Lyn Julius is the daughter of Iraqi-Jewish parents and has written a most remarkable book, entitled Uprooted: How 3000 years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab World Vanished Overnight. In one small portion of the book she uses the headline above.
Then crux of the argument as she explained it is as follows,”Given the centrality of the refugee issue to the Arab-Israeli conflict, the journalist and writer Ari Schwartz has labeled Israel’s prolonged silence ‘incomprehensible’. Tommy Lapid ,who served as justice minister, recognized the long term damage from Israel’s failure to make an issue of Jewish refugees; it has helped perpetuate the myth that the Jews were the aggressors and dispossessors, and not the other way around, with all that implies for Israel’s legitimacy. He has described the failure to play the refugee card as one of the greatest blunders in the state’s history.”
The facts are these: more than 99% of the Arab World’s Jews have fled to other parts of the world. 650,000 to Israel and 200, 000 to the West. at one time- about 60years ago, 10% of the world’s Jews lived in the Arab World. One of the largest Jewish populated cities in the world was Baghdad. They were evicted or fled from fear of further pogroms.
This subject was brought to mind by the evacuation of the remaining handful of Jews of Yemen this past month.- a place that Jews had lived in for 3000 years.
Why did the usually quick thinking Israelis miss this vital information/propaganda issue ?
Miss Julius gives three main treasons. First the Israelis tend to be a more pragmatic people in opposition to the more animated and romantic heroic narrative of the Arabs. Raphael Patai ( The Arab Mind) explains this part of Arab person personality with extreme emotions and proclivity for fantasy as well as the lure of exaggeration in the language. This has been reinforced the Arabs by constant repetition and help from anti-semitic, anti zionist radical left and right wing journalists, academics and useful fools who have kept the Palestinian refugee issue in the spotlight, overshadowing the fact that Jews, Kurds, Greeks, and especially the Armenians have also been expelled under horrible conditions from Islamic countries. But this rarely makes the Middle East guru’s writings. Nor does it obviate the fact that Christianity, once the main Abrahamic religion of the Middle East, has been virtually extinguished as well.
Secondly the Israeli foreign office has been reticent in bringing up the Palestinian refugee problems.——- a non starter in that that the Palestinian refugee issue bubbles up everywhere, especially among the dominant left wing academics, who control the narrative, regardless whether the Israelis exodus from Muslim Lands is exposed or not.
Thirdly the Israelis basically solved their problem by accepting the Arab World Jewish refugees…not always happily… but they did. The Arabs on the other hand have resisted integrating Palestinians into their countries, often using the excuse that if they did so the Palestinians would forget their homeland. The Palestinians have reciprocated in kind, fomenting civil war in Lebanon and Jordan and colluding with invading Iraqis in Kuwait. No where in the Arab World are the Palestinians trusted as a community. Ironically it is the West , especially the United States, that provides the majority of aid to Palestinian refugees. For which they get little if any credit.
I would give another reason. When I use to visit my wife-to-be in Brooklyn NY in the early sixties, Zionist activism was everywhere evident with banners across the Streets urging the purchase of Israeli war bonds. The Jewish presence was overwhelming, with many subway riders reading Yiddish language newspapers. The Jews apparently believed this attitude would last forever- the small state struggling valiantly against a monolithic Islamic world bent on their destruction. They were wrong.
Then came the Arab-Israeli war of 1967. It was a humiliation for the Arabs and from not came the concept of the “Super Jew”- a small state defeating the huge, oil rich, populous Arab World. With this came a great deal of Israeli hubris leading to the” near thing” of the Israeli victory in 1973
Today the small state of Israel surrounded by a hostile population, with about 15% of the general population, mostly Arab, generally hostile as well, has become the bete noire of the “woke generation, ” a Western generation of spoiled forever adolescents, indoctrinated by uneducated academics, that evidences an embedded theme that the hated Western Civilization includes Israel as a prime example of a colonizing state. One finds a surprising number of young Western Jews who have adopted this view as well.
Today as I write this there are riots and fights between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem, with liberal Jewish voices plaintively asking on TV what can be done to change this pervasive attitude of ethnic hatred. In the short run very little, which is one reason I see the current establishment of relationships with Arab states by Israel with some skepticism.
It has been a common myth perpetuated by Western islamic academicians that the Jews indigenous to the Middle East lived a relatively peaceful life tolerated by their Muslim neighbors.. As Bernard Lewis has written , in relation to the murderous policies toward Jews in the Western world which culminated in the holocaust, that is true, but it was only a small part of the overall picture. Jews and Christians have never been first class citizens in the Arab World. At best they were tolerated, and under the Islamic rule acquired the submissive attitude necessary for survival that Ibn Khaldun so well captured.
Reading the books by Bat Ye’or, the most detailed historian on the Jews of the Arab World, the lot of Jews and Christians was always fraught with uncertainty as any disturbance was liable to set off a pogrom.
However the real systematic expulsion and persecution of the Jews began with the advent of Arab Nationalism, an ideology based on an inchoate socialistic and racist doctrine. Regrettably it was partially fanned by the West, especially the British to counteract the Communist inroads into the Middle East.
Not so strangely, the Middle Eastern Jews often referred to as “Mizrahi”, as opposed to the “Ashkenazi” Jews Europe, have a distinctly Oriental culture and have not always had an easy time conforming to the Western culture of the Ashkenazi ,which has defined Israel.One can find many Jewish web sites nostalgically lamenting their lost paradise of their lives in Iraq or Egypt.
But also not surprising, despite a lot of Academic nonsense abut the commonality of the Mizrahi Jews to the Arabs, the hatred of the Mizrahi toward the Arabs, is often the most intense. This is not at all surprising considering their treatment.
When we were in Egypt, the US embassy personnel use to do short weekends at the Faroun house in Alexandria. It formerly belonged to a wealthy Jewish family that had lived in Egypt for hundreds of years. Even the silverware was still there as the Jews were expelled with generally one suitcase and the clothes on their back. In places like Iraq and Syria they were lucky to escape with their lives.
The Israelis have missed a huge opportunity to harp on this to counter the unceasing Palestinian tales of exile.