrom of June 1, 1941 against the Jews of Baghdad. In its wake, the Farhud left some 200 dead, 2000 injured, and 900 Jewish homes destroyed. It was the beginning of the end of the Jewish community of Iraq, a community that existed for twenty-six centuries, preceded Islam by a thousand years, and once numbered over 125,000 souls.
Today, there is not a single Jew left in Iraq.
Arab apologists trace the dismantling of the Jewish communities of the Arab world (Mizrachim) and of North Africa (Sephardim) to anti-Jewish sentiment growing out of the creation of Israel. Explicit in this is the imposition of collective responsibility, as if the Jews of the Arab world and North Africa were directly responsible for whatever Israeli Jews did or did not do.
Although the Arab and Muslim communities in America and West understandably have gone to great lengths to publicly cry “foul” or “racial profiling” when the events of 9/11 are linked to them or their religion, they are unhesitant and shameless in their invocation of collective responsibility when applied to Jews.
Writing in the interfaith newsletter here in Contra Costa County, Dr. Amir Araim, the Imam of Concord, California, an Iraqi who represented Saddam Hussein’s regime to the United Nations, directly links the dismantling of the Jewish community of Iraq to the controversial events of Dier Yassin in the Arab/Israeli war of 1948.
Among the many problems with this woefully ahistorical analysis is that the Farhud occurred long before there was an Israel or even a single Palestinian refugee.
The Farud began at 3:00 PM on June 1, 1941, the Jewish holy day of Shavout. The violence began when a pro-Nazi mob attacked representatives of the Jewish community as they crossed Baghdad’s Al Khurr Bridge to greet the returning Iraqi Regent Abdul-al Ilah. The mob then murdered, burned and raped its way through the Jewish community. Jewish infants were special targets, killed as helpless parents looked on. The superintendent of police refused to stop the riots because he did not want to kill or injure Muslims to save Jews.
The Farhud is doubly embarrassing for Arab apologists. First, it resurrects the problem of the nearly one million Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. They received no recognition from the United Nations and no assistance outside of the Jewish community and the State of Israel. Instead of languishing for four generations in refugee camps, as have Palestinian refugees, within a few years, they became both contributing members and citizens of Israel and Western societies.
Second, the Farhud was a Nazi riot, and it is embarrassing because while Arab propagandists routinely use “Jew” and “Nazi” in the same breath, Nazism is in reality very much part of Arab political culture. Ba’ath socialists of Iraq and Syria, for example, draw their inspiration from Nazism. This further belies the Arab claim that anti-Semitism is exclusively a Western and not a Middle Eastern phenomenon.
The Farhud was the result of the work of the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin el Husseini. The Mufti cut a deal with the Nazis to overthrow the British-sponsored government of Iraq and provide Hitler with Iraqi oil vital to Germany’s war efforts. In return, the Nazis would eliminate the “Jewish problem” in Mandate Palestine. In October of 1939, the Mufti came to Iraq to precipitate a coup that was to be led by Iraqi officers who embraced Nazism and were known as the “Golden Square.”
As a unifying inspiration for the coup, the Mufti invoked Nazi propaganda themes of anti-Semitism focusing on the Jews as “enemies of the state.”
The coup failed. The Mufti fled Iraq to Berlin to enjoy the hospitality of SS Chief Henrich Himmler and later Hitler himself. Although the Nazis held the Arabs in only slightly higher esteem than they held Jews, the Nazis saw the Mufti as a useful ally against the British, and his anti-Semitic propaganda broadcasts in Arabic from Berlin further served mutual purposes.
The Mufti’s legacy of anti-Semitism became part of Iraqi culture.
In 1947 when the United Nations took up the question of the Palestine Mandate, Iraqis organized new pogroms and used Nazi confiscation techniques to seize Jewish property.
On September 23, 1948, Safiq Ades, Iraq’s wealthiest Jew was publicly hanged on phony charges and his property seized. His body swung in the public square in Basara where celebrant Iraqis mutilated it.
A month later, all of Iraq’s Jews employed in the civil service were summarily fired. Iraq then set about systematically seizing Jewish assets and impoverishing its Jews. With a degree of almost unmatched cynicism, the Iraqi political oligarchy profited from requiring the use of its travel agents for Iraqi Jews to flee to Israel. All the while, Iraq saw the imposition of 15,000 penniless Jews a month on the newly created Jewish state as a mechanism to defeat Israel by precipitating a major economic crisis. Indeed, Israel accepted these Jews at a time when there were not even enough tents or refugee camps to house them.
Iraqi Jews went to Israel and lived in refugee camps. So little is known about the plight of the Mizrachi and Sephardic Jewish refugees that even informed Jews are dumbfounded upon learning this. Yet, within a space of a few years, these refugees were absorbed into Israeli society and not left, as the Arabs have left the Palestinians, to languish for generation after generation in camps, in poverty, and without hope.
Slowly but inevitably, the truth about the one million Jewish refugees from Arab lands is coming to light. Remembering the Farud is part of restoring the history of an oppressed and forgotten people, whose suffering and persecution have been far and away too long ignored. Arabs and Muslims must ultimately take responsibility for the anti-Semitism of their world, a racism that resulted in Arab Jews becoming the largest ethnic group in Israel.
Abraham H. Miller is emeritus professor of political science, University of Cincinnati. His writing has appeared in numerous academic and popular venues, both here and abroad. He now lives in the East Bay.
Later this week, a bipartisan group of senators and congressmen are expected to introduce a resolution that would make the Arab-Israeli conflict a little easier to resolve--by making it a little more complicated to discuss. The resolution urges the president to make sure that, during international discussions on refugees in the Middle East, "any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees is matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees, as a matter of law and equity." Sponsors of the measure include everyone from Rick Santorum on the right to Dick Durbin on the left, and a number of congressmen and senators in between.
The resolution constitutes a long-overdue acknowledgment of a tragedy which, for decades, Arab states have denied and the international community has ignored. Nine hundred thousand Jews have been forced to flee their homes in Arab countries and Iran since the years leading up to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. (Most left in two waves--immediately before or after Israel's independence, and during the years following the Six Day War.) Some were deported outright; others faced widespread campaigns of violence and intimidation so unbearable as to render their ancestral homelands unlivable.
Though a small number of Jews from Arab countries identified as Zionists in the early twentieth century, most had been thoroughly integrated into their societies and embodied the fondest hopes for a progressive, pluralist form of Arab nationalism. They had started no war, yet they came to be overwhelmingly stigmatized as traitors by the majority culture. Consider the infamous "Farhud," an event that took place in Baghdad in 1941 when Iraqis from the military and security services, German-backed fascist groups, and Baghdad's slums stormed Jewish neighborhoods and killed nearly 200 Jews. They also killed scores of Muslims, many of whom were fighting to protect their neighbors. Jewish businesses were destroyed and synagogues desecrated. Such violence against Jews, in Iraq and elsewhere, was an early manifestation of an ugly brand of Arab nationalism that exhibits little tolerance for ethnic and religious minorities--and, even today, continues to function as a crutch for dictators across the region.
Having served the Arab Middle East as government workers, professionals, merchants, and artists, the indigenous Jewish population left a profound economic and social void behind them as they fled for their lives--a void that some Arab countries still have not managed to fill, 60 years later. These states' loss was Israel's gain: Today, 52 percent of the Jewish population of Israel consists of emigres from North Africa and the Middle East.
Acknowledgement of this tragedy has been slow in coming. Though the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asserted that Jews fleeing Arab countries were "bona fide" refugees who "fall within the mandate of the [UNHCR] office," not so much as a single resolution was ever passed by the United Nations on their behalf. By contrast, 101 resolutions have been passed on behalf of Palestinian refugees.
To his credit, Bill Clinton understood that the refugee problem was not one-sided. In July 2000, he told Israeli television that "Israel is full of people, Jewish people, who lived in predominantly Arab countries who came to Israel because they were made refugees in their own land." He called for an "international fund [to be] set up for the refugees" to resolve the claims of "both sides."
Still, international discourse on the subject has remained startlingly lopsided; and that, in turn, has played a role in perpetuating the Arab-Israeli conflict. By only acknowledging one mass dislocation--the Palestinian one--the international community has made the Arab-Israeli "refugee problem" appear to be intractable. In fact, once you acknowledge that both Palestinians and Jews have suffered dislocations, it becomes much easier to imagine give-and-take that would lead to a fair resolution of historical grievances.
Such claims are more than a political matter, however; for families like my own, they are also personal. My mother was born into a Jewish family in Baghdad in 1944. Several of her siblings are old enough to have personal memories of the "Farhud." My late grandfather and his oldest daughter and son--then twelve and eleven, respectively--were caught trying to flee the country in the late 1940s. The children spent six months in an Iraqi prison, which my aunt recalls as having been "full of Jews." They were eventually released and flown out of Baghdad with their mother, four more siblings, and 120,000 other Jews in the celebrated airlifts to Israel of the early 1950s. My grandfather suffered a year longer in prison before joining them on his own. They said goodbye to their friends, their home, almost all their belongings, and 2,500 years of Jewish history in Mesopotamia. Like many Palestinians, they too became refugees. And yet, somehow, over the last 50 years, their history has been largely ignored.
Joseph Braude is the author of The New Iraq: Rebuilding the Country for Its People, the Middle East, and the World.
According to the World Organisation of Jews from Arab Countries, the Jews of Arab lands left behind assets worth up to $300 billion and 100,000 square kilometres of deeded property - five times the size of Israel. Must-read interview in The Jewish Press with Dr Heskel Haddad, the organisation's president.
Eight hundred thousand Jews fled Arab countries shortly after Israel’s founding in 1948, leaving all their wealth behind. The world, however, neither remembers their plight nor demands their compensation.
If president of WOJAC (World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries) Dr. Heskel Haddad has his way, though, that reality will change.
In addition to his activism, Dr. Haddad is professor of Ophthalmology at New York Medical College, a practicing ophthalmologist and author of the autobiographical account, Born in Baghdad.
The Jewish Press recently spoke with Dr. Haddad.
The Jewish Press: What happened to Jews in Arab countries after Israel was declared a state in 1948?
Dr. Haddad: "A dark curtain descended. In Iraq, for example, the government imposed a tax on every Jew to liberate Palestine. Jewish merchants were not allowed to do business without a Muslim partner, Jewish employees in the government were fired, about 10,000 Jews were put in an internment camp and another roughly 10,000 Jews were put in jail, accused of Zionism, communism, and other frivolous accusations.
Then, suddenly the government said, “You can leave Iraq.” Almost all the Iraqi Jews did, but their property was confiscated. They came to Israel penniless.
What is WOJAC’s main purpose?
To ask for compensation for the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Former President Clinton in the Camp David II negotiations suggested creating an international fund to compensate the refugees, both Jewish and Arab.
But from the political point of view, we also want to counter the demand for the return of the Palestinian Arab refugees. In 1949 the Arab League passed a resolution to prevent Arab governments from giving citizenship to the Palestinian Arab refugees. Because of that resolution, the Arab refugees today in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, etc. don’t have citizenship in those countries. The Palestinian Arab refugees should be settled in their countries just as Israel settled the Jews from Arab countries in Israel.
WOJAC registers property claims of Jews from Arab countries. How many of these claims does WOJAC currently possess?
Ten thousand. We are trying to get about 100,000. There are two purposes: One is to document what happened to the Jews in Arab countries just like they did for the Holocaust – for history’s sake. And the second is to have an idea when we sit down to talk about compensation what magnitude of figures we are talking about.
And what magnitude of figures are we talking about?
Iraq and Egypt had the highest amount of property and money confiscated. You take the Libyans and the others, much less. I would say around $200 to $300 billion – in today’s money – would be an adequate figure.
Two-hundred to three-hundred billion!?
Iraq had the wealthiest Jewish community in the world per capita, including the United States. All the land that produced rice in Iraq was owned by Jews.
In Egypt, for example, $100 billion worth of property was confiscated from the Jews between 1950 and 1956. Look, all of Israel is 20,000 square kilometers. We left 100,000 square kilometers of deeded property in the Arab countries.
Why were you in Iraq in 2004?
I was invited by the Iraqi minister of health to inspect their eye department. But I also wanted to see my father’s house and the synagogues. My heart was broken. The synagogues either were destroyed or made into factories or something like that.
I also went to see the grave of Navi Yechezkel, which became a mosque, and of Ezra HaSofer. Muslim women who cannot become pregnant go to Navi Yechezkel’s grave to pray because they believe in the prophet and his power.
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Israel must demand compensation for assets worth billions left behind by Jewish refugees
The approaching days of fall, we are told, are the days of a new international conference aimed at solving the Middle East conflict. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is rushing between the region's capitals, and the Saudis promise to take part but under one condition: We, they claim, are coming to discuss everything, even basic questions like Jerusalem's status and the refugee question.
The Goddess of Good Fortune will benefit Olmert if he managed to truly talk about everything and put into the equation the joint refugee question: The Palestinian refugees and their compensation, and the Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their compensation.
Compensation to the Palestinian refugees is one of the main issues that must be solved when the historic reconciliation between us and the Palestinians is worded. But in the same breath we must remember that the Jews of the Arab states left behind property worth billions, and no one thinks about demanding this historic loss back.
The Jews who lived in Arab countries, many of whom came here after their relations with their Arab neighbors were severed following hundreds of years of coexistence, lost their entire world in one moment.
The national awakening which generated the establishment of the State of Israel, created hostility between Jews and Muslims, which led to big waves of immigration that left behind not only a rich tradition, but also a lot of private and public property.
The young state did not believe the stories about the great wealth left behind. In the few times when the attention was focused on the issue of the Jewish property in Arab countries, this was not in order to compensate the immigrants from Tunisia, Morocco or Iraq, but in order to arrogantly offset between the Jewish property left there and the Palestinian property left here.
Moshe Sharett, who served as foreign minister in 1951, told the Knesset that "the value of the Jewish property frozen in Iraq will be taken into account by us in the compensation we promised to pay the Arabs who left their property in Israel."
Forty-eight years ago, when there was another opportunity to finally conclude the unresolved saga between us and the Palestinians, the State of Israel exerted more efforts in mapping the Jewish property through the Spanish-American Federation. The federation's president admitted at the time that "it is clear no one believes that the Arab countries will compensate Israel, but we need to have a counter-claim against the Palestinian claim."
Mapping process needed
The State of Israel never won the public's cooperation in its attempt to trace the property, mainly due to the deep lack of trust in the process and due to the offset intentions.
In order to know how much Jewish property was left in Arab countries, we are in need of quite a difficult mapping process: Private houses, businesses, stores, public buildings, synagogues, mikvaot (ritual baths), clubs – all was left behind. There are those who estimate the value of Jewish property at $10 billion to $30 billion. Others argue that the property of the Jews of Iraq alone reaches $100 billion and that the property of Egyptian Jews is worth $60 billion.
Now, when the Saudis want to finally resolve the big questions, it is time to also discuss the solution to the question of the Jewish property in Arab states. Prime Minister Olmert can repair the year-long injustice in the periphery of Israeli society, which is populated with people from Arab countries, their children and grandchildren.
Israel must establish a transparent public authority for the mapping of the Jewish property in Arab countries. We must appoint teams to collect information from the generation of the parents who are still living amongst us and can prove their ownership of this property.
After the mapping stage, the findings will be presented to anyone who really wants to end the conflict here. We will talk to them next fall about everything, about Jewish property and Palestinian property. We shall not offset: We shall finally build the suitable infrastructure for those who left their property behind, here and there.
Friends, please read and take note of this article.
It's particularly shameful, that Jewish organisations are wilfully ignoring the historyof Jewish Refugees from Arab countries, although you will find they do mention the Arab refugees...
For such discrimination to continue into the 21st century is not just shameful, it's despicable. We are ALL Jews, including the progeny of, and the surviving Jews from Arab countries.
The Jewish people are in greater danger now than ever before, and it should be an OBLIGATION of all our leaders and so-called "media monitors", to relate the fate that befell the Jews from Arab countries, but not doing so, they're as guilty as the BBC in their sins of omittance.
Kudos to Geoffrey Alderman writing in this week’s Jewish Chronicle that the memory of state-sanctioned persecution of Jews by Arab governments, a matter of incontrovertible fact, must be kept alive:
"In a few days’ time we shall celebrate the 60th anniversary of the passage, by the General Assembly of the United Nations, of Resolution 181. This was the resolution that authorised the division of Mandate Palestine (or, more accurately, Western Mandate Palestine) into a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Greater Jerusalem under international control.
"Prior to this historic vote, the head of the Egyptian delegation at the UN, Dr ""Muhammad Haykal (a relatively liberal intellectual and politician), had warned that, "were the western portion of Mandate Palestine to be so partitioned, there would "inevitably follow a wave of anti-Jewish feeling in the Arab world, and that Jewish blood would be spilled. And so it was.
"The UN’s historic decision to re-establish a Jewish state in Palestine was taken on November 29, 1947. On the very next day, a number of Jews in Palestine were killed by Islamic militants. Elsewhere in the Arab world, no distinction whatever was made between Jews and Zionists. There followed a campaign of harassment and violence against Jewish populations that had lived in these areas for centuries, if not for millennia. As a result, between 1948 and 1951, around 850,000 Jews fled from Arab countries to the re-established Jewish state. These are indeed the “forgotten refugees” of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"Some months ago, appearing at a panel discussion on this conflict, I drew attention to this ethnic cleansing, only to be told by my opponents that the story that Jews had been forced to flee Arab lands was a myth — another piece of mischievous Zionist propaganda. No Jew (I was told) had been forced to flee. Zionists deliberately planted bombs in synagogues and Jewish commercial property in order to “stimulate” a Jewish exodus to Israel. In Iraq (I was told) Zionist agents paid Jews to emigrate, whilst in Libya the government made desperate attempts to persuade its beloved Jews to stay put. If there were genuine attacks against Jews, these were few and far between, and no effort was spared to protect these unfortunates from the wrath of local Islamists.
"The truth is very different. There were bloody pogroms against Jews in Syria and the Yemen. In Libya, Jews were stripped of their citizenship. In Iraq, Jewish property was confiscated.
"Recently, evidence has come to light suggesting that these collective persecutions were carefully planned and co-ordinated. Earlier this month, at the New York offices of the American Jewish Committee, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries presented a report on the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands. Within the report, new evidence is published drawn from the UN’s own archives.
"Amongst these is advice, drafted by the Arab League in 1947, on how Arab countries might systematically discriminate against their Jewish citizens: all Jews, save those who were citizens of non-Arab countries, were to be considered and treated as members of the Jewish “minority state of Palestine”; their bank accounts were to be frozen so as to permit the funds in them to be used to finance resistance to “Zionist ambitions in Palestine”; Jews believed to be active Zionists were to be interned as political prisoners and their assets confiscated; only Jews who accepted service in Arab armies or who placed themselves at the disposal of these armies were to considered “Arabs”, with the rights and protections that went with this classification.
"It is now clear that the guidance of the Arab League was followed very closely by a number of Arab governments, whose legislative discrimination against Jews mirrored — and still mirrors, sometimes almost verbatim — the advice that the League offered.
"How will the UN mark the 60th anniversary of the partition resolution? Well, in a typical and typically spiteful perversion of the truth, November 29 is officially recognised by the “modern” UN as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People. This year, as in past years, the UN will hold special meetings in New York, Geneva and Vienna to cement this “solidarity” and to call to mind the “inalienable” rights of Palestinian Arabs.
"The decision to so designate November 29 was taken in 1977. No mention whatever was made, when this decision was taken, of the inalienable rights of the Jews forced from their homes and deprived of their property and even of their lives as a result of institutionalised harassment in the Arab counties in which they lived 60 years ago.
"As the peacemakers gather in Annapolis, it is vital to keep alive the memory of this state-sanctioned persecution.
Uh-oh! It's Israel's sixtieth birthday and that means articles on Israel in the news media and, in turn, that may often mean something between inaccuracy and slander.
I've been conditioned by now to know what to expect. Let's try a test. Read the following headline from a Reuters story, and guess the theme. Ready? Here we go:
"Israel's Advent Altered Outlook For Middle East Jews."
My assumption was that the headline implied a story saying: everything was fine for Jews in the Arab world and Iran until Israel was created and that fact was responsible for forcing them to leave. The article itself isn't that bad, does include material to the contrary, and doesn't directly blame the destruction of these communities on Israel's creation. Yet still this is an implication, no doubt, that many readers will take away from the text which can be found at: http://www.reuters.com/article.....=worldNews
Consider this formulation. The article states: "The 1948 war at Israel's creation, which forced some 700,000 Palestinians to flee their homeland, hardened Arab attitudes to deep-rooted Jewish minorities across the Middle East."
Get it? First the Palestinians flee and then the Arabs get angry at the Jews. Up to then the Jewish minorities are "deep-rooted" which implies they were well accepted and secure.
A couple of paragraphs down the article continues:
"Israeli statistics show more than 760,000 Middle Eastern Jews had moved to Israel by 2006, with more than 40 percent arriving in the first three years of the state's existence."
So let's summarize:
Step 1: Palestinians become refugees
Step 2: Arabs are angry. (Can you blame them?)
Step 3: They take it out on the Jews or at least these Jews "moved," a word used for when you get a new job, load up the U-Haul and head across town.
In other words, the sins of Israel's creation include both Palestinian Arabs and Middle Eastern Jews becoming refugees, rather than it involving a de facto population transfer with an equal cost to both sides, and in which only the deliberate creation of permanent refugee status for Palestinians by their own leaders and Arab states produced prosperity on one side and ongoing problems for the other.
What this concept also leaves out, at least in part, is:
Centuries'-long discrimination against Jews, ranging from the mild to the violent, including forced conversions at times, a problem Moses Maimonides was dealing with nine hundred years ago. Of course, as in Europe, there were long periods (certainly in Iraq and Egypt, for example) in which Jews fared very well. This is not to say that all Jews lived terribly among their Arab neighbors but clearly this was a major factor in their lives. A strong current of anti-Semitism in Islam long preceded the origin of Zionism.
To be fair the article does say:
"In the past, Moroccan Jews were considered subordinate to Muslims and discrimination was widespread. Every city has its Mellah, the poorest quarter to which Jews were once confined. Their residents were the first to leave when they could." And it mentions that "Over 120,000 [Iraqi Jews] were flown to Israel after 1948 when government persecution intensified.
Rising Arab nationalism which was not all or mostly, in contrast to what the article seems to argue, due to Zionism or Israel's creation. Even the secular nationalist movements had a strong tinge of Islam also, certainly so in North Africa, which made it hard to believe that Jews would be welcome in the future regardless of Israel.
It should be noted that Christians, too, have been pushed out of the Arab world and often treated badly, though their treatment varies widely among different countries. Indeed, leaving aside Egypt, the proportion of Christian emigration approaches that of Jewish emigration. There is a serious problem with intolerance in Arabic-speaking countries and a dominant "secular" nationalism (with some exception for Syria and Lebanon) that in fact discriminates against non-Muslims. Even if Israel had never been created, a high proportion of Jews would certainly have left or been forced to leave.
No mention of major violent incidents like the 1941 pogrom in Baghdad or a massacre a few years later in Yemen. Nor does it mention that Yemeni Jews had to flee their homes a few weeks ago to avoid being murdered or kidnapped. Or is there the story of how Jews tried to escape Syria, Iran, and other places, sometimes at the cost of their lives. Nor does it include the executions of Jews in Iraq, a trauma which shattered the remaining post-1948 community there.
The stress of being a dhimmi, meaning the need to shut your mouth and keep a low profile, again parallel to the deformations of Jewish life in Europe. But the article quotes Jews in Morocco (no anti-Semitism) and Iran (everyone is treated ok) who clearly cannot speak honestly.
For example, in Iran several Jews were arrested as spies without evidence and tortured while some historic synagogues were recently bulldozed out of existence. Don't these people really feel scared? Of course, these interviews are like asking people in Iraq a decade ago what they thought of Saddam or finding out that everyone was just delighted with Stalinist Russia, things journalists in those times actually did do.
Now to be fair the article, as I said I've seen much worse, does state: "Hundreds of thousands of Jews were displaced. Some migrated voluntarily from mainly Muslim countries to the newly proclaimed Jewish homeland. Others were forced out by dispossession, discrimination or violence. Thousands stayed on."
Clearly, the great majority, however, were forced out. What percentage stayed on? Less than one-tenth.
A key problem with the currently accepted narrative on Middle East history can be seen in a little two-line statement of fact:
"Conflict in Palestine in the 1930s made life harder for Egyptian Jews, as militant nationalist groups became active."
This relates the rise of militant nationalism to the conflict. Certainly, this was a factor (I wrote a whole book on it, The Arab States and the Palestine Conflict), but militant nationalism was due to far more than just the Palestine conflict. And this doesn't even mention the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s, seeking to transform Egypt into an Islamist state. It was first and foremost a response to conditions at home and to the kind of society that Arab activists wanted to build. As such, it is parallel to revolutionary, Communist, fascist, and nationalist movements in Europe and other places, all of which existed without Israel as a catalyst.
Those two lines are a very powerful theme today: everything Arabs or Muslims do is merely a response to what Israel (or the West) does and not an expression of their own beliefs and goals. This robs others of their history, under the guise of humanitarian egalitarianism, and puts the blame on others for everything that happens.
Here's another example:
"Jewish emigration accelerated after Israel attacked Egypt in 1956 and economic pressures mounted at home."
While there is some truth in the statement the "economic pressures" was the fact that the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled all non-Egyptians, not only Jews but large numbers of Greeks and others, due to xenophobia and militant nationalism.
Even in tiny phrasing choices--admittedly a matter of judgment but the judgments almost always go in the same direction--are certain assumptions present. Consider this phrase: "Iran, seen by Israel as its deadliest foe...." But since the issue here is Iranian Jews why not write: "Iran, which views Israel as its deadliest foe...." From which direction, after all, does the aggressive view come?
The article could easily have drawn a parallel between the Middle Eastern Jews and Palestinians. Both were refugees but the Jews rebuilt their lives rather than nursing grievances and pursing violence for decades. Moreover, one could say that their sufferings and claims balance those of the Palestinian Arabs. None of these arguments--very commonplace in discussion of these issues among Middle East-origin Jews--are presented.
Again, I don't mean to exaggerate the problems with this article, which does at least present the issue and some of the points that should be made. But it also shows weaknesses in dealing with Israel, some of the assumptions on which the contemporary hostile narrative is based.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).
Sun May 18, 2008 3:08 pm The 'nakba' of the Jews of Arab countries and Iran
At last somebody has responded to the incessant 'nakba' propaganda of the Palestinians with a Youtube video on the ethnic cleansing of a million Jews from Arab countries and Iran, explained in a few moving frames. Click on the link:
Tue Jun 03, 2008 12:33 pm Jewish Refugees mentioned for First time in UK Parliament
There havebeen many discussions about the Jewish Refugees with Lyn Julius, who is the UK contact for Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
We were wondering about how to promote the issue to become high profile. After much deliberating, I eventurally wrote to Andrew Dismore, my MP, on 4th April this year, sending him the necessary information, as well as the resolution passed in the US Congress - saying we should do the same here - to get the plight of Jewish Refugees from Arab countries recognised.
We had a nice little correspondence, culminating in a meeting today when I went along with Lyn who was highly efficient and well prepared with her wad of papers and information. Andrew himself had managed to find more information online since I first wrote to him, but thanks to our correspondence had virtually all he needed anyway.
We had gone there initially to ask for an Early Day Motion, but were in for a wonderful surprise when he said he'd already mentioned it at the previous Adjournment Debate on 20th May as below:
"When talking about the problems of the Palestinian refugees, we overlook the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. In 1945, some 800,000 Jewish people were living in Arab countries; today, there are fewer than 7,000. I am thinking of the Jews from Iraq and Yemen, who had to flee the pogroms there. The net result was what can only be described as an exchange of populations, because of the number of Palestinians who left and the number of Jewish people who went to Israel, having been expelled from Arab lands."
We'd very much like to congratulate him on being the first MP ever to raise this issue in the House.
The link to Andrew Dismore's speech where he mentions the Jewish Refugees from Arab countries for the first time ever.
Israel is perhaps the least efficient "ethnic cleanser" in the history of mankind, calumnies to the contrary notwithstanding.
In 1947 some 740,000 Palestinians lived in the British Mandate for Palestine. Today, the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza, together with Arab citizens of Israel, comprise a total of over five million Palestinians (altogether over nine million people worldwide refer to themselves as Palestinian.)
Using a popular population growth rate equation, the Palestinian growth rate has been calculated as close to double that of Asia and Africa over a comparable period of time.
Drazen Petrovic defines ethnic cleansing as "a well-defined policy of a particular group of persons to systematically eliminate another group from a given territory." By this definition, only one type of ethnic cleansing has occurred in the Arab-Israeli conflict - that of the Jews of Asia and North Africa. Whereas before 1948 there were nearly 900,000 Jews living in Arab lands, by 2001 only 6,500 remained.
THOSE WHO claim Israel carried out ethnic cleansing of Arabs can point to no official command to that effect. Jewish ethnic cleansing from Arab lands, on the other hand, was often official state policy.
Jews were formally expelled from many areas in the Arab world. The Arab League released a statement urging Arab governments to facilitate the exit of Jews from Arab countries, a resolution which was carried out through a series of punitive measures and discriminatory decrees that made it untenable for Jews to remain in their native lands.
On May 16, 1948, The New York Times recorded a series of measures taken by the Arab League to marginalize and persecute the Jewish residents of Arab League member states. It reported on the "text of a law drafted by the Political Committee of the Arab League, which was intended to govern the legal status of Jewish residents of Arab League countries. It provides that, beginning on an unspecified date, all Jews except citizens of non-Arab states would be considered 'members of the Jewish minority state of Palestine.' Their bank accounts would be frozen and used to finance resistance to 'Zionist ambitions in Palestine.' Jews believed to be active Zionists would be interned and their assets confiscated."
IN 1951, the Iraqi government passed legislation that made affiliation with Zionism a felony and ordered "the expulsion of Jews who refused to sign a statement of anti-Zionism." This pushed tens of thousands of Jews to leave Iraq, while much of their property was confiscated by the state.
In 1967, many Egyptian Jews were detained and tortured, and Jewish homes confiscated. In Libya that year, the government "urged the Jews to leave the country temporarily," permitting each to take one suitcase and the equivalent of $50.
In 1970, the Libyan government issued new laws confiscating all the assets of Libya's Jews, issuing in their stead 15-year bonds. But when the bonds matured, no compensation was paid. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi justified this on the grounds that "the alignment of the Jews with Israel, the Arab nations' enemy, has forfeited their right to compensation."
These are just a few examples of what would became common measures throughout the Arab world - not to mention the pogroms and attacks on Jews and their institutions that drove a major part of the Jewish exodus.
THE ECONOMIC suffering on the part of the two refugee populations was equally lopsided.
According to the newly released study "The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Rhetoric vs. Reality" by former CIA and State Department Treasury official Sidney Zabludoff in the Jewish Political Studies Review, the value of assets lost by both refugee populations is strikingly uneven.
Zabludoff uses data from John Measham Berncastle, who in the early 1950s, under the aegis of the newly formed United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), undertook the task of calculating the assets of the Palestinian refugees. Zabludoff calculates that their assets were worth $3.9 billion in today's currency.
The Jewish refugees, being greater in number and more urban, had almost double those assets.
On top of this equation, it must be taken into account that Israel returned over 90 percent of blocked bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and other items belonging to Palestinian refugees during the 1950s. This considerably diminishes the UNCCP calculations.
THESE FACTS are conveniently forgotten or not publicized, leaving the way open for Israel-bashers like Exeter University history Prof. Ilan Pappe to omit any mention of the Middle East's greatest ethnic cleansing.
However, a few recent events are clearing the world community's perception of this history. On April 1, the US Congress adopted Resolution 185, which for the first time recognizes Jewish refugees from Arab countries. It urges that the president and US officials participating in Middle East discussions ensure that any reference to Palestinian refugees "also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries."
Just as importantly, the first-ever hearing in the British parliament on the subject of Jewish refugees from Arab countries takes place today in the House of Lords. It will be convened by Labor MP John Mann and Lord Anderson of Swansea, a joint briefing organized by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) in association with the Board of Deputies of British Jews.
Greater recognition of the refugee issue and the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the wider Arab world will bring clearer definition of the area's history to a greater number of people.
A people cannot be said to have been "ethnically cleansed" from an area in which it has grown at double the rate of its geographic neighbors. On the other hand, a people that lost more than 150 times its number from an area over the course of a few decades can make a very strong case for having undergone ethnic cleansing.
The writer, a political analyst who has worked with many organizations including the Israel Prime Minister's Office, is the editor of the Middle East Strategic Information project.
'I remember very clearly," Prof. Yom-Tov Assis, head of the Ben-Zvi Institute for the Study of Jewish Communities in the East, says of his youth in Aleppo, "how a Syrian officer entered our home with his gun and brought a Palestinian refugee, accusing my parents of being responsible for her terrible condition and demanding that we give her money and clothing.
"I remember the attempts to break through the gates to our building, all the occupants of which were Jewish. I remember how the people used to shout in the streets, 'Palestine is ours; Jews are dogs!' Demonstrations took place daily, from the time the United Nations decided to divide Palestine into Jewish and Arab parts. Clubs and synagogues were burned. Jews were attacked."
In 1949, the Assis family fled the antagonism of Syria for the tranquility of Lebanon.
"We used to spend our summer holidays in the Lebanese mountains... It was paradise," he fondly recalls. When they left, "we pretended that we were going on our usual summer holiday... but we never went back."
Like the nearly 900,000 Jews who left - or were forced from - Muslim countries shortly after Israel's independence, Assis says, his family "left behind property, left behind wealth. We left behind everything."
From Lebanon, Assis moved to Turkey, and then to London, before making aliya in 1971. Ever since, the medieval scholar has had to disabuse people of what he calls "the fallacy of Jewish happiness under Muslim rule." That's the assumption that the "Golden Age" in Andalus (Muslim Iberia and North Africa), from the mid-700s to the mid-1100s, was both idyllic and common to Islamic rule in other times and places. Not only is that not the case - although Jews were generally better off under Muslim rule through the 10th century, there were large-scale pogroms in the 11th century - but, as Assis points out, it also disregards the fallout from the invasion of the Almohads, who "destroyed Jewish life" in the latter part of the 12th century.
"They left no Jewish community intact. There were many who were killed, many who were forcibly converted to Islam, many who had to escape - including the family of Maimonides, and other famous families," Assis says. "So to suggest that there was no persecution of Jews under Muslim rule is absurd."
Here's another disconcerting thought: One of the main causes of the relative tolerance that Jews experienced - a deep respect for the scientific and cultural contributions of others - has since been so absent from Islamic life that, in the past 1,000 years, the number of books translated into Arabic is less than the number of books translated in Spain in just one year.
Or, as Assis puts it, "Today, the literary and scientific production of the entire Muslim world in the course of one year is but a fraction of the output of tiny Israel." In such an environment, he adds, "the Golden Age cannot be repeated. There's no way that one could even think of it."
Given this reality, how has the myth of Muslim tolerance become so widely accepted?
"Jewish historiography is largely to blame," Assis says. "For a long time, it was very Europe-centric. Those who wished to emphasize the difficulty of Jewish life in Christian Europe (such as 19th-century Jewish historian Heinrich Graetz), pointed to the Jews' Golden Age in Spain as the standard of treatment under Muslim rule. But they never gave any other examples."
That, he says, is because there are none to give.
"Yes," Assis concedes, "persecution of Jews was, in general, less cruel and less frequent in Muslim lands than it was in Christian Europe. Of course, there was nothing that could compare to the Holocaust. But there were numerous cases of Jews being treated terribly - in Morocco, in Yemen, in Iran, in Iraq... indeed, practically everywhere."
In short, Assis concludes, there is ample evidence that Muslim anti-Semitism is not merely a reaction to Jewish settlement in Palestine. "And even if it were," he says, "so what? The Jews of Morocco, Egypt, Iraq" - and Aleppo, Syria, of course - "what did they do?"
THE JEWISH NAKBA: EXPULSIONS, MASSACRES AND FORCED CONVERSIONS
by Ben-Dror Yemini
Each year, the Palestinians mark Nakba Day, the catastrophe that befell them with the establishment of the State of Israel. But the Jews in Arab countries also suffered catastrophe and it was many times worse.
They say that she was stunningly beautiful. Sol (Suleika) Hatuel was 17 years old when she was beheaded. A Muslim friend claimed that she had succeeded in converting her. When Sol denied to the claim, she was accused of renouncing Islam and was condemned to death. Her case reached the sultan.
In order to prevent her death, the community elders tried to persuade her to live as a Muslim. She refused and said, "I was born as a Jew, I will die as a Jew." Her fate was sealed. It happened in 1834. She was from Tangier and was executed in Fez. Many make pilgrimages to her grave. Despite the fact that the incident was immortalized in eyewitness testimony, in a famous painting and in a play, her story has been forgotten. The following article is dedicated to her and to the victims of the Jewish Nakba.
Every year on the 15th of May, the Palestinians — and many others around the world along with them — "celebrate" Nakba Day. For them, this is the day that marks the great catastrophe that befell them as result of the establishment of the State of Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs became refugees. Some fled, some were deported. The Nakba grew to such enormous proportions that it is preventing a solution to the dispute.
We must remember that in the 1940s, population exchanges and deportations for the purpose of creating national states were the accepted norm. Tens of millions of people experienced it, but only the Palestinians (and they are not alone in this) have been inflating the myth of the Nakba.
However, there is another Nakba: the Jewish Nakba. During those same years, there was a long line of slaughters, pogroms, property confiscation of and deportations — against Jews in Islamic countries. This chapter of history has been left in the shadows. The Jewish Nakba was worse than the Palestinian Nakba. The only difference is that the Jews did not turn that Nakba into their founding ethos. To the contrary.
Like tens of millions of other refugees around the world, they preferred to heal the wound. Not to scratch it and not to open it and not to make it bleed even more. The Palestinians, in contrast, preferred bleeding to rehabilitation. And now they are also paying the price.
The industry of lies has intensified the myth of the Nakba and turned it into the ultimate crime. The Nakba has spawned innumerable publications and conferences, to the point of completely distorting the actual historical process. The Deir Yassin massacre has become one of the milestones in the Palestinian Nakba. There is no need to hide what occurred there (even though the issue of the massacre is in dispute). Innocent people were killed. There were a few other instances of behavior that should be exposed and condemned.
War of Extermination against the Jews
A long series of massacres was perpetrated against the Jews in Arab countries. They did not declare war on the countries in which they lived. They were loyal citizens. That did not help them. Their suffering was erased. Their story is never told. The Palestinian narrative has taken over history. There is no need for a Palestinian narrative versus a Zionist narrative. We need to shake off narratives in favor of the truth. And the truth is the number of Jews murdered was greater, their dispossession was greater, and their suffering greater..
A stunning testimonial from those years, which actually comes from the Arab side, sheds light on the issue. In 1936, Alawite notables sent a letter to the French Foreign Minister in which they expressed their concern for the future of the region. They also referred to the Jewish question:
"The Jews brought civilization and peace to the Arab Muslims, and they dispersed gold and prosperity over Palestine without damage to anyone or taking anything by force. Despite this, the Muslims declared holy war against them and did not hesitate to massacre their children and women... Thus, a black fate awaits the Jews in case the Mandates are cancelled and Muslim Syria united with Muslim Palestine".
The interesting thing is that one of the letter's signatories was none other than the great grandfather of Bashar Al Assad, the president of Syria.
We must remember that Nakba Day is the date of the declaration of Israel's independence, May 15th . We must remember what happened just a few hours after that declaration. The Secretary of the Arab League, Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzamaha, announced the declaration of war against Israel: "This war will be a war of annihilation and the story of the slaughter will be told like the campaigns of the Mongols and the Crusaders."
The Mufti, Haj Amin Al Husseini, who was close to Hitler during the Second World War, added his own bit: " I am declaring a holy war. My brother Muslims! Slaughter the Jews! Kill them all!"
The Mini-Holocaust of the Jews in Arab Countries.
Various documents, some of them discovered only in recent years, show that the declaration of war was far broader. It was actually a declaration of war on the Jews.
Research that was conducted, among others, by Prof. Irwin Cotler, former Minister of Justice of Canada, shows that the Arab League formulated a bill that would place a series of sanctions on the Jews, including confiscation of property, bank accounts and more. The preamble to the bill states that "All Jews will be considered members of the Jewish minority in the State of Palestine." And if the fate of the Jews of Palestine was sealed, the fate of the Jews in Arab countries was clear.
The bill was indeed the background to the sanctions against the Jews in Arab countries — sometimes by way of legislation, as happened in Iraq and later in Egypt, and sometimes by taking those measures without the need for any legislation. According to the industry of lies, the Jews in Arab countries lived peacefully in their environment, under the protection of the government, and it was only because of the Zionist movement and the harm done to the Arabs in Palestine that the Jews began to suffer.
This lie has been repeated innumerable times. Most of the Jews in Arab countries did not undergo the horrors of the Holocaust. But, even before the advent of Zionism, their situation was not any better. There were periods in which the Jews enjoyed relative peace under Muslim rule, but those periods were the exceptions. Throughout Jewish history in Muslim lands there were humiliations, expulsions, pogroms and a systematic deprivation of rights.
Series of Pogroms
We can, of course, start with the conflict between Muhammad and the Jews. Muhammed undertook social reforms, bringing the Arabs out of the Jahaliya period, and borrowed the concept of monotheism — primarily, perhaps, from the Jews. Many motifs from the Jewish religion appear in the Koran, for example, circumcision and the prohibition on eating pork. But Muhammad wanted to convert the Jews, They, of course, refused. The result was a confrontation that ended in the expulsion and slaughter of hundreds.
The Jews, as the "People of the Book," were given the right to live under the protection of Islam and to practice their religion. From time to time, from generation to generation, the conditions underwent changes. In many cases, the Jews lived under the covenant of Khalif Omar.
This covenant enabled them to live as protected people ("Dhimmis"), albeit with inferior status. But many times, under Muslim rule, they were not even allowed a life of inferior status.
The Golden Age:
One of the proofs of the coexistence of Jews and Muslims is Jewish prosperity under Muslim rule in Spain and the Golden Age. The reality, however, was different.
It encompassed a series of violence against the Jews. In 1011 in Cordoba, Spain, under Muslim rule, there were pogroms in which, according to various estimates, from hundreds to thousands were murdered. In 1066 in Granada, Yosef Hanagid was executed, along with between 4,000 and 6,000 other Jews. One of the worst periods of all began in 1148, when the Almohad dynasty came to power (al Muwahhidũn), and ruled Spain and North Africa during the 12th and 13th centuries.
The country that suffered from the worst series of massacres. In the 8th century whole communities were wiped out by Idris the First. In 1033, in the city of Fez, 6,000 Jews were murdered by a Muslim mob. The rise of the Almohad dynasty caused waves of mass murders. According to testimony from that time, 100,000 Jews were slaughtered in Fez and about 120,000 in Marrakesh (this testimony should be viewed with caution). In 1465, another massacre took place in Fez, which spread to other cities in Morocco.
There were pogroms in Tetuan in 1790 and 1792, in which children were murdered, women were raped and property was looted. Between 1864 and 1880, there were a series of pogroms against the Jews of Marrakesh, in which hundreds were slaughtered. In 1903, there were pogroms in two cities â€“ Taza and Settat, in which over 40 Jews were killed.
In 1907, there was a pogrom in Casablanca in which 30 Jews were killed and many women were raped. In 1912, there was another massacre in Fez in which 60 Jews were killed and about 10,000 were left homeless. In 1948, another series of pogroms began against the Jews which led to the slaughter of 42 in the cities of Oujda and Jrada.
A series of massacres occurred in 1805, 1815 and 1830. The situation of the Jews improved with the start of the French conquest in 1830, but that did nor prevent anti-Jewish outbursts in the 1880s. The situation deteriorated again with the rise of the Vichy government. Even before 1934, the country was permeated by Nazi influences, which led to the slaughter of 25 Jews in the city of Constantine. When it achieved independence in 1962, laws were passed against citizenship for anyone who was not a Muslim and their property was effectively confiscated. Most of the Jews left, usually completely penniless, together with the French ("pieds noirs").
In 1785, hundreds of Jews were murdered by Burza Pasha. Under Nazi influence, harassment of the Jews intensified. Jewish property in Benghazi was plundered, thousands were sent to camps and about 500 Jews were killed. In 1945, at the end of World War II, a program against the Jews began and the number of murdered reached 140. The New York Times reported the horrible scenes of babies and old people who had been beaten to death. In the riots that broke out in 1948, the Jews were more prepared, so only 14 were killed. Following the Six Day War, riots broke out once again and 17 Jews were slaughtered.
a massacre occurred in Basra in 1776. The situation of the Jews improved under British rule in 1917, but this improvement ended with Iraq's independence in 1932. German influences increased and reached a peak in 1941 in the pogrom known as Farhud, in which 182 Jews were slaughtered (according to historian Elie Kedourie, 600 people were actually murdered) and thousands of houses were pillaged.
Those were the days of Haj Amin al Husseini, who preached violence against the Jews. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Iraqi parliament acted according to the Arab League bill and in 1950 and froze the assets of Jews. Sanctions were imposed on those who remained in Iraq. The Farhud massacre and the harassment from 1946 to 1949 to all intents and purposes turned the Iraqi Jews into exiles and refugees. The few thousand who remained in Iraq suffered from harsh edicts. In 1967, 14 Iraqis were sentenced to death on trumped up charges of espionage. Among them were 11 Jews. Radio Iraq invited the masses to the hanging festivities.
The first blood libel in a Muslim country occurred in 1840, and led to the kidnapping and torture of dozens of Jewish children, sometimes to the point of death, and a pogrom against the Jews. In 1986, the Syrian Minister of Defense, Mustafa Talas, published a book, "The Matzah of Zion," in which he claims that the Jews did, indeed, use the blood of a Christian monk to bake matzah. Same old anti-Semitism, new edition. Other pogroms occurred in Aleppo in 1850 and in 1875, in Damascus in 1848 and in 1890, in Beirut in 1862 and in 1874, and in Dir al Kamar there was another blood libel which also led to a pogrom in 1847. That year, there was a pogrom against the Jews of Jerusalem, which was the result of that blood libel. In 1945, the Jews of Aleppo suffered severe pogroms. 75 Jews were murdered and the community was destroyed. There was a resurgence of the violence in 1947, which turned most of the Syrian Jews into refugees. Those who remained there lived for many years as hostages.
There was a pogrom against the Jews of Mashhad in 1839. A mob was incited to attack Jews, and slaughtered almost 40. The rest were forced to convert. That is how the Marranos of Mashhad came into being. In 1910, there was a blood libel in Shiraz in which 30 Jews were murdered and all Jewish homes were pillaged.
There were fluctuations in relations that ranged between tolerance and inferior subsistence, between harassment and pogroms. The Rambam's Letter to Yemen was sent following a letter he received from the leader of the Yemeni Jews, describing edicts of forced conversion issued against the Jews (1173). There were further waves of apostasy edicts which cannot be detailed here for lack of space.
One of the worst milestones was the Mawza exile. Three years after Imam Al Mahdi took power in 1676, he drove the Jews into one of the most arid districts of Yemen. According to various accounts, 60 — 75% of the Jews died as a result of the exile. Many and varied edicts were imposed on the Jews, differing only in severity. One of the harshest was the Orphans' Edict, which ordered the forced conversion of orphaned children to Islam. In nearby Aden, which was under British rule, pogroms occurred in 1947 which took the lives of 82 Jews. 106 of the 170 shops that were owned by Jews were completely destroyed. Hundreds of houses and all the community's buildings were burned down.
As in the other Arab countries, the Jews of Egypt also suffered inferior status for hundreds of years. A significant improvement occurred when Muhammad Ali came to power in 1805. The testimony of French diplomat, Edmond Combes, leaves nothing in doubt: "To the Muslims, no race is more worthy of contempt than the Jewish race." Another diplomat added, "The Muslims do not hate any other religion the way they hate that of the Jews."
Following the blood libel in Damascus, similar libels began to spread in Egypt as well and incited mobs to carry out a series of attacks: in Cairo in 1844, 1890, and in 1901-1902; and Alexandria in 1870, 1882 and in 1901-1907. Similar attacks also occurred in Port Said and in Damanhur.
Later on, there were riots against the Jews at the end of World War II, in 1945, in which 10 were killed and hundreds were injured. In 1947, the Companies Law was passed, which severely damaged Jewish businesses and led to the confiscation of property. In 1948, following the UN resolution on partition, riots began in Cairo and Alexandria. The dead numbered between 80 and 180. Tens of thousands were forced to leave, many fleeing and abandoning their property. The lot of those who remained did not improve. In 1956, a law was passed in Egypt which effectively denied the Jews citizenship, forcing them to leave the country with no property. This was an act of pure expulsion and mass property confiscation.
Massacre of Jews in Arab states as Israel Became A State
The above is just a partial list out of a long series of massacres in Muslim countries. It happened before the Zionist endeavor. It continued with the Zionist endeavor. We are talking about a succession of events. Tens of thousands were murdered simply because they were Jewish. So the fairytale of coexistence and blaming Zionism for undermining that coexistence is yet another completely baseless myth.
Before the UN vote on partition in November 1947, Egypt's ambassador to the UN, Heykal Pasha, warned that "The lives of a million Jews in Muslim countries will be in danger if the vote is for partition... if Arab blood is spilled in Palestine, Jewish blood will be spilled elsewhere in the world."
Four days afterwards, the Iraqi foreign minister, Muhammad Fadil al Jamali said that "We will not be able to restrain the masses in the Arab countries, after the harmony in which Jews and Arabs lived together." There was no harmony. There had been a massacre of Jews just a few years earlier. El Jamali lied, of course. The very same Iraqi government had encouraged the harassment of Jews and issued orders to confiscate all Jewish property.
Additionally, the Iraqi leader of the time, Nuri Said, had already presented a plan for expelling the Jews in 1949, even before the hasty — actually forced — exit of the Jews from Iraq. He also explained that "The Jews are a source of trouble in Iraq. They have no place among us. We must get rid of them as best we were able." Said even presented a plan to lead the Jews via Jordan in order to coerce them into passage to Israel. Jordan objected, but the expulsion was implemented anyway. Said even admitted that this entailed a type of population exchange.
So the massacres, the pogroms and the great expulsion of the Jews was a continuation of their suffering under Muslim rule. There have always been Muslims who came out in defense of the Jews. They are also worthy of mention. That were also periods of prosperity, but it appears that most of the Jewish prosperity, as in Egypt in the 1920s and 1930s, in Algeria in the 19th and 20th centuries, in Iraq in the 1920s — was under colonial rule. In most cases, the situation of the Jews was bad before the European invasion and worsened once again with the end of the colonial era.
The Jewish Nakba Was Far Worse than the Arab Nakba
Throughout the relations between Jews and Arabs, in Arab countries or in the course of the Zionist enterprise, there was not one case of a pogrom against Muslims of the type committed by the Arabs against the Jews. Even in the worst cases, which must be condemned, such as Deir Yassin, they occurred as part of a military confrontation.
Those are cases that should be condemned, but we need to put things in perspective. The Arabs slaughtered the Jews without any hostilities and without any military excuse, just because they were Jews. And those few Arabs who were killed, were killed as part of a military campaign. Despite this, any injury inflicted on the Arab population resulted in innumerable investigations and references. The worst abuse of all, the abuse of Jews by Arabs, was erased and forgotten.
Let's return to Deir Yassin, the ultimate symbol of the Nakba. We have called it an indecent act and we will repeat that. But we must note that it was preceded by a series of murderous terrorist attacks against the civilian population. Waves of incidents, which to all intents and purposes were actual pogroms, by an incited mob that attacked the civilian population. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered — women, children and the elderly. The Palestinians even murdered their own people. In the great Arab Revolt in the 1930s, 400 Jews and 5,000 Arabs were killed, most of them at the hands of their brethren.
The months before Deir Yassin were the worst of all. 39 workers were murdered at the Haifa refineries, 50 Jews were killed by car bombs in Jerusalem, and on and on. In total, in the four months between the vote on partition and the declaration of establishment of the State of Israel, 815 Jews were murdered, most of them before the Deir Yassin incident (on April 9, 1948), some afterwards (the slaughter of the Hadassah hospital convoy, 79 killed, April 13, 1948). Most were civilians. Most died in massacres and terrorist attacks. And that is the real background. Far more murdered Jews. But they have all been forgotten. They should be mentioned. That is the Jewish Nakba, whose victims, in Israel and around the world, are mentioned less and less.
Close to a million Jews lived in Arab countries at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel. Just a few live there today. Most left because they suffered from pogroms and the threat to their lives. It was a crueler expulsion than the one suffered by the Arabs of Palestine, who paid the price for the declarations of war and annihilation made by their leaders. Even the Jewish property that was confiscated or abandoned as a result of the expulsion is more valuable than the Arab property that remained in Israel.
Various investigators have tried to estimate the value of the confiscated Jewish property following the forced departure of the Jews from Arab countries, compared with the Arab property left in Israel following the forced departure of the Arabs. Economist Sidney Zabludoff, an international expert in the field, estimates that the value of the Arab property is $3.9 billion, compared with the value of the Jewish property which is $6 billion (at 2007 values).
So even in this area, the Palestinians' claims are refuted. They dragged the Arab countries into war. They paid the price. And they are the ones who caused the Jews to pay an even higher price. Both in property and in blood.
This article is not intended to cultivate the Jewish Nakba, and it by no means includes all the cases of pogroms, property confiscations, forced conversions and other harassment. The purpose is precisely the opposite. When they understand, in the Arab world in general, and the Palestinians in particular, that suffering, expulsion, loss of property, the cost in lives, is not the monopoly of one side, they may, perhaps, have the sense to understand that this past is a matter for history lessons. Because if we start to perform a political accounting, they have an overdraft. The Jewish Nakba was far greater. The suffering was enormous. But it is the suffering of many nations, Jews and Arabs among them, who went through the experience as part of the creation of new nation states.
It is therefore worth presenting the story of the Jewish Nakba. Not for the purpose of increasing the hostility, but for the purpose of presenting the truth, and for the purpose of reconciliation between the nations. Inshallah.
The world seems convinced israel has no right to exist because of the enormity of its genocidal policy. Starting in 1948 until now, while fighting back the Arab invasions of Israel AND the Palestinian intifadas, AND including the Second Lebanese war and the Gaza campagn, Israel has killed about 60,000 Arabs, mostly invaders from the neighboring Arab countries; and this includes the 7,000 to 10,000 Palestinians, most of whom were killed in the Arab Intifadas (1,378 in the first Intifada, 3,700 in the second). [Note: In the 1st Lebanon War of 1975-1990, Israeli activities caused around 18,000 Muslim deaths, most of them Muslim fighters.] Ignored is the far greater and intentional killing of Arabs and non-Arab Muslims by Arabs and Europeans, which reach into the millions. The French killed some 600,000 Muslims in Algeria. The Algerian civil war since 1991 has claimed 100,000 Muslims, mostly women, children and old people. In Sudan, the Arab Muslim government has slaughtered 2.6 to 3 million blacks, Muslim and non-Muslim, hundreds of thousands of them in Darfur. In Afghanistan, 1 to 1.5 million Muslims died from 1979-89 in the Soviet invasion; 1 million in the subsequent Civil War. In Somalia some 400,000 to 550,000 Muslims have died in the civil war, ongoing since 1977. 1.4 to 2 million Bangladeshi were massacred by Muslim Pakistan while gaining their independence in 1971. In Indonesia, 400,000 Muslims were killed in 1965-66 and an additional 200,000 in East Timor between 1975-79. The Iran-Iraqi war claimed between 450,000 and 650,000 Iraqis and between 450,000 and 970,000 Iranians. [Note: the Iranians are Muslim but not Arab.] Saddam Hussein's genocide of Iraqis claimed between 1.54 to 2 million lives; 100,000 were killed since coalition forces took over Iraq, many in Muslim terrorist attacks. In Lebanon between 1975 to 1990, 130,000 Christians and Muslims died. During Yemen's civil war of 1962 to 1970, 100,000 to 150,000 Muslims were killed. In Chechen's war with Russia from 1999, which officially ended in 2001, some 80,000 to 300,000 Muslims were killed. Smaller confrontations include Jordanians killing some 10,000 to 25,000 Palestinians; 30,000 civilians, Muslims and non-Muslims, killed in Chad; 10,000 Muslims in Kosovo; 50,000 in Tajikistan; the Syrian massacre of 20,000 in Hama; tens of thousands in Iran in the Humeini Revolution and some 10,000 Kurds; 20,000 Kurds killed in Turkey; and in Zanziba, black Muslims slaughtered some 5,000 to 17,000 Arabs.
Ben-Dror Yemini asks: "So why is the impression of the world the direct opposite? How come there is no connection between the facts and the numbers and the so very demonic image of Israel in the world?" He believes much of Western belief is based on the T.V. screen, which highlights, amplifies and replays over and over every killing by Israel and ignores almost all killings by Muslim of Muslims and Jews.
In it Ben-Dror Yemini writes about population exchange and population shifts involving Muslims and Europeans during the 20th century until now. The Right of Return is seldom raised, except for the Palestinian Arab, where it is demanded that Israel accept the now millions of Arabs claiming descent from the 400,000 to 420,000 Arabs that fled Israel in 1948. Most refugees are resettled and start living normal lives within a few years. The U.N. agency, UNHCR, handles all refugees over the globe, except the Palestinian refugee, who is the charge of the U.N. agency, UNRWA, which has jealously resisted resettling their wards. Moreover, unlike for any other refugee group, Palestinian refugee status is handed down over the generations for the descendents of anyone who lived in Israel for at least two years before fleeing in 1948. This included Egyptians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Syrian citizens, who were "only temporarily in the country in search of work". This is true, whether the refugee is self-supporting or not. As Yemini puts it, "Even if one's children never set foot within Israel's 1949 armistice lines and are as wealthy as Bill Gates, they are still classified as refugees." And receive U.N. support.
As Yemini points out, "... tens of millions of former refugees are no longer classified as 'refugees' when they gain citizenship in their new host countries. By contrast, not a single Palestinian has ever lost his refugee status. There are hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees or their descendants who are citizens of Jordan. Yet as far as UNRWA is concerned they are still refugees."
Some 400,000-500,000 Arabs fled Israel and some 800,000 Jews fled the Arab countries, where Jews had lived from before the time of the Arabs conquest. The Jews from Arab countries who came to Israel -- some 300,000 by 1948 and some 600,000 by 1972 -- never received refugee status because they were immediately absorbed as citizens by Israel.
In the Balkan Wars from 1912-15, 250,000 Bulgarians, 150,000 Greeks and 200,000 ethnic Turks were returned to their ancestral homes, even if they'd never lived there. 750,000 Serbs fled their homes in World War I and another 250,000 were forced into labor brigades in Bulgaria and Hungary. After the war, 300,000 Bulgarian nationals were uprooted and "returned" to Bulgaria; 200,000 Hungarians emigrated from Transylvania to Hungary; and 200,000 Hungarian nationals were forced out of their homes in Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. In the 1920's, 1.5 million ethnic Greeks were transferred from Turkey to Greece and 500,000 ethnic Turks from Greece to Turkey. 80,000 Bulgarians were also transferred to Greece. People fled or were forced out during WW2 and in renewed fighting after the war into the 1990s; this includes the 200,000 Rumanians fleeing Transylvania, the 800,000 ethnic Albanians expelled from Serbian Kosovo and the 150,000 Serbs fleeing Albania. In less than a century, between 7 million and 10 million Balkan refugees were uprooted from their homes.
After WW2, there was a 1.4 million people exchange between the Poles and the Ukranians. Between 12-16 million Germans were forced out of Sudentenland (Czechoslovakia), Romania, Hungary and Poland to Germany; many of them had not supported the Nazis during the war. 14 million people participated in the population exchange between Hindu India and Moslem Pakistan.
In 1994 at the end of the fighting, 540,000 Moslems fled Christian Armenia for Azerbaijan and 360,000 Armenian Christians fled Azerbaijan for Armenia. As Israel did with the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, Armenia absorbed the Christian refugees, while — just like the Arab refugees from Israel — the Moslem refugees languish in Azerbaijani refugee camps.
In the late 80s on, 75,000 non-Moslem blacks from Mauritania were exiled to Senegal and Mali, while 75,000 Arabs fled to Mauritania. Ethnic conflicts in the Sudan continue — between Muslim Arabs and black animists in the South; and between Muslim Arabs and black Muslims in Darfur. 3 t0 4 million black farmers of Darfur have fled Arab-dominated Khartoum, where some 200,000 to 400,000 black Muslims have already been killed. Cyprus has been split between Christian Greeks and Moslem Turks; this included a population exchange, where 200,000 Greeks and 50,000 Turks were shifted.
Ben-Dror Yemini is native-born Israeli. He is a lawyer, politician, journalist and essayist. He is the opinion-editor of the daily newspaper Maariv. He can be reached at Skype: bdy222; Gmail talk: bdyemini; Tel: 00-972-52-3112227: email: email@example.com See the David Project's file "The Forgotten Refugees" on You Tube. Part 1 is here.
G-d bless America - ‘50 million US Christians back Israel’
As the Arab -Israeli conflict began in the 1940's Arab governments turned on their own Jewish populations.
3000 year old communities were ethnically cleansed, nearly 1 million Arabic Jews lost their homes.
55,000 in 1948
Pogrom in Aden killing 82 Jews and destroying homes (1947)
140,000 in 1948
Less then 100 today
80,000 in 1948
Less than 100 today
25,000 + Jews were ordered to leave with 1 suitcase
Forced to sign declarations "donating" property to Egypt.
100,000 in 1948
Over 30,000 before 1945
Today : O
In 1945 more than 140 Jews were murdered in Tripoli.
150,000 in 1948
Less than 40 today
In 1941,180 Jews murdered in Baghdad pogrom.
30,000 in 1948
Less than 30 today.
500,000 in 1948
30,000 in 1948
Less than 100 today
200 homes,shops,synagogues were destroyed in Aleppo (1947)
105,000 in 1948
Amazingly, Israel absorbed the sea of Arabic Jewish Refugees.
Why aren't they compensated by UN , like the "Palestinians" - expelled from Jordan, not Israel?
The amount of money stolen is now worth over $80 billion.
Jewish-owned land lost in Arab countries: 38,625 sq.miles; Israel's total area: 7,992 sq.miles.
Today, ancient synagogues stand empty across the Arab world.