Visit the ‘Jewish Nakbah’ page on Facebook

With thanks Michelle, Janet

‘The Jewish Nakbah‘ has come to Facebook. Film-maker Pierre Rehov (pictured) is clocking up friends fast for the page he has just created to commemorate the destruction of the Jewish communities of the Arab world.

Pierre Rehov is the man who made the first film on the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab lands: ‘The Silent Exodus in 2004. ‘The Jewish Nakbah‘ page has links to the film, as well as to arresting images of Jews fleeing the Arab world. As you would expect, Rehov, who fled Algeria with his Jewish family aged nine, has quite a bit of archive material on the subject.

The intention is publically to mark the uprooting of the ancient Jewish communities on a specific day in the calendar. The suggestion came originally from Ada Aharoni, an Egyptian-born professor at Haifa university. Professor Aharoni wishes to persuade Prime Minister Netanyahu to declare an official memorial day in Israel.

Harif, an Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, held the first Jewish Nakbaevent in London, this year. Interest and support for the idea on The Jewish Nakbah Facebook page is building such momentum that the Day may well go global next year, and become a regular fixture. If you think it is a good idea to hold such a Day, please add your name to the Friends of the Jewish Nakbah page and sign and circulate any petition that might come your way.

What date should be chosen? The current favourite – and one endorsed by Professor Aharoni – is 15 May, to coincide with Palestinian Nakba Day.

Not everybody is agreed that the Day should be called ‘Jewish Nakba Day’. Suggestions on this very blog range from Jewish Refugee Day, Jewish Exodus Day, Jewish Catastrophe, Tragedy or Ethnic Cleansing Day.

Some object to borrowing from the language of our enemies, especially since the Palestinian Nakba really refers not so much to the catastrophic flight of Palestinian Arabs, but to their catastrophic failure to commit genocide on the Jews.

But the expression seems to have caught on. On Youtube there are several publicity videosusing the term Jewish Nakba. The ex-Justice minister of Canada and human rights lawyer Irwin Cotlerand Israel’s deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon have used it. Leading Israeli columnist Ben Dror Yemini employed the term. So did Lela Gilbert in The Jerusalem Post, Charlie Wolf in Jewish News and Lyn Julius, writing on The Guardian website. AndAda Aharoni used the expression quite liberally herself, until she encountered fierce resistance from some quarters in Israel.

The expression Jewish Nakba does seem to make people sit up and listen simply because it has provocative associations with the Arab Nakba. One pro-Israel activist of Muslim background gave Naqba (or Nakba) his seal of approval:

“From a non Jewish point of view, the name ‘Jewish Naqba’ instantly sparked my interest. I know that a lot of people just don’t know what happened to the Jewish communities all over the Middle East, this would be a great idea, in using the name it will raise eyebrows and cause people to look in to it, it’s something quite specific and not just some sort of generic name. That’s just my opinion.”

One man’s opinion, but worth taking seriously.


  • The phrase "Jewish Nakba" reminds me of the phrase "Palestinian Holocaust". Still have no problem with false equivalents? What is wrong with you?

  • A false equivalence is foolish. The Nakba has nothing to do with Justice, and everything to do with rewriting history to whitewash the attempted genocide of Jews just 3 years after the Nazi holocaust.

  • It is better to make a false equivalence than none at all, Droid.
    What happened to the Jews needs to get on the political agenda. And it's all about justice, it's all about our rights to recognition, to compensation, and to have our state in Israel which gave us refuge.

  • @Sultana: As we are Jews, I think it is rational to not expect justice in response to the misdeeds done towards us. It is better to live life, move forwards, yet always remember and speak about the past… and while we discuss history we must make pains not to make false equivalences as this blog is doing by relating the expulsion of Jews to the 'Nakba'.

  • here we are discussing how to find a better word than Nakba, but by the time we agree on one word, we the older generation of refugees, will have gone!
    Sultana Latifa
    a Jewish refugee from Egypt

  • @Sylvia:
    While it's true they claim we are like Nazis, the 'Nakba' commemoratives the 'tragedy' of the Arab world in failing to wipe out the Jews – as was their stated mission in the 40's.

  • Good find, Bataween. In other words, the Nakba was the catastrophe that began with British colonial rule and partitioned the Ottoman province of Greater Syria.

  • Re your earlier comment, Sylvia, the original Nakba described the 'catastrophe' of the colonial partition of Syria in 1920. On page 312 of The Arab Awakening, Antonius writes, “The year 1920 has an evil name in Arab annals: it is referred to as the Year of the Catastrophe (Am al-Nakba). It saw the first armed risings that occurred in protest against the post-War settlement imposed by the Allies on the Arab countries. In that year, serious outbreaks took place in Syria, Palestine, and Iraq.”

  • Spotted on +972:
    "Yes, I understand how offensive it is for someone to deny Nabka to someone whose grandparents fell victim to it."
    Of course commenter Ayla (Monday,
    October 24, 2011 6:30 am)
    is referring to the Palestinian Nakba, which she can't even spell correctly yet and about which she seeks to be educated. I think someone should heed her eagerness for "Nakba education" and direct her to this site and to Pierre Rehov new Facebook page. 🙂

    Here's the link:

  • The problem is that they even don't say that it was "failed" genocide. Nakba means "catastrophe" and is therefore the Arabic equivalent of "Shoah" the closest thing to "Holocaust".

  • Worth to mention is that Pierre Rehov was born to a Jewish family in Algeria , he and his family leaved Algiers with 2 choices in 1962 during the independence : the bullet or packing .

  • Nakba is not a shorthand for "refugee problem", it is shorthand for a failed attempt at genocide.

  • fantastic website. i am also conflicted by the use of the word 'nakba', for those reasons stated above. what's wrong with 'jewish expulsion day'? it truthfully represents what's happening and also is reminiscent of previous expulsions, for example, Spain.

  • I know, Sylvia – there are lots of problems with Jewish Nakba and no equivalence. But what happened to the Jews is not even on many people's radar, let alone equivalent. Let's establish in people's minds that there is a Jewish refugee population (Nakba is a useful shorthand).

  • To say Jewish Nakba is to reduce what was done to the Jews by establishing equivalency with the Palestinian Nakba. It obscures the fact that 1) Arabs were not expelled from Israel with legal instruments when Jews were from Arab countries. In fact, Palestinians are still here representing 18% of the population, and many returned, when so many countries have been totally emptied of their Jews.
    2) There were no anti-Arab pogroms conducted by the Jewish civilian population or lynching by Jews or the bodies of Arabs hanging in the marketplace. If it is adopted officially, it will create only problems down the road.
    It is OK if it is used to explain, but not as a name.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


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.