The Myth of Jewish Refugees from Arab Land

Victimizing the Jews has been the successful old political trick Zionists have been using to gain international political sympathy for the Israeli cause, and to justify all aggression and terror the Israeli army perpetrates on Palestinians and on the neighboring Arab countries. Whenever international views turn against Israel, due to its aggression, a new Jewish victimizing story pops up.

One such late story I happened to come across on page 106 of March 19th. 2007 issue of U.S. News Magazine was titled: “You deserve a factual look at… The Forgotten Refugees. Why does nobody care about the Jewish refugees from Arab lands?” The article was published as an advertisement by FLAME (Facts and Logic About the Middle East), which claims to “publish the truth about Israel and the Middle East conflict in advertisements and letters to editors nationwide.”

The advertisement claims that there exists what it called Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and makes some comparison between these Jewish refugees and Arab refugees in an attempt to point to alleged international injustice when the UN spends “many billions of dollars” on the Arab refugees while forgetting the Jewish refugees. The advertisement tries to avoid calling the Arab refugees by their true name: Palestinian refugees, in an attempt to deny any moral and legal responsibility of Zionist Israel in violating Palestinians’ human rights and creating Palestinian refugee problem.

The advertisement attempts to refute “A myth that Jews had an easy life in Muslim/Arab countries”. It claims that Jews under Islam were treated worse than second class citizens “governed by a system of discrimination intended to reduce Jews … to conditions of humiliation, segregation and violence”.

The truth is that Jews were treated, under Islam in the Arab World, better than any other place they had lived in the whole world at the time. They were treated like any other ethnic groups, e.g., Christians, with full citizenship that included freedom and rights like the rest of the citizens. They were allowed to live and worship freely in Jerusalem, where they were barred entrance by ancient Romans and European Christian Crusaders. When European Jews faced persecution since the start of Crusaders campaigns, they did not find any safe haven for themselves except in Islamic and Arab countries in North Africa and in the Middle East. Many of those Jews fought along side Muslim and Christian Arabs against the Crusaders, who called for the slaughter of every Jew for crucifying Jesus. In his book Bitter Harvest Palestinian scholar Sami Hadawi described this Jewish haven as follows:

During the Middle Ages, North Africa and the Arab Middle East became places of refuge and a haven for the persecuted Jews of Spain and elsewhere… In the Holy Land they lived together in harmony, a harmony only disrupted when the Zionists began to claim that Palestine was the “rightful” possession of the “Jewish people” to the exclusion of its Moslem and Christian inhabitants.

The Jewish writer Dan Peretz described this situation in his book “The Arab Israeli Dispute” as follows: “Most Jews in Palestine belonged to old Yishuv, or community, that had settled there more for religious than for political reasons. There was little of any conflict between them and the Arab population. Tension began after first Zionist settlers arrived in the 1880’s.”

Although given freedom like any other citizens a group of the Jews, believing themselves to be the elite God’s chosen people, who should not mix and mingle with the others, “Goyims”, as been taught by their prophets, had isolated themselves into ghettos the same way they had lived throughout Europe. Those, who had the courage to venture out of the ghettos, had flourished and reached high employment positions in Arabic governments and societies. Many had become the financial and trade centers of the Arab World. This fact contradicts the advertisement claims that Jews “were excluded from society, from government, and from most professions … They were barely tolerated and often… were victimized by vicious violence.” Some extremist fundamentalist Jews, who had their noses up in the sky believing themselves to be the chosen people and better than all other nations, had invited rejection and intolerance from all nations, not just from Arabs, to such snobby racist attitudes.

The advertisement goes on further to claim that Jews in the Arab World were subjected to systematic violence and persecution after the establishment of Israel in 1948 and after Six Days War in 1967. “When Israel declared its statehood in 1948, pograms broke out across the entire Arab/Muslim world. Thousands died in this violence… The vast majority of those Jews fled from where they had lived for centuries. They had to leave everything behind. Most of those who were able to escape found their way to the just-created state of Israel.”

The pograms, the advertisement does not clarify, were terrorist acts perpetrated by Zionists against Jewish communities in the Arab World, as well as throughout European countries to coerce the Jews to immigrate to Palestine to establish the alleged safe haven; Israel, on usurped Palestinian land. Zionist zealots and some mercenaries had fire-bombed Jewish synagogues and shops, damaged Jewish cemeteries, and painted hate graffiti to create anti-Jewish climate. Zionists’ offer of free transportation, free housing, and free salaries had encouraged a lot of Jews to surrender their fate to the Zionist plan. Those, who immigrated, had plenty of time to sell their properties before leaving.

The Arabs, contrary to the claims, did not subject their long-time neighboring Jews to violence since they distinguished between a Jew and a Zionist. Yet those Jews, who were disillusioned by Zionism and became “enemy combatants” and spies within the Arab World, had to be dealt with as such.

The advertisement brags about “Israel received every one of those Jewish refugees from Arab countries with brotherly open arms; it housed, fed and quickly integrated them into Israeli society”. It is true that Zionist Israel had received immigrant Jews, paid all expenses including transportation, rent, and monthly salaries until they were integrated in Israeli society. Yet this reception was not out of brotherly love. Those immigrant Jews were, deliberately, drowned into financial debt so that they could not leave Israel, after discovering the trap set for them, without repaying all the expenses plus interests. Young Jewish immigrants, and every new generation of their offspring, have been conscripted into the Israeli terrorist army to kill and to be killed for the interests of rich pro-Zionist corporations of the West.

The advertisement repeats the old myth, that had been told and refuted so many times, that Palestinians had fled from Palestine after the Israeli occupation “following the strident invocations of their leaders …so as to make room for invading Arab armies”, who according the advertisement will kill all the Jews so that Palestinians “could return to reclaim their properties and that of the Jews, all of whom would have been killed …” by Arab armies.

Palestinians, like any other people, would never leave their homes voluntarily, and Arab leaders had never invoked them to leave. Sami Hadawi refuted this claim in his book Bitter Harvest stating the fact: “British Broadcasting Corporation monitored all Middle Eastern broadcasts throughout 1948. The records, and companion ones by a US monitoring unit, can be seen at the British Museum. There was not a single order or appeal, or suggestion about evacuation from Palestine from any Arab radio station, inside or outside Palestine in 1948. There is a repeated monitored record of Arab appeals, even flat orders, to the civilians of Palestine to stay put”.

This myth aims to erase guilt and moral responsibilities off Jewish shoulders for perpetrating the cruelest and ugliest massacres against mostly unarmed Palestinian villagers, and parading their women and children in the streets of Jerusalem to terrorize the rest of the Palestinians into fleeing out of their villages for their lives and for their honor when Zionist terror organizations, such as Irgun and Hagana, spread the rumors of their plans to attack Palestinian villages. Jewish historian Ilan Pappe, in his book The Link, mentions this fact: “The Israeli forces expelled the Palestinians from every village and town they occupied. In some cases, this expulsion was accompanied by massacres of civilians as was the case in Lydda, Ramleh, Dawimiyya, Sa’sa, Ein Zietun and other places. Expulsion also accompanied by rape, looting and confiscation”.

During wars people panic and flee their homes searching for safety. Yet they have always been able to return to their homes when danger subsides. Military conquest does not abolish private rights to property, nor does it entitle the victor to confiscate properties of civilian population. Even if the claims were true that Palestinians left their homes on the commands of their leaders, they still have the right to return to their homes and properties that had been stolen by Zionist immigrants. This right is protected by international law as noted by the noted Jewish writer and thinker Professor Erich Fromm: “In international law, the principle holds true that no citizen loses his property or his right of citizenship; and the citizenship right is de facto a right to which the Arabs in Israel have much more legitimacy than the Jews”.

Israel’s rejection of Palestinians’ right of return has been on the top of their political agenda, which led them to break all UN resolutions regarding this matter, break all international laws, violate Palestinians’ human rights, and reject all Arab peace initiatives.

The advertisement continues with its allegations “… the Arab countries resolutely refused to accept Arab refugees into their societies. They confined them into so-called refugee camps …to keep them as a festering sore and to make solution of the Arab-Israel conflict impossible. These refugees, whose number has by now miraculously increased from their original 650 thousands to 5 millions, are seething with hatred toward Israel, and provide the cadres for terrorists and suicide bombers.”

The Arab countries, mainly Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, had received the majority of Palestinian refugees, who became a burden on the already impoverished economy of these countries, who, unlike Israel, were not receiving three billions of dollars annually from the US. The majority of these refugees (now numbers about 7.5 million and not only 5 million) want to go back to their own homeland and their homes that were illegally occupied by terrorist Israelis. They fight to regain what is rightfully theirs, unlike the terrorist Israeli army, who fight to usurp lands of other people.

As for the solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Arabs had offered Israel many peaceful solutions, yet Israelis categorically rejected them because without the conflict they could not keep usurping more lands to build “Greater Israel”. The latest Arab peace initiative of last month, March 2007, offered Israel to keep 78% of Palestine for permanent peace and normalization of diplomatic relationships with all Arab countries. Yet Israel, as usual, rejected this offer.

The advertisement acknowledges that “since 1947 there have been over 100 UN resolutions concerning Palestinian refugees, but there has not been one single resolution addressing the horrible injustice done to the nearly one million Jewish refugees from the Arab states.”

This paragraph refutes the advertisement’s claim by showing that the international community has recognized and acknowledged the existence of a genuine Palestinian refugee problem, and the non existence of the false called-for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. That is why “a special branch of the United Nation (UNRWA) exists for the maintenance of those refugees.” (created by Israelis) as the article notices. Israel, backed by successive American administrations, had ignored those UN resolutions that aimed to solve the Palestinian refugees’ problem, rather than spending billions of dollars “contributed by the US” as the advertisement objects. It, also, totally ignores the attention the world had focused on the issue of the Holocaust, the compensation in hundreds of billions of dollars to Israeli Jews, making even the study of the Holocaust an international crime, and sentencing, fining and imprisoning all the renowned historians, who questioned some of its details.

The advertisement criticizes the Arab’s justifiable right to ask for compensations, and the Palestinian refugees’ legitimate right to return to their homeland, “what has been Israel for almost 60 years”, where Palestinian tribes had lived for over than three thousand years. It concludes by stating, “But if there is to be any compensation, those forgotten Jewish refugees are certainly entitled to such compensation as much as the Arab refugees. Anything else would be an outrage and a great injustice.”

The advertisement neglected to mention the most important point in this refugee issue, namely that the Palestinian refugees were forcefully ejected from their homes according to the Zionist ideology that is based on the idea of “people substitution”; the expulsion ‘transfer’ of Palestinians out of Palestine, and the implanting of Jews in their place. The idiom of “Jewish state is unthinkable without compulsory transfer of the Arabs to the Arab states” had been adopted since the first Zionist Congress in Basle in 1897, and had been repeated by notorious Zionist leaders such as British Zionist Israel Zangwill, Haim Weisman, Theodor Herzl, Nahman Syrkin (founder of Social Zionism), Selig Soskin (director of Jewish National Fund), and many others.

On the other hand the so-called Jewish refugees (Zionist Jews) from Arab countries had plenty of time to plan their leave and to liquidate all their properties, and to be fed, resettled and compensated directly by American tax money, where the annual three billion Dollars financial aid pays almost $3,000.00 monthly for every Israeli, not mentioning all the economic aid and tons and tons of military equipment that are given freely to the terrorist Israeli army to inflict terror on Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Iraqis and Iranians.

Finally the advertisement gives a comparison between bogus numbers of the Jews in some Arab countries before and after 1948; countries where Zionists had successfully transferred their Jewish population to occupied Palestine (Israel). It ignores to mention the large number of Jews, who are still living, flourishingly, in Northern African Muslim Arab countries, in Turkey, and even in Iran (the so-called extremist Islamic and terrorist supporting country), that houses the largest Jewish population, 25,000 of them, in the Middle East outside Israel, and are represented by a Jewish MP, Maurice Mohtamed.

The publishing organization (FLAME) of this so-called “factual look”, whose claimed purpose is the research, publication of facts, and exposing false propaganda about the Middle East, seems to do the exact opposite; it distorts the facts and spreads false propaganda instead.

The simple truth of the Arab-Israeli conflict had been reflected by Indian leader and peace teacher Mahatma Ghandi when he stated: “Palestine belongs to the Arabs in the same sense that England belongs to the English and France belongs to the French.”

Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala and now living in the US. He can be reached at: Read other articles by Elias.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Evan said on May 2nd, 2007 at 9:28pm #

    You have got to be kidding me there is so much wrong with this entire post but i’ll just pick a few choice examples.

    What exactly is your evidence that Jews firebombed the Synagogues in Arab Countries? You make claims the Palestinians would never do such things as leave their homes and offer no evidence but then you make up evidence to show Jews destroying their own property

    At the time of the Jewish Refuges the United States was giving Israel very little aid. It didn’t pick up until the 60s. So the United States didn’t feed, resettled or compensate anyone.

    The only truth in this entire thing is that your part of the Palestinian group that makes peace impossible because you spread lies. Israel aren’t saints but if there is ever to be peace is only going to be based on the truth and not your outlandish assumptions and lies.

  2. lc said on May 3rd, 2007 at 11:28pm #

    Evan: go to: there’s an article”On the Jewish presence in Iranian history”.

  3. kaz gnik said on May 4th, 2007 at 7:28am #

    What a crock!
    in the 1800s england did a cencious of “palistine” and found 18,000 jews
    and 12,000 arabs. mark twain said it was a wasteland with no people and no veggitation. now that the jews have came back to the home land it has bloomed, just as the bible said it would fullfilling prophecie.
    Islam is a curse upon the hole middle east , a perpetual wasteland filled with murders and hatred as its core teachings of the area thanks to the false prophet muhamed and his demonic imitation of god. there will be no peace in the middle east as long as islam reigns with corruption and violence, as perscribed inthe unholy koran

  4. Elias Akleh said on May 7th, 2007 at 12:26am #

    LC, thanks for article on Jewish presence in Iran.

    Kaz Gnik, there are no British consensus confirming your figures. Claims by politically motivated people carry no weight without proof. History proves Palestine was populated for the last 9,000 years. Archeological digs in ancient Jericho proves it. Also the Old Testament states that when Abraham fled to Palestine (not his native homeland) he found it populated with a lot of tribes. Palestine is part of what is called the “Fertile Crescent”. Many foreign rulers had attempted to occupy Palestine for its richness and its natural resources, and not for its “wasteland with no people and no veggitation”.

    As for Islam, I wish people study religion before condemning it. Islam is a religion that respects the other and calls nobody a “Goyim”. It recognizes true Judaism and Jews, and it recognizes Christianity and Christians and calls them “the people of the book”. Islam preaches respect and fair treatment for “people of the book”. Islam does not insult God by calling him a racist, who favors one people over the rest of his creations unlike the political fake fiendishly introduced religious beliefs to Judaic teachings that cite such insult as a holy right for Zionist Israel to exist on usurped Palestine.

    Evan, I would like to refer you to the diary of Zionist founder, Herzl, where he wrote “It is essential that the sufferings of Jews become worse, this will assist us in realization of our plans … I shall induce anti-semites to liquidate Jewish wealth … Anti-semites shall be our best friends”. History also tells of the Jewish Zionist terror group, the Haganah, who blew up the S.S. Patria ship in Haifa port murdering 268 illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine in an attempt to win Western sympathy for Jewish immigration to Palestine. Many Zionist Jews held high military position in the German army and contributed to the Holocaust against non-Zionist Jews. Oral history by Palestinian eyewitnesses tells of blue-eyed foreign mercenaries, who attacked Jewish community in Hebron for refusing to join Zionism and claiming the slaughter on Arabs. History is full of many other such Zionist terrors.

    It is the successive Israeli leaders, who make peace impossible, for they keep rejecting all Arab peace initiatives that promise to guarantee Israel’s security and complete diplomatic relationships between all Arab countries and Israeli state.

    The sad truth is that Arabs and Jews (descendents of Abraham) had lived in relative peace together for hundreds of years, until Zionism implanted hatred between them. Arabs had saved many Jews from European persecutions since the Crusaders, and had saved a lot of Jews from the Holocaust. Paris Grand Mosque was a refuge for persecuted Jews during WWII. False religious beliefs and false interpretations of religion had been used to drive people into wars against each other. Judaism has been turned into Zionist nationalism. All religions teach of love, peace and harmony, not wars. God does not want us to fight his wars. The war between Arabs and Jews is fattening the Western military and financial giant corporations.

    For further education please check the following:
    “Among the righteous: lost stories from the Holocaust’s long reach into Arab Lands” book by historian/researcher Robert Satloff (Torah True Jews) (orthodox Jews united against Zionism)

  5. safi said on May 7th, 2007 at 2:37pm #

    One thing to add-the huge issue concerning jews in Muslim countries was the fear that they were not being allowed to leave the country for Israel! western governments had to pressure some of the Arab govts. to let the jews go, so this talk that they were actually kicked out is wrong.

  6. sheldon g said on May 24th, 2007 at 1:56pm #

    Palestinian liberation NOW!

  7. Alex S. said on June 10th, 2007 at 10:16pm #

    Not only were Jews like second class citizens, Coptic Christians in Egypt are treated as second class citizens TODAY.

    Muslims have driven out almost the entire Christian community in Bethlehem and have built a mosque to overshadow the Church of the Nativity.

    As far as the nuttyeuri karta, let the Islamofascist Regime of Iran have them.

  8. Omar said on June 24th, 2007 at 4:43am #

    Dr. Elias –

    You were aware, surely, that Jews in Iran are generally not allowed to travel outside the country with family members? (i.e., if a jew wants to venture outside the borders of Iran, he has to leave his family behind . . . ). I’m no rocket scientist, but doesn’t that make each “retained” family member somthing akin to a hostage?

  9. gail gray said on November 7th, 2007 at 2:27am #

    the jewish settlers are jews by religion, and eastern european by race. they are not the decendents of abraham, they are the anti semites, the palestians are true semites, true owners of the land. the jews are thiefs and liars. violent killers of innocenet, unarmed, people. they claim god gave them the land. that is their beleif, their fantasy, it is not legal. anyone in this country of seperation of church and state who gives credence to this claim should beleive in fairy tales. these so called christian zionists are not christian in any form. they support a people who mock christians, spit on our cross, devile our places or worship and abuse our clergy. shame on them and may God have mercy on their souls.

  10. Jack Garbuz said on July 11th, 2008 at 9:18pm #

    Also, after the failed revolts against the Romans in the first and second century, some Jews left Judea and went south to Arabia, in what is called the Hijaz, and introduced the palm tree and the date, and some Bedouins claim the camel as well. They successfully farmed the oases and founded the town of Yathrib, which centuries later came to be called Medina, to which Muhammad fled from Meccan persecution and was well received at first by the wealthy and powerful Jewish tribes there. But, when they refused to accept him as their prophet or support him in his caravan raids against the pagan Meccans, when he gained much strength and power, he accused the Jews of treachery for not supporting him in his war with the Meccans, and ethnically cleansed them out of the Hijaz , but not before personally beheading hundreds and taking some of their women and children, not to mention all of their wealth from himself and his followers. Indeed, without the stolen Jewish wealth, it is doubtful that Islam could have had the numbers of loyal tribesman (who received their share) to burst out of Arabia to conquer much of the known world.

  11. Jack Garbuz said on July 11th, 2008 at 9:36pm #

    P.S. The land was called Retenu by the Egyptians, Canaan in the Bible, and Kingdoms of Judah and Israel in the bible as well. It was the Roman emperor Hadrian, who after crushing the final Jewish revolt in 135 AD (there were three major Jewish revolts against the Romans: 66-70, 115-117, and finally 132-135AD) who changed the name from Judea to Palestina to finally severe it from the Jewish people once and for all. Subsequently, in all the centuries after it was conquered by the Arabs in 638 AD, Jerusalem was NEVER once made the seat of any Arab government or Muslim Caliphate. There certainly was never any sovereign nation their called Palestine. That was just a geographical label, like “New England” or Patagonia or Iberia. Hadrian must be rolling in his grave. The Roman empire is gone, and Israel is back.

  12. Shlomo said on January 29th, 2009 at 4:06am #

    This guy is a liar! Is this how you people get your point of view across? As an Israeli I hope that one day our country, on behalf of our people publicly acknowledge, apologize, and financially compensate the descendants of Palestinian refugees from Israel during the War of Independence. Even though this war was started by the Arab nations with the explicitly stated goal of committing a genocide against the Jews in Israel/Palestine, and it could have been avoided in the first place if the Arab world agreed to any partition which would allow Jewish sovereignty and self-determination, like Muslims have 55 nations for, and Arabs have 22 for. Despite this, I don’t deny the complicity of many of our founding fathers in creating the Palestinian refugee crisis. We should help them financially to either settle and be absorbed as full citizens in whatever country they are residing, be it Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, or elsewhere, or if they prefer to gradually settle in a newly formed Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, within approximately the 1967 borders. That is what I believe to be the moral action for Israel. But to deny what happened to Jews in Arab and Muslim lands, like this author does is simply despicable. My family, from Iraq was very wealthy. The Jews there had roots in the country for at least a thousand years before Islam came along. My parents lost everything. Their money, their land, their valuables, everything. Is this author calling them liars? Jews have never been truly accepted in Islamic lands. Sure, compared to the pogroms of Eastern Europe and the Holocaust, we were treated better, but there were our fair shares of persecution, too. 850,000 Jews didn’t just leave their homes for centuries for no reason. Our situation was precarious at best and dangerous at worst. The riots and pogroms against Jews throughout the Arab and Islamic countries are too numerous to mention here. And being protected by the government on condition that we accept Dhimmi status is not too desirable either, surprisingly enough. I acknowledge the fact that hundreds and thousands of Palestinians were displaced with the creation of Israel and the subsequent war for sovereignty, why must your side lie and erase the truth of our history?

  13. rachamim ben ami said on July 27th, 2009 at 12:19am #

    Jews were treated “better” in Arab lands? That is like telling Armenians that they had “better” treatment by Turks, than the Jews did by Nazis.

    As a “Jews from an Arab land” I could only laugh at the ignorance being spread by this author. Perhaps he might have talked about what “al Dhimmi” means in Islamic Law (Shari’a). Yes, Jews were afforded a special status along with Christians and “Sabeans,” all collectively known as “Ahl al Khitab” (People of the Book).

    Unlike pagans who were usually slaughtered, we were forbidden from testifying in court or bringing suit, from building our tallest building within half a meter of the lowest Muslim owned building, from voting, from taking a conveyance while ANY Muslim walked, had to wear identifying clothing, were killed for intermarrying though our women were often taken at will (still taking place in Yemen mind you) and many other tokens of the “esteem” felt toward to us.

    While it is true that Arabs never managed to mechanise the process as the Europeans eventually did, they did not suffer from a lack of trying. Blood Libel took place (my own direct ancestor died in the 1834 Damascus Blood Libel Pogrom), and so on. My own grandfather and eldest uncle were murdered as well.

    Oh, and lest any fools believe the fantasy about Muslims allowing Jews to live freely in Jerusalem? My grandfather and uncle were murdered in 1920, in Hebron. It IS true that for 22 years 7 Jewish familes WERE allowed to live in Jerusalem on orders of al Khalifa ‘Umar (Caliph Omar) but only for showing him where the Temple Mount was, which he then promptly seized and barred us upon pain of death.

    When Muslims ruled Jerusalem, as Jordan did from 48 to 67 they built public bathrooms faceing our holiest shrine, the so called “Western Wall.” The side that used the Wall as the 4th side was the place where they defecated. The author is either deliberately lying or extremely ignorant.

  14. M. Taylor said on December 11th, 2009 at 3:12pm #

    Dear Dr. Akleh,

    Your article is so so biased. You can be fair to your own people and yet still be fair to the Jews. You should be ashamed. I have met so many Jews who were kicked out of Arab lands. It is easy to document the facts on this. You were also not telling the truth about other things. You should hang your head in shame.


    M. Taylor