Media Erase Plight of Jewish Refugees From Arab Lands

The media went into overdrive this week with wall-to-wall coverage of the United Nations’ “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” that marked the 74th anniversary of the historic partition proposal that would have – but for its rejection by the entire Arab world – resulted in a Jewish state alongside an Arab one. In fact, this series of speeches and ‘cultural events’ only served to legitimize the Palestinian ‘right of return’ demand that would – if ever actualized – destroy the Jewish state by weight of numbers. 

In stark contrast, the November 30 commemoration by Israel and the entire Jewish world of the expulsion of Jews from Arab and Islamic lands that took place following the Palestinian leadership and neighboring Arab states’ violent rejection of the UN Partition Plan generated virtually no coverage by prominent news outlets.

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Off Media’s Radar: Nearly 1,000,000 Jewish Refugees

Following Israel’s establishment, the state of Jews living in Arab countries became increasingly precarious. Libya’s Jewish Community Council was dissolved and, in 1961, a law passed that effectively stripped the Jews of their Libyan citizenship. The country’s Jewish community essentially came to an end with the evacuation of 6,000 Jews in one month.

In 1963, Algeria passed a law stripping non-Muslims of citizenship. In 1964, Syrian Jews were barred from working in the government or banks, purchasing property, or acquiring drivers’ licenses. Syrian Jews who obtained permission to travel abroad were required to post a bond, leaving behind family members as hostages.

And after the Six-Day War, Egyptian Jews were hit with a wave of confiscations.

Related Reading: The Forgotten Jewish Refugees From Arab Lands

It’s estimated that approximately 850,000 Jews were living in Arab countries and Iran at the time of Israel’s independence. Some scholars think that the number is closer to one million. In the North African region, 259,000 Jews fled from Morocco, 140,000 from Algeria, 100,000 from Tunisia, 75,000 from Egypt, and another 38,000 from Libya. In the Middle East, 135,000 Jews were exiled from Iraq, 55,000 from Yemen, 34,000 from Turkey, 20,000 from Lebanon and 18,000 from Syria. Iran forced out 25,000 Jews.

These people were forced to leave the countries where their families had lived for millennia solely because of their Jewish identity

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Today, there are fewer than 7,000 Jews living in the entire Arab world. In many Arab states, once-thriving Jewish communities have all but disappeared.

In an attempt to correct this historic injustice the Israeli government took action in 2019, demanding compensation totaling $250 billion for property and assets left behind by Jews who fled for their lives.

What Jewish Refugees? Media Ignore Mass Expulsion

During Israel’s War of Independence, approximately the same amount of Jewish refugees arrived in the fledgling Jewish state as Palestinians who fled their homes. Yet one side of these historic events  has been seemingly buried by leading news organizations.

HonestReporting examined thousands of articles and news segments to gauge how the media have reported on the Jewish refugee story compared to the Palestinian refugee issue over the last 12 months. While ‘Palestinian refugees’ was cited nearly six and a half thousand times, there were only 865 ‘Jewish refugees’ citations during the same period.

No Recognition From United Nations of Jews Driven From Arab Countries

The media’s unwillingness to report on the story of Jewish refugees isn’t occurring in a vacuum. The United Nations is pushing the Palestinian narrative as well.

In 2008, the US House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of Jewish, Christian, and other refugees from Arab lands. The resolution states that any agreement between Israelis and Palestinians must include recognition of Jewish refugees as well. The resolution makes it clear that the subject should be brought before the UN General Assembly.

Yet the United Nations refuses to recognize the Jews who were brutally expelled from Arab states. In response, Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan informed UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in December 2020 of his intention to submit a draft resolution requiring the international body to hold an annual commemoration for the hundreds of thousands of Jews exiled from Arab countries due to the creation of the State of Israel.

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Erdan also asked the UN to launch a global research project on the deportation of Jews from the Arab world and to back the study of the subject in various UN forums.

Related Reading: Israel and the Innate Bias of the UN Security Council

By obfuscating the plight of Jewish refugees the media are keeping readers and viewers in the dark about the ethnic and cultural composition of modern-day Israel. As a result, the myth that the Jewish state is composed of people descendant from European ‘interlopers’ (See here, here, and here) is allowed to be perpetuated.

Until the media and United Nations recognize Arab leaders’ rejection of the Jewish state and persecution of the Jewish people, coexistence is liable to elude Israelis and Palestinians.

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Featured Image: via Wikimedia Commons; other photos courtesy National Photo Archives

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