A Tragedy Shrouded in Silence: The Destruction of the Arab World’s Jewry

By Adi Schwartz

A vast diaspora was utterly annihilated, but Israelis rarely talk about it.

The pages are yellowing, nearly disintegrated. For decades they have lain forgotten, stuffed into crates piled high in the archives of Israel’s Ministry of Justice. No one reads them; no one even shows interest. Even now, nearly sixty years after the painful experiences of loss and flight they recount, they still wait for their stories to be told.
In one, a Jewish woman from Alexandria describes her youth in Egypt:

After the [1948] war broke out, my mother was arrested in her ninth month of pregnancy, and they wanted to slaughter her; they threatened her with bayonets and abused her…. One evening a mob came to kill our family with sticks and anything they could lay their hands on, because they heard we were Jews. The gatekeeper swore to them that we were Italian, and so they only cursed us, surrounding my parents, my brothers, and myself, only a small baby. The next day my parents ran away, leaving everything—pension, work, and home—behind.1

On another page, Mordechai Karo, also Egyptian-born, testifies about an explosive device planted in a Jewish neighborhood in Cairo in the summer of 1948: “The tremendous explosion killed and injured scores of Jews in the neighborhood. One of these casualties was my young daughter Aliza.”2

Thousands of pages of similar testimony have been collecting dust in various government offices since the 1950s. Under the bureaucratic heading “Registry of the Claims of Jews from Arab Lands,” they tell of lives cut short, of individuals and entire families who found themselves suddenly homeless, persecuted, humiliated. Together they relate a tragic chapter in the history of modern Jewry, a chain of traumatic events that signaled the end of a once-glorious diaspora.

Yet for all its historical import, this chapter has been largely repressed, scarcely leaving a mark on Israel’s collective memory. The media seldom mentioned it then, and rarely do so today.3 Schools do not devote comprehensive curricula to it, and academia pays it little attention. Indeed, in the past decade only one doctoral dissertation was written on the devastation of Jewish communities in Arab countries.4 Furthermore, of all the parties represented in Israel’s Knesset, not one has included in its platform an explicit demand for the restitution of these Jews’ property, or the recognition of their violated rights.5

This dismissive attitude toward one of the greatest tragedies in the history of the Jewish people should be cause for astonishment. After all, the heritage of Jews from Muslim lands is enjoying something of a renaissance today, both in academic circles and within the general public. Yet not even the outspoken proponents of this heritage are particularly eager to discuss the historical circumstances under which their deep roots in the Arab world were severed.6 This prolonged silence becomes even more incomprehensible when we take into account the centrality of the refugee problem to the Arab-Israeli conflict. While Palestinians and their advocates repeatedly emphasize the need to correct the historic injustice done to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who left or were expelled from their lands and dispossessed of their properties in the 1948 Nakba (“catastrophe”), Israel’s international representatives and spokespeople have refrained from highlighting the plight of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who fell victim to systematic persecution and attacks throughout the Middle East and Maghreb at the same time.

How to explain this omission? The answer, as we will see, is neither simple nor easy to digest. It involves a number of motives, some of them pragmatic and some ideological, all of which deserve close scrutiny. Our investigation will raise difficult questions, concerning not only various Israeli governments’ policies in both the past and the present, but also the conceptual foundations of the Jewish state itself. And yet, before we can address these sensitive topics, we must recall certain facts that have been buried for too long in dusty ministerial archives.

READ MORE HERE:

NOTE BY THE EDITOR: See the date when this all happened: 1948. After the State of Israel was created. Consequently it is clear that this is a political and not a religious chapter in the history.

Categories: Arab World, Israel

11 replies

  1. I could not read it all, Jews suffering at the hand of Muslims? Unbelievable. The treaty of 6 Hijrah that was signed with Christian’s (Non-Muslims)is very much against it. Only the traitors, be a Non Muslim or Muslim is required to be punished in a Muslim state. Otherwise all had freedom of speech, worship preaching etc. And Muslims were obliged to help them and treat them with favour.
    Whereas a traitor,in any land is always given the worst punishment. For being a Non-Muslim in an Islamic state discrimination is not allowed.
    But as much as I read this article it grieved me very much. How can human turn into animal and yet claim to be the best of people? Insane. It is a mirage they are after. A true Muslims and brutality, injustice cannot be one.
    I live in western country and here whenever I come across an Egyptian, mostly while being introduced, I was told she was a Christian. To this I would think( being and Ahamdi, I know the agony of migration, and the look of a forced migration) why mostly Christian Egyptians came here?
    Now I know the reason clearly.
    It is so heart saddening and disgraceful to know Muslims mistreating a non Muslim in their areas.
    This is total Un-Islamic.Holy Prophet of Islam would have punished such culprits. They have nothing to do with Islam.
    All this type of terrorists deserve a worst wrath of Allah. Amen. They defame their own faith.

  2. Today Muslims have been deviated from the true path of Islam. But all the chaos in Muslim Ummah (Nation) did not happened in one day. They earned with the misconduct that spans over the past few centuries back. Now only they are reaping the fruit of their injustice, pride and misconduct.
    At times Non Muslim came to them for refuge, loved to live in their Government run lands. But ironically it is them that are now compelled to go to other doors in search of peace and freedom. The Bid’at ( additions) in Islam and Mullahfied Islam has left no peace in Islam and in an Islamic state.
    Their ultimate focuses are on punishing the people with sever strictness. They have nothing to do with the welfare of the people living in their state. It is none of their goal.They need an absolute authority of their own self over everything, with no space for mercy or joy. A strict regime that has more sighs them smiles. If possible they my put a tax on happiness. Or deem it prohibited.
    Their dry secular and discriminative Islam is their very own fabrication.

  3. I do not know much about history of this area though but my own sentiments today are (they can be wrong) there is a saying”tang aamad ba jang aamad”.
    Roughly meaning, when compelled one has to retaliate.

    I do not clearly know what is the motive of our Jamaat in this regard. I believe whatever it will be. It will most definitely rational and fair.

    I have been and am very sympathetic towards Palestine Muslims. For this I have long ago composed a poem, which I also sent to Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih the 4th. He appreciated it. My approach is a bit different. Here I am pasting it here below,

    Palestine The Land Of Prophets

    Palestine The land of Abraham
    Land of Ishmael, Iasac and Jesus
    The land of Prophets
    Is weeping and grieving
    Injured and bleeding
    The nations of two brothers
    Are blood thirsty of each other’s
    The land that was so sacred
    Has become a target of hatred
    The point that could bring them closer
    Has parted them even farther
    The Holy place that they both take delight
    Has become a cause to fall in a fight
    Alas! what a plight
    Who will ever fix this dispute?
    It is You my God absolute!
    O’ Allah they both believe in you
    Help them solve it true
    For half a century this land is suffering
    No day is safe no night comforting
    Many a youths strong and gorgeous
    Lost their lives
    Leaving their children orphaned
    Widowing their wives
    Peace and harmony since long batered
    Business and economy is shatered
    Infants snatched from mother’s lap
    Can There be a greater mishap?
    Can there ever be an end
    To this unecceptable dangerouse trend?
    O’ Allah put in their hearts
    Faith ,justice and mercy
    So that each other’s rights
    They can see
    Amen

    :Anisa

  4. I am sorry I made so many typos in the previous post,
    I am sending it again.

    Palestine The Land Of Prophets

    Palestine The land of Abraham
    Land of Ishmael, Isaac and Jesus
    The land of Prophets
    Is weeping and grieving
    Injured and bleeding
    The nations of two brothers
    Are blood thirsty of each other’s
    The land that was so sacred
    Has become a target of hatred
    The point that could bring them closer
    Has parted them even farther
    The Holy place that they both take delight
    Has become a cause to fall in a fight
    Alas! What a plight
    who will ever fix this dispute?
    It is You my God absolute!
    O’ Allah they both believe in you
    Help them solve it true
    For half a century this land is suffering
    No day is safe no night comforting
    Many a youths strong and gorgeous
    Lost their lives
    Leaving their children orphaned
    Widowing their wives
    Peace and harmony since long battered
    Business and economy is shattered
    Infants snatched from mother’s lap
    Can There be a greater mishap?
    Can there ever be an end
    to this unacceptable dangerous trend?
    O’ Allah put in their hearts
    Faith, justice and mercy
    so that each other’s rights
    They can see
    Amen

  5. Very sad stories indeed!

    I wonder how many such Palestinian tragedies remain shrouded in silence in Israel since 1948.

  6. I sympathize with any human being losing life and or property due to hatred, I saw a story of an iraqi jewish rabbi in iraq who didn’t understand why iraqi jews left, they had no reason to leave their country and I saw an interview of a yemeny muslim asking a jewish yemeny family why did they leave their country and why dont they come back to their country yemen , they had no answer , I also saw an interview with syrian jews who stated that israel tried to lure them to coming to israel, but they refused because they loved their country syria and they are treated better than most citizens and I Heard I’m not sure I believe the country of bahrain there’s jewish member of parliament and in Lebanon not a shred of evidence that any lebanese jew was evicted or terrorized to leave and in palestine jews lived harmoniously with arabs and I saw an arab interview with morroccan community of jews about islam and arabs they stated that there’s an agreement somewhere in jordan given to jews protecting their rights among arabs and muslims and that they suspect that muhammad (saw) is that prophet in their holy books but that they wanted to remain jews and living under islamic rule than those so called jews who were outsiders and came to occupy palestine , these stories of jews in the arab world fascinated me. I saw not long ago a story about a yemeny jewish family who were taken from yemen to israel, they looked poor like the majority of yemenys , but as far as I heard they were promised prosperity in the new land and not expelled or terrorized out of yemen, they left on their own, no arab country kicked them out or terrorized them out I learned that some of them lived more prosperous than the the other citizens in the arab world. I personally would love to learn more about the different arab country’s jews and why they left their own people to go and force palestinians out of their homeland , why they chose to be confined to this small country only I dont get it. The only possible explanation is that they want to do to the arab world what the European settlers did to the native Americans. It’s kind of obvious. It sounds like the story of the Ya’ajouj and Ma’ajouj to me

  7. You are very right. They too are uncountable and very painful.
    I still remember the small, six seven years old Palestine boy who was martyred while he was desperately trying to hide behind his father to be shielded from the on coming firing. And bitterly crying boy whose mother died right before his eyes on the street because of Israeli soldier’s unharnessed firing…. And the unknown Palestine man whose was shot og the foot,he fell on the ground and raised his foot to see, the foot got broke and hung while he kept screaming for help, but his cries fell on deaf years, while the Israeli soldiers watched him die…..I mean they are unforgettable. And these are just a few. Uncountable heart trembling incidents happened and are happening. May Allah bring an end to it. Amen
    If we Muslims had followed the Holy Quran and Sunnah we would not have seen this day.
    There is a wise saying, I can forgive other’s mistake but mine.
    We should look into our own conduct. Then we cannot blame anyone else.

  8. Thank you very much for all these good comments. Whenever I post some article I always hope that the readers will complement the information with additional angles of the same story, like we have hear. Jazaqu’Allah to you all.

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