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|The Jewish Nakba: Expulsions, Massacres and Forced Conversions, Ben-Dror Yemini|
Originally published in Hebrew, in MAARIV –
They say that she was stunningly beautiful. Sol (Suleika) Hatuel was 17 years old when she was beheaded. A Muslim friend claimed that she had succeeded in converting her. When Sol denied the claim, she was accused of renouncing Islam and was condemned to death. Her case reached the sultan.
In order to prevent her death, the community elders tried to persuade her to live as a Muslim. She refused and said, I was born as a Jew, I will die as a Jew. Her fate was sealed. It happened in 1834. She was from Tangier and was executed in
Every year on the 15th of May, the Palestinians and many others around the world along with them celebrate Nakba Day. For them, this is the day that marks the great catastrophe that befell them as result of the establishment of the State of Israel. Hundreds of thousands of Arabs became refugees. Some fled, some were deported. The Nakba grew to such enormous proportions that it is preventing a solution to the dispute.
We must remember that in the 1940s, population exchanges and deportations for the purpose of creating national states were the accepted norm. Tens of millions of people experienced it, but only the Palestinians (and they are not alone in this) have been inflating the myth of the Nakba.
However, there is another Nakba: the Jewish Nakba. During those same years, there was a long line of slaughters, pogroms, property confiscation of and deportations against Jews in Islamic countries. This chapter of history has been left in the shadows. The Jewish Nakba was worse than the Palestinian Nakba. The only difference is that the Jews did not turn that Nakba into their founding ethos. To the contrary.
Like tens of millions of other refugees around the world, they preferred to heal the wound. Not to scratch it and not to open it and not to make it bleed even more. The Palestinians, in contrast, preferred bleeding to rehabilitation. And now they are also paying the price.
The industry of lies has intensified the myth of the Nakba and turned it into the ultimate crime. The Nakba has spawned innumerable publications and conferences, to the point of completely distorting the actual historical process. The Dir Yassin massacre has become one of the milestones in the Palestinian Nakba. There is no need to hide what occurred there (even though the issue of the massacre is in dispute). Innocent people were killed. There were a few other instances of behavior that should be exposed and condemned.
A long series of massacres was perpetrated against the Jews in Arab countries. They did not declare war on the countries in which they lived. They were loyal citizens. That did not help them. Their suffering was erased. Their story is never told. The Palestinian narrative has overpowered the historical dialogue. There is no need for a Palestinian narrative versus a Zionist narrative. We need to shake off narratives in favor of the truth. And the truth is that the Jews were murdered more, dispossessed more, and suffered more.
A stunning testimonial from those years, which actually comes from the Arab side, sheds light on the issue. In 1936, Alowite personages send a letter to the French Foreign Minister in which they expressed their concern for the future of the region. They also referred to the Jewish question: "The Jews brought civilization and peace to the Arab Muslims, and they dispersed gold and prosperity over
We must remember that Nakba Day is the date of the declaration of
The Mufti, Haj Amin Al Husseini, who was close to Hitler during the Second World War, added his own bit: I am declaring a holy war. My brother Muslims! Slaughter the Jews! Kill them all!
The mini-Holocaust of the Jews in Arab countries.
Various documents, some of them discovered only in recent years, show that the declaration of war was far broader. It was actually a declaration of war on the Jews.
Research that was conducted, among others, by Prof. Irwin Kotler, former Minister of Justice of Canada, shows that the Arab League formulated a bill that would place a series of sanctions on the Jews, including confiscation of property, bank accounts and more. The preamble to the bill states that All Jews will be considered members of the Jewish minority in the State of Palestine. And if the fate of the Jews of Palestine was sealed, the fate of the Jews in Arab countries was clear.
The bill was indeed the background to the sanctions against the Jews in Arab countries sometimes by way of legislation, as happened in
This lie has been reprised innumerable times. Most of the Jews in Arab countries did not undergo the horrors of the Holocaust. But, even before the advent of Zionism, that did not make their situation much better. There were periods in which the Jews enjoyed relative peace under Muslim rule, but those periods were the exceptions. Throughout Jewish history in Muslim lands there were humiliations, expulsions, pogroms and a methodical deprivation of rights.
We can, of course, start with the conflict between Muhammad and the Jews. As part of the social reform undertaken by Muhammad, and bringing the Arabs out of the era of the Jehalia, Muhammad also drew on the monotheistic concept, perhaps primarily from the Jews. Many motifs from the Jewish religion appear in the Koran, for example, circumcision and the prohibition on eating pork. But Muhammad wanted to convert the Jews, They, of course, refused. The result was a confrontation that ended in the expulsion and slaughter of hundreds.
The Jews, as the People of the Book, were given the right to live under the protection of Islam and to practice their religion. From time to time, from generation to generation, the conditions underwent changes. In many cases, the Jews lived under the covenant of Khalif Omar.
This covenant enabled them to live as protégés (Dhimmis), albeit with inferior status. But many times, under Muslim rule, they were not even allowed a life of inferior status.
The Golden Age: One of the proofs of the coexistence of Jews and Muslims is Jewish prosperity under Muslim rule in
It encompassed a series of violence against the Jews. In 1011 in
There were pogroms in Tatuan in 1790 and 1792, in which children were murdered, women were raped and property was looted. Between 1864 and 1880, there were a series of pogroms against the Jews of Marrakesh, in which hundreds of them were slaughtered. In 1903, there were pogroms in two cities – Taza and Settat, in which over 40 Jews were killed.
In 1907, there was a pogrom in
Algeria: A series of massacres occurred in 1805, 1815 and 1830. The situation of the Jews improved with the start of the French conquest in 1830, but that did nor prevent anti-Jewish outbursts in the 1880s. The situation deteriorated again with the rise of the
Those were the days of Haj Amin al Husseini, who preached violence against the Jews. After the establishment of the State of Israel, the Iraqi parliament acted according to the Arab League bill in 1950 and froze the assets of Jews. Sanctions were imposed on those who remained in
One of the worst milestones was the Mawza exile. Three years after Imam Al Mahdi took power in 1676, he drove the Jews into one of the most arid districts of
Following the blood libel in
Later on, there were riots against the Jews at the end of World War II, in 1945, in which 10 were killed and hundreds were injured. In 1947, the Companies Law was passed, which severely damaged Jewish businesses and led to the confiscation of property. In 1948, following the UN resolution on partition, riots began in
The above is just a partial list out of a long series of massacres in Muslim countries. It happened before the Zionist endeavor. It continued with the Zionist endeavor. We are talking about a succession of events. Tens of thousands were murdered simply because they were Jewish. So the fairytale of coexistence and blaming Zionism for undermining that coexistence is yet another completely baseless myth.
Before the UN vote on partition in November 1947,
Four days afterwards, the Iraqi foreign minister, Muhammad Fadil al Jamali said that We will not be able to restrain the masses in the Arab countries, after the harmony in which Jews and Arabs lived together. There was no harmony. There had been a massacre of Jews just a few years earlier. El Jamali lied, of course. That was the Iraqi government that also encouraged the harassment of Jews and issued orders to confiscate all Jewish property.
Additionally, the Iraqi leader in those days, Nuri Said, had already presented a plan for expelling the Jews in 1949, even before the hasty actually forced exit of the Jews from
So the massacres, the pogroms and the great expulsion of the Jews was a continuation of their suffering under Muslim rule. There have always been Muslims who came out in defense of the Jews. They are also worthy of mention. That were also periods of prosperity, but it appears that most of the Jewish prosperity, as in
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Throughout the relations between Jews and Arabs, in Arab countries or in the course of the Zionist endeavor, there was not one case of a pogrom against Muslims of the type committed by the Arabs against the Jews. Even in the worst cases, which must be condemned, such as Dir Yassin, they occurred as part of a military confrontation.
Those are cases that should be condemned, but we need to put things into proportion. The Arabs slaughtered the Jews without any hostilities and without any military excuse, just because they were Jews. And those few Arabs who were killed, were killed as part of a military campaign. Despite this, any injury inflicted on the Arab population resulted in innumerable investigations and references. The worst abuse of all, the abuse of Jews by Arabs, was erased and forgotten.
Let’s return to Dir Yassin, the ultimate symbol of the Nakba. We have called it an indecent act and we will repeat that. But we must note that it was preceded by a series of murderous terrorist attacks against the civilian population. Waves of incidents, which are actually pogroms to all intents and purposes, by an incited mob that attacks the civilian population. Thousands of Jews were slaughtered, women, children and the elderly. The Palestinians even murdered their own people. In the great Arab rebellion in the 1930s, 400 Jews and 5,000 Arabs were killed, most of them at the hands of their brothers.
The months before Dir Yassin were the worst of all. 39 workers were murdered at the
The Palestinians paid the price
Close to a million Jews lived in Arab countries at the time of the establishment of the State of Israel. Just a few live there today. Most left because they suffered from pogroms and the threat to their lives. It was a crueler expulsion than the one suffered by the Arabs of Palestine, who paid the price for the declarations of war and annihilation made by their leaders. Even the Jewish property that was confiscated or abandoned as a result of the expulsion is more valuable than the Arab property that remained in
Various investigators have tried to estimate the value of the confiscated Jewish property following the forced departure of the Jews from Arab countries, compared with the Arab property left in
So even in this area, the Palestinians’ claims are refuted. They dragged the Arab countries into war. They paid the price. And they are the ones who caused the Jews to pay an even higher price. Both in property and in blood.
This article is not intended to cultivate the Jewish Nakba, and it is far from encompassing all the cases of pogroms, property confiscations, forced conversions and other harassment. The purpose is precisely the opposite. When they understand, in the Arab world in general, and the Palestinians in particular, that suffering, expulsion, loss of property, the cost in lives, is not the monopoly of one side, they may, perhaps, have the sense to understand that this past is a matter for history lessons. Because if we start to perform a political accounting, they have an overdraft. The Jewish Nakba was far greater. The suffering was enormous. But it is the suffering of many nations, among which are also Jews and Arabs who went through the experience as part of the creation of new nation states.
It is therefore worth presenting the story of the Jewish Nakba. Not for the purpose of increasing the hostility, but for the purpose of presenting the truth, and for the purpose of conciliation between the nations. Inshallah.
Ben Dror Yemini
Mis en ligne le 22 mai 2009, par M. Macina, sur le site upjf.org