Myth that Israel is a European island in an Arab sea

The delegitimisation of Israel and the ‘injustice’ of its creation gathering momentum in the West rests on certain myths and misapprehensions.This reader’s response to blogger Andrew Sullivan’s postWas Israel a mistake? tackles the myth that Israel is a European island in an Arab/Muslim sea:

It is true that Israel was, in 1948, primarily a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims. But few people, in talking about the Israeli-Arab conflict, or the Israeli-Muslim conflict, pause to consider that the exodus of Jews from Arab and Muslim lands in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in an Israeli Jewish population that was 50% indigenous to the Middle East, up until the time of the Russian migration in the 1990s.

Most westerners are unaware of this, and the Muslim countries are even more ignorant/in denial about it. They act as if Muslim countries were a paradise for Jews and other religious minorities in comparison to Europe. This may have been true at some points in history, but it is largely a self-congratulatory fantasy.

To the extent the Jewish exodus from Muslim lands is acknowledged (and it’s important to note that upwards of 98 percent of the Jews left places such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and other countries, where their ancestors had lived for thousands of years, and where they were part of the landscape prior to the existence of Islam), the party line is that they left voluntarily because they were Zionists. This is about as true as the allegation that most of the Palestinians left their homes voluntarily. Since when does 98 percent plus of a population leave a place their family has been for generations when they feel safe in their homes?

My husband comes from a large family of Jews who fled Morocco in the middle of the night, leaving their house and everything else behind, because they were tipped off that his grandfather was about to be arrested and killed. My husband’s aunts and uncles in Israel all married Jews from other parts of the Middle East, so I have relatives who originally hailed from every one of those countries mentioned above. Arabic is their mother tongue. When we go to family gatherings, our relatives are constantly laughing uproariously at jokes that fall flat in translation, and some great aunt or uncle will say to me, apologetically, “It’s much funnier in Arabic.”

This book review in City Journal exposes more canards contributing to the myth that Israel was a colossal mistake (with thanks: Eliyahu).


  • MK Gross
    if you want to learn about the "misguided masses" there is a great source, it is called Google and if you want it more specific I'd recommend the site watching the Guardians shenanigans i.e.

  • I disagree with the blog author's move to delete postings based on false information, such as that from anonymouse.

    Unless one sees such brazen postings, one cannot conceive of the misguided masses.

  • Andrew Sullivan, who is so full of bile and hatred I'm surprised he hasn't poisoned HIMSELF, needs to be dragged out from where he hides, behind his typewriter, and forced to confront the truth by conversing with real people.

    Anyone can shout rude words and slogans. He is a coward of the lowest order!

  • Anonymouse,
    A last warning to you:
    There is no point in your leaving your twisted ramblings here as they will continue to be deleted.

  • My long comment was made in response to a previous hateful a comment by some another "Anonymous" . His comment is now erased.

  • Be quiet Anonymous,

    You make no sense in persuading people, specially Israelis. Have you ever ever wonder WHY Israelis supported Operation Cast Lead and the blockade of Gaza? You refer to this question in a moral view as if you say: "I am morally better that thou" and you suggest that Israelis are monsters. What? Excuse me? What dont you show some doubts about your naive perenial view about Jews..

    Your description of jewish demographic make up is all false. Where did you get those ideas.

    There is no point in rambling about the usual anti-semitisim. You cannot see beyond your twisted view of the Middle east culture, religious movements and political movements of the middle east in pre 1948.

    Kai Bird is an apologist. Just because he grew up in East Jerusalem with all his nice description of life with the exception of somewhat mightmarrish daily crossing of the check point, does not entitle him with a grandiose hyper confirmation of his views as right, just and ethical.

    I can, or my parents can describe with vivid acuracy the once in a life time occasion when we shared with arabs coffee and pastries as well as laughs and celebrations… but what does this have to do with politics that came later and render these fleeting moments of peace and "personal" coexistence with your neighbors as a secondary issue. The primary issue for Jews was survival. I mean LIVING as of staying alive. All these hatred was emerging from other quarters ( not our local neighbors) be them intellectual nationalists, immam fundamentalists, savage mass herd mentality vendettas. People could smell the anti-jewish attitudes and people fled in drove to avert calamities that their European coreligionists suffered.

    Now you are talking about Israelis as monsters fascists… I do not know if you are ignorant of the plights of Jews who lived in Arab lands during those times (40's and 50's) or you are ignorant of the political factors that made arab nationalism one of the more virulent anti-jewish movement in post WWII.

    I am so sure you cannot understand the issue of Jewish survival. I maybe right now wasting my time trying to make you come to your twisted senses.

  • thanks bataween for coining the delightful Anonymouse
    – I look forward to putting it to good use elsewhere


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