2021: The Year in Review

As has become our end-of-the-year custom, we bring you the Point of No Return  review of 2021.

This year was still in the grip of the Coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, there was no shortage of news.

Sculpture of the Yemenite Zviv family unveiled this year by the Jewish American Society for Historical Preservation on the Haas promenade in Jerusalem to recall the exodus of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran.

Good news: 

Much the best news of the year was the consolidation of the Abraham Accords. Israel and Morocco signed a defence agreement. A Jewish wedding was celebrated in Bahrain, and the UAE continued to build on its new alliance with Israel. Israel and  the UAE and Bahrain opened embassies.

The two last Jews of Afghanistan, Tova Muradi  and Zevulun Simentov, managed to escape the country’s takeover by the Taliban.

Two Jewish families  escaped war-torn Yemen.

It was a good year for Algerian-Jewish Eric Zemmour, who has now declared his candidacy in the French presidential elections.

Niran Bassoon-Timan was voted one of the top 100 influencers in Iraq by a magazine.

Bad news:

Levi Salem Marhabi still languishes in jail in Yemen despite efforts to have him released.  Only six Jews remain in the country, after a group of 13 , led by Rabbi Yahya Youssef, left for Egypt.

After the death of Thafer Eliyahu, Jewish property in Iraq has fallen prey to racketeers.

Moroccan survivors of wartime camps have failed in their bid to be considered Holocaust survivors.

The new chairman of Yad Vashem, Dani Dayan,  has refused to re-instate a photo of the Mufti of Jerusalem meeting Adolph Hitler.

Obituaries: 2021 saw the passing of Shlomo Hillel, Naim Kattan, Ruth Rejwan Pearl and two members of the Egyptian-Jewish community.

Mixed news: 

A conference of 200 Iraqis demanded normalisation with Israel. But the government issued arrest warrants for the main participants.

While relations have improved in Arab countries and more was done to raise awareness of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries,  more still can be done in schools. In the West, a worrying trend to minimise and deny the exodus is sweeping over academia.

Must-read articles of the year:

‘Arab Jew’ invention erases Mizrahi history and identity (Adiel Cohen )

Nostalgia for vanishing Jews masks their ethnic cleansing (Dara Horn)

Loyalty of last Jews of Yemen repaid with expulsion (Lyn Julius)

How Tunisia got rid of their Jews by stealth (André Nahum)


70 years since the great ‘aliya’ from Iraq

Remembering the Second Exodus on 30 November

How Jews escaped Bizerte, one dark and stormy night

BBC Radio breaks its silence on the Farhud

Reviews of Past Years











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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.