30 November

In November 2014 the Israeli government dedicated November 30 of every year as a day to honor and remember the Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab countries following 1948’s Arab-Israeli War.These are some of their stories

“We disappeared.” The story of Jewish refugees from Arab lands
The stories of the people who witnessed the end of Jewish life in their countries of origin, from Iraq to Libya, and were forced to start from scratch: the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Jewish presence in Arab countries long predates Islam and the Arab conquest of the Middle East and goes back to Biblical times. According to official statistics, over 850,000 Jews were forced to leave their homes in Arab countries between 1948 and the early 1970s. Today, there are fewer than 7,000 Jews left.

The Exile of Jews from Arab Lands – Noemi Lieberman
On December 1, 1947, two days after the U.N. General Assembly approved the Partition Plan, pogroms erupted in most Arab states. These pogroms were a result of the incitement in the state-run media in those countries, and was supposed serve as retribution for U.N. plan. The Arabs considered the partition to be a betrayal by the international community, and many in Arab world still hold that view today and refuse to accept the notion that the Jews should have a state.

They had to sneak out like a criminal in the night. They had to leave everything. They could not take any luggage. They had to dress in layers to take whatever cloths they wanted.

“We were just going out for the evening”,

They did not know the route. They had to use Code Words.
Jews could not have Passports.
They could not return.

“We really lived in denial…”

When they start killing Jews in the street, it is time to leave.

Bernard-Henri Lévy — French philosopher, filmmaker, and activist warns American Jews; Bernard-Henri Lévy Says Election of Donald Trump a ‘Major Event for Jews’; Warns of Rise of ‘American Antisemitism’

From Jewish Virtual Library

the Jewish Virtual Library. logo https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org

the Jewish Virtual Library. logo https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org

Fact Sheet: Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

(Updated December 2015) http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/talking/jew_refugees.html
Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees from the aftermath of the 1948 Israeli War of Independence and the 1967 Six Day War, little is said about the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to flee from Arab states before and after the creation of Israel. In fact, these refugees were largely forgotten because they were assimilated into their new homes, most in Israel, and neither the United Nations nor any other international agency took up their cause or demanded restitution for the property and money taken from them. Legislation passed in the Knesset during 2015 designated November 30 as a day of recognition for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. To read a PDF file about Jewish refugees from Arab countries put together by Ashley Perry, the Director General of the Knesset Caucus for the Reconnection with the Descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Communities, please click here.

Yemenite Jews flee during Operation Magic Carpet

Yemenite Jews flee during Operation Magic Carpet

In 1945, roughly 1 million Jews lived peacefully in the various Arab states of the Middle East, many of them in communities that had existed for thousands of years. After the Arabs rejected the United Nations decision to partition Palestine and create a Jewish state, however, the Jews of the Arab lands became targets of their own governments’ anti-Zionist fervor. As Egypt’s delegate to the UN in 1947 chillingly told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition.” The dire warning quickly became the brutal reality.

Throughout 1947 and 1948, Jews in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Morocco, Syria, and Yemen (Aden) were persecuted, their property and belongings were confiscated, and they were subjected to severe anti-Jewish riots instigated by the governments. In Iraq, Zionism was made a capital crime. In Syria, anti-Jewish pogroms erupted in Aleppo and the government froze all Jewish bank accounts. In Egypt, bombs were detonated in the Jewish quarter, killing dozens. In Algeria, anti-Jewish decrees were swiftly instituted and in Yemen, bloody pogroms led to the death of nearly 100 Jews.

In January 1948, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Stephen Wise, appealed to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall: “Between 800,000 and a million Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, exclusive of Palestine, are in ‘the greatest danger of destruction’ at the hands of Moslems being incited to holy war over the Partition of Palestine … Acts of violence already perpetrated, together with those contemplated, being clearly aimed at the total destruction of the Jews, constitute genocide, which under the resolutions of the General Assembly is a crime against humanity.” In May 1948, the New York Times echoed Wise’s appeal, and ran an article headlined, “Jews in Grave Danger in all Muslim Lands: Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia face wrath of their foes.”

With their lives in danger and the situation growing ever more perilous, the Jews of the Arab World fled their homes as refugees.

Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1972, more than 200,000 found refuge in Europe and North America while 586,000 were resettled in Israel – at great expense to the Israeli government, and without any compensation from the Arab governments who had confiscated their possessions. The majority of the Jewish refugees left their homes penniless and destitute and with nothing more than the shirts on their backs. These Jews, however, had no desire to be repatriated in the Arab World and little is heard about them because they did not remain refugees for long.

In Israel, a newly independent country that was still facing existential threats to its survival, the influx of immigrants nearly doubled the population and a put a great strain on an economy struggling to just meet the needs of its existing population.  The Jewish State, however, never considered turning away the refugees and, over the years, worked to absorb them into society.

Iraqi Jews flee as refugees to Israel

Iraqi Jews flee as refugees to Israel

Overall, the number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel’s independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine. The contrast between the Jewish refugees and the Palestinian refugees grows even starker considering the difference in cultural and geographic dislocation – most of the Jewish refugees traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to a tiny country whose inhabitants spoke a different language and lived with a vastly different culture. Most Palestinian refugees traveled but a few miles to the other side of the 1949 armistice lines while remaining inside a linguistically, culturally and ethnically similar society.

Moreover, the value of Jewish property left behind and confiscated by the Arab governments is estimated to be at least 50 percent higher than the total value of assets lost by the Palestinian refugees.  In the 1950’s, John Measham Berncastle, under the aegis of the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine, estimated that total assets lost by Palestinian refugees from 1948 – including land, buildings, movable property, and frozen bank accounts – amounted to roughly $350 million ($650 per refugee). Adding in an additional $100 million for assets lost by Palestinian refugees as a result of the Six Day War, an approximate total is $450 million – $4.4 billion in 2012 prices. By contrast, the value of assets lost by the Jewish refugees – compiled by a similar methodology – is estimated at $700 million – roughly $6.7 billion today. …

Old Historians, New Historians, No Historians: The Derailed Debate on 1948


Print Friendly, PDF & Email