Jews of color in Israel present an inconvenient truth for anti-Zionists, since more than half of Israel’s Jewish population is Mizrachi (from Middle Eastern Arab countries) or Sephardi (from North Africa). Anti-Semites often claim that Israeli Jews are white Europeans. Many readers may not know that November 30th commemorates Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran. Jews from these lands were persecuted and eventually expelled or forced to flee. They experienced discrimination. Their businesses were destroyed. They endured torture, assault, murder, arbitrary arrest, and ultimately ethnic cleansing. Their story has rarely been told.
Jews in countries including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco, Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Iran had been living there for 2500 to 3000 years, long before the Islamic conquest of the 7th century CE. When the Muslims conquered, they ruled that inhabitants could either convert to Islam, be killed, or become “dhimmi” which means they did not have the same rights of Muslims. Jews as dhimmi always had to lower themselves in the presence of a Muslim, had to pay poll taxes, had no protection under Islamic law if attacked, for example.
Discrimination and Violence Against Jews
The discrimination and violence against Jews escalated after the UN accepted the partition plan to create the state of Israel on November 29, 1947. Jews fled for their lives, or they were outright expelled. More than 856,000 Jews from Arab lands and Iran left their homes with next to nothing. They lost their country, history, holy sites, community, and left behind family remains in cemeteries that were desecrated. The majority came to Israel in the 1950s when it was still struggling to settle Holocaust survivors.
Approximately 40,000 square miles of land was taken from Jews–five times the size of Israel. Jewish life in Muslim lands has all but ended due to the ethnic cleansing.
How were Jewish and Arab Palestinian Refugees Different?
Much is claimed about Jews taking land from Muslim Arabs with the establishment of Israel, but there are key differences.
- The number of Jewish refugees far exceeds the number of Arab Palestinian refugees.
- Many Arab Palestinian refugees were active combatants in the war against Israel, not innocent bystanders. By contrast, not a single Jewish refugee was a combatant against any Arab country.
- The Israeli War of Independence was a defensive war against aggressor countries, it was not directed against the Palestinian population. Conversely, Arab governments directed their war specifically against their Jewish populations.
- The majority of Arabs in British Palestine were encouraged to leave by their own Arab leaders so it would be easier for them to exterminate the Jews of Israel.
- Jews in Arab lands lived there long enough to accumulate property and wealth. In contrast, the majority of the Palestinian Arabs came to the area as newcomers, laborers during Ottoman and British rule. Therefore, potential reparations would be much greater for Jewish refugees.
- Jewish refugees were absorbed by Israel or other countries. Many Palestinian Arab refugees still live in camps because Arab countries refuse to absorb them.
- A special agency (UNRWA) was established for the Arab Palestinians. No other group of refugees in the world has had its own UN agency.
- Arab Palestinian refugees have already received over 75 billion dollars in aid from UNWRA, 25% of which came from the USA. Much of this funding was surreptitiously funneled into terrorist activities against Jews. This misappropriated funding was discontinued under the Trump administration. Jewish refugees received no aid from the UN.
There have been 172 UN resolutions on behalf of Arab Palestinian refugees, and zero for Jewish refugees. Why no tears for Jewish refugees? Israel took in their own. It’s time for Arab countries do the same and take in Palestinians as their own.
Caption for featured photo: Yemenite Jews expelled between 1949 and 1950