Month: April 2008

Iranian Holocaust denial must be taken seriously

As Israel prepares to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, the German scholar Matthias Kuentzel warns chillingly that Iranian Holocaust denial, a central plank in an Islamist looking-glass world where reality is myth and myth is reality, will lead to total war – unless it is taken seriously. (Via Engage)

“My first proposition is the most obvious: Holocaust denial is motivated by antisemitism and its direct purpose is to contribute to the destruction of Israel. The Iranian leaders, however, do not at all regard themselves as antisemites. “We are friends with the Jewish people”, stated Ahmadinejad when he spoke at Columbia university last year. Moreover, the 25,000 or so Jews in Iran represent the largest Jewish community in any Muslim country.

“Anyone who looks closer, however, will soon discover that Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric is steeped in an antisemitism not found in any state leader since World War II. Ahmadinejad does not say “Jews” are conspiring to rule the world. Instead he says, “Two thousand Zionists want to rule the world.” “The Zionists have imposed themselves on a substantial portion of the banking, financial, cultural, and media sectors.” “The Zionists” fabricated the Danish Muhammad cartoons. “The Zionists thrive on war and hatred. Everywhere they exist there is war.” The pattern is familiar. He invests the word “Zionist” with exactly the same meaning Hitler poured into “Jew”: the incarnation of evil. Anyone who makes Jews – whether as “Judas” or as “Zionist” – responsible for all the ills of the world is obviously driven by antisemitism. He must want to eliminate Israel, as the “germ of evil”, in order to “save” the world.

“In this regard, in his opening speech to the conference, Iranian Foreign Minister Manucher Mottaki left no doubt: if “the official version of the Holocaust is called into question,” Mottaki said, then “the nature and identity of Israel” must also be called into question. If, however, the Holocaust did occur after all, then – per Ahmadinejad’s rhetoric – Israel has even less of a reason to be in Palestine, but should be transplanted instead to Europe. One way or another, the result is the same: Israel must vanish.

“The elimination of Israel, the demonisation of Jews and Holocaust denial – these are the three elements of an ideological constellation that collapses as soon as one of the elements is removed. ”

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The House did the right thing on Jewish refugees

Congressman Jerrold Nadler

The US House of Representatives did the right thing when it adopted resolution HR no.185 which urges equal treatment for all refugees from the Middle East. One of the resolution’s sponsors, Congressman (D-NY) Jerrold Nadler, explains why in Cutting Edge News. ( With thanks: Women’s lens)

“While the plight of Palestinian refugees is well known throughout the world and has been a major element in every Arab-Israeli peace plan and negotiation, the plight of these Jewish refugees is rarely mentioned these days. Nevertheless, numerous international agreements pertaining to the Arab-Israeli conflict have been codified with the rights of the Jewish refugees in mind. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed on November 22, 1967, after the Six Day War, calls for a just settlement to the refugee problem without limiting that problem to Palestinians.

“Presidents Carter and Clinton stated explicitly that the issue of Jewish refugees must be a part of any comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace agreement. And lest there be any doubt about this status, the U.N. High Commission on Refugees in 1957 ruled that Jewish people that fled Arab countries were, indeed, “refugees.” This principle is reaffirmed in the Camp David Accords and in the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty. The treaty states, “Jewish refugees have the same rights as others do.

“These Jewish refugees were expelled systematically under official regime policies, which included state-fostered anti-Jewish decrees, pogroms, murders and hangings, anti-Semitic incitement and ethnic cleansing. They were done in accordance with an Arab League 1947 decree that provided a formula to promote state-sanctioned discriminatory measures that were replicated in many Arab countries in a deliberate campaign to expel the entire Jewish population from their home countries. And unlike the Palestinians, the Jewish refugees, having been expelled from the Arab countries, were absorbed into their host countries, mostly by Israel. About 600,000 refugees went to Israel, and the remaining 300,000 fled to other countries, such as France, Canada, Italy and the United States. In Israel today, the majority of the population consists of Jews from Arab countries and their children and grandchildren.

“The right of Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern lands to seek redress does not in any way conflict with the rights of Palestinian refugees to seek redress, and my resolution states this explicitly. This resolution merely expresses the sense of Congress that Jewish refugees, many of whom were so effectively absorbed by the State of Israel, should not be denied their legitimate rights and compensation for the property of which they were deprived.

“The resolution further states that a comprehensive Middle East peace agreement can be credible and enduring only if it achieves legitimate rights of all refugees, “including Jews, Christians and other populations” displaced from Middle East countries. Importantly, it also resolves that the President should instruct the U.S. Representative at the U.N. and all U.S. representatives in bilateral and multilateral forums to use their voice, their vote and the influence of the United States to ensure that any resolutions relating to the issue of Middle East refugees which include a reference to the required resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue must also include a similarly explicit reference to the resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

“My resolution also makes clear that the United States Government supports the position that as an integral part of any comprehensive and much to be desired Arab-Israeli peace, the issue of refugees from the Middle East, north Africa and the Persian Gulf must be resolved in a manner that includes recognition of the legitimate rights of and losses incurred by all refugees displaced from Arab countries, including Jews, Christians and other groups.

“Understandably, there is broad bipartisan support for this resolution, which was passed with unanimous consent from the Foreign Affairs Committee. Many Jewish groups have endorsed the resolution, including the American Jewish Committee, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Hadassah, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Orthodox Union, among others. But I must particularly acknowledge the work of B’nai B’rith International and the strong leadership of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.

“It is important to deal with this issue now while some of the original refugees are still alive. Justice for Jews from Arab Countries has organized a campaign to conduct public education programs on the heritage and rights of former Jewish refugees from Arab countries, to register family history narratives, and to catalogue communal and individual losses suffered by Jews who fled from Arab countries.

“By adopting this resolution and urging that the rights of Jewish refugees be recognized in any future comprehensive Middle East settlement, the House has simply sought to ensure that any such agreement is fully just to all parties. As a member of the Quartet, and in light of the United States’ central and indispensable role in promoting a just Middle East peace, the U.S. must reaffirm that it embraces a just and comprehensive approach to the issue of Middle East refugees. The House did the right thing when it adopted this important resolution.

Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee

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Tunisian does not show up at Holocaust conference

His presence was to have been a sign that Arabs acknowledge that the Holocaust also took place in Arab lands, but Ahmed el-Habassi of Tunisia decided not to show up at a Jerusalem conference on North African Jewry in the Second World War. Tunisia was the only Arab country to have been occupied directly by the Nazis, if only for six months. The Jerusalem Post reports:

“The Tunisian representative to the Palestinian Authority has abruptly cancelled his attendance at an international Holocaust conference this week in Jerusalem, organizers said Monday.

“The three-day event, which began Monday evening at Jerusalem’s Yad Ben Zvi Institute, focuses on the fate of the Jews of North Africa during World War II.

“Tunisia’s representative to the PA, Ahmed el-Habassi, had been scheduled to deliver remarks at the conference’s opening session.

“His decision to skip the event followed a report about his attendance in The Jerusalem Post earlier this month, a spokesman for the Yad Ben Zvi Institute said Monday.

“Habassi’s planned attendance at the event evidently rankled other Arab countries and embarrassed him, Israeli officials said.

“Habassi did not return calls for comment on Monday.”

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How Iran’s Jews are really treated…

Karmel Melamed produces five talking points to help sceptics find out the truth about how the Jewish minority is treated in Iran:

“I was recently approached by a non-Jewish American friend who point blank asked me why Iranians and Iranian Jews living in the U.S. were so opposed to the regime in Iran. “Jews are not mistreated in Iran, besides why are you guys making such a big deal about the Iranian government getting nuclear technology?” he asked.

“It took about two hours for me to explain the true nature of Iran’s regime to him in order for him to realize the very serious threat that that government poses to the world. He was obviously brainwashed by some left-leaning media outlets that have little knowledge of the mentality and true ideology of Iran’s radical Islamic clerics. The journalists or editors of such online or offline outlets have obviously never spent a single day living in Iran as religious minorities or understand the Persian language to grasp the sad reality of the reign of Iran’s clerics on that country.

“After my two-hour lecture, I suggested my friend chat with middle-aged or older Iranian Jews or other Iranian religious minorities about their experiences of living under the rule of the Ayatollahs. I also gave him the following five talking points to discuss with Iranian American Jews so as to better under the extent of the Iranian regime’s evil:

1) The countless hardships religious minorities such as Jews encountered when they cannot obtain certain educational or work advancements in Iran under this regime.

2) The difficulty religious minorities in Iran face in getting real justice, fair judgments on lawsuits and fair hearings in Iran’s courts which treat Jews and other religious minorities as second class citizens with limited rights.

3) The sad fact that women and children regardless of their religion are considered the “chattels” of their fathers or husbands, with very little if no rights of their own under Iran’s radical Islamic laws.

4) The Constitution of Iran’s Islamic government which calls for global jihad with the objective of forcing everyone on the face of the earth to convert to the fundamentalist Shi’ite Islamic form of religion practised in Iran.

5) The billions of dollars in assets and property Iranian Jews and other opponents to Iran’s current regime were forced to forfeit in order to escape Iran in the late 1970’s and 1980’s.

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Egyptian Jewess relives her exodus at Passover

For Nicole Thosath, the story of the Passover is almost too familiar. Like Moses and the Israelites in ancient times, she and her family were forced to flee oppression in their native Egypt, trusting in God to deliver them to promise and safety in a foreign land. The Sun Herald reports:

The Punta Gorda (Florida) resident, born Nicole Tousson, is a descendant of many generations of Egyptian Jews. Now 56, she was just 7 when — in the aftermath of Gamal Abdel Nasser’s coup that deposed King Farouk and instituted sweeping changes in Egypt — her family, along with many other Jews, were expelled from the country.

She recalls living in Cairo as a child, with a summer home in Alexandria. One of her earliest and fondest memories was sailing the Nile with her family. Thosath remembers learning French and Arabic, which was common in those days. And she remembers a very different life — and a very different Egypt.

“There were many Jews in Egypt, living side by side with Muslims,” she said recently. She and her family attended a beautiful, gilded temple, not far from a mosque.

“Everyone got along well,” she remembered — Jews, Muslims and Coptic Christians.

Sometime after Nasser came to power, her father, Simon, an accountant who worked for the king, was arrested by the army and held in custody for three days.

Remembering that chaotic time, she can still hear her mother’s admonitions to stay away from their home’s blacked-out windows — and the explosion she saw outside when, as children often do when told not to do something, she peeked anyway. It was frightening enough to keep her from peeking again.

When her father was released, he was given 48 hours to get his family out of the country. They were not permitted to take any of their possessions with them — those were forfeit to the state.

As was common at the time, many families had “help,” or servants. Thosath remembers her family’s servants, who were Muslim, helping her mother, Suzanne (nee Mizrahi), to sew what jewelry she had into clothes, so they might be able to take them on the journey.

It was a time of abrupt change and uncertainty for the family. And each Passover — as Jews remember and celebrate the time when the Lord visited 10 plagues upon the Jews’ Egyptian captors and their Pharaoh, and their final deliverance from that captivity — Thosath cannot help but feel a deep connection to her own family’s flight from danger.

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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.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.