Forgotten refugees must be part of the equation

 South Florida has a growing community of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews fleeing antisemitism, some for the second or third time. Lior Haiat and Henry Green explain in the Miami Herald why the forgotten refugees from the Middle East and North Africa must be part of the equation in any peace negotiations (with thanks:Michelle):

 Miami beach has a growing Mizrahi community

 

For centuries Jews co-existed for
the most part peacefully with their various neighbors across North
Africa and the Middle East. Jewish communities thrived from the Atlantic
Ocean to the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, from Casablanca to Alexandria
and Baghdad.

Today, they all
have been virtually driven to extinction. Within one generation, from
1948 to 1973, nearly 1 million people were displaced, many becoming
refugees.

In the wake of the
Holocaust, the establishment of the state of Israel and the rise of Arab
nationalism, the Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews in North Africa and the Middle
East were increasingly subjected to pogroms, riots, arrest and
detention. They were caught between the colonizers and the colonized.
But unlike other ethnic groups, the Jews was viewed as a “fifth column.” 

 Jews were stripped of their citizenship, belongings and livelihoods.
Communal life was restricted, schools and synagogues confiscated and
cemeteries destroyed for urban renewal. In 1969, during the regime of
Saddam Hussein, innocent Jews were scapegoated as Israeli spies and
hanged in a public square.

Nearly
half of those displaced migrated to Israel, about a quarter to Europe
and the rest to the Americas. Many experienced several exiles. For
example, the Garazi family, fearing rising anti-Jewish sympathies in the
wake of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, traveled from Aleppo to Havana
and then to Miami post-Castro in 1961. When Solomon was asked if his
roots still played a significant role in his life he said: “It is who I
am: a proud Jew from Aleppo who left his heart in Havana to go into
exile again to be free so I could continue to cultivate my Sephardi
heritage”.

The Diaine family
fled Algiers in the face of the Algerian Revolution in 1962 and migrated
to Paris, only to leave for Miami in fear of the growing anti-Semitism
before the Charlie Hebdo massacre. “The feeling is there’s something
wrong going on in Europe,” Elisa Diaine said. “The extreme right is
rising and, unfortunately, the first to be scapegoats are always the
Jews.”

Today, South Florida is
home to thousands of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews of Middle Eastern and
North African heritage. It is a melting pot of communities and
multiculturalism, a haven for refugees of all nations and ethnicities. 

The
story of the “forgotten exodus,” Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim
countries, has never been part of the discussion regarding
Palestinian-Israeli and Arab-Israeli encounters for peace. With each
attempt to rewrite history, the voices of these Jewish refugees grow
weaker, as witnesses pass on and human-rights agencies exclude them from
the equation of justice. 

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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.