What happened to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab lands?

Q: What has happened to the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab lands? Were there any to begin with?

A: Yes. Many. The heading of an article from the New York Times of May 16, 1948 — a day after Israel declared its independence — proclaims: “Jews in Grave Danger in all Moslem Lands. Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of Their Foes”.

Arabs have been killing Jews since 1882. Already in Iraq (1936 and 1941), Syria (1944-45), Egypt and Libya (1945), and Aden (1947) — all before the state of Israel’s founding — murderous attacks had killed and wounded thousands.

Q: But how many Jews were living in “Moslem” lands?

A: In 1945 there were about 140,000 Jews in Iraq; 60,000 in Yemen and Aden; 35,000 in Syria; 5,000 in Lebanon; 90,000 in Egypt; 60,000 in Libya; 150,000 in Algeria; 120,000 in Tunisia; and 300,000 in Morocco, including Tangiers. That comes to a total of about 960,000 — and more than 200,000 in Iran and Turkey.

Q: And what happened to these Jews?

A: During the 20th century, thousands of Jewish men, women, and children, young and old, were brutally massacred in the Maghreb, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Aden — even under French and British colonial rule — and also in Palestine after the British conquest and during the Mandate (1918-48).

Q: So where are the remaining Jews now?

A: Roughly half of Israel’s 5 million Jews — from a population of 6.2 million, of whom roughly 20 percent are Arab, Druze, and Bedouin Israelis — is now composed of those refugees and their descendants, who received no humanitarian aid from the United Nations, and who did not ask for it. It was Jews worldwide, just emerging from the Holocaust, who worked together with Israel to achieve this integration.

Jews have always been forbidden to reside in Saudi Arabia and Jordan; there are no Jews in Libya; only under 100 in Egypt and Syria; and only 17 remain in Iraq.

Q: Where is the moral equivalency between “Palestinian” refugees and Jewish refugees?

A: There is no moral equivalency. Jewish refugees were forced to flee from their homes. Palestinian refugees voluntarily fled theirs.

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