Jewish refugees issue raised in Al-Jazeera debate

Shmuel Moreh, the Iraq-born Head of Arabic Studies at the Hebrew University, recently took part in this post-Annapolis debate on al-Jazeera (Arabic service) with Ahmed Tibi, Arab Member of the Knesset, and Sari Nusseibeh of Al-Kuds University. The debate, chaired by Sami Haddad, ranged over whether Israel should be a Jewish state, whether Palestinians should return to Israel, or to a state of Palestine. The issue of the Jewish refugees was touched on, but never allowed to develop into a quid-pro-quo for the Palestinian refugees.

Here is an extract: (With thanks to Ivy for her summary and translation)

At the start of the interview Shmuel Moreh is given ample time to articulate what happened to nearly one million Jews from Arab lands. He says there was an exchange of populations. The Arab League made a covert decision to expel these Jews (they are known today as the silent million). Their assets were frozen after they fled.

Haddad: “this is what Maariv had in its article two days ago and I have it here, but the ‘Jewish lobby….”

(Moreh tries to intervene but Haddad does not let him speak)

Haddad to Ahmed Tibi: “What Professor Moreh is saying is that there was a parallel exchange of populations. What do you think?”

Tibi:” I am afraid the subject is not that simple….the Jewish Agency made plans called essek kabbish – ‘the shameful deal’, and this Professor Moreh knows about…and this plan led to explosive operations in places frequented by Jews …this in order to make them escape or to emigrate. From a moral viewpoint, there can be no parallel and no deal between citizens who left their country… and natives who belong there originally who were led to emigrate through aggressive war methods.”

Haddad: fine (Moreh was not asked again to comment on this point by Haddad).

Professor Moreh is allowed to respond to Tibi’s point that Arab refugees were within their rights to return to Israel: He says that would mean the return of the Jews to Arab lands where they saw bloodshed, etc…

The presenter Haddad interrupts him, saying that this is an eclectic debate and he is using unacceptable and low tactics unworthy of him.


  • Thousands of Jewish/Israeli intellectuals have asked themselves how Israel may have mis-treated the Palestinians over 60 years, and what it might owe the Palestinians in recompense.

    I await the day when even a single Arab/Muslim intellectual asks himself how Arabs/Muslims may have mis-treated the Jews over 1,400 years, and what they might owe the Jews in recompense.

  • Tibi says that there is no parallel between citizens leaving their country and natives forced to leave because of war – I was under the impression that Jews had been stripped of their citizenship, if they ever had one, in the Arab world. And what about those who were forced to leave?
    Besides, Arabs are not natives of Israel, and many of them left before the 1948 war started. Not to mention that they started the war.
    But then Tibi is not the smartest, most knowledgeable or accurate man around.

  • If Haddad had allowed Prof Moreh to go on, he might have mentioned the nearly 1400 years of dhimmitude [oppression, economic exploitation, humiliation] imposed on Jews in Iraq and other Arab-Muslim-ruled lands. When Prof Moreh said that the Iraqi Jews saw “bloodshed,” he might have been about to mention the 1941 Farhud. But he was shut up, infortunately.

    That’s the problem with these ostensibly “free forum” talk shows. The moderator shuts people up; often this happens especially when they have something important to say.


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