Palace belonging to the Farhi family in Damascus, Syria (Photo: Lucien Gubbay)
I hope it’s not wishful thinking, but do I get the feeling that talk of the Jewish ‘nakba’ is beginning to enter the mainstream media? Established and influential journalists like Jeffrey Goldberg are beginning to challenge the Palestinian ‘narrative’ by referring to the 850,000 Jews made refugees from the Arab world.
Jeffrey Goldberg blogs in The Atlantic:
Speaking of nakbas, here is a report about another, more silent nabka, one that caused the movement of 850,000 people across the Middle East, but one that doesn’t get that much attention, in part because these refugees were cared for by their brethren. Matti Friedman writes about a different nakba, a Jewish nakba.
I have spent a great deal of time in the past four years interviewing people born and raised in Aleppo, Syria. Some of these people, most of whom are now in their eighties, are descended from families with roots in Aleppo going back more than two millennia, to Roman times. None of them lives there now.
On November 30, 1947, a day after the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two states, one for Arabs and one for Jews, Aleppo erupted. Mobs stalked Jewish neighborhoods, looting houses and burning synagogues; one man I interviewed remembered fleeing his home, a barefoot nine-year-old, moments before it was set on fire. Abetted by the government, the rioters burned 50 Jewish shops, five schools, 18 synagogues and an unknown number of homes. The next day the Jewish community’s wealthiest families fled, and in the following months the rest began sneaking out in small groups, most of them headed to the new state of Israel. They forfeited their property, and faced imprisonment or torture if they were caught. Some disappeared en route. But the risk seemed worthwhile: in Damascus, the capital, rioters killed 13 Jews, including eight children, in August 1948, and there were similar events in other Arab cities.
At the time of the UN vote, there were about 10,000 Jews in Aleppo. By the mid-1950s there were 2,000, living in fear of the security forces and the mob. By the early 1990s no more than a handful remained, and today there are none. Similar scripts played out across the Islamic world. Some 850,000 Jews were forced from their homes.
Here is Leo Rennert’s critique in the American Thinker of Isabel Kershner’s piece on the Palestinian Nakba in the New York Times:
Kershner’s rewrite of actual history fails to take note that there were two “naqbas” in 1948 — not just a Palestinian one.
Starting with the 1947 UN partition plan and then Israel’s birth in May, 1948, about 850,000 Jews who had roots in Arab lands dating back a couple of thousand years were summarily persecuted, deprived of all legal rights, stripped of their property and forced to flee from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and other parts of the Arab world. Their synagogues were torched and many were lynched by bloodthirsty Arab neighbors. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands was greater than the number of Palestinian refugees.
A fair reading of history demands that equal attention be paid to this Jewish “naqba.” But fairness is in short supply in the New York Times. There’s also no indication in Kershner’s piece about the different outcomes of these two “naqbas.” The Arab world kept displaced Arab residents from Israel as refugees to use them as pawns in their pursuit of Israel’s demise to this very day. In contrast, most of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who managed to flee from Arab lands ended up in Israel where they were integrated into the state’s economic, political and social life. Such integration remains out of the question on the Arab side of the ledger.
But all this real history is censored by the Times’ uncritical acceptance of an invented Palestinian narrative designed to block any realistic chance of a peace agreement. Kershner’s article is a double affront to actual history. And in a most fundamental way, it disserves Palestinians by keeping them locked in a phony, mythical history that thwarts their national aspirations.