Thursday, April 11, 2013

Living in the Middle East as Dhimmas Before and After May 14, 1948 For Jews

Nadene Goldfoot
First, in most Muslim states, Jews and Christians were not 1st class citizens in Muslim countries; they were called dhimmas (protected) .  If you were not a Muslim, you had to be subordinate to a Muslim. Usually you had a choice between death and conversion.   Jews were thus protected, but from what?  Supposedly from other Muslims.  The protection involved as a dhimma did little to help.  They were still infidels and had to acknowledge openly the superiority of the Muslim.  Besides all sorts of penalties and hardships, they had to pay a poll tax symbolizing the subordination.  

With the creation of Israel on May 14, 1948, almost all the Muslim nations reacted.  Not only did they make war on Israel immediately, but on the Jews in their own country.  

EGYPT: population 79,089,650
1947:  90,000 Jews...1948:  75,000 Jews............1991:  less then 200
70+  Jews were killed and almost 200 wounded by bombs set off in the Jewish Quarter right after Israel was declared a state May 14, 1948.  In the 1956 War of Sinai, 25,000 Egyptian Jews were expelled and their property was confiscated by the government.  1,000 were went to prisons and detention camps.  November 23, 1956 proclamation which was read aloud in mosques said that "all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state and would be expelled.  Thousands were ordered to leave the country and could take only one suitcase and a small amount of money.  Then they were forced to sign  declarations "donating all their possessions to Egypt.  People were taken hostage so that those that left wouldn't speak against them.  In 1967 War, Jewish homes and property were confiscated.  Hundreds of former Nazis were allowed to live in Egypt and given positions in the government.  The Egyptian secret police was run by Leopold Gleim, head of Polish Gestapo, who was sentenced to death in absentia.  By 1979 the small remaining Egyptian Jewish community finally had official contact with Israel and those few can not practice Judaism without restrictions or harassment.  I met my young Egyptian-Jewish co-teacher in Tzfat in 1981 who told me that there were only a few old people left there.

IRAQ (Mesopotamia) ..pre Muslim history was called Babylonia: population: 31,234,000
1948:  150,000 Jews........1991: 150 in Baghdad
Jew that were expelled from Arabia settled in Kufa, Iraq.  A 2,700 year old Iraqi Jewish community had suffered terrible persecution in Iraq in WWII. Jews in June 1941 in Baghdad  suffered from riots and a pogrom by the Mufti-induced pro-Nazi coup of Rashid Ali.  The mobs were armed and the police and army murdered 180 Jews and wounded almost 1,000. Operations Ezra and Nehemiah brought Jews to Israel.   More outbreaks happened between 1946-1949.   By 1950 Jews were permitted to leave within a year if they forfeited their citizenship.  May 1950, 113,000 fled to Israel in "Operation Ali Baba."  In 1951 the property of emigrating Jews was frozen and economic restrictions were placed on those who remained.  By 1952 Jews were barred from emigrating and 2 were publicly hung after arresting them for throwing a bomb at the Baghdad office of the US Information Agency which was a false charge.  1963 saw the rise of the Ba'ath party which caused more restrictions on the remaining Jews.  They couldn't sell their property.  All Jews had to carry yellow identity cards.  After 1967's War, Jewish property was just taken, bank accounts were frozen, they were fired from public jobs, businesses were shut, trading permits were cancelled, telephones were disconnected, people were placed under house arrests for long periods or restricted to the cities.  1968 was the worst time when many were jailed when a spy ring was found.  14 men (11 Jewish) were hung in public squares in Baghdad.  Others were tortured to death.  On January 27, 1969, Baghdad Radio called people to come and enjoy a feast.  A crowd of 500,000  were called to see the hanging and they all chanted, "Death to Israel."By the 1970's, the remaining Jews were able to emigrate.  Those left were too old to leave.

SYRIA Aram) population 22,505,000
1948:  30,000 Jews.............1991: 4,000
The Syrian Jews suffered the most in the Arab world, so it's not hard to realize that the Muslims there are also suffering today.  In 1944 Syria became independent from France.  The new government didn't allow Jewish emigration to Palestine and severely restricted teaching of Hebrew in Jewish schools.  Attacks grew and Jewish businesses were boycotted.  Partition was declared in 1947 which caused Arab mobs in Aleppo  to attack the 2,500 year old Jewish community.  Many Jews were killed.  200+ homes, shops, and synagogues were destroyed.  Thousands fled illegally to get into Israel.  Things then became even worse.  Freedom of movement was severely restricted.  If you tried to leave the country you were killed or imprisoned  with hard labor.  Jews couldn't work in the government or banks.  The Jewish cemetery had a road paved over it in Damascus.  Jewish schools were closed and given to Muslims by the government.  1987-88 was when the secret police grabbed 10 Jews and tortured them for suspicion of violating travel and emigration laws, planning to escape and taking unauthorized trip abroad.  November 1989 had the promise to allow emigration of 500+single Jewish women.  Only 24 got to in 1989 and another 20 in 1991.  Jews in Syria live in extreme fear. Their Quarter in Damascus is under constant surveillance of the secret police.  They have continued to harbor Alois Brunner, one of the most notorious Nazi war criminals at large.  He was the chief aide to Adolf Eichmann, and was an adviser to the Assad regime.  He is always protected by the Syrian security service.

LIBYA: population: 6,173,579
1948:  38,000 Jews.......1991: 5
Jews suffered in a terrible pogrom in Tripoli on November 5, 1945 which killed more than 140 Jews and wounded hundreds more.  The synagogues were looted.  By June 1948, rioters murdered another 12 Jews and destroyed 280 Jewish homes.  Thousands fled after Libya was given independence and membership in the Arab League in 1951.  After 1967 the Jewish population of 7,000 suffered more pogroms in which 18 were killed and many more injured.  This caused a mass exodus that left less than 100 Jews.

LEBANON: 4,196,453
1948:  20,000 Jews....... 1991: less than 100
Christian Arabs ruled Lebanon before 1980 and Jews were tolerated but were insecure.  Most left in 1967.  All they had to do was cross their southern  border and they were in Israel.  Fighting took place from 1975-76 around the Jewish Quarter in Beirut and damaged many of the Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues.
The remaining 1800 Jews emigrated in 1976 fearing a growing Syrian presence. About 1985 Hezbollah kidnapped 9 Jews from Beirut, most were leaders of the community.  4 were later found murdered.  In 1991 were reports that a few were brought to Syria and were the central prison in Damascus.

ALGERIA: population: 34,895,000
1948:  140,000 Jews......1991:  300
A country of ancient Jewish communities dating back to Carthaginians and Romans.  There were even Berber tribes who embraced Judaism.   In 1934 a Nazi-incited pogrom in Constantine caused 25 Jews' death and many injured.  This was an early start of attacking Jews.    Algeria got independence in 1962 and then the government harassed the Jewish community and kept them from their economic rights.  So almost 130,000 Jews immigrated to France.  One synagogue is maintained in central Algiers today if any Jews are remaining.  Mondovi, Algeria was the home of writer Albert Camus who was a Nobel Prize winner in Literature who wrote "The Plague," in 1947, a historical satire in which the plague is the German occupation of France from 1940 to 1944 during WWII.  In it the town of Oran, Algeria is the equivalent of France with citizens that were slow to realize the magnitude of the danger because they didn't believe it could happen to them as the French were complacent at the beginning of the war.  They couldn't imagine that the Germans could defeat them in 6 weeks.  France fell in June 1940.

MOROCCO: population: 33,723,418
1948:  265,000 Jews.......1991:  6,000
Jews lived here when it was Mauritania, a Roman province.  Casablanca was a center for Jews.  June 1948 saw bloody riots in Oujda and Djerada which killed 44 Jews and wounded many more.  Economic boycotts were instigated against the Jews.  By 1956 Morocco had its independence and Jews couldn't emigrate to Israel until 1963 which allowed more than 100,000 Moroccan Jews to reach Israel.  Moroccan writer Said Ghallab wrote how Muslims felt about their Jewish neighbors in 1965.  "The worst insult that a Moroccan could possibly offer was to treat someone as a Jew...They were very anti-Semitic.  A whole Hitlerite myth is being cultivated among the populace.  the massacres of the Jews by Hitler are exalted ecstatically.  ..his arrival (couldn't believe he was dead) is awaited to deliver the Arabs from Israel."  King Hassan tried to protect the Jewish population.  Moroccan Jews had held leading positions in the business community and government.  July 1986 King Hassan was the host to Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel. My boss in the English Department of Tzfat Junior High was a beautiful Moroccan lady whose husband was a doctor.  She taught English and French, being French was her native language.  Of course she was fluent in Hebrew as well.  The principal of our school was also from Morocco.

YEMEN (SW Arabia) population: 23,580,000
1948:  58,000 Jews........1991:  1,500-2,000
Home of my favorite singer, Ofra Haza, one of Israel's best and most beautiful.  In 1922 the government took up an ancient law saying that Jewish orphans under age 12 were forcibly converted to Islam.  After the partition vote of 1947, Muslim rioters with the police instigated a bloody pogrom in Aden that killed 82 Jews and destroyed their hundreds of homes, stores, businesses.  The Jewish community was paralyzed.  By 1948 looting happened after 6 Jews were accused of the ritual murder of 2 Arab girls.  50,000 emigrated between June 1949 and September 1950 in "Operation "Magic Carpet."  Migrations continued into 1962 when a civil war started.  It was then thought that the Jewish community in Yemen was extinct, but in 1976 an American diplomat fund a small Jewish community in northern Yemen.  Jews remained to care for the elderly and sick that couldn't emigrate.  Then they were isolated and trapped.  They just gave up being they were without everything and converted to Islam.  By 1991 organizations have been able to go in and give aid.

ADEN: (port in S. Arabia in Yemen) population: 1,000,000
1948:  8,000 Jews........1991: 0
Jews have been here from remote times.  It was a British protectorate.  After the British annexation in 1838, Jews immigrated from Yemen.There were serious attacks by the local Arab population in 1947.  After Israel was a state in 1948, Aden served as the base for Operation Magic Carpet and most of the Jews there emigrated.  Anti-Jewish attacks increased in 1967 as the protectorate ended and the last Jews left.

TUNISIA: population: 10,383,577
1948:  105,000 Jews.........1991: 300
Jews lived here since Carthage in Roman times.  Tunisia was independent in 1956 and then decreed anti-Jewish laws.  In 1958 the Jewish Community Council was abolished and synagogues, cemeteries and the Jewish quarters were destroyed for "urban renewal."  (This also happened in Portland, Oregon).  Instability caused 40,000+ Tunisian Jews to emigrate to Israel.  In 1967 the Jewish population was down to 20,000.  During the 1967 War, Jews were attacked by rioting Arab mobs.  synagogues and shops were burned.  President Habib Bourguiba apologized to the Chief Rabbi.  The government asked the Jews to stay, but  7,000 Jews emigrated to France.  By 1982 there were attacks on Jews in Zarzis and Ben guardane.  The government tried to protect the Jews.  In 1985 a Tunisian guard opened fire on worshippers in a synagogue in Jerba and killed 5. 4 were Jewish.  Since then they have given Jews more protection.  When Israel bombed the PLO headquarters near Tunis on October 1, 1985, the government worked hard to protect the Jews from reprisals.  They did so again in October 1990 after the Temple Mount tragedy.  The government even was paying the salary of the Grand Rabbi of the community.

TURKEY: population: 73,722,988
1900:  350,000 Jews...... 1990:  20,000            2010: 17,000 (emigrated to Israel)
Turkey was the exception to the rule. Jews have a history of living here for 2,400 years.   Those  escaping the Spanish Inquisition were able to go to the Ottoman Empire.  Jews were favored as a valuable trading and artisan element .  After Israel was pronounced a state in 1948, 37,000 Turkish Jews emigrated to there.  Many Turkish Jews emigrated to Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington in the early 1900's.  18,000 Jews remained in Istanbul, 1,500 in Izmir and smaller communities in Edirne, Brusa and Ankara.   "Turkey was neutral in WWII.  As early as 1933 Ataturk invited numbers of prominent German Jewish professors to flee Nazi Germany and settle in Turkey. Before and during the war years, these scholars contributed a great deal to the development of the Turkish university system. During World War II, Turkey served as a safe passage for many Jews fleeing the horrors of the Nazism." The spiritual and cultural distinction of former days has ended, however. "There are several Jewish professors teaching at the universities of Istanbul and Ankara, and many Turkish Jews are prominent in business, industry and the liberal professions."  Today's government has suddenly become harsh towards Israel after a long friendship as it has moved towards embracing the Muslim Brotherhood and what it stands for.  

IRAN;  (Persia)  population :  76,923,300
1948: 100,000 Jews...... Jews.....1979: 80,000........2004: 20,000 to 25,000 Jews
Jews have been in Persia since the 6th Century BCE at the time of the 1st Temple.  Queen Esther was a Jewish queen married to King Ahasueros.  "Today Jews are faced with constant suspicion of cooperating with the Zionist state and with "imperialistic America" — both such activities are punishable by death.The government does not generally allow all members of a family to travel abroad at the same time to prevent Jewish emigration. Again, the Jews live under the status of dhimmi, with the restrictions imposed on religious minorities. Jewish leaders fear government reprisals if they draw attention to official mistreatment of their community.   Iran's President Ahmidinejad has called Jews and Israel names and has threatened to put an end to Israel while his country is working on a nuclear reactor that will be able to produce an A bomb.  This is the most serious situation Israel is facing.  At least 13 Jews have been executed in Iran since the Islamic revolution, most of them for either religious reasons or their connection to Israel. For example, in May 1998, Jewish businessman Ruhollah Kakhodah-Zadeh was hanged in prison without a public charge or legal proceeding, apparently for assisting Jews to emigrate.

JORDAN:  population: 5,568,565
1948: 0 Jews...........1990:  0
In 1921 the area of Transjordan was detached from the land originally incorporated under the Mandate and Emir Abdullah (1883-1951) became the king. He was the 2nd son of Hussein, sherif of Mecca and later the king of Hejaz.  He supported Britain during WWI so he got the nomination to be the ruler of Transjordan in 1923  He's the man ruler who negotiated with Chaim Weizmann in 1922 but since the British disappointed him went along with the other Arabs in invading Israel in 1948.    In 1948-1950 he annexed the eastern part of the land east of the Jordan River "West Bank" illegally. The UN had made it a part of the Jewish Homeland.  Abdullah was assassinated  in Jerusalem at the orders of the Mufti, Haj Amin el-Husseini.  His grandson, Hussein, ruled from 1952.  In 1967 Hussein sided with the other Arabs and involved Jordan in the Six Day War.  They were defeated and Israel took over what had been called "West Bank" but in reality it was the original Jewish  land of Judah and Samaria.  In 1970 he expelled the PLO from his country but later reconciled with Arafat and his son married a Palestinian girl.  He also acted as protector of the Arabs but in 1988 withdrew from this role and left it to Fatah.  His major supporters are the bedouin tribesmen while a majority of its population are Palestinians.  Many keep saying that this is really the land that should be "Palestine."  However, the king of Jordan is against such an idea.  He has been a good neighbor since the War of 1973. He was the least enthusiastic enemy then as he had not been informed about Egypt and Syria's war plans.  However, he sent his best units to Syria which took positions in the southern sector defending and attacking Israeli positions along the road on October 16th.  3 Jordanian artillery batteries also participated in the assault carried out by almost 100 tanks.

Israel was flooded with 900,000  immigrants from the Middle East countries at about the same time shortly after May 14, 1948 and took them all in.  That's what it was created for in the first place; to be a haven for Jews living in countries that did not want them.  None became refugees needing UN support.  "Jews in some Arab countries such as Syria and Yemen are held as hostages to this day."

So when I hear anyone in the Middle East population complain about Israel's treatment of Arabs in any way shape or form, I have to say, really?  You should be happy that they are not treating you as you have treated them.  They are trying to do a much better job.

Myths and Facts; a concise record of the Arab-Israeli conflict by Dr. Mitchell G. Bard and Joel Himelfarb
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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