Fact: Arabs per­se­cuted Jews

New ev­i­dence sug­gests that Arab coun­tries eth­ni­cally cleansed them­selves of Jews


IN A FEW days’ time we shall cel­e­brate the 60th an­niver­sary of the pas­sage, by the Gen­eral As­sem­bly of the United Na­tions, of Res­o­lu­tion 181. This was the res­o­lu­tion that au­tho­rised the divi­sion of Man­date Pales­tine (or, more ac­cu­rately, Western Man­date Pales­tine) into a Jewish state and an Arab state, with Greater Jerusalem un­der in­ter­na­tional con­trol.

Prior to this his­toric vote, the head of the Egyp­tian del­e­ga­tion at the UN, Dr Muhammad Haykal (a rel­a­tively lib­eral in­tel­lec­tual and politician), had warned that, were the western por­tion of Man­date Pales­tine to be so par­ti­tioned, there would in­evitably fol­low a wave of anti-Jewish feel­ing in the Arab world, and that Jewish blood would be spilled. And so it was.

The UN’s his­toric de­ci­sion to reestab­lish a Jewish state in Pales­tine was taken on Novem­ber 29, 1947. On the very next day, a num­ber of Jews in Pales­tine were killed by Is­lamic mil­i­tants. Else­where in the Arab world, no dis­tinc­tion what­ever was made be­tween Jews and Zion­ists. There fol­lowed a cam­paign of ha­rass­ment and vi­o­lence against Jewish pop­u­la­tions that had lived in th­ese ar­eas for cen­turies, if not for mil­len­nia. As a re­sult, be­tween 1948 and 1951, around 850,000 Jews fled from Arab coun­tries to the re-es­tab­lished Jewish state. Th­ese are in­deed the “for­got­ten refugees” of the Arab-Is­raeli con­flict.

Some months ago, ap­pear­ing at a panel dis­cus­sion on this con­flict, I drew at­ten­tion to this eth­nic cleans­ing, only to be told by my op­po­nents that the story that Jews had been forced to flee Arab lands was a myth — an­other piece of mis­chievous Zion­ist pro­pa­ganda. No Jew (I was told) had been forced to flee. Zion­ists de­lib­er­ately planted bombs in syn­a­gogues and Jewish com­mer­cial prop­erty in or­der to “stim­u­late” a Jewish ex­o­dus to Is­rael. In Iraq (I was told) Zion­ist agents paid Jews to em­i­grate, whilst in Libya the gov­ern­ment made des­per­ate at­tempts to per­suade its beloved Jews to stay put. If there were gen­uine at­tacks against Jews, th­ese were few and far be­tween, and no ef­fort was spared to pro­tect th­ese un­for­tu­nates from the wrath of lo­cal Is­lamists.

The truth is very dif­fer­ent. There were bloody pogroms against Jews in Syria and the Ye­men. In Libya, Jews were stripped of their cit­i­zen­ship. In Iraq, Jewish prop­erty was con­fis­cated.

Re­cently, ev­i­dence has come to light sug­gest­ing that th­ese col­lec­tive per­se­cu­tions were care­fully planned and co-or­di­nated. Ear­lier this month, at the New York of­fices of the Amer­i­can Jewish Com­mit­tee, Jus­tice for Jews from Arab Coun­tries pre­sented a re­port on the eth­nic cleans­ing of Jews from Arab lands. Within the re­port, new ev­i­dence is pub­lished drawn from the UN’s own ar­chives.

Amongst th­ese is ad­vice, drafted by the Arab League in 1947, on how Arab coun­tries might sys­tem­at­i­cally dis­crim­i­nate against their Jewish cit­i­zens: all Jews, save those who were cit­i­zens of non-Arab coun­tries, were to be con­sid­ered and treated as mem­bers of the Jewish “mi­nor­ity state of Pales­tine”; their bank ac­counts were to be frozen so as to per­mit the funds in them to be used to fi­nance re­sis­tance to “Zion­ist am­bi­tions in Pales­tine”; Jews be­lieved to be ac­tive Zion­ists were to be in­terned as po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers and their as­sets con­fis­cated; only Jews who ac­cepted ser­vice in Arab armies or who placed them­selves at the dis­posal of th­ese armies were to con­sid­ered “Arabs”, with the rights and pro­tec­tions that went with this clas­si­fi­ca­tion.

It is now clear that the guid­ance of the Arab League was fol­lowed very closely by a num­ber of Arab gov­ern­ments, whose leg­isla­tive dis­crim­i­na­tion against Jews mir­rored — and still mir­rors, some­times al­most ver­ba­tim — the ad­vice that the League of­fered.

How will the UN mark the 60th an­niver­sary of the par­ti­tion res­o­lu­tion? Well, in a typ­i­cal and typ­i­cally spite­ful per­ver­sion of the truth, Novem­ber 29 is of­fi­cially recog­nised by the “mod­ern” UN as the In­ter­na­tional Day of Sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tinian Peo­ple. This year, as in past years, the UN will hold spe­cial meet­ings in New York, Geneva and Vi­enna to ce­ment this “sol­i­dar­ity” and to call to mind the “in­alien­able” rights of Pales­tinian Arabs.

The de­ci­sion to so des­ig­nate Novem­ber 29 was taken in 1977. No men­tion what­ever was made, when this de­ci­sion was taken, of the in­alien­able rights of the Jews forced from their homes and de­prived of their prop­erty and even of their lives as a re­sult of in­sti­tu­tion­alised ha­rass­ment in the Arab coun­ties in which they lived 60 years ago.

As the peace­mak­ers gather in An­napo­lis, it is vi­tal to keep alive the mem­ory of this state-sanc­tioned per­se­cu­tion.

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