Why have Jews from the Arab world been forgotten?

Writing in the Algemeiner, Jacob Sivak suggests some possible answers to this question. There are others: the far left ‘Arab-Jew’ counter-narrative, the postmodern view of Jews as colonial interlopers from Europe, etc. But Sivak’s conclusion vindicates the creation of a state – Israel – where Jews can defend themselves in a region torn by sectarian warfare. (With thanks: Joseph)

Why have these refugees been forgotten?

Part of the answer has to be related to the numbers and public relations strengths of the Arab-Muslim community, which accounts for more than 25% of the countries represented in the United Nations. Moreover, as Chaim Genizi writes in The Holocaust, Israel, and Canadian Protestant Churches (2002), the establishment of the State of Israel “…contradicted the old Christian theological myth of Jewish national demise,” and while the Palestinian refugees are a suitable Christian concern, the same does not apply to Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

Yet another factor likely resides with the refugees themselves. In a Huffington Post oped titled “Letter from a Forgotten Jew,” David Harris writes, “Perhaps we Jews from Arab countries accepted our fate too passively. Perhaps we failed to seize the opportunity to tell our story.”

Finally, in an insightful book titled The Siege, Conor Cruise O’Brien writes, “The attitude of the Israeli establishment toward the Oriental Jews, in the fifties and sixties, and even later, might be defined as benevolent but pessimistic paternalism, strongly affected by negative racial attitudes and stereotypes, mitigated by the sense of a common Jewish bond. … They were Jews, but not quite the right Jews.”

The Middle East today is a cauldron of sectarian warfare, brutality, and population upheaval — particularly with respect to ethnic and religious minorities such as Kurds, Yazidis, Coptic Christians, and smaller Muslim groups such as the Sufis. Imagine for a moment that Israel was never created. How secure would the lives of a Jewish minority living in the Arab world be today? If forced to flee where would they go?

Read article in full

One Comment

  • I think that some of the reasons are these:
    1– the common misconception, apparently initiated by 19th century German Jewish historians, that the Arabs had been tolerant and protective towards the Jews in Arab countries. This myth is still and is now used against Jews and Israel. For instance, some have accused Jews of being ungrateful for the supposed centuries of Arab "tolerance."

    2– The Communist world and the leftists generally wanted to see Arabs as part of the revolutionary vanguard and tolerant towards Jews [as above in #1]. Israeli leftists looked forward to making peace with the Arabs and did not want to raise any subject or issue that might thwart that goal. This was in addition to traditional marxist prejudices against the East, the Orient, that saw the Orient as inferior. This prejudice came to Marx and other socialists and marxists from German philosophers such as Kant and Hegel. At times, Mizrahi Jews were asked by Leftists why they had come to Israel since they had it so good in Arab lands. It goes without saying that in the context of Leftist beliefs in the 1950s and 1960s, Arabs were not supposed to have faults [such as persecuting minorities] or Islamic prejudices against dhimmis, etc. And a good Leftist was not supposed to say or even hint that Arabs had faults of any sort.
    This Leftist position enunciated by such as Lenin and Stalin was reinforced by the propaganda in the 1940s and 1950s of Western powers such as the US & UK as to Arab innocence throughout history.





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.