web analytics
October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

The Unbearable Silence about the Jewish Refugees

Today, fewer than 4,500 Jews remain in Arab countries. Israel absorbed and integrated 600,000 of the more than 850,000 who left.

jewishrefugees

The Palestinian narrative of victimhood, emphasizing the pitiful condition of Palestinian refugees, and portraying them as the world’s major refugee problem, has convinced many in the international community to accept this version of their unfortunate plight and the injustices done to them.

That narrative, however, essentially one of historical revisionism, denies the truth that the Jews who left, fled, or were expelled from Arab countries can really be regarded as refugees, as well.

The story of these Jewish refugees has been much less well known than that of the Palestinian refugees, about whose fate international resolutions have been passed, and on whose behalf thirteen UN agencies and organizations have provided aid. The issue of the legitimate rights of the Jewish refugees, and the individual and collective loss of their assets, have not yet been seriously addressed; nor have there been any real attempts in international forums at the restitution of their rights and assets.

The contrast is startling. Between 1949 and 2009 there were 163 resolutions passed in the UN General Assembly dealing with Palestinian refugees; there was not one on Jewish refugees. Similarly, since 1968, the UN Human Rights Council (formerly Commission) has adopted 132 resolutions dealing with the plight of the Palestinian refugees, but not one directed to the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Other specialized agencies of the UN have been specifically established, or charged, to pay attention to the Palestinian refugees. These refugees have benefited from international financial assistance; the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), since 1950, has provided over $13 billion (in 2007 prices). Jewish refugees have received nothing from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the international organization dealing with refugees all over the world except Palestinians, who have the UNRWA solely devoted to them.

The status of those Jews as refugees, although challenged, has been found to be in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Status of Refugees, which established the definition of “refugee,” and which was adopted in July 1951, and entered into force in April 1954.

Jews had been living in what are today Arab countries for over more than 2,500 years, going back to the Babylonian captivity. In 1948, they still accounted for 3.6 per cent of the population in Libya, 2.8 per cent in Morocco, and 2.6 per cent in Iraq. Their social ranking varied in the different countries. In Iraq and Egypt some Jews were successful in occupations and professions, and played some role in their societies; in Yemen and Morocco they were generally uneducated and poor.

In general, Jews in Arab countries living under Islamic rule, were treated as dhimmis, barely tolerated second class citizens, often obliged to pay a tithe, or tax, called a jizya, to remain in the country. In some places, they were allowed limited religious, educational, and business, opportunities, but in other places, they were denied civil and human rights; suffered legal discrimination; had property taken, and were deprived of citizenship.

In the 20th century, both before and after the creation of Israel, in a number of Arab countries Jews were threatened — physically, economically, and socially. Jews there experienced riots, mass arrests, confiscation of property, economic boycotts, and limits on employment in many occupations. They also endured limits on admission to colleges, and on personal movement, as well as pogroms which occurred in Libya, Syria, Morocco, and especially Iraq, where in the space of two days in June 1941, in Baghdad, a pogrom, known as the Farhud, took place: under the pro-Nazi regime of Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, 179 Jews were murdered and 600 injured by rioters.

In Libya, in 1945, rioters in Tripoli killed more than 140 Jews. A number of other Arab countries saw Jews murdered, kidnapped, and in general encounter discrimination, expulsion, and exclusion from citizenship.

The Arab League countries decided to take away the citizenship of their Jews. Iraq deprived its Jews of their citizenship in 1950, and of their property in 1951. Egypt and Libya issued laws that “Zionists” were not nationals. They disregarded Jews having lived in those countries for more than a thousand years before the birth of Muhammad in 570, and the emergence of Islam in the 7th century.

With the creation of Israel in 1948, Jews in Arab and Islamic Middle East countries experienced spoliation, organized discrimination, violence, attacks and pogroms.

Libya in 1961 deprived the less than 10% of the Jews who had remained there of their citizenship, as did Algeria in 1962. Iraq seized the property of Jews. As a result, Jews began leaving, were driven out, or were brought out. By the mid 1970s almost all Jews — more than 850,000 — had left those countries. According to figures and analysis provided by “Justice for Jews from Arab Countries,” and by Stanley Urman, its executive vice president, the largest numbers came from Morocco (265,000); Algeria (140,000); Iraq (135,000), and Tunisia (105,000). Almost all of the 55,000 Jews living in Yemen were taken to Israel by the air operation, “Magic Carpet.” About 130,000 Jews were airlifted from Iraq to Israel.

Today, fewer than 4,500 Jews remain in Arab countries. Israel absorbed and integrated 600,000 of the more than 850,000 who left.

It is high time to end the virtual silence and unwillingness to consider the question of Jewish refugees, and to recognize that they should be part of any final resolution of the Middle East refugee problem. The crucial United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22 1967 mentioned that a comprehensive peace settlement should include “a just settlement of the refugee problem.” It was Arthur Goldberg, the U.S. representative to the UN largely responsible for drafting the Resolution, who clarified that the language referred “both to Arab and Jewish refugees, for about an equal number of each abandoned their homes as a result of the several wars.” The implication was that any arrangements made would apply to all — not only Arab — refugees in the Middle East.

This point of view is reflected in both bilateral and multilateral agreements. The Camp David Framework for Peace in the Middle East of 1978, Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979, the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty of 1994, the Madrid Conference of 1991-92, and the Israel-Palestinian Agreements beginning in 1993, including the Declaration of Principles of September 1993 and the Interim Agreement of September 1995, all articulated similar language.

Similarly, the UNHCR announced on two occasions, in February 1957 and in July 1967, that Jews who had fled from Arab countries “may be considered prima facie within the mandate of this office,” thus regarding them, according to international law, as bona fide refugees.

In any settlement, the property abandoned by Jews would need to be taken into account. Calculation of this, although not easy, has been assessed as some $300 billion; and Jewish-owned real estate — about four times the size of Israel — at about $6 billion.

The international community is long overdue, in dealing with the Palestinian refugees, to see that equity prevails. It should be conscious of the rights of Jewish refugees, who, as a result of Arab and Islamic behavior, have suffered by being deprived of rights and property. The international community should also call for redress for these descendants. Some form of compensation is due the Jewish refugees; and discussion of it should be part of final status talks in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

About the Author: Michael Curtis is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Rutgers University, and author of the forthcoming book, Should Israel Exist? A sovereign nation under assault by the international community.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Unbearable Silence about the Jewish Refugees”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Abu Usamah Somali, thought to be Farah Mohammed Shirdon of Calgary, Alberta in Canada.
Canadian ISIS Fighter Threatens to Behead Netanyahu [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
terrorists

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

obama

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, in better times (left) and in his prison cell (right).

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza City on April 22. Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to establish a unity government, but since then little progress has been made.

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

More Articles from Michael Curtis
Rania Okby, Bedouin Israeli on faculty of Ben Gurion University Health Sciences School

Boko Haram enforces a patriarchal oriented society in which women are treated as “sexual slaves.”

Arab Woman

These feminists are so anti-Israel that they ignore Arab women’s lack of political and social freedom

With the Syrian government refusing to allow UN inspectors into the country it is difficult to see how indisputable proof of use of chemical weapons can be found

Sweden is now a country where orthodox Jews are afraid to wear a skullcap.

Since June 2005, the EU has given more than $48 million to over 90 NGOs based in Israel, who are regarded as critical of Israel.

The EU has yet to appreciate the reality that the conflict continues because of the refusal of the Palestinians to accept the right of the State of Israel to exist.

Today, fewer than 4,500 Jews remain in Arab countries. Israel absorbed and integrated 600,000 of the more than 850,000 who left.

The Palestinians have asked the World Heritage Committee (WHC) of UNESCO to recognize Battir, a village about 5 miles west of Bethlehem, as a World Heritage Site and add it to the 936 sites already maintained by UNESCO. The city’s original name was Betar, the last fortress of Bar Kochba and the name of Jabotinsky’s Zionist youth movement.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/the-unbearable-silence-about-the-jewish-refugees/2012/12/17/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: