Jewish exodus from Arab lands: Wikis


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Yemenite Jews en route from Aden to Israel
Great Synagogue of Oran, confiscated and turned into a mosque after the ethnic cleansing of all Jews from Algeria

The Jewish exodus from Arab lands refers to the 20th century expulsion and mass departure of Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab and Islamic countries. The migration started in the late 19th century, but accelerated after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. Between 800,000-1,000,000 Jews were forced to leave their homes in Arab countries due to persecution and anti-Semitism.


Scope of expulsion

It is estimated that 800,000 to 1,000,000 Jews were either forced from their homes or left the Arab countries from 1948 until the early 1970s; 260,000 reached Israel between 1948–1951, and 600,000 by 1972.[1][2][3] The Jews of Egypt and Libya were expelled while those of Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and North Africa left as a result of physical and political insecurity. Most were forced to abandon their property.[2] By 2002, these Jews and their descendants constituted about 40% of Israel's population.[3] One of the main representative bodies of this group, the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries, (WOJAC) estimates that Jewish property abandoned in Arab countries would be valued today at more than $300 billion[4][5] and Jewish-owned real-estate left behind in Arab lands at 100,000 square kilometers (four times the size of the state of Israel).[1][5] The organization asserts that the Jewish exodus was the result of a deliberate policy decision taken by the Arab League.[6]

Exodus causes

The Arab world consists of 22 countries in which Arabic is the main language. In those countries North of the Sahara a Jewish presence dates back to the Babylonian captivity in the 6th century BCE and, outside of Arabia, predates the Arab presence by a thousand years. The movement of Jews within the Arab countries took place before the 20th century as well, with an estimated 10% of Yemenite Jews migrating to Palestine between 1881 and 1914; however the scale of the exodus in the 20th century and the disappearance of these communities marked a significant change in both Jewish and Middle-Eastern history.

The precise circumstances of the Jewish exodus vary between Arab regions and states and changed over time. On the one hand, many Jews experienced tension within the Arab countries, as did other minorities. Conversely, the idea of Zionism and of a Jewish state was appealing to the Jews; however, this entailed leaving the land in which they had lived for generations. Insecurity was exacerbated by the process of the Arab struggle for independence and the conflict in Palestine and in some cases this led to physical expulsion and appropriation of property.

During the Second World War Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya came under Nazi or Vichy French occupation and these Jews were subject to various persecutions. In other areas Nazi propaganda targeted Arab populations under British or French rule.[7] National Socialist propaganda contributed to the transfer of racial antisemitism to the Arab world and is likely to have unsettled Jewish communities.[8] In June 1941 there was a coup d'état in Iraq. Following the collapse of the new regime, an anti-Jewish pogrom took place, leading to the death of 180 Jews. Anti-Jewish riots involving the loss of life also took place in Libya in 1945, in Yemen in 1947 and in Egypt, Morocco and Iraq in 1948. At the same time, independent Arab countries began to encourage Jewish emigration to Israel.[9][10][11] Arab pogroms against Jews appeared to spread throughout the Arab world, and there were intensified riots in Yemen and Syria in particular. In Libya, Jews were deprived of citizenship, and in Iraq, their property was seized. Those Jews who were forced to emigrate were not allowed to take their property. In recent years a Jewish advocacy group, JJAC has alleged that Arab League members formulated a coordinated policy to expel or force the departure of the Jewish population.[12]

From 1948-1949, the Israeli government secretly airlifted 50,000 Jews from the Yemen and from 1950–1952, 130,000 Jews were airlifted from Iraq. From 1949-1951, 30,000 Jews fled Libya to Israel. In these cases over 90% of the Jewish population opted to leave, despite the necessity of leaving their property behind.[13]

Claims are made that Jews emigrated either because of the influence of Zionism or due to persecution by Arab countries;[14] however, as no surveys were taken at the time and as the one does not contradict the other it is not possible to effectively separate the two causes.

There are controversial claims about the methods employed by Israeli officials in their attempts to stimulate emigration to Israel. Historian Moshe Gat contends that, in the most famous case in Iraq, the claim that the bombings were carried out by Zionists is contrary to the evidence, and in any event the impetus for the Jewish-Iraqi exodus was the imminent expiration of the denaturalisation law (allowing Jews to leave), not the bombing.[15]

Within a few years of the Six Day War (1967) there were only remnants of Jewish communities left in most Arab lands. Jews in Arab lands were reduced from more than 800,000 in 1948 to perhaps 16,000 in 1991.[16] Most Jews in Arab lands eventually immigrated to the modern State of Israel,[16] and by 2003 they and their offspring, (including those of mixed linage) comprised 3,136,436 people, or about 61% of Israel's Jewish population.[17] France was also a major destination and about 50% of French Jews now originate from North Africa.

Jewish refugee absorption

Of the nearly 900,000 Jewish refugees, approximately 680,000 were absorbed by Israel; the remainder went to Europe (mainly to France) and the Americas.[18][19] Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees to Israel were temporarily settled in the numerous tent cities called ma'abarot (transit camps) in Hebrew. The ma'abarot existed until 1963. Their population was gradually absorbed and integrated into Israeli society, a substantial logistical achievement, without help from the United Nations' various refugee organizations. Many of the refugees had a hard time adjusting to the new dominant culture and change of lifestyle and there were also claims of discrimination. In 1971, these sentiments led to the establishment of the Israeli Black Panther movement.

Jewish Nakba

In response to the Palestinian Nakba narrative, there has been increasing usage of the term "Jewish Nakba" to refer to the persecution and expulsion of Jews from Arab countries in the years and decades following the creation of the State of Israel. Israeli columnist Ben Dror Yemini, himself a Mizrahi Jew, wrote:[20]

However, there is another Nakba: the Jewish Nakba. During those same years [the 1940's], there was a long line of slaughters, of pogroms, of property confiscation and of deportations against Jews in Islamic countries. This chapter of history has been left in the shadows. The Jewish Nakba was worse than the Palestinian Nakba. The only difference is that the Jews did not turn that Nakba into their founding ethos. To the contrary.

Professor Ada Aharoni, chairman of The World Congress of the Jews from Egypt, argues in an article entitled "What about the Jewish Nakba?" that "we must present the truth about the expulsion of the Jews from Arab states." Doing so could facilitate a genuine peace process since Palestinians would "realize they were not the only ones who suffered," [and] their sense of victimization and rejectionism will decline."[21]

Additionally, Canadian MP and international human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler has referred to the "double Nakba." He criticizes the Arab states rejectionism of the Jewish state, their subsequent invasion to destroy the newly formed nation, and the punishment meted out against their local Jewish populations:[22]

The result was, therefore, a double Nakba: not only of Palestinian-Arab suffering and the creation of a Palestinian refugee problem, but also, with the assault on Israel and on Jews in Arab countries, the creation of a second, much less known, group of refugees - Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Jewish population in Arab countries, 1948-2008

In 1945, there were between 758,000 and 866,000 Jews (see table below) living in communities throughout the Arab world. Today, there are fewer than 8,600. In some Arab states, such as Libya, which was about 3% Jewish, the Jewish community no longer exists; in other Arab countries, only a few hundred Jews remain.

Jewish Populations of Arab Countries: 1948 and 2001/2008
Country or territory 1948 Jewish
Jewish % of total
population, 1948
Estimated Jewish
population 2001[23]
Estimated Jewish
population 2008
Aden 8,000[24] ~0 ~0
Algeria 140,000[24][25] 1.6% ~0 ~0
Bahrain 550-600[26] 0.5% 36 around 30 people.[27]
Egypt 75,000[24]-80,000[25] 0.4% ~100 fewer than a hundred remain.[28]
Iraq 135,000[24]-140,000[25] 2.6% ~200 7-8 in Baghdad and fewer than 100 remain.[29]
Lebanon 5,000[24]-20,000[30] 0.4-2% < 100 around 40 in Beirut.[31]
Libya 35,000[25]-38,000[24] 3.6% 0 ~0
Morocco 250,000[25]-265,000[24] 2.8% 5,230 fewer than 7,000.[32]
Qatar  ?  ?  ? a few Jews are reported.[33]
Syria 15,000[25]-30,000[24] 0.4-0.9% ~100 fewer than 300 remain.[34]
Tunisia 50,000[25]-105,000[24] 1.4-3.0% ~1,000 in 2004 estimated 1,500 remain.[35]
Yemen 45,000[25]-55,000[24] 1.0% ~200 a few hundred remain.[36]
Total 758,000 - 881,000 <6,500 <8,600
Jewish Populations of non-Arab Muslim Countries: 1948 and 2001
Country or territory 1948 Jewish
Estimated Jewish
population 2001
Estimated Jewish
population 2008-2009
Afghanistan 5,000 1[37] 1 [38]
Azerbaijan 25,000[39]
Iran 70,000-120,000,[40] 100,000, 140,000–150,000 11,000-40,000 fewer than 40,000 remain.[41]
Kurdistan 50,000[42] A small number in Sanandaj and Mahābād.[42]
Pakistan 2,000 N/A A tiny community in Karachi[43]
Tajikistan 100[44]
Turkey 80,000[45] 18,000-30,000[46]
Turkmenistan 700[47]
Uzbekistan 100-1,000[48]


A Jew of Algiers, late 19th century

Almost all Jews in Algeria left upon independence in 1962. Algeria's 140,000 Jews had French citizenship since 1870 (briefly revoked by Vichy France in 1940), and they mainly went to France, with some going to Israel.[49]

Following the brutal Algerian Civil War of 1990s there – in particular, the rebel Armed Islamic Group's 1994 declaration of war on all non-Muslims in the country – most of the thousand-odd Jews previously there, living mainly in Algiers and to a lesser extent Blida, Constantine, and Oran, emigrated. The Algiers synagogue was abandoned after 1994. These Jews themselves represented the remainder of only about 10,000 who had chosen to stay there in 1962.

Jewish migration from North Africa to France has the led to the rejuvenation of the French Jewish community (25% were killed during the Holocaust) which is now the third largest in the world.

In recent years there has been significant migration of Jews from France to Israel.


Bahrain's tiny Jewish community, mostly the descendants of immigrants who entered the country in the early 1900s from Iraq, numbered 600 in 1948. In the wake of the November 29, 1947 U.N. Partition vote, demonstrations against the vote in the Arab world were called for December 2–5. The first two days of demonstrations in Bahrain saw rock throwing against Jews, but on December 5 mobs in the capital of Manama looted Jewish homes and shops, destroyed the synagogue, beat any Jews they could find, and murdered one elderly woman.[50]

Over the next few decades, most left for other countries, especially England; as of 2006 only 36 remained.[51]

Relations between Jews and Muslims are generally considered good, with Bahrain being the only state on the Arabian Peninsula where there is a specific Jewish community and the only Gulf state with a synagogue. One member of the community, Rouben Rouben, who sells electronics and appliances from his downtown showroom, said “95% of my customers are Bahrainis, and the government is our No. 1 corporate customer. I’ve never felt any kind of discrimination.”[51]

Members play a prominent role in civil society: Ebrahim Nono was appointed in 2002 a member of Bahrain's upper house of parliament, the Consultative Council, while a Jewish woman heads a human rights group, the Bahrain Human Rights Watch Society. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the active Jewish community is "a source of pride for Bahraini officials".[51]

In Bahrain's 2006 parliamentary election, some candidates have specifically sought out the Jewish vote; writer Munira Fakhro, Vice President of the Leftist National Democratic Action, standing in Isa Town told the local press: "There are 20-30 Jews in my area and I would be working for their benefit and raise their standard of living."[52]


In 1948, approximately 75,000 Jews lived in Egypt. About 100 remain today, mostly in Cairo. In June 1948, a bomb exploded in Cairo's Karaite quarter, killing 22 Jews. In July 1948, Jewish shops and the Cairo Synagogue were attacked, killing 19 Jews.[1] Hundreds of Jews were arrested and had their property confiscated. The 1954, the Lavon Affair served as a pretext for further persecution of Egyptian Jews. In October 1956, when the Suez Crisis erupted, 1,000 Jews were arrested and 500 Jewish businesses were seized by the government. A statement branding the Jews "enemies of the state" was read out in the mosques of Cairo and Alexandria. Jewish bank accounts were confiscated and many Jews lost their jobs. Lawyers, engineers, doctors and teachers were not allowed to work in their professions. In 1967, Jews were detained and tortured, and Jewish homes were confiscated.[1]

In 1951, the fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion was translated into Arabic and promoted as an authentic historical document, fueling anti-Semitic sentiments in Egypt.[53] In 1960, the Protocols were the subject of an article by Salah Dasuqi, military governor of Cairo, in al-Majallaaa, the official cultural journal.[54] In 1965, the Egyptian government released an English-language pamphlet titled Israel, the Enemy of Africa and distributed it throughout the English-speaking countries of Africa. The pamphlet used the Protocols and The International Jew as its sources and concluded that all the Jews were cheats, thieves, and murderers.[55]


1932 photograph of Ezekiel's Tomb at Kifel. The area was inhabited by Iraqi Jews who appear in the photo.

In 1948, there were approximately 150,000 Jews in Iraq. The community was concentrated in Baghdad and Basra. By 2003, there were only approximately 100 left of this previously thriving community. In 1941, following Rashid Ali's pro-Axis coup, riots known as the Farhud broke out in Baghdad in which approximately 180 Jews were killed and about 240 were wounded, 586 Jewish-owned businesses were looted and 99 Jewish houses were destroyed.[56]

Like most Arab League states, Iraq initially forbade the emigration of its Jews after the 1948 war on the grounds that allowing them to go to Israel would strengthen that state. However, by 1949 Jews were escaping Iraq at about a rate of 1,000 a month (Simon, Reguer, and Laskier, p 365).

Hoping to stem the flow of assets from the country, in March 1950 Iraq passed a law of one year duration allowing Jews to emigrate on condition of relinquishing their Iraqi citizenship. They were motivated, according to Ian Black, by "economic considerations, chief of which was that almost all the property of departing Jews reverted to the state treasury" and also that "Jews were seen as a restive and potentially troublesome minority that the country was best rid of.". Israel was at first reluctant to absorb all the Jews, but eventually yielded and mounted an operation called "Ezra and Nehemiah" to bring as many of the Iraqi Jews as possible to Israel.

At first, the Zionist movement tried to regulate the amount of registrants, until several issues relating to their legal status were clarified. Later on it gave up on that position and allowed everyone to register. Two weeks after the law went into force, the Iraqi interior minister demanded a CID investigation as to why the Jews were not registering. A mere few hours after the movement allowed registrations, a bomb attack injured four Jews at a café on Abu-Nawas street in Baghdad.

In 21.8.1950, the Iraqi minister of interior threatened the company flying the Jews to have its license revoked if it does not fulfil the quota of 500 Jews per day. Later on, on 18.9.1950, Nuri As-said summoned a representative of the Jewish community and told him that he knows that Israel is behind the delay in the departure of the Jews, and threatened to "take them to the borders". On 12.10.1950, Nuri as-said summoned a senior official of the company and made similar threats again, equating the expulsion of Jews with the expulsion of Palestinians.

Two months before the expiry of the law, by which time about 85,000 Jews had registered, a bomb at the Masuda Shemtov Synagogue killed 3 or 5 Jews and injured many. The law expired in March 1951, but was later extended after the Iraqi government froze and later appropriated the assets of departing Jews (including those already left).In 1951 the Iraqi Government passed legislation that made affiliation with Zionism a felony and ordered, "the expulsion of Jews who refused to sign a statement of anti-Zionism."[57] During the next few months, all but a few thousand of the remaining Jews registered for emigration. Four more bombing attack occurred after Jews were not allowed to register anymore. In total, about 120,000 Jews left Iraq.

In May and June 1951, the arms caches of the Zionist underground in Iraq, which had been supplied from Palestine/Israel since the Farhud of 1941, were discovered. Many Jews were arrested and two Zionist activists, Yusuf Basri and Ibrahim Salih, were tried and hanged for three of the bombings, all of which happened after the expiration of the law. A secret Israeli inquiry in 1960 reported that most of the witnesses believed that Jews had been responsible for the bombings, but found no evidence that they were ordered by Israel.[58] The issue remains unresolved: some Iraqi activists in Israel still regularly charge that Israel used violence to engineer the exodus, while Israeli officials of the time vehemently deny it. According to historian Moshe Gatt, few historians believe that Israel was actually behind the bombing campaign—based on factors such as records indicating that Israel did not want such a rapid registration rate and that bomb throwing at Jewish targets was common before 1950, making the Istiqlal Party or the CID a more likely culprit than the Zionist underground. In any case, the remainder of Iraq's Jews left over the next few decades. and had mostly gone by 1970. In 1969 eleven Jews were hanged, nine of them on January 27 in the public squares of Baghdad and Basra. The 2,500 remnant of the community almost entirely fled shortly thereafter.[citation needed]


The area now known as Lebanon was the home of one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world, dating back to at least 300 BCE. In 1948, there were approximately 24,000[59] Jews in Lebanon, with communities in Beirut, and in villages near Mount Lebanon, Deir al Qamar, Barouk, and Hasbayah. While the French mandate saw a general improvement in conditions for Jews, the Vichy regime placed restrictions on them. The Jewish community actively supported Lebanese independence after World War II and had mixed attitudes toward Zionism.[citation needed]

Unlike in other Arab countries, the Lebanese Jewish community did not face grave peril during the 1948 Arab-Israel War and was reasonably protected by governmental authorities. Lebanon was also the only Arab country that saw a post-1948 increase in its Jewish population, principally due to the influx of Jewish refugees coming from Syria and Iraq.

However, negative attitudes toward Jews increased after 1948, and, by 1967, most Lebanese Jews had emigrated - to the United States, Canada, France, and Israel. The remaining Jewish community was particularly hard hit by the civil wars in Lebanon, and, by 1967, most Jews had emigrated. In 1971, Albert Elia, the 69-year-old Secretary-General of the Lebanese Jewish community was kidnapped in Beirut by Syrian agents and imprisoned under torture in Damascus along with Syrian Jews who had attempted to flee the country. A personal appeal by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Agha Khan to the late President Hafez al-Assad failed to secure Elia's release. In the 1980s, Hizballah kidnapped several Lebanese Jewish businessmen, and in the 2004 elections, only one Jew voted in the municipal elections. There are now less than 100 Jews remaining in Lebanon.[60]


In 1948, about 38,000 Jews lived there.[24][61] A series of pogroms started in Tripoli in November 1945; over a period of several days more than 130 Jews (including 36 children) were killed, hundreds were injured, 4,000 were left homeless, and 2,400 were reduced to poverty. Five synagogues in Tripoli and four in provincial towns were destroyed, and over 1,000 Jewish residences and commercial buildings were plundered in Tripoli alone.[62] The pogroms continued in June 1948, when 15 Jews were killed and 280 Jewish homes destroyed.[63]

Between the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 and Libyan independence in December 1951 over 30,000 Libyan Jews emigrated to Israel. In 1967, during the Six-Day War, the Jewish population of 4,000 was again subjected to pogroms in which 18 were killed, and many more injured. The Libyan government "urged the Jews to leave the country temporarily", permitting them each to take one suitcase and the equivalent of $50. In June and July over 4,000 traveled to Italy, where they were assisted by the Jewish Agency. 1,300 went on to Israel, 2,200 remained in Italy, and most of the rest went to the United States. A few scores remained in Libya.[64][65]

In 1970 the Libyan government issued new laws which confiscated all the assets of Libya's Jews, issuing in their stead 15 year bonds. However, when the bonds matured no compensation was paid. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi justified this on the grounds that "the alignment of the Jews with Israel, the Arab nations' enemy, has forfeited their right to compensation."[66]

Although the main synagogue in Tripoli was renovated in 1999, it has not reopened for services. The last Jew in Libya, Esmeralda Meghnagi died in February, 2002. Israel is home to about 40,000 Jews of Libyan descent, who maintain unique traditions.[67]


Jewish Wedding in Morocco by Eugène Delacroix, Louvre, Paris

In Morocco the Vichy regime during World War II passed discriminatory laws against Jews; for example, Jews were no longer able to get any form of credit, Jews who had homes or businesses in European neighborhoods were expelled, and quotas were imposed limiting the percentage of Jews allowed to practice professions such as law and medicine to two percent.[68] King Muhammad V expressed his personal distaste for these laws, and assured Moroccan Jewish leaders that he would never lay a hand "upon either their persons or property". While there is no concrete evidence of him actually taking any actions to defend Morocco's Jews, it has been argued that he may have worked behind the scenes on their behalf.[69]

In June 1948, soon after Israel was established and in the midst of the first Arab-Israeli war, riots against Jews broke out in Oujda and Djerada, killing 44 Jews. In 1948-9, 18,000 Jews left the country for Israel. After this, Jewish emigration continued (to Israel and elsewhere), but slowed to a few thousand a year. Through the early fifties, Zionist organizations encouraged emigration, particularly in the poorer south of the country, seeing Moroccan Jews as valuable contributors to the Jewish State:

...These Jews constitute the best and most suitable human element for settlement in Israel's absorption centers. There were many positive aspects which I found among them: first and foremost, they all know (their agricultural) tasks, and their transfer to agricultural work in Israel will not involve physical and mental difficulties. They are satisfied with few (material needs), which will enable them to confront their early economic problems.
—Yehuda Grinker, The Emigration of Atlas Jews to Israel[70]
Jews of Fez, c. 1900

In 1956, Morocco attained independence. Jews occupied several political positions, including three parliamentary seats and the cabinet position of Minister of Posts and Telegraphs. However, that minister, Leon Benzaquen, did not survive the first cabinet reshuffling, and no Jews was appointed again to a cabinet position.[71] Although the relations with the Jewish community at the highest levels of government were cordial, these attitudes were not shared by the lower ranks of officialsdom, which exhibited attitudes that ranged from traditional contempt to outright hostility".[72] Morocco's increasing identification with the Arab world, and pressure on Jewish educational institutions to arabize and conform culturally added to the fears of Moroccan Jews.[72] Emigration to Israel jumped from 8,171 in 1954 to 24,994 in 1955, increasing further in 1956. Beginning in 1956, emigration to Israel was prohibited until 1961; during that time, however, clandestine emigration continued, and a further 18,000 Jews left Morocco. On January 10, 1961, a boat carrying Jews attempting to flee the country sank off the northern coast of the country; the negative publicity associated with this prompted King Muhammad V to again allow emigration, and over the three following years, more than 70,000 Moroccan Jews left the country.[73] By 1967, only 50,000 Jews remained.[74]

The Six-Day War in 1967 led to increased Arab-Jewish tensions worldwide, including Morocco, and Jewish emigration continued. By the early 1970s the Jewish population was reduced to 25,000; however, most of this wave of emigration went to France, Belgium, Spain, and Canada, rather than Israel.[74]

Despite their current small numbers, Jews continue to play a notable role in Morocco; the king retains a Jewish senior adviser, André Azoulay, and Jewish schools and synagogues receive government subsidies. However, Jewish targets have sometimes been attacked (notably in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Casablanca, see Casablanca Attacks), and there is sporadic anti-Semitic rhetoric from radical Islamist groups. The late King Hassan II's invitations for Jews to return have not been taken up by the people who emigrated; in 1948, over 250,000[25]-265,000[24] Jews lived in Morocco. By 2001 an estimated 5,230 remained.[23]

According to Esther Benbassa, the migration of Jews from the Maghreb countries was prompted by uncertainty about the future.[75]


Jewish wedding in Aleppo, Syria, 1914.

Rioters in Aleppo in 1947 burned the city's Jewish quarter and killed 75 people.[76] In 1948, there were approximately 30,000 Jews in Syria. The Syrian government placed severe restrictions on the Jewish community, including on emigration. Over the next decades, many Jews managed to escape, and the work of supporters, particularly Judy Feld Carr,[77] in smuggling Jews out of Syria, and bringing their plight to the attention of the world, raised awareness of their situation. Following the Madrid Conference of 1991 the United States put pressure on the Syrian government to ease its restrictions on Jews, and on Passover in 1992, the government of Syria began granting exit visas to Jews on condition that they do not emigrate to Israel. At that time, the country had several thousand Jews; today, under a hundred remain. The rest of the Jewish community have emigrated, mostly to the United States and Israel. There is a large and vibrant Syrian Jewish community in South Brooklyn, New York. In 2004, the Syrian government attempted to establish better relations with the emigrants, and a delegation of a dozen Jews of Syrian origin visited Syria in the spring of that year.[78] abarham Baruch Sattler israeli citizenwas rescue Jews in Syria also was travel to Syaria to give Foof for Pasover every yera since 1975,, many jews in prison was trtured for razon of be jewish abraham baruch alwyas tru to rescue to any price Edomd Safra was help for rescue jews in alepo and damascos for 20 years


Jews of Tunis, c. 1900. From the Jewish Encyclopedia.

In 1948, approximately 105,000 Jews lived in Tunisia. About 1,500 remain today, mostly in Djerba, Tunis, and Zarzis. Following Tunisia's independence from France in 1956, a number of anti-Jewish policies led to emigration, of which half went to Israel and the other half to France. After attacks in 1967, Jewish emigration both to Israel and France accelerated. There were also attacks in 1982, 1985, and most recently in 2002 when a bomb in Djerba took 21 lives (most of them German tourists) near the local synagogue, in a terrorist attack claimed by Al-Qaeda. (See Ghriba synagogue bombing).


A bride in traditional Yemenite Jewish bridal vestment

If one includes Aden, there were about 63,000 Jews in Yemen in 1948. Today, there are about 200 left. In 1947, riots killed at least 80 Jews in Aden, a British colony in southern Yemen. In 1948 the new Zaydi Imam Ahmad bin Yahya unexpectedly allowed his Jewish subjects to leave Yemen, and tens of thousands poured into Aden. The Israeli government's Operation Magic Carpet evacuated around 44,000 Jews from Yemen to Israel in 1949 and 1950.[79] Emigration continued until 1962, when the civil war in Yemen broke out. A small community remained unknown until 1976, but it appears that all infrastructure is lost now.[citation needed]

Jewish refugee advocacy

Advocacy groups acting on behalf of Jewish refugees from Arab countries include:

  • Justice for Jews from Arab Countries seeks to secure rights and redress for Jews from Arab countries who suffered as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict.[80]
  • Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA) publicizes the history and plight of the 900,000 Jews indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa who were forced to leave their homes and abandon their property, who were stripped of their citizenship.[81]
  • Historical Society of the Jews from Egypt[82] and International Association of Jews from Egypt[83]
  • Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center[84]

In March 2008, "for the first time ever, ... a Jewish refugee from an Arab country" appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council. Regina Bublil-Waldman, a Jewish Libyan refugee and founder of JIMENA, "appeared before the UN Human Rights Council wearing her grandmother's Libyan wedding dress."[85] Justice for Jews from Arab Countries presented a report to the UN Human Rights Council about oppression Jews faced in Arab countries that forced them to find amnesty elsewhere.

At a July 2008 joint session of the United Kingdom’s House of Commons and House of Lords convened by Labour MP John Mann and Lord Anderson of Swansea, in co-operation with Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) and the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Canadian MP Irwin Cotler said Arab countries and the League of Arab States must acknowledge their role in launching an aggressive war against Israel in 1948 and the perpetration of human rights violations against their respective Jewish nationals. Cotler cited evidence from a report titled Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights And Redress which documented for the first time a pattern of state-sanctioned repression and persecution in Arab countries – including Nuremberg-like laws – that targeted Jewish populations.[86]

Among other notable advocates are historian Bat Ye'or who considers herself an Egyptian refugee and considers that experience as one that shaped her perspective.


The official position of the Israeli government is that Jews from Arab lands are considered refugees, and it considers their rights to property left in countries of origin as valid and existent.[87]

Nonetheless, the assertion that Jewish emigrants from Arab lands should be considered refugees has received mixed reactions from various quarters.

Iraqi-born Ran Cohen, a former member of the Knesset, said: "I have this to say: I am not a refugee. I came at the behest of Zionism, due to the pull that this land exerts, and due to the idea of redemption. Nobody is going to define me as a refugee". Yemeni-born Yisrael Yeshayahu, former Knesset speaker, Labor Party, stated: "We are not refugees. [Some of us] came to this country before the state was born. We had messianic aspirations". And Iraqi-born Shlomo Hillel, also a former speaker of the Knesset, Labor Party, claimed: "I do not regard the departure of Jews from Arab lands as that of refugees. They came here because they wanted to, as Zionists."[88]

In 2008, the Orthodox Sephardi party, Shas, announced its intention to seek compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab states.[89] In 2009, Israeli lawmakers introduced a bill into the Knesset to make compensation for Jewish refugees an integral part of any future peace negotiations by requiring compensation on behalf of current Jewish Israeli citizens, who were expelled from Arab countries after Israel was established in 1948 and leaving behind a significant amount of valuable property. In February 2010, the bill passed its first reading. The bill was sponsored by MK Nissim Ze'ev (Shas) and follows a resolution passed in the United States House of Representatives in 2008, calling for refugee recognition to be extended to Jews and Christians similar to that extended to Palestinians in the course of Middle East peace talks.[90]

The type and extent of linkage between the Jewish exodus from Arab lands and the Palestinian Exodus has also been the source of controversy. Advocacy groups have suggested that there are strong ties between the two processes and some of them even claim that decoupling the two issues is unjust.[91][92][93][94]

Holocaust restitution expert Sidney Zabludoff has published a calculation that the losses sustained by the Jews who fled Arab countries since 1947 amounts to $6 billion, in contrast to the losses of the Palestinian Arab refugees which he estimates at $#3.9 billion (both sums in 2007 dollars).[95]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Schwartz, Adi. "All I wanted was justice" Haaretz, 10 January 2008.
  2. ^ a b Malka Hillel Shulewitz, The Forgotten Millions: The Modern Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands, Continuum 2001, pp. 139 and 155.
  3. ^ a b Ada Aharoni "The Forced Migration of Jews from Arab Countries, Historical Society of Jews from Egypt website. Accessed February 1, 2009.
  4. ^ Warren Hoge, [1] "Group seeks justice for 'forgotten' Jews", International Herald Tribune, November 5, 2007.
  5. ^ a b Lefkovits, Etgar. "Expelled Jews hold deeds on Arab lands. Jerusalem Post. 16 November 2007. 18 December 2007.
  6. ^ "". 
  7. ^ The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda during World War II and the Holocaust, by Jeffrey Herf, Harvard Belknap, 2006, 390 pp.
  8. ^ Jewish Political Studies Review 17:1-2 (Spring 2005) "National Socialism and Anti-Semitism in the Arab World", Matthias Küntzel
  9. ^ Ya'akov Meron. "Why Jews Fled the Arab Countries", Middle East Quarterly, September 1995.
  10. ^ Jews in Grave Danger in All Moslem Lands, The New York Times, May 16, 1948, quoted in Was there any coordination between Arab governments in the expulsions of the Middle Eastern and North African Jews? (JIMENA)
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  15. ^ "Historian Moshe Gat argues that there was little direct connection between the bombings and exodus. He demonstrates that the frantic and massive Jewish registration for denaturalisation and departure was driven by knowledge that the denaturalisation law was due to expire in March 1951. He also notes the influence of further pressures including the property-freezing law, and continued anti-Jewish disturbances which raised the fear of large-scale pogroms. In addition, it is highly unlikely the Israelis would have taken such measures to accelerate the Jewish evacuation given that they were already struggling to cope with the existing level of Jewish immigration. Gat also raises serious doubts about the guilt of the alleged Jewish bomb throwers. Firstly, a Christian officer in the Iraqi army known for his anti-Jewish views was arrested, but apparently not charged, with the offenses. A number of explosive devices similar to those used in the attack on the Jewish synagogue were found in his home. In addition, there was a long history of anti-Jewish bomb-throwing incidents in Iraq. Secondly, the prosecution was not able to produce even one eyewitness who had seen the bombs thrown. Thirdly, the Jewish defendant Shalom Salah indicated in court that he had been severely tortured in order to procure a confession. It therefore remains an open question as to who was responsible for the bombings, although Gat suggests that the most likely perpetrators were members of the anti-Jewish Istiqlal Party. Certainly memories and interpretations of the events have further been influenced and distorted by the unfortunate discrimination which many Iraqi Jews experienced on their arrival in Israel." Mendes, Philip. The Forgotten Refugees: the causes of the post-1948 Jewish Exodus from Arab Countries, Presented at the 14th Jewish Studies Conference Melbourne March 2002. Retrieved June 12, 2007.
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  30. ^ "Jews of Lebanon". 
  31. ^ History of the Jews in Lebanon
  32. ^ History of the Jews in Morocco
  33. ^ History of the Jews in Qatar
  34. ^ History of the Jews in Syria
  35. ^ History of the Jews in Tunisia
  36. ^ Yemenite Jews{Note: on November 1, 2009 the Wall Street Journal reports in June 2009 an estimated 350 Jews were left-of whom by October 2009-60 had immigrated to the United States and 100 were considering to leave}
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  52. ^ Sandeep Singh Grewal, Dr Munira Fakhro hopes for better future, WomenGateway, October 2006. Accessed 25 October 2006.
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  58. ^ B. Morris and I. Black, Israel's Secret Wars (Grove Press, 1992), p93.
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  61. ^ Stillman, 2003, p. 155-156.
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  63. ^ Harris, 2001, pp. 149-150.
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  76. ^ Daniel Pipes, Greater Syria: The History of an Ambition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990) p. 57, records 75 victims of the Aleppo massacre.
  77. ^ Levin, 2001, pp. 200-201.
  78. ^ " "The Jews of Syria," By Robert Tuttle". 
  79. ^ Stillman, 2003, pp. 156-157.
  80. ^ Justice for Jews from Arab countries (JJAC)
  81. ^ Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA)
  82. ^ "Historical Society of the Jews from Egypt". 
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