Skip to comments.Jews driven from Arab nations. The Forgotten Middle East Refugees.
Posted on 02/23/2003 7:57:52 AM PST by dennisw
B A C K G R O U N D
JEWS lived in what are now Arab states since the Babylonian destruction of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, in 586 B.C.E. Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities, among the oldest in the Jewish Diaspora, came to a tragic end in the 1940s and early 1950s when Arab governments forced the Jews to flee.
In 1945 there were nearly 900,000 Jews living in communities throughout the Arab world. Today, there are fewer than 8,000. In some Arab states, such as Libya, the Jewish community no longer exists; in others, only a few hundred Jews remain. Of the 900,000 Jewish refugees, approximately 600,000 were absorbed by Israel, where today almost half of Israel's Jewish citizens are the original refugees and their descendants. The remainder went to Europe and the Americas.
WE SEEK JUSTICE.
In 1948, nearly 900,000 Jews -- indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa -- lived in what are now known as the "Arab States."
Today, 99% of these ancient Jewish communities no longer exist in the lands where we lived for thousands of years.
Arab governments forced us to leave, confiscated our property and stripped us of our citizenship.
Yet in Israel, after the 1947 liberation, Israel went and comforted the remaining muslims and arbs there -- Israel -- the Jews -- built Mosques, hiring in Imam's to teach in the schools Israel built. Israel built hospitals, and all the other social infrastructure.
The wealthy Arabs, the "intellengsia" and Imam's had all run away -- they abbandoned the poor and less educated.
Today the evil ones -- funded by OIL, Saudi OIL, Iraqi OIL -- plot, breed hatred and continually manuver to place the "palestinian" pawns into schemes and acts that will spill the BLOOD of Jews. And because the US has been Israel's closest friend and big buddy (nearly always) -- the Saudi and affliate Imams have brought that great evil eye they ever polish and shine to bear on us.
I don't doubt for a second that those OIL funded schools of hatred and evil have played Saddam Hussein, himself, more the pawn than our national intelligence apparatus ever did. That they prodded Bin Laden and allies to Saddam, and those Iraqi paranoid cliques to sample to bitter fruits their more westernized technologists could grow.
On the eve of Israel's War of Independence, there were nearly 900,000 Jews living in communities throughout the Arab world, some of which were the oldest in the Diaspora, dating back 2,600 years.
The Jews' sojourn in Arab lands was marked by alternating periods of prosperity - in which they contributed to advances in medicine, commerce and culture - and of plight - in which they were subject to punishing taxes and relegated to the lower levels of the social strata.
War drums in the Arab world
It was to be expected that the relations between the Arab regimes and their subordinated Jews would be marred by the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But nobody could have anticipated that the final outcome would be the liquidation of the Jewish communities.
The vast domains of the Arab world, almost totally clear of Jews (ie. "Judenrein"), bears absurd comparison vis-a-vis the ever-increasing numbers in the densely Palestinian-populated zones and within Israel proper.
Addressing the UN General Assembly on November 14, 1947, just five days before that body voted on the Partition Plan for Palestine, Heykal Pasha, the Egyptian delegate, stated, inter alia, that:
"The proposed solution might endanger a million Jews living in the Muslim countries. Partition of Palestine might create in those countries an anti-Semitism even more difficult to root out than that of Nazism. If the UN decides to partition Palestine, it might be responsible for the massacre of a large number of Jews.
"If a Jewish state were established ... riots would break out in Palestine, [and] would spread through all the Arab states, [leading] to a war between two races."
Later, Iraq's foreign minister Fadil Jamali declared at the UN that "interreligious prejudice and hatred" would bring about a great deterioration in the Arab-Jewish relationship in Iraq and in the Arab world at large. Heykal Pasha had been speaking not just on behalf of Egypt but for all the Arab states.
Heykal Pasha's thinly veiled threats of "massacre" and "war" did not at the time go unnoticed by Jews; they had the same ring as the proposition made by the Palestinian leader Haj Amin al-Husseini - hosted by Hitler in Berlin - of a "Final Solution" for the Jews of Arab countries, including - of course - Palestine. This was just the beginning.
The Partition Plan was accepted - albeit reluctantly - by the Jews. But the Arabs rejected it, threatening that it would lead to massacres and eventually to a war between the two races. They kept their word and, as predicted, a coordinated, all-front attack against nascent Israel was launched on May 15, 1948. The crushing defeat of the Arab armies added hurt pride to heightened feelings of hatred.
This was the signal for the final elimination of the Arab Jewish communities, be it through economic strangulation or political persecution.
Shimon Peres, one of Israel's most moderate statesmen, pointed to Jews in Arab countries as "being deprived of their basic rights," (at a WOJAC conference in Washington DC on October 26, 1987):
"The Jewish communities in Arab lands ... when uprooted, left behind their personal and communal possessions."
A land-by-land description of what actually happened to the Jews explains why they fled:
The Iraqi regime in those days was not much more benevolent than the present one of Saddam Hussein. Jews were publicly hanged in the streets of Baghdad on the charge of "Zionist" activities.
By Shavuot 1941, 180 Jews were murdered and 700 injured, in a pogrom in Baghdad. Damages to Jewish property ran into millions of dollars.
Upon the establishment of the State of Israel this situation was further aggravated: Jewish emigration was forbidden, and hundreds of Jews were jailed. Those convicted of "Zionism" were sentenced to internal exile or fines of up to $40,000 each. Tens of thousands slipped out of the country.
But in 1950, the government legalized emigration and pressured the Jews to leave. Emigrants were permitted to take with them only $140 per adult; all of their enormous remaining assets and property were confiscated.
Israel came to their rescue in Operation Ezra and Nehemia. This prosperous community, which once numbered 190,000, has only 100 Jews today.
The Syrian Jewish community dates back to biblical times. Anti-Jewish pogroms erupted in Aleppo in 1947. All local synagogues were destroyed, and 7,000 of the town's 10,000 Jews fled in terror. The government then enacted legislation to freeze Jewish bank accounts and confiscate property. By the 1950s, just 5,000 remained in the country, subjected to harsh decrees: They were banned from emigrating, selling their property, or working in government offices, and were compelled to carry special identification cards.
In Egypt, too, Jews were expelled and their property taken. Physical and economic pressure - highlighted by the nationalization of Jewish property in the Generals' coup in 1956-57 - encouraged them to flee. From 75,000 the community now numbers only 200 - and some estimate the government's plunder of their assets totals $2.5 billion.
Attacking Jews, looting their property, and limiting them to the most demeaning of positions were commonplace. But after Israel's successful defense in the 1948 war, mobs rampaged, sending the Jews fleeing for survival and forfeiting their property to the state. Israel's Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 brought some 50,000 Yemenite Jews home.
The 2,000-year-old Jewish community of Libya, which numbered almost 60,000 by the 1940s, was the target of mass anti-Jewish violence in November 1945. In Tripoli alone, 120 Jews were massacred and over 500 wounded, while 2,000 were made homeless, and synagogues were torched. By the early 1950s, more than 40,000 Libyan Jews had emigrated.
After the French left Algeria, the authorities issued a variety of anti-Jewish decrees. Nearly all of the 160,000 Jews fled the country. All but one of its synagogues were seized and turned into mosques.
After massacres in 1948, more than one seventh of the 350,000 Jews of Morocco fled in terror. During the 1950s, there was violence against the remaining communities in Casablanca, Rabat and Oujda. The majority of Moroccan Jewry emigrated during the years to follow.
A thriving community of more than 100,000 Jews in Tunisia has dwindled to about 2,000 - about half of them on the island of Djerba.
A recent, ominous reminder of the Jewish heritage of Tunis was the terrorist attack on the ancient synagogue of Djerba in which German tourists were killed.
Transfer de jure
In all, some 867,000 Jews were brutally expelled from Arab countries, and tens of billions in Jewish assets were seized by Arab governments. Israel spent over $14 billion on aiding them in their flights, on their rehabilitation and full absorption.
There is parity between the 650,000 Palestinian refugees resulting from the 1948 war and the 700,000 Jews who fled from Arab lands and were absorbed by Israel. By sheer logic, a "transfer," painful for both parties, has been effected.
Dr. Ya'akov Meron, a lawyer and Orientalist at the Israeli Ministry of Justice, explains this:
"Actually, what happened was a kind of 'population and property exchange,' and each party must bear the consequences. Israel is absorbing the Jews of Arab states; the Arab states, for their part, must settle the Palestinians in their own midst and solve their problems. There is no doubt that, at the first serious discussion of the Palestinian problem in an international forum, Israel will put these claims forward."
US President Bill Clinton also labored this point in June 2000, saying that,"There is, I think, some interest ... on both sides in also having a fund which compensates the Israelis who were made refugees by the war, which occurred after the birth of the State of Israel. 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."
However, it is clear that the Arab countries are reluctant - to say the least - to absorb their Palestinian brethren. Nor will they accept the idea of compensating the banished Jews for their economic losses.
John Ben-Castle, the chief statistician of the British Mandatory administration, carried out a survey of the total property of the Palestinians and arrived at the sum of £ 100 billion (at the currency rate of 1945). This sum is dwarfed by the value of the property seized by the governments of those Arab countries where the Jews had played dominant roles in finance, commerce and other fields. Names like Kadourie of Baghdad, Safra of Aleppo, Cicuriel of Cairo and Gaon of Khartoum speak for themselves.
A precise census of the abandoned Palestinian property was carried out by the late Faisal Husseini. Its records are filed at Orient House in Jerusalem. A similar census to assess confiscated Jewish property was undertaken by a small unit headed by Meron. Its activities were suspended - due to economic considerations - by Yossi Beilin during his short term as Minister of Justice in 2000, to the dismay of all concerned.
This assessment has recently been resumed and an internal website to locate absentee owners is planned.
It is needless to add that while Palestinians have free access to the Israeli Land Registry archives, Israel is denied such facilities by hostile Arab regimes.
- The Middle East Quarterly, September 1995
- Middle East Digest, November 1999
- Al-Nahar (Beirut), May 15, 1975
This post should not have been posted, or the references documenting the historical facts given.
For instance, the number of Jews expelled from each Muslim country, the dates and the circumstances; and the historical records that substantiate the figures.
"From Time Immemorial" by Joan Peters, does a professional job of this.
In contrast, wealthy, large Arab states have refused, for over 50 years, to help their "brother" Arabs who left Israel at the time of the 1948 war. Moslems in the non-Arab world apparently did nothing to actually help these so-called refugees ("so-called" because they left at the behest of their "brother" Arabs).
The question that a completely objective observer (which I am not) might ask is "WHY"? I have a simple answer, which I defy anyone to contradict with logic and facts: Jews actually care about their co-religionists, and put their money and labor where their hearts are. On the other hand, Moslems, especially Arab ones, on the whole appear to not care less, except to the extent that the so-called Palestinians can be used as a political tool against the "Zionist Entity."