Don’t forget the Jewish past in Muslim lands

Vida, an Iranian Jew now living in the US, sent this Email to Ola hadasha, a blog sympathetic to Palestinians. Recalling her visit to Israel in 1976, Vida questions the common Eurocentric view of the Israel-Palestine conflict, which ignores 1,000 years of ‘dhimmitude’. What she has to say must be seen against a background of Persian Shi’ite antisemitism, the forced conversions of Jews such as occurred in 19th century Meshed and an accepted Middle East narrative which has airbrushed out 2,500 years of Jewish history in Muslim lands. (With thanks: Leila)

“We stayed in a dingy hotel across from the beach in Tel Aviv and visited our family members – struggling members of the underclass in Israel. In those years, the European Jews were busy building the Israel that we see today. My family did not participate in the country’s intellectual and cultural debates – they did not have the education and habits of inquiry that Jews from Europe had brought with them – perhaps their children and grandchildren are now living fuller, more engaged lives.

‘There is one thing that bothered me in reading your blog and this is something I come across in the writings of many Jews who were not born in Islamic countries. Their only contact with Muslims is post -1948 and for them the feelings of Palestinians and other Arabs towards Jews is a product of the birth of Israel. For me, and for a lot of Jews from Arab/Muslim countries, being despised, being a non-entity, being erased from books, discussions, radio, TV, having the very name of my group/religion be a synonym for coward/filthy, having to dissemble and in fact live outwardly as a Muslim and only take off the mask at home predates 1948 by about 1,000 years.

‘ I want them to acknowledge that. I want to talk about my past – not in light of 1948 or 1967 or 1973 – but out of respect for the thousands of people who have come and gone and don’t even have that marker in the desert that tells the world they were here. I hope that one day very soon, there will be a Palestine and a small measure of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians. As for me, I will never forget.’

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3 Comments

  • the people are nt same bro ,, if you are a yahud allah did nt say kill every jew that is wrong you can practice your own religion if you wana live in moslim majority country like others do . dont black mail the somalia people we are very good people you can live with us eat with us live freely in any somali region as i can guss you speak good somali so live there but tab stab us from the back ,, whether you are jewish origin or not we dont care u can stil live peace among us but show respect to the people who you lived with more 300 hundred years the state of srael from 1940s 50 years of 60 years old but you better claim to be a somali

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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