Canadian film describes Jewish refugee plight

The experiences of Jews  forced to leave Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, Lebanon, Algeria, Morocco and Iran are told in a new documentary, ‘L’Exode Silencieux’.

The film , which is 56 minutes long in its full version, was made by the Communauté Sépharade Unifiée du Quebec and the Montreal Consulate of Israel to mark the 30 November annual commemoration of the exodus of more than 850,000 Jews from Arab countries and Iran. It begins by describing the comfortable lives of these middle class Jews. Attitudes towards them changed over time, with the rise of pan-Arabism and repercussions of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Many left with nothing.

Some acknowledge that they were refugees, but never enjoyed the rights of refugees. However, one speaker, Abraham Elarar, objects to describing Moroccan Jews as refugees : he says they left for economic reasons or Zionism.

On the other hand, the historian Georges Bensoussan says that they left out of fear and therefore the word ‘refugee’ could apply to almost all Jews who left the Arab world.

While conditions did vary from country to country, there is no hope of reconciliation while Arab countries distort their own history, Bensoussan claims.

For the first time, Sylvain Abitbol of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) discloses that JJAC appointed the accountancy firm Baker Tilly to carry out an assessment of  lost Jewish property and assets. The total value is estimated to be between $300 and $330 billion while the Palestinian losses are estimated to total $30 billion.

Sima Goel from Iran and Lisette Shashoua from Iraq say that they hope that the ordeal they went through will serve as a warning to Jews threatened by antisemitism today in the West.

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