Tag: Antisemitism

November riots in Libya: the end of trust between Jews and Muslims

Between 4 – 7 November 1945, the Jews of Libya suffered a murderous pogrom which snuffed out 133 lives.  We are reproducing this article in Focus on Israel by Leone Nauri  which gives the context of this massacre without precedent and lists the names of the dead. Nauri concludes that it is about time that Libyan Jews started a political campaign for their rights. (With thanks: Yoram, Ariel)
The war-damaged Dar al-Bishi synagogue in Tripoli

I read continuously about the good old days in Libya…and I
remain incredulous and amazed.

It would be enough to remember that from that
country we were hunted and expelled after three pogroms and without a penny in
our pockets for not believing these lies but probably it is not enough — so I
would like to remind my fellow villagers how we lived, without Stockholm or
other syndromes.

I would like to remind you that when we left the house the
silent advice of the parents was: head down and brisk walking. That way, the chances
of being insulted, spat upon, beaten, were between 30 and 50 percent. When
we left home there was possibly more than one of us, and we accompanied each other.
Generally every one of us had a “ghibbor and courageous” companion to
return with.

‘Behind me marched the angel of death’, a novel about the 1945 riots by Kalfo Samiya Jerabi z”l

When I came back, my mother always told me that I was a
brawler,  because in the end if I followed safer roads, with my head down, with a
brisk pace, or running, I would probably have reduced the number of fights!

In the narrowest streets with small sidewalks if you were lost in thought and did not
realize that a Muslim came from the opposite side and therefore you did not get
off the sidewalk and caught a slap and a series of insults from the “ia
kelb”
 (you dog), to “iudi kafr” (Jew non–believer). And this was
the rule, it wasn’t a special situation, it was just so. When you came back
from the temple they waited outside and attacked you.

I remember that our
little group coming out of Slat dar el Malte consisted of myself,  Leone Nauri, Victor Meghnagi z””l and Simo Dula. He was the real ghibbor (hero) , he put his tongue between his
teeth and said: ‘don’t answer randomly if they beat you, answer to their leader
and not to others’.

My parents always told me when I told them to leave that I was exaggerating! I would
like to remind you first of all that in 1945 40,000 Jews and 500,000 Arabs
lived in Libya in a territory three times the size of Italy and that our
annihilation led to our progressive expulsion despite the fact that we were
residents for over 2,000 years, much earlier than the Muslims, but this is never
remembered, no one gets up with the house keys to request our homes and our
rights.

We were about eight percent of the population and we should have 8% of
the territory, of the oil, all of the money that has robbed from us, beyond
revaluation and interest. Hundreds of synagogues turned into mosques or  were set on
fire, hundreds of deaths and our cemetery repaved with the asphalt of a
highway. We did not resist with arms, neither did the UN nor the other
international associations listen to us. But I think we should start thinking
about a political movement, even with the use of fashionable flotillas. Damn
them.

First of all I would like to recall the context in which the pogrom took place. Libya
was a Turkish colony, then an Italian colony and after the war it was under the
control of Great Britain. On November 4, 1945, Muslims attacked Jews wherever
they were, burned hundreds of shops, houses, synagogues and murdered 133
people. The British authorities did not lift a finger for four days and four
nights!

The result was the assassination in Tripoli of: Amira Izhak (Huga Giabin), Attia Regina
(Tesciuba), Barabes Huatu Asciusc, Barda David, Bendaud Masauda, Dadusc Lisa,
Fellah Musci-Kisc, Fellah Rubina, Genah Barkhani-Kassis, Genah Yosef Kassis,
Gerbi Hmani Barghut, Guetta Meri, Habib Pinhas, Haiun Mazala, Halfon
Hmani-Aruah, Halfon Masuda-Buda, Hassan Mas’auda, Leghziel Mamus – Ghezal,
Makhluf Nissim, Meghnagi Gebri, Messica Hai Glam, Messiah Raffael Halil, Nahum
Pinhas, Nahum Shlomo-Nawi, Naim Bekhor, Naim Bekhor Baiiba, Naim Raffael, Naim
Nasi, Naim Iosef-Haba, Rav Dadusc Sciaul, Rav Avraham Tesciuba, Serussi
Iakov-Gabbai, Sofer Hanna (Haddad), Sofer Mas’ ud, Zanzuri Rubina.

In the town of Amrus the murdered were: Buaron Misa, Baranes Zina, Baranes Miha, Baranes
Mas’uda, Glam Abraham, Glam Giuara, Iamin Mas’uda, Cahlon Huatu, Cahlon Huatu,
Cahlon Hai, Cahlon Micael, Cahlon Makhluf, Cahlon Mantina, Cahlon Saida, Cahlon
Pinhas, Cahlon Sciuscian, Cahlon Sara, Makhluf Guta, Makhluf Huatu, Makhluf
Khlafu, Makhluf Misa, Makhluf Misa, Makhluf Misa, Makhluf Mantina, Makhluf
Nesria, Makhluf Sultana, Makhluf Scimon, Makhluf Scimon, Mimun Lisa, Mimun
Sfani, Saada Wasi, SaadaMisa, Scmuel Bekhor, Scmuel Iaakov, Scmuel Meir, Scmuel
Mergiana (Makhluf), Sasson Lisa, Scmuel Rahel, Scmuel Scimon.

In the city of Zanzur the murdered were: Cahlon Bachuna, Cahlon Huatu, Cahlon Mamus, Cahlon
Masu, Cahlon Sturi (Debasc), Guetta Aziza, Guetta Aziza, Guetta Eliau, Guetta
Fragi, Guetta Ghezala, Guetta Ghezala (Debasc), Guetta Hluma, Guetta Hmani ,
Gueta Kalifa, Guetta Khamsa, Guetta Khlafu, Guetta Khlafo, Guetta Lidia, Guetta
Mas’uda (Serussi), Guetta Misa, Guetta Mosce, Guetta Nissim, Guetta Saruna,
Guetta Sbai, Guetta Sfani, Guetta Toni, Hayun Dukha, Haiun Hmani , Haiun
Khamus, Haiun Kheria, Hayun Khlafo, Haiun Mergiana (Makhluf), Makhluf Gamira,
Makhluf Sara, Makhluf Scimon, Scmuel Nissim.

In Zawia were murdered: Bukris Esther (Dadusc), Badasc Giuara, Badasc Rahamin, Dadusc
Scialom, Haggiag Nissim, Halal Eliau, Halal Hevron, Halal Khamus, Halal Somani,
Haiun Sclomo, Hayun Ester (Tura), Leghziel Kheria (Dadusc) , Zigdon Nesria.In Tagiura
the murdered were: Arbib Bekhor, Arbib Khalifa, Arbib Scmuel, Attia Eliau,
Buaron Amira, Frig Guta (Dadusc), Skhaib Abraham.
In Msellata the following were assassinated: Attia Rahmin-Agila, Attia Iehuda, Legtivi
S’ayid.

The Jews had always trusted Muslims, and despite some problems they would never have
imagined an assault of those proportions. This caused an unbridgeable gap with
the Muslims and an absolute lack of trust in the British authorities. The
massacres lasted from 4 to 7 November and I am not aware of any commission of
inquiry of the UN or international associations. To be honest, it must be
remembered that even some Muslim dignitaries tried to stop the massacres and
that only after that date did the British intervene and stop them.

Read article in full (Italian)

An eye-witness account of the 1945 pogrom 

70 years since the Tripoli pogrom

Remembering the 1945 riots in Libya

Kurdish imposters wanted resident Jew dead

Moving to the Kurdistan Region was the best decision of Levi Meir Clancy’s life. It was the fulfilment of a dream – until he was warned that there was a plot afoot to kill him.  The reason? He stood in the way of the ambitions (amply documented  on Point of No Return) of a group of conspirators posing as Jews. Clancy tells his story in the Times of Israel: 

Levi Meir Clancy: owns a home in Kurdistan

Even without a Saddam Hussein or an Adolph Hitler in power, there are still people with the mentality of a collaborator. That was how the conspirators behind my attack seemed to behave. They were all driven by personal gain. After one conspirator was allegedly convicted of homicide and locked away, the rest continued to collaborate with his associates in their pursuit of antisemitic legends about Jewish wealth and Jewish privilege.

Unfortunately, officials in the Kurdistan Region seemed to believe that antisemitic attacks must involve someone whose primary goal is the “cleansing” of Jewish people from society. Frankly, this is a ridiculous perspective because there are no Jewish people remaining, except a few expatriates who are countable on one hand. There is no Jewish community being “rounded up” like a scene from the Holocaust, because there is no Jewish community.

This outdated perspective on antisemitic violence in the 21st century has created a tremendous blind spot. Without any vigilance, the potential for violence has festered. The conspirators simply had to choose a course of action that avoided the most crude and sophomoric stereotypes of antisemitic behavior.

It was not just the Kurdistan Region’s officials who were unprepared. With the rise in visitation to the Kurdistan Region, many foreigners (and even Jewish people and Israelis) have come to the Kurdistan Region for short periods, experienced no serious problems, and then returned to their homes abroad. As a result, based on their own brief but enjoyable visits, many people shunned the possibility that someone in Erbil might be hunted for their Jewishness. Yet here I am, forced to wake up every morning with the possibility that I will not live to see the next day.

But still, for many people, the idea that an antisemitic plot is underway in the Kurdistan Region is beyond the limits of comprehension — or, perhaps, beyond the limits of compassion. (…)

The people behind the plot against me were a network of men who had emerged over the last few years with false claims of being long-lost Jews, with two of them even securing roles as representatives in the Kurdistan Region’s government. Additionally, they received support from outside of the Kurdistan Region from those who had their own motives as well.

Smartly, the conspirators did not publicly disagree with the popular narrative about coexistence. In fact, they decided to harness it by claiming that they themselves were in fact are long-lost Jews. They ran to the media and made many headlines. It was a catchy story. This opened many doors for them, and provided a level of impunity for increasingly disastrous behavior because well-intentioned people were shy about seeming hesitant regarding supposed Jewish affairs.

At every opportunity, the conspirators issued false but self-perpetuating claims to the media that there was a very large Jewish community in the Kurdistan Region that hovered around 400 families — but which was, in fact, non-existent. The motives were fairly limited,

  • Most of these men just wanted to be in the business of organizing hotly-desired visas, either for aliyah to the State of Israel, or asylum to Europe, which they thought would be very easy to obtain by claiming to be Jewish.
  • Many of them wanted control over real estate connected to Jewish heritage sites, or thought that there was a vault somewhere containing piles of Jewish gold. They would break into Jewish heritage sites to stage photo opportunities, and follow YouTube recordings that played in the background to reenact occasional holidays for the press.
  • A few thought that claiming to be Jewish would help them obtain one-off opportunities such as scholarships from Jewish organizations or some sort of entry into a Masonic cabal.

The whole thing reeked of antisemitic stereotypes, but it was impossible to get any sort of official response on these grounds alone. To my shock, trying to kill me for my Jewishness was still insufficient. At that point, I realized how violence was enabled — there was no point where any official attending to religious issues simply said “that is enough” and got to work.

The Syrian blood libel that never was

Few have not heard of the Damascus Blood Libel of 1840: Jews in Damascus were accused of a murder in order to use the victim’s blood to bake Matza. Innocent Jews were imprisoned, several were tortured or died. Moses Montefiore and Adolphe Crémieux embarked on a mission to entreat the Ottoman sultan to condemn future blood libels. But 13 years later, another Blood Libel was prevented in the city of Aleppo, thanks to a vigilant Jewish baker named Moosa. Halakha of the Day has the story:

Sir Moses Montefiore went on a mission to the Levant after the 1840 Blood Libel

The pleas of the desperate Jewish community of Syria for the influential European countries to intervene were ignored by the British and the French. Several community leaders and rabbis were tortured by the Turkish authorities in Damascus, who seized the opportunity to confiscate property and take by force the possessions of the most affluent families in the community. The Damascus Libel had devastating consequences for the local Jewish population …

A few years later, on the 13th of Sivan in 1853 in the city of Aleppo, a blood libel was avoided just in time. While there is not much documentation in this case as in the case of the Damascus libel, one known version is that on that date the dead body of a child, who died or was killed in dubious circumstances, was “planted” by a group of Gentiles in the house of the Jewish baker at midnight. The antisemites plan was to arrive in the morning with the police and accuse the baker of a ritual murder. Then, start riots, looting the community, etc. A Jewish baker was the perfect target for this accusation, since he would be held responsible for “using Christian blood to prepare matzot, or other ritual foods.”

Miraculously, the baker (named Moossa, Moshe in Arabic) woke up in the night. He discovered the body, understood the potential threat, and got rid of it.When the authorities arrived in the morning they could not find anything.The baker informed the rabbis of the city what had happened and the rabbis said that HaShem , in His mercy, had saved the Jewish community of Aleppo from a terrible tragedy, and instituted that the 13th of Sivan be remembered as “Nes Moossan” (The miracle that happened through Moossa) and in remembrance of this miracle, we skip the recitation of the Viduy (confession), and that is a significant act of liturgical celebration.

Read article in full

 

 

 

Journalist ‘framed Ades to extort money’

In September 1948, Shafik Ades, the richest and best-connected Jew in Iraq, was hanged  in front of his newly-constructed villa, sending shock waves through the Jewish community. Joe Samuels was 17 at the time. He remembers becoming hysterical  when he saw the photograph of Ades’ hanging  body on the front page of the Alzaman newspaper. Much later, Joe was told the following (uncorroborated) story by Tawfik Zanki, who in turn had heard it from his father. Zanki moved from Basra to Los Angeles in 1996. 

Ades was tried swiftly in an army court

After the failure of the Arab countries to eliminate Israel in the war of 1948, the Arabs channelled their anger into blaming their Jewish citizens. They  openly expressed their mistrust and hatred in the media, such as the evening newspaper Al Yaktha and the mouthpiece of the Istiklal (Independence) party. Articles were filled with hate for the Jews, calling them spies and a fifth column.

After WWII the British Army offered to sell as scrap metal what was left of their war equipment and cars which they didn’t want to take back, some of which were still usable. They left the scrap behind at the Shieba camp near Basra.

Ades’ body was left to hang all day long in front of a crowd of thousands

Shafik Ades and a Muslim merchant friend Nadji Al Khutheiry formed a company and bought some of the equipment. Some they sold in Iraq and some they sold to Italy.  All sales were cleared with permission from the Iraqi government.

A low-level journalist who was attempting to extract money from Ades threatened to write an article about him in the press. When Shafik refused, the journalist went ahead and published the article, accusing him of shipping war material to Israel through Italy and help her win the war. The article accused Ades alone and did not mention his partner, Al Khutheiry. The article was picked u[p by other media and from there it became a national story.

Ades was then arrested, accused and tried in a special army court in Basra on September 11-13, 1948. The president of the court, Abdallah Al Na’asany,  condemned him (not his partner Al Khutheiry) to death by hanging and confiscated his assets. He was executed on September 23, 1948 in front of his villa, whose construction had just been completed. His body was displayed all day long.

Shafik  had been warned through his connections to flee to Iran through the Shatt al Arab waterway,  but he refused, sure of his innocence,  and that his close friendship with the Regent and many ministers would protect him. Of course, nothing helped; they needed a scapegoat and it was he –  and not his Muslim partner, Al Khutheiry.

More about Shafik Ades

 

 

 

 

TV soap underplays Arab antisemitism

Israeli television’s latest hit, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, may be accused of cultural appropriation. It is also ‘ahistorical, politically biased’ and fails to challenge common myths about Israel. Michael Oren pens this trenchant critique in The Tablet

A scene from The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem (Photo: Nati Levi)

 

Based on a bestselling novel by Sharit Yishai-Levi, the series follows the vicissitudes of the Ermozas, an upscale Sephardi family in pre-state Jerusalem. Clumsily toggling between the early 1920s and late ’30s, the drama focuses on the materfamilias, Merkada, and her sybaritic son, Gabriel. The owner of a store that appears to sell only halvah, Gabriel falls in love with a working-class Ashkenazi woman but is forced by Merkada to marry an even lower-class Sephardi woman, their illiterate housekeeper, Rosa. Played by the alpaca-eyed Hila Saada, Rosa inundates the show with a stream of tears that stretches across all 16 of its first-season episodes. And there are the Ermoza daughters—Rachelika and Luna, with the latter growing up to become the eponymous beauty queen. Their loves and disasters, longings and disappointments take place against the backdrop of Palestine from the end of the Ottoman Empire and throughout the British Mandate. (…)

Unsurprisingly, the only villains in The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem are Jews. And not just any Jews, but the right-wing Revisionists of the Irgun and the Lehi. A ruthless bunch, including Rosa’s brother, Ephraim, they blow up a British officers club in 1937, killing soldiers and civilians alike, and assassinate innocent Arabs. “First we get rid of the English,” the ringleader declares. “Then we get rid of the Arabs, and then we get rid of the Mapainikim.” That third target—a reference to members of Ben-Gurion’s Mapai (the Land of Israel Workers Party)—is the most abhorred by the terrorists. For that is how they are portrayed, as bloodthirsty and treasonous.

These villains are also decontextualized. Like the Haganah, the Irgun was founded in reaction to the Arab revolts, as a means of protecting Jewish settlements and neighborhoods from terrorism. Attacks on the British began only in 1939, after the issuance of the white paper. But since none of this background is supplied or even alluded to in the show, the Revisionists appear motivated by bloodlust alone. “When did it happen to us?” a despondent Gabriel Ermoza asks. “When did it happen that we kill a man just because he’s an Arab?” Ultimately, in fact, Jews did kill Jews, in June 1948, when Israeli forces led by Ben-Gurion opened fire on the Revisionist arms ship, Altalena.

Ahistoricism and heavy-handed politicization are not, unfortunately, the program’s only flaws. Produced by the makers of FaudaShtisel, and Tehran, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem is certainly destined for the American market. And yet by casting Ashkenazi actors—Michael Aloni as Gabriel, and Irit Kaplan as his mother—in its lead Sephardic roles, the series is liable to receive allegations of cultural appropriation. It might lend credence to the widespread American view of Israel as a majority-white country. American viewers are also likely to take umbrage at the series’ depiction of Arabs, all of whom are docile or decadent stereotypes.

But Americans, especially those unfamiliar with the seminal events in Israel’s history, will probably not resent—or even notice—the absence of any mention of the Mufti, the Arab Revolts, or Nazism. This is the series’ tragedy. Rather than reminding American audiences that the conflict did not begin in 1967 or even in 1948, but in the 1920s and ’30s when the Arabs attacked all Jews, Zionist and non-Zionist alike, the series lets the distortion stand. Instead of showing how the Arab resistance movement was riddled with religious fanaticism and hatred, the program ascribes precisely those attributes to Jews. And though Zionists spearheaded one of the earliest and most successful campaigns against colonialism, The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem, transforms freedom fighters into psychopaths and the imperialists into victims. Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees flooded Palestine during this period and showing them, or even alluding to their presence, would have recalled the need for a secure Jewish state, but The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem fails to present the most basic context to the story it purports to tell.

These and other missed opportunities mar the series far more than its soap opera-ish characters and lugubrious pacing. Most distressing, though. is the producers’ assumption that Israelis would watch the show and not find anything amiss. Forgetfulness might be unfortunate for Americans, but for Israelis it is dangerous. After all, why defend a country whose founders fought against a perfectly peaceful mandate and willfully killed Arabs? Why remain in a state whose very foundations are steeped in ethnic and religious strife? And how beautiful can any queen really be if her realm is built on myths?

About

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.