On October 20, 2016, the New York Times profiled a rising Israeli member of Knesset, Miri Regev. The article, “Miri Regev’s Culture War,” highlighted her background in Israel’s “periphery,” as part of the Mizrachi or “Eastern” communities.
The Times stated that “Mizrachi” is “a catchall term that includes Jewish communities from Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the Sephardic Jews, whose origins can be traced to Spain and Portugal, who settled there. These communities immigrated to Israel in mass waves after its founding in 1948 and into the early 1950s, upending its demographic makeup. The Jewish population, almost exclusively Ashkenazi, became more than 40 percent Mizrahi. But it wasn’t just the country’s ethnic composition that changed. The Jewish population that predated the founding of the state was primarily young, secular and idealistic; it was also heavily male. By contrast, the new Mizrahi arrivals tended to be large families from traditional societies. In their ethnic garb, often with no knowledge of Hebrew, they struck the native-born Israeli sabras and the European Ashkenazim as provincial and uneducated.”
Read the passage again. It sounds like these Jews simply left the MENA region because they wanted to go to the newly reestablished Jewish State after Israel was founded in 1948. Nowhere in the article is there any sense that these Mizrachi Jews suffered any persecution by the Muslim nations. Such poor treatment was only under the elitist Ashkenazi Jews from Israel.
This was a continued insult and mischaracterization of history by the media of the over 850,000 Jews that were forcibly expelled or fled for their lives from communities that they had lived in for centuries, due to Muslims anger over the founding of the Jewish State in a place that they deemed “Arab land.”
The Muslim Expulsion of the Jews
Roughly two-thirds of the Jewish refugees from the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) went to Israel, while one-third fled to France. France was a natural place for Jews to flee French-speaking Arab countries such as Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia.
Algeria. Pogroms in Algeria began shortly after the Palestine Mandate to reestablish a Jewish homeland took effect, killing dozens in the 1920s and 1930s. During World War II, Jews were stripped of their citizenship when Nazis took over France, as Algeria was technically part of France. The French Vichy regime was particularly harsh to Jews, stripping them of most rights and ability to work.
Even as the war ended, Muslims put in place their own anti-Jewish laws. In 1962, when Algeria declared independence from France, virtually the entire Jewish community fled, seeing the Nuremberg-type laws in Muslim countries, and the fate of Jews in the rest of the MENA region. The majority of Jews went to France, while many moved to Israel.
Egypt. Nationality Laws in 1927 and 1929 gave preference to Egyptians who were Arab-Muslim. The laws made it difficult for Jews to gain citizenship, and in 1947, it is estimated that only 10,000 of the 75,000 Jews in Egypt had citizenship, while the rest were either stateless or were foreign nationals.
Jews came under direct attack at the founding of Israel, including bombings of Jewish neighborhoods in 1948 which killed 70, and a bombing in the Cairo Jewish Quarter in 1949 that killed 34.
When the Suez War with Israel broke out in 1956, there was no more room for Jews. On November 23, 1956, the Egyptian Minister for Religious Affairs declared that “all Jews and Zionists are enemies of the state,” as Egypt moved to expel the Jews and confiscate their property.
Iraq. In the 1920s, Jews were prohibited from teaching Hebrew or Jewish history. In July 1948, Iraq made Zionism a crime, punishable with up to seven years in jail. In October 1948, all Jews who held positions in government were fired. In May 1950, Jews in Iraq were stripped of their citizenship and the government began to seize all Jewish property.
In response to the edicts, in 1951 and 1952, Israel launched Operation Ezra and Nechemia to airlift the Jews out of the country to safety. The Jewish community in Iraq that had stood had close to 130,000 people was quickly down to a mere 3000.
After the Arab armies were defeated in another war in 1967, the remnant of Jews in Iraq would find the situation unbearable. On January 27, 1969, the government hanged nine Jews in the public square to the cheers of Iraqis. The Jewish community in Iraq was soon no more.
Libya. Jews were attacked by Libyans in the immediate aftermath of World War II, with 140 murdered in a pogrom. The Libyan government’s Nationality Law of 1951 prohibited Jews from having Libyan passports, and Jews were no longer allowed to vote or hold public office. By 1953, Jews in the country were subject to broad economic boycotts. The community of roughly 40,000 Jews dwindled to just 6 people.
Morocco. The Jewish community in Morocco was one of the largest in the MENA region, estimated at over 250,000 people.
After Israel’s declaration of independence in May 1948, two pogroms broke out in Morocco, in the towns of Oujda and Djerrada. The attacks killed 47 people, wounded hundreds and lefts hundreds homeless. Not surprisingly, 10% of the country’s Jews quickly fled the country.
After Morocco declared independence in 1956, an Arabization of the country commenced, cutting Jews off from parts of society. At the same time, the government prohibited emigration to Israel, which lasted until 1963. In 1961, roughly 90,000 Moroccan Jews had to be ransomed in Operation Yakhnin, bringing Jews to Israel. In the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War, another 40,000 Jews fled to Israel.
Syria. In 1947, the sale of any real estate to Jews was prohibited, Jews were discharged from public office, and in 1949, the governments seized Jews’ financial assets. In 1950, Jews were forced to leave the farming industry. Syrians took the message, an initiated pogroms from November 1947 through August 1949, killing many as they looted Jewish homes and stores.
As Jews fled, the country had their assets seized by the state.
More edicts would follow for the Jews that remained. In 1967, Muslims were placed as principals of all Jewish schools. In 1973, with the onset of the Yom Kippur War, new edicts were enforced that Jews could no longer communicate with anyone outside of Syria.
Tunisia. Tunisia’s independence in 1956 led to an Islamification of society and placed Jews in a secondary dhimmi status. From that point on, all Jewish businesses were forced to take on a Muslim partner.
The old Tunis Jewish cemetery was expropriated in 1957, and the great Tunis synagogue was destroyed in 1960. As Jews began to flee the country in 1961 as they had in the rest of the MENA region, Tunisia only allowed Jews to take one dinar with them, as the country confiscated the rest of their possessions.
Yemen. Sharia law was instituted in 1913, and all Jewish orphans were forcibly converted to Islam. In the 1920s, Jews became excluded from the army and public service.
In 1947, riots in Aden killed 82 Jews, and in 1948, Yemeni Jews began to lose control of their possessions, with laws forcing Jews to transfer all crafts to Arabs before leaving the country.
As a result of the crisis, Operation Magic Carpet airlifted 49,000 Jews out of the country between June 1949 and September 1950.
TOTALS. The number of Jews that fled persecution from homes they lived in for centuries was between 850,000 and 1 million people.
- Algeria 140,000
- Egypt 75,000
- Iraq 135,000
- Lebanon 5,000
- Libya 38,000
- Morocco 265,000
- Syria 30,000
- Tunisia 105,000
- Yemen 55,000
This total of 850,000 Jews does not include the Jews who fled Iran and Afghanistan.
Yet the New York Times chose to write that Jews “immigrated” to Israel, implying no malice on the part of Arabs, nor fear in the hearts of Jews. The paper implies that the Mizrachi Jews sought to take advantage of the new Jewish State. Maybe for economic opportunities.
This characterization comes from the same media source that makes every effort to describe Palestinian Arabs as “refugees,” and despondent, even when they are living just a few miles from the homes where their grandparents sought to destroy the nascent Jewish state.
The New York Times has a long history of only parroting the Palestinian Arab narrative in their collective fight against Israel. It has now further chosen to whitewash the crimes of the entire Muslim Arab world that forcibly rid their nations of Jews as they robbed them of their dignity, lives and property.
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