Zionism - Israeli Flag

Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands

Zionism Web definitions about FAQ history timeline documents links personalities contact

Back to Zionism and Israel - Issues and Answers - Main page

  The Concise Zionism and Israel FAQ

Jewish Refugees from Arab Lands

Much attention is paid to the Arab Palestinian refugees created as the result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They are mentioned in dozens of UN resolutions, and numerous Web sites and books describe their plight and assert their real and not so real rights. In strange contrast, virtually no attention is given to the Jewish refugees who were forced to immigrate from Arab and Muslim countries or became homeless as a direct or indirect result of the conflict, or regarding their rights and the rights of their descendants. They were usually forced to leave their homes under duress, because of racist incitement and violence, and in most cases were deprived of their property. There is no doubt that they suffered unjustifiably, and that any "just" solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict must take into account their legitimate claims and just grievances. The Jewish refugees also include a small number of Jews ethnically cleansed from their homes in Palestine/Israel.

A small number of Jewish refugees were created as a direct result of the conflict in Palestine or Israel. The Jewish communities of Hebron and Jerusalem were destroyed successively in the Arab  riots of 1929 uprising of 1936 and finally in the 1948 War of Independence. No Jews were allowed to live in territories held by the Arab forces. All Jews living in these areas were ethnically cleansed. The Jews of Gush Etzion were allowed to leave under Red Cross protection after a notorious massacre. The Jews of Jerusalem were evicted by the Arab Legion. Therefore the remaining Jews of Jerusalem, and those of Gush Etzion, Atarot, Neve Yaakov and kibbutzim in the Gaza strip were forced to evacuate their homes and leave their property without compensation. The total number of such persons might have been under 10,000. They are more numerous if we include dependents. Can there by any logical reason why such people should not be designated "refugees" as opposed to Arab Palestinians who left their homes or were forced to flee their homes? UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which deals with the refugee problem, refers to "refugees" without specifying their origin. In fairness, it should apply to Jewish refugees created by the conflict as well as to Palestinian Arab refugees.

A far larger number of Jews left the Arab and Muslim countries, due directly to the conflict, or to persecution of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries which intensified as a result of the conflict. In Iraq, Jews suffered a bloody pogrom in 1941, the Farhud, instigated by the Palestinian Grand Mufti Hajj Amin El Husseini and his coterie of Nazi-sympathizers. They were subjected to further persecutions following the outbreak of hostilities in 1948. Allegations that some of the violence against Iraqi Jews was instigated by Zionists are apparently groundless. In Morocco, the position of the Jews was perhaps one of the best among all Arab countries. Nonetheless, emigration was forbidden for several years when Morocco achieved independence in 1958, and was only resumed in 1967 and anti-Semitism was rife. In 1965, Moroccan writer Said Ghallab wrote regarding the attitude of his fellow Muslims toward their Jewish neighbors:

The worst insult that a Moroccan could possibly offer was to treat someone as a Jew....My childhood friends have remained anti-Jewish. They hide their virulent anti-Semitism by contending that the State of Israel was the creature of Western imperialism....A whole Hitlerite myth is being cultivated among the populace. The massacres of the Jews by Hitler> are exalted ecstatically. It is even believed that Hitler is not dead, but alive and well, and his arrival is awaited to deliver the Arabs from Israel.

(Said Ghallab, "Les Juifs sont en enfer," in Les Temps Modernes, (April 1965), pp. 2247-2251)

The condition of Jews in other countries was generally worse. Anti-Zionists have tried to obscure and ignore this persecution, and to claim that Jews from Arab countries were "victims" of Zionism in some way, but there is apparently no truth to their claims. (for example: Zionism for the Ages gives a clear picture of how Jews were victimized by the Egyptian government and society.)

In most cases, Jews were not allowed to take out their property, and in many cases they were  forced to leave. This Exodus did not take place all at once in 1948 in all countries. In Egypt, Jews lingered on until they were forced to leave after the 6-Day war in 1967. The table below summarizes the data. Not all of the Jews who left Arab or Muslim countries may be considered refugees, but over 600,000 were apparently forced to leave without their property and are refugees. In addition to the numbers shown in the table below, there were about 100,000 Jews in Iran in 1948. At the time of the Khomeini revolution in 1979, there were about 80,000. About 55,000 found life impossible under the Islamist revolution and  fled Iran, leaving abut 25,000 in 2004. Of course the current population of such refugees and their descendants must be numbered in the millions.

 Jewish Population of Arab Countries

 

1948

1958

1968

1976

2001

Aden

8,000

800

0

0

0

Algeria

140,000

130,000

1,500

1,000

0

Egypt

75,000

40,000

1,000

400

100

Iraq

135,000

6,000

2,500

350

100

Lebanon

5,000

6,000

3,000

400

100

Libya

38,000

3,750

100

40

0

Morocco

265,000

200,000

50,000

18,000

5,700

Syria

30,000

5,000

4,000

4,500

100

Tunisia

105,000

80,000

10,000

7,000

1,500

Yemen

55,000

3,500

500

500

200

TOTAL

856,000

475,050

72,600

32,190

7,800

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Table adapted from  Justice for Jews from Arab Countries www.justiceforjews.com )

Mr. Auguste Lindt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, recognized the refugee status of Jews from Arab and Muslim countries in the report of the UNREF Executive Committee, Fourth Session – ‎Geneva 29 January to 4 February, 1957. Likewise, Dr. E. Jahn, Office of the UN High Commissioner, United Nations High ‎Commissioner for Refugees, Document No. 7/2/3/Libya, July 6, 1967, recognized the refugee status of these Jews.

Nonetheless, in contrast with the numerous UN resolutions concerning Palestinian Arab refugees, as well as the apparatus of UNRWA set up to deal with Arab refugees, no action at all was taken regarding Jewish refugees from Arab countries. The expulsions of Jews from Arab countries in many cases violated human rights conventions, but no actions were taken against the countries concerned. Israel has not pressed the claims of Jewish refugees from Arab countries or refugees evacuated in 1948 from areas conquered by the Arabs.

The resolution of the Jewish refugee problem, like that of the Arab Palestinian refugee problem, has implications for the peace process. As Ada Aharoni and Alain Albagli wrote:

It is high time that emphasis in the peace process be redirected to community leaders and away from top-down conflict-resolution processes. Community leaders in the civic, religious, education and media realms need to assume their responsibility in pursuing reconciliation. They must acknowledge explicitly the legitimacy of their opponent's claim and commit themselves to rebuilding the image of the opponent. Espousing a perverted image of the opponent even in the heat of debate negates efforts at acknowledging legitimacy. Western support should be limited to those that pass this test.

This reciprocal acknowledgement is the cornerstone upon which future political leaders will be able to build a viable peace process. Putting the claims of Jewish refugees from Arab countries into the balance would encourage both populations to favor a two-state solution and the election of pro-peace political leaders on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides.

In conclusion, a more objective and balanced approach to the tragedies of both Jews from Arab countries and Palestinians could have a moderating effect on both populations. Jews from Arab countries would have their history and heritage restored and would become more open to a peaceful arrangement. In turn, the Palestinians would realize that they are not the only ones who have suffered, making them more prone to reconciliation. This conciliatory effect could lead to a beneficial promotion of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and in the Middle East in general.

Source - http://www.iflac.com/jac/jac/ForgottenRefugees.htm

 

Ami Isseroff

Download: This presentation about The Refugee Problem  outlines the differences in status for Palestinian Refugees and all others.

See also: The Refugee Issue

More about refugees from Arab Countries:

My Personal Exodus 

Why I am so Angry -The forgotten Refugees

Zionism for the Ages

There seems to always be one more question!

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries

The forgotten Refugees

 

Israel Advocacy Handbook - Making the Case for Israel - The Case for Israel, Introduction , Concepts & Definitions, Basics, Audience, Forming Opinions, Narratives and Issues, Language, Applying the Basics, Techniques & Tactics, Grass Roots Activism, Cooperation, Using the Web, Proactive Advocacy, Anti-Israel Narrative, Zionist Narrative, Web Use Guide, Grass Roots Guide

 

More About Zionism:

Zionism and the Creation of Israel

More Commentary about Zionism

Zionism and its Impact

Zionist Quotes

Not in My Name - Don't Let Extremists Hijack Zionism

Was Israel Founded Because of the Holocaust??

The Two State Solution is the only solution for peace

You are reading this at  Zionism and Israel Information Center

This page is copyright ©2006 by Zionism and Israel Information Center and Ami Isseroff. You are welcome to quote or selectively use  materials from this page - for nonprofit use in promoting Zionism and the Israeli cause only. However, do not copy entire pages, and remember to credit Zionism and Israel Information Center,  linking to http://www.zionism-israel.com Information about Zionism and Israel . and to - Zionism and Israel - Issues and Answers FAQ

This page was adapted by permission from Jewish Refugees of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict   at MidEastWeb Middle East News and Views.

Also at Zionism and Israel Pages - Issues and answers about Zionism and Israel

Feature article: Zionism and its Impact

Also at Zionism and Israel Pages - Issues and answers about Zionism and Israel

External Zionism Links

This site provides resources about Zionism and Israeli history, including links to source documents. We are not responsible for the information content of these sites.

Please do copy these links, and tell your friends about  http://www.zionism-israel.com Zionism and Israel Information Center

 Thank you.

Sister sites  http://zionism.netfirms.com Zionism Pages  and Zionism and Israel On the Web

Friends:

Zionism - Definition and Brief History - A balanced article that covers the definitions and history of Zionism as well as opposition to Zionism and criticisms by Arabs,  Jewish anti-Zionists.

Labor Zionism - Early History and Critique - Contribution of Labor Zionism to the creation of the Jewish state, and problems of Labor Zionism in a changing reality.

La Bibliothèque Proche Orientale

The Grand Mufti

Israel-Palestina - (Dutch) Middle East Conflict, Israel, Palestine,Zionism... Israël-Palestina Informatie -gids Israël, Zionisme, Palestijnen en Midden-Oosten conflict... Israeli-Palestinian conflict from a European perspective - Dutch and English.

Zionisme - israelinformatie- Zionisme Israel/Jodendom Israelisch-Palestijns Conflict Anti-Semitisme Shoa - a Dutch Web site with many useful Jewish, Zionism and Israel links (in English too).

ZioNation - Zionism-Israel Web Log    Zionism & Israel News  Israel: like this, as if History of Zionism Zionism FAQ Zionism Israel Center Maps of Israel Jew Israel Advocacy  Zionism and its Impact Israel Christian Zionism Site Map