As Israel marked its national Holocaust Remembrance Day, a major Iranian paper newspaper published an opinion piece including antisemitic tropes and overt praise of Adolf Hitler. Jews were known for their stubborness, objections and excuses, it said. The Times of Israel reports:
On Friday, the Islamic Republic of Iran will mark Quds Day, a day of solidarity with the Palestinian cause initiated by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 – the year of the Islamic Revolution. The national holiday is characterized by anti-Israel speeches and events and threats to “liberate” Jerusalem from Israeli control.
Corresponding with this year’s Holocaust Remembrance Day marked in Israel, the state-run ultraconservative Iranian daily newspaper Kayhan ran a front-page opinion piece that openly praised Nazi leader Hitler.
Today is Yom Hashoah, the official memorial day observed in Israel for the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. The Shoah was not a calamity that befell only the Jews of Europe. Jews in the Arab world suffered from the effects of Nazism, whether it was the Nazi-inspired Farhud massacre in Iraq, or the anti-Jewish measures taken by the Vichy regimes in North Africa, to say nothing of years of postwar trauma. For six months, Tunisia came under direct Nazi occupation. Thank you to Danielle Abel-Bismuth for sharing with us this heart-rending story:
“Jews in Tunisia also suffered from the Nazi occupation. My father was sent to the forced labour camp at Bizerte. He never spoke of his experiences. From time to time he would hum Khamous Jené, the song which Tunisian Jews composed in honour of the Allies* who arrived in Tunisia in May 1943.
Six years ago I learned much on this topic from Au camp de Bizerte by André Guez.
My father became religious owing to the influence of Rabbi Haim Assuied who was also in the camp and became a lifelong friend. (Dad is mentioned in Roland Fellous’ book Le Rabbin Haim Assuied.)
Dad’s brother-in-law, Prosper Hassid, was deported to Auschwitz. For three years, his job was to whistle twice as each transport arrived. At the first whistle, the Jews had to undress; at the second whistle they entered the ‘showers’ to be asphyxiated. It affected Uncle Prosper to such a degree that when he returned to Tunis he had a breakdown.
One Shabbat noon in July 1946, he was standing by a train bound for La Marsa. At the first station master’s whistle, Prosper took off his jacket and hat. At the second whistle, he threw himself under the moving train. He left behind a widow and a six-year-old orphan.
G-d bless his soul!”
*Khamous was how Tunisian Jews called the Allies, after Hamsa, the five-fingered hand that was supposed to bring good luck. A fifth boy born to a Jewish family was called Khamous to ward off the evil eye, and a girl was given the name Khamisa.
Israel’s embassy in New Delhi, India, unveiled on Monday a street-art mural marking 30 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries and paying tribute to three famous Indian-Jewish actresses, The Algemeiner reports (with thanks:Edna):
The Israel Embassy in India collaborated with the Delhi Street Art initiative to create the mural honoring Pramila (a stage name for actress Esther Victoria Abraham), Sulochana (Ruby Myers) and Nadira (Florence Ezekiel). These actresses, all of Iraqi-Jewish descent, “made a mark in the early years of Indian cinema,” a plaque near the mural reads.
A pro-Israel NGO, Human Rights Voices, has sent two million submissions to a UN human rights Commission investigating the ‘root causes’ of the Israel-Palestine conflict, nicknamed ‘Pillay’s pogrom’ after its chairman, Navi Pillay. They include examples of the persecution of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa and victims’ names from immigration lists by country at the Israel State Archives. JIMENA, HARIF and Justice for Jews from Arab Countries are among the organisations who made submissions on behalf of Jews from Arab countries. The Jerusalem Post has this report:
Prof. Anne Bayefsky of Touro College in New York, a human rights activist and critic of the UN, had both organizations she leads – Human Rights Voices and the Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust – submit examples of the repression and discrimination against Jews in the Arab and Muslim world.
Bayefsky expressed certainty that the COI’s findings will be “an all-out offensive on a Jewish state from its Jewish essence to the necessities of its survival – economic well-being and the right of self-defense.”
Still, the organizations gathered names of specific victims, including hundreds of thousands of Holocaust victims and Jews who fled persecution and ethnic cleansing in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as a synopsis of tribulations of Jews in those regions.
They also wrote about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini’s collaboration with the Nazis and his role in inciting mass violence against the Jewish people – such as in the 1941 Farhud pogrom in Iraq – as well as his impact on Palestinian society today.
Long feature in eSefarad about Ottoman and Turkish Jews by Marie-Christine Bornes Varol. These Jews formed the bulk of the old Yishuv in Palestine but are virtually invisible today, she claims. (With thanks: Imre)
In 1988 Walter Weiker published a book with the enigmatic title The Unseen Israelis: The Jews from Turkey in Israel. These invisible Israelis, whose invisibility is the main asset in Israeli society according to the author, are the Jews of Turkey who massively emigrated to Israel after the recognition of the new state by Turkey in 1949. They joined the generations who had previously left the Ottoman Empire for Palestine, often clandestinely, since the end of the 19th century in the wake of religious Zionists; those of the 16th and 17th centuries who had previously come to Safed and Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire for study or religious reasons, but also conversos from Spain and Portugal who returned to Judaism, as witness the Ottoman registers studied by Gilles Veinstein. These Judeo-Spaniards, expelled from Spain, Conversos who returned to Judaism, Kabbalist rabbis and their families largely formed the old yishuv.
In Turkey, where they still make up the bulk of the Jewish community in Istanbul and Izmir, their motto is “to live happily, live hidden”. It is mischievously spoken in French, one of the languages spoken by this multilingual community.
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.