GO FOR IT!!
I recently read a piece written by a spokesperson for an organization answering to the name of South African Jews for a Free Palestine (SAJFP). This organization claims its aim is “to raise awareness of the Nakba”, as the Arabs refer to their plight following their refusal to comply with United Nations General Assembly resolution 181 which called for the establishment of two National States – a Jewish State and an Arab State – in the area previously administered by the British Mandate.
Like so many other groups committed to the Palestinian Arab cause and not to a peaceful solution to the conflict, SAJFP, in its insatiable thirst to be perceived as being politically correct, ignores the historical facts. SAJFP also ignores the context in which these events took place and, most seriously, it completely absolves the Arab world from any responsibility for its genocidal actions.
Instead of complying with UN General Assembly resolution 181 and establishing a national state for themselves, the Arab world elected to wage a bloody war aimed at annihilating the nascent State of Israel legitimately created and internationally approved by this same resolution. The trained armies of Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq joined local militias – including the militia from the village of Lubya – in a military action aimed at ethnically cleansing the entire Mandate area of its Jewish population.
Surely, the Arab world could have avoided their “Nakba”, not to mention the terrible loss of life and destruction on both sides, had it accepted and complied with UN General Assembly Resolution 181.
The invading Arab armies were ultimately defeated and some of the Arab population was displaced. Those Arabs who elected to remain in Israel, were granted full rights of citizenship. Today, Arabs serve in Israel’s defense forces. They serve in Israel’s diplomatic corps. They serve as judges at all levels in Israel’s judicial system. They serve in Israel’s parliament. They represent Israeli sports teams. Of course, that’s the way it should be. After all, Israel is a democracy. In fact, it’s the only democracy in the region. A recent survey showed that 71% of Israel’s Arab population think Israel is “a good place in which to live”.
If SAJFP was driven by a sense of genuine goodwill, it would also acknowledge that more than one “Nakba” occurred following the refusal of the Arab world to acknowledge the right of Jews to establish the National State in their historical homeland.
SAFJP chooses to ignore the countless atrocities committed by the people who have become the victims of their own crimes. The Jewish populations in Hebron and the Etzion Bloc were massacred down to the last person. The Jewish Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem was cleansed of its Jewish population. In addition, Jews were denied access to their Holy Sites in the Old City of Jerusalem including the remnant Western Wall of the Temple destroyed by the Romans 2,000 years ago. Jews were denied access to the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, to Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem and to other Jewish National sites in areas that, following Israel’s War of Independence, fell under the control of the Arab world. Following cessation of hostilities in 1949, not even a single Jew remained in the areas controlled by the Arab world. That’s ethnic cleansing.
Following the establishment of the State of Israel, some 850,000 Jews who lived in Arab countries were forced to leave the countries where they had lived for generations. In fact, more Jews were expelled from Arab countries than were the number of Arabs displaced as a result of the hostilities in the areas previously administered by the British Mandate. Jewish refugees from around 100 different countries were welcomed to Israel ending an exile of some 2,000 years from their historical homeland. Israel provided these people with opportunity and has enabled them to live meaningful and fulfilling lives.
In contrast, the Arab world insisted on the establishment of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to manage the so-called Palestinian problem. Since its inception nearly 70 years ago, this corrupt organization has only perpetuated the problem. Sadly, the Arab world, aided and abetted by UNRWA, has condemned Palestinian Arabs to a life of misery devoid of opportunity and of any meaningful future. Indeed, inept leadership and UNRWA are the problem. They certainly aren’t the solution.
If SAJFP was genuinely interested in seeking an end to the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs, it should encourage the intransigent Arab leadership to accept the only solution to a conflict that’s already caused much too much strife and hardship.
It’s time for the Palestinian leadership to accept responsibility for the future of the people they claim to represent. They totally messed up the past and they’re doing nothing to redeem themselves at present.
SAJFP surely recognizes that omelets are made from eggs. But it should also acknowledge that eggs can’t be made from omelets. It’s simply not on.
The time has come to face reality and to recognize the State of Israel as the National State of the Jewish People. The time has come for the Palestinian leadership to grasp the opportunity to establish their own demilitarized state in Gaza and in areas of Judea and Samaria to be vacated by Israel. That’s the only solution and the opportunity to implement it has been on the negotiating table in one form or another for the past 70 years.
Go for it!!
Calling all friends of Israel! We need your help! We want access to news in English and French on Israeli TV 24/7 that is broadcast from Israel. Please help us out by signing this petition – you don’t even need to live in Israel to do this. This will also impact tourists who will hopefully be able to watch the news in English and not rely on CNN, the BBC et al:
Read this tale of espionage and intrigue featured in the Jewish Report:
Kwara Kekana, national spokesperson for the BDS movement in South Africa, recently published an article regarding the plight of Christians in Israel and the alleged limitations placed on their freedom to observe their Easter holiday celebrations.
Yet again, a spokesperson for the BDS movement is guilty of deliberately lying and completely misrepresenting the facts to advance this organization’s racist agenda.
By way of example, Kekana’s article claims that Jerusalem’s Christian population dwindled “from approximately 30,000 in 1944 to less than 11,000”. In her attempt to deceive her readers, Kekana’s article conveniently omits the relevant factors behind this dramatic change.
The facts are as follows:
- In 1944, the number of Christians living in Jerusalem totaled 29,400.
- During the period 1948 to 1967, the Old City of Jerusalem, home to Jerusalem’s Christian population, was under Jordanian rule. During this period, the number of Christians living in Jerusalem dwindled to 12,646.
- In 1967 immediately following the Six Day War, Israel declared the city of Jerusalem unified and guaranteed free access to holy sites for all religions.
- By 2012, the number of Christians living in Jerusalem had increased to 14,000.
- Since coming under Israeli rule, the freedom for all religions to worship at their holy sites in Jerusalem has been rigorously upheld.
Now let’s consider some other relevant facts regarding the history of the freedom to worship at Jerusalem’s holy sites while these were administered by Jordan:
- In the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Jordan undertook to allow “free access to the holy sites and cultural institutions and [to enable the] use of the [Jewish] cemeteries on the Mount of Olives.”
- Christian pilgrims were allowed to visit the Temple Mount.
- Jews from all countries and non-Jewish Israelis were barred from entering Jordan and therefore could not travel to the area.
- Tourists entering East Jerusalem had to present baptismal certificates or other [imagine what] proof they were not Jewish.
- The special committee to coordinate visits to holy places was never formed and Israelis, regardless of their religion, were barred from entering the Old City of Jerusalem and other holy sites.
- The Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem and its 35 ancient synagogues were systematically destroyed.
- The gravestones from the Jewish Cemetery on the Mount of Olives were used to build latrines for Jordanian army barracks.
- The Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem was ethnically cleansed of its entire Jewish population as were the Jewish communities in all the territories occupied illegally by the invading Arab armies.
Is Kwara Kekana suggesting we reinstate these discriminatory practices reminiscent of the darkest days of Apartheid as practiced in South Africa? I believe she is.
Kekana is simply articulating the fundamental goal of BDS – to delegitimize the right of Jews to statehood in their historical homeland and to create the public opinion necessary to justify yet another holocaust of the Jewish people.
Kwara Kekana hypocritical and factually flawed article conveniently ignores the wave of genocidal attacks conducted in the name of jihad against Christians in so many different parts of the world.
- The recent bombing in a park in Lahore, Pakistan killed 67 and wounded more than 300 Christians.
- Last week, a Christian convert in Bangladesh was stabbed to death by Islamic radicals.
- Two weeks ago in the Ivory Coast, al-Qaeda gunmen launched an attack on a hotel murdering 18 Christians while praying.
- Only three weeks ago in Yemen, militant Muslims stormed a Catholic retirement home and murdered sixteen people, including four nuns and the elderly residents.
- Less than a month ago in Nigeria, radical Islamic mercenaries swept through a number of Christian villages slaughtering more than 300 Christians including pregnant women and children.
- Christian minorities in Syria, Iraq, Gaza and other Middle East countries have dramatically diminished over the past years.
- Jewish communities throughout the Arab world have dwindled to less than a handful.
The list of examples of Islamic genocide, ethnic cleansing and intolerance of anything Jewish or Christian is never ending.
Despite the facts and the figures, Kwara Kekana concludes that “had Jesus been present in his homeland today his mission would no doubt have included the downtrodden Palestinians”.
I beg to differ.
The realities suggest that had Jesus been present, the focus of his mission would be directed towards preaching for tolerance and re-educating the racially incited Islamic masses to abandon their rhetoric and genocidal jihad.
Allow me to end off by sincerely wishing my Christian friends a happy Easter.
Wicked are those who rob the livelihoods of the very people that they claim to help and no less shameful is their total distortion of the truth. They claim that theirs is a just cause rooted firmly in a desire to secure human rights for the oppressed. They spout platitudes about the victimization of the underdog, and yet it is them – these architects of BDS campaigns, who consistently call out the one and only Jewish state as the sole target for their evil agenda. It is they who are playing the racist card so expertly. It is they who by bully tactics are practising their own unique brand of apartheid by singling out Israel and steadfastly ignoring all manner of human rights abuses by larger, Jew-free countries in the region and around the world.
One can easily argue that boycotting Israeli goods is impossible. Israeli ingenuity has an imprint on virtually anything and everything of use to us on this planet and beyond because Israeli ingenuity is far-reaching. But, even in its absurdity, the consequence of this thinly veiled hate-fest against Israel is indisputable.
Let’s take SodaStream for example. The eco-friendly bubbly soft drink dispenser for home use has been the target of aggressive international pressure from the BDS hounds, for some years now. Following this unwarranted pressure, SodaStream was forced to close its plant in the Mishor Adumim Industrial Zone in Judea and relocate to a new factory in the Negev. Hailed as a total victory for the BDS camp, there was no mention of the 500 Palestinians who lost their jobs in the interim as a result of the BDS bullying tactics.
These proud conscientious Palestinians who had worked side by side with their 350 Jewish Israeli and 450 Arab-Israeli colleagues in total harmony and who enjoyed the same elevated wages (almost 500% higher than the average paid by Palestinian authorities) and generous social security benefits were suddenly thrown into an economic wasteland, caused by the very same activists who claim to be working for their benefit.
Did the BDS camp cry for them as they picked up their final paycheck and hugged their workmates with tear-stained farewells? No. SodaStream CEO Daniel Birnbaum cried for them. He was sorry, actually heartbroken, to be forced to let them go from his company, which had been applauded as a ‘model of integration’ and held up as a justly fine example of co-existence.
Now, with the final closure of the factory, the remaining 64 Palestinian workers mourn the loss of employment, salary and benefits and the Jewish workmates with whom they enjoyed close and warm relations. Again, there were tears, but not from the BDS camp.
The pushers of BDS do not concern themselves with the agony of the people. They concern themselves only with mud-slinging – and only slinging that mud at Israel.
The scurrilous perpetrators of BDS have excelled themselves this time. What they hail as a victory has caused even more misery and economic hardship for a people already crushed by Hamas, their own malevolent government; a government whose mission is not to build a healthy Palestinian State but to wipe out the Jewish State.
Had the BDS camp really cared for the plight of Gazans it would have turned on Hamas, the despotic god that keeps its people lean and desperate. It would have exposed the true agenda of a government that promotes incitement and hatred and breeds fear and insecurity in its own people. It would take issue with the gross misappropriation of foreign aid into terrorist activity and call for change for the good of the economic, social and educational needs of the people of Gaza. It would call for an uprising, not against Israel but against Hamas. It would empower the people and strengthen the ‘Palestinian cause’. Yeah right, as if…
So who is being victimized here? The Jews, of course. Israel bears the brunt of BDS hostility but the Palestinians are no less pawns in the evil game.
A new security problem is challenging Israel. This time it is not connected to ballistic missiles, Qassam rockets from Gaza or the underground offensive tunnels of Hamas. This new security threat isn’t technically sophisticated and even Israeli scientists whose brains are capable most of the time to find solutions that provide the right answers to these threats, are baffled.
The problem starts when the danger does not come from a sophisticated and developed machine but from the brain of a young Palestinian or Israeli Arab who suddenly decides out of the blue to take a knife or any other simple tool that you can find in your home and just kill a Jew because he is a Jew. Around 15 years ago, when the jihadist groups sent suicide bombers to Israel’s cities, I called the bomb attached to the suicide terrorist, a “smart bomb”. Why? Because sixteen kilos of TNT explosives attached to a would-be terrorist who chose the best time and place to kill as many Jews as possible became a smart bomb with all the destructive aspects involved.
Nowadays, these young killers who are sometimes only 13 years old, take a knife and run out just to kill. This phenomenon is challenging the security authorities of Israel and we must understand what is going on and how to deal with this behaviour among Palestinian youngsters.
In spite of the fact that a general atmosphere of incitement and Islamic radicalism, supported by the Palestinian Authority and religious leaders coexists in Palestinian society, it is clear that they are not the only reasons for motivating kids and teenagers to kill and endanger their own lives. They are teenrorists. This is a combination of terror and teenagers. This is exactly what we are facing.
It is a deadly mixture of basic Arab hatred, Islamic radicalism that is connected to confused brains and disturbs the state of mind of teenagers who are using this behaviour to justify their killings and according to their beliefs, to show that their problems are a world issue. This Teenrorism is a new challenge for Israel and the western world because inflation of social networks,the sophisticated branding of Daesh and non-stop violence day and night is very negative association which isn t at all adapted to the static traditional muslim society .For these young men and women,this situation creates a discrepancy ,a distortion and a deep desire to move from feelings into action,where to kill and be killed is the only way for exit.
The rationale is “I cannot stand living anymore but I must make my death useful for what I believe is the interest of my people”.Even if the first reason isn t political at all. That is the reason why after attempted killing of Jews and once the killer has been neutralized the leaders and local media in Arabic call them “brave” and Shahids (martyrs). Even though that within Palestinian society everyone knows that they are independent and disconnected from terrorist groups, their leaders are trying their best to promote the fact that all these killers are a result of the political situation. This is not the case.
The Palestinian Authority at the highest level along with the families of these youngsters are directly responsible for creating teenorists. Instead of condemning all of these actions, they are inflaming the situation and motivating new ones. The father of the Otniel teenorist said that he was proud that his son had carried out an attack which robbed Daphna Meir, a mother of six, of her life.
Palestinian mothers and fathers with the medical and technical infrastructure in their community should go to the local psychologist to help their kids instead of supporting terrorism. The problem is that in this society there is total mistrust and even refusal to receive psychological assistance because it is considered shameful and not socially acceptable. In this matter, Jewish mothers and women could start an initiative with Arab Israeli women and psychologists by forming an organisation or project, that helps to identify potential candidates for teenrorism before they leave home with a knife to kill and be killed.
Israeli society has a much higher respect for life and the lives of our children. it is very difficult for our society to face not only terrorism but teenrorists and kids that are even younger who perpetrate these killings. In this situation it is obvious that using Psychological assistance and guidance with a global willingness from both sides to prevent young boys and girls from giving in to violence is a priority for all of us. It is not enough to receive the usual criticism from the Swedish foreign minister or Europe to stop this Teenrorism, something has to be done to save the lives of Palestinians and Israelis.
Teenrorism is bad for all sides and it has to be stopped.
Lyn Julius is a journalist and co-founder of Harif, an association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa. This article appeared in the Times of Israel on December 19, 2012.
A forest of velvet bags hangs from the ceiling as you entered the special exhibition on the Jews of Algeria at the Musee d’Art et d’Histoire du Judaisme in Paris. The bags are shaped like New York Police Department badges, each richly embroidered or embossed with a boy’s name in gold or silver thread. It was customary for the boy’s family to present him with a bag when he reached bar mitzvah age: it contained a talith (prayer shawl) or tefillin (phylacteries).
These bags are almost the only vestiges remaining of Jewish life in Algeria. The synagogues have mostly been turned into mosques – like the Great Synagogues of Algiers or Oran. The main synagogue of Constantine has been reduced to a parking lot. Algeria has hardly any Jews left, and no communal life to speak of. In July 2011, when its last client Esther Azoulay died, the Joint, the US-based agency which helps Jews in distress, would up its operations in the country.
2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the exodus of the Jews of Algeria. The exhibition at the Jewish Museum in Paris attracted wide interest into this neglected aspect of French, Jewish and Algerian history.
The issue has been neglected by France because the 130,000 Jews were subsumed into the great mass of pieds noirs – the 800, 000 French settlers who fled Algeria. It’s been neglected because the loss of Algeria, the jewel in the crown of France’s colonial empire, was a humiliation which French society was glad not to be reminded of. It’s been neglected by the Jews because they too saw themselves as Frenchmen. It’s been neglected by Israel because, unusual among the 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, 90 percent of Algerian Jews went to France and not Israel. It’s been neglected by independent Algeria because it has chosen to erase all traces of Jewish presence, culture or history.
Meanwhile dubious parallels are drawn in academia and the media between France’s colonial war in Algeria, and Israel’s war with the Arabs. Propagandists claim that Algeria’s Jews cast their lot with France in a supposed betrayal of Algeria’s Arabs. The ‘colonised’ Arabs of Palestine will triumph just as surely as they did in Algeria, they confidently predict.
But far from being colonial, Jewish roots go back 2,700 years when Jewish traders arrived in North Africa with the Phoenicians, 1,000 years before Islam; and the first Jewish slaves and expellees from Judea settled among the Berbers soon after the destruction of the 2nd Temple. Some Berber tribes were said to have converted to Judaism. The most famous Jewish Berber of all, the warrior Queen Kahina, fought the Arab Muslim invaders in the 7th century – in vain.
The toshavim, the settled indigenous Jews who managed to survive islamisation, were joined in the 15th century by the megorashim, Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition. Under Ottoman rule, most Jews lived in abject misery as dhimmis – inferior subjects under Islam. One 19th century traveller, Signor Pananti, wrote: “there is no species of outrage or vexation to which they are not exposed…the indolent Moor, with a pipe in his mouth and his legs crossed, calls any Jew who is passing, and makes him perform the offices of a servant…. Even fountains were happier, at least they were allowed to murmur.”
No wonder then, when Algeria became part of metropolitan France in 1830, the oppressed Jews greeted the French as saviors and liberators. Forty years later the Decret Cremieux, named after a famous Jewish politician and philanthropist, imposed French nationality on the entire Jewish community. The myth has since developed that only the Jews were offered French nationality. The Muslims were offered it too, but overwhelmingly rejected it, as it would mean compromising their personal status, which was governed by Muslim law.
In Muslim eyes, the fact that the dhimmi Jews could have greater rights than they did caused great resentment. But the Jews were also resented by the pieds noirs. How dare these natives be given the privilege of French nationality and suppose themselves equal to true Frenchmen?
The Jews found themselves between a rock and a hard place. Muslim antisemitism reached its peak with the eruption of the Constantine pogrom of 1934, in which 25 Jews were killed. French antisemitism reached its zenith with the WW2 abrogation of the Decret Cremieux. Under Vichy rule, Jews not only were stripped of their French nationality, but were sacked from public service jobs and subject to quotas and restrictions.
The Decret Cremieux was reinstated in 1943. In some Jews, the trauma of having their French citizens’ rights taken away created an absolute dread of being identified with Arabs: they were Frenchmen of the Jewish faith – francais israelites.
But as the Arabs embarked on an ever more brutal campaign of decolonisation in the 1950s, while the pieds noirs engaged in equally brutal counter-terror, the Jewish community was careful to maintain an official position of neutrality – although in retrospect, the killing of rabbis and bombings of synagogues looked deliberate enough. Some Jews supported the FLN independence fighters. A minority of anti-French Jewish communists earned the title ‘pieds rouges‘.
The Jews could sit on the fence no longer when two events forced them decisively into the French camp: the first was the burning of the Great synagogue in Algiers in December 1960. Arabs went on the rampage ripping memorial plaques from the walls, and torching books and Torah scrolls. The second was the murder in June 1961, while he was out shopping in the market, of the famous Jewish musician, Sheikh Raymond Leyris, a symbol of a shared Arab-Jewish culture and father-in-law of the singer Enrico Macias.
Like the pieds noirs, the Jews were faced with a stark choice: suitcase or coffin. They scrambled to reach seaports and airports. By the time Algeria had declared independence on 3 July 1962, all but a few thousand Jews had left for France.
The watchword was now ‘Muslim Algeria’ not ‘Algeria for the Algerians.’ No ‘foreigner,’ even those who had fought for the FLN, was awarded Algerian nationality, unless they had a Muslim father. There was no place for Jews in the new Algeria, as there is almost no place for Jews anywhere in the Arab world.
CALGARY, Alberta, Canada — The story of the modern exodus of “Beta Israel” the Jews of Ethiopia during Operations Moses and Solomon, which together airlifted some 22,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, is well known. Less well known is the dramatic exodus of over 48,000 Jews from Yemen and about 120,000 Jews from Iraq. Almost unknown is the role played by Alaska Airlines. It is time to again recognize Alaska Airlines for their important role in saving the Jews of Yemen and Iraq.
No one knows for certain when the first Jews came to Yemen. Local legend has them being sent as traders by King Solomon. In any event, Jews have lived in Yemen for many centuries, well before the advent of Islam. In that backward and poverty-stricken country, the Jews were the poorest and lowest of citizens living in contempt and on sufferance as dhimmis. However, in their synagogues and schools, they taught their male children to learn and write Hebrew. They never forgot their faith, protected the traditions, observed the Sabbath and passed the Torah and Talmud to each succeeding generation.
Following World War I, when Yemen became independent, life in that Muslim country for the Jews became intolerable. Anti-Semitic laws were revived; Jews were not permitted to walk on pavements; in court a Jew’s evidence was not accepted against a Muslim’s; Jewish orphans had to be converted to Islam. Some Jews were able to escape to Palestine but most were trapped.
In 1947, following the United Nations vote to partition Palestine, the situation of the Jews in Yemen turned from despair to physical danger. Arab rioters in the adjacent port of Aden, then a British Crown colony and now part of Yemen, killed 82 Jews and torched the Jewish quarter. The establishment of the State of Israel on May 15, 1948 and Israel’s War of Independence increasingly endangered the Yemeni Jews as it did in all Arab countries. It was not, however, until May 1949, that they were able to flee, when the Imam of Yemen unexpectedly agreed to permit all Jews to leave his country. They longed to return to Zion if only they had the means. At that time, slightly over 49,000 Jews lived in Yemen.
As the War of Independence ended in early 1949, Israel was devastated and virtually bankrupt. Notwithstanding, David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, defying logic and the advise of his economic advisors, ordered the immediate and rapid “Ingathering of the Exiles”. Where would Israel get the money? “Go to the Jews in the Diaspora and ask them for the money”, Ben-Gurion answered the skeptics.
For the Jews of Yemen, Egypt had closed the Suez Canal to them and therefore they would have to be transported by air to Israel. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the international Jewish humanitarian aid organization, agreed to fund the Yemenite exodus and organize the airlift, but they needed aircraft.
Alaska Airlines was founded in 1932, when Mac McGee purchased a used three passenger Stinson and started an air charter business in Alaska. With the arrival of James Wooten as president in 1947, the airline began to purchase surplus planes from the U.S. Government and within a year became the world’s largest charter airline.
The JDC approached Wooten and asked if Alaska Airlines would agree to accept the Yemen airlift. Wooten wanted Alaska Air to take on the mission of mercy but Ray Marshall, Chairman of the Board, was cool. Marshall felt the deal was a waste of the Airline’s time and money. It would take at least $50,000 to set up the charter, cash that the Airline did not have. Marshall insisted that Wooten front the funds himself. Wooten raised the $50,000 by borrowing it from a travel agency associated with the JDC. The contract was signed and Operation On Wings of Eagles, more popularly known by its nickname, Operation Magic Carpet commenced.
As Yemen would not permit the Jewish refugees to be flown out of their country, Britain had agreed to the establishment of a transit camp in the adjoining Crown Colony of Aden from which the airlift could commence. Alaska Airlines set up its base in Asmara, Eritrea with their ground crew, pilots and aircraft, – DC-4s and C-46s. The arrangement was to fly the aircraft from their base in Asmara to Aden each morning, pick up their passengers in Aden and refuel. Thence fly up the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba to the airport in Tel Aviv, unload the refugees, fly to the safety of Cyprus for the night and return to their base in Asmara at dawn, before starting all over again. The round trip would take about 20 hours.
The aircraft as configured could not carry enough passengers or sufficient fuel. So, the planes were modified by replacing the regular airline seats with rows of benches and fitting extra fuel tanks down the length of the fuselages between the benches. Aircraft intended to carry 50 passengers could now carry 120 and fuel would last a skinny extra one hour.
Meanwhile the transit camp in Aden, called “Camp Geula” (Redemption) was organized by the JDC and staffed by Israeli doctors and social workers under the directorship of Max Lapides, an American Jew. Also headquartered at the camp were emissaries responsible for paying various Yemeni tribal chiefs a “head tax” which would permit the Jewish refugees to pass through their territory
As news of the evacuation reached the Jews of Yemen, they left their few possessions behind (except their prayer books and Torahs) and like the biblical exodus began to walk out of slavery into freedom. They traveled in family groups, some hundreds of miles, through wind and sandstorm, vulnerable to robbers and a hostile local population, until half-starved and destitute they reached the border with Aden where Israeli aid workers met them and transported them to the transit camp. There, for the first time, they encountered electricity, medicines, running water, toilets and personal hygiene. During the entire operation, the Jews of Yemen arrived at Camp Geula in a steady stream, newer ones arriving as an earlier group was airlifted out.
Getting the Yemenite Jews to Aden was one problem, getting them on the aircraft was another. Nomads who had never seen an airplane before and never lived anywhere but in a tent, many of the immigrants were frightened and refused to board. Once reminded that their deliverance to Israel by air was prophesized in the Book of Isaiah, “They shall mount up with wings like eagles”, reinforced by the painting of an eagle with outstretched wings over the door of each aircraft, induced them to board the planes. Once inside many preferred sitting on the floor to unaccustomed soft seats. Keeping them from lighting fires to cook their food was a task. During the flight, about half would get sick vomiting over the extra inside fuel tanks. Notwithstanding, the Yemenites upon landing in Israel chanted blessings and burst into song.
To start up Operation Magic Carpet, Alaska Airlines sent Portland native Bob Maguire, a pilot with management experience, to the Middle East. Maguire was an Episcopalian, a native of Portland, Oregon, and a descendent of British and Irish lineage. Maguire flew between 270 and 300 hours a month. Had he been in the U.S., the limit under its aviation rules was 90 hours. Ben-Gurion called Maguire the “Irish Moses”. The work cost Maguire his career. He contracted a parasite that affected his heart and as a result lost his commercial pilot’s license in the early 1950’s. At least one pilot, Stanley Epstein, was Jewish.
The airlift that began in June 1948 was hard on the pilots who were flying 16-hour days and hard on the planes that flew well beyond their scheduled service intervals. Fuel was difficult to come by, the desert sand wreaked havoc on the engines and flying was seat-of-the-pants with navigation by dead reckoning and eyesight.
The work was dangerous. Many airplanes were shot at. One pilot, getting a little close to Arab territory while approaching Israel, watched tracer bullets arching up towards his airplane. Another plane had a tire blown out during a bombing raid in Tel Aviv. On one occasion, Maguire was forced to land his aircraft in Egypt when it ran out of gas. The Israelis had warned all pilots that if they had to land in Arab territory, the Jewish refugees and perhaps even the crew would likely be shot. The quick-witted Maguire told airport officials he needed ambulances to take his passengers to hospital. When they asked why, he replied that his passengers had smallpox. The frightened Egyptians wanted him out of there right away. Maguire received his fuel and flew on to Tel Aviv.
Part way through the operation, the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board forced Alaska Airlines to shut down its international charter business and a company called Near East Air Transport, whose president was James Wooten and whose pilots, and aircraft were all Alaska Air’s, completed the Operation Magic Carpet airlift. Near East Air Transport was just Alaska Airlines operating under another name.
By the time Operation Magic Carpet ended in September 1950, 28 Alaska Airlines pilots had made some 380 flights and airlifted 48,818 refugees, almost Yemen’s entire Jewish population, to Israel. Miraculously not one death or injury occurred.
Operation Magic Carpet was kept secret for reasons of security and to prevent sabotage. It would be many months later before the public or the press would become aware of the remarkable operation.
Later, Israel would once again call upon Alaska Airlines to aid in the rescue of Jews, this time from Iraq. Maguire again led this operation, Ali Baba (also known as Operation Ezra and Nehemiah), which airlifted about 120,000 Jews from Iraq and Iran to Israel. El Al and Alaska Air, in a secret partnership, formed a new airline, again using the name Near East Air Transport for that purpose. Israeli ownership was hidden so that the airline appeared to be strictly an Alaska Airlines venture.
Today, Alaska Airlines is an international carrier serving 60 cities and 3 countries. Passengers flying Alaska Airlines do not realize that they are flying with the airline that saved the Jews of Yemen and Iraq.
Mostly Jewish underground in Algeria facilitated one of the Allied forces’ first victories against the Nazis
On the eve of World War II, there were about 120,000 Jews in Algeria. After the French occupation of the country in 1830, Jews gradually adopted French culture and were eventually granted French citizenship. Algerian Jews were very proud of the French republic, “they wanted to be more French than the French.”
When France surrendered in 1940, the Germans divided France into two: northern and western “occupied France” under the control of the Nazis, and the south “Free France”, which was under a puppet government seated in the city of Vichy. Vichy leader Philippe Petain controlled the French colonies in North Africa, including Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, in whose capital two million Frenchmen lived.
Starting in 1940, Algerian Jews were persecuted socially and economically. The Vichy regime implemented the Nuremberg laws for the Jews in Algeria: their citizenship was annulled and they were expelled from schools and universities. An Algerian underground, comprised mainly of Jews, was formed. A Jewish member of the underground is said to have stated: “the new situation posed a dilemma for the Jews, but we decided to raise our heads and not to surrender.” Indeed, there was an overwhelming number of Jews – about 85 percent – in the Algerian underground.
What followed seems like a Hollywood fairy tale: around midnight early November1942, a few hundred young men spread across the city, aiming towards governmental buildings and the army barracks. They were untrained, and most of them never held a gun before. Some of their rifles didn’t even have bullets. Their target, no less, was to take over the city and neutralize the entire 20,000 man French army. It gives a new meaning to the word “chutzpah”.
The date is 8 November 1942 and the location is Algiers, where the American army is about to disembark in order to fight the German armies in North Africa. In the city itself, a coup d’état takes place by an underground, comprised almost entirely of Jews, to facilitate the American takeover of the city. In one of the more surreal chapters of World War II, a tiny and unorganized army of about 400 mainly Jewish volunteers managed to fool 20,000 French and Axis soldiers into surrender.
The plan was simple: allied forces would land on the coast of northwestern Africa, controlled by Vichy France, and the underground would take care of paralyzing the regime’s troops in order to hand over the city to the Allies. The Jewish underground presented fabricated orders to the local French and Axis soldiers from the Vichy General Staff in France, stating that soldiers in central institutions must be replaced by civil guards.
This allowed hundreds of underground members to take over the post office, the commissariat, the communications room and the commissioner’s house, as the bewildered Vichy soldiers simply made way for them. Their commanders, including no less than the Vichy leader Philippe Petain’s deputy, Admiral Darlan, were taken into captivity without a single shot being fired. The chain of stunning events included a Jewish man impersonating a French general and ordering through the radio the entire army to surrender. Eventually, as day broke out, the Americans arrived and took over the city.
[Am I exaggerating? Here is the description of events on that day from the Wikipedia: in the early hours of 8 November 1942, 400 mainly Jewish French Resistance fighters staged a coup in the city of Algiers. Starting at midnight, the force under the command of Henri d’Astier de la Vigerie and José Aboulker seized key targets, including the telephone exchange, radio station, governor’s house and the headquarters of 19th Corps. The confusion created by the so-called “putsch” of 8 November 1942 helped the Allies land almost without opposition and then encircle Algiers. Admiral Darlan surrendered Algiers that afternoon, and Allied troops entered the city at 8 pm.]
The story remained practically unknown since nobody was interested in including it in the historical narrative: the Americans had no desire to share their victory, and the Vichy French were reluctant to be embarrassed by this episode. Historians, on the other hand, devoted most of their time and energy to studying the Holocaust in Europe. The time has come to resuscitate this amazing story. I do so willingly.
U.S. National Archives and Records American troops land on an Algerian beach during Operation Torch. Thanks to the mainly Jewish Algerian underground, there were no American casualties, perhaps the only landing during World War 2 without casualties..
U.S. National Archives and Records Administration/Wikipedia
“American troops land on an Algerian beach during Operation Torch”
Historian Leon Poliakov stressed the importance of the Algiers underground to the success of the Allied landing. According to him, the landing would have ended in catastrophe if it were not for the mainly Jewish underground. While more than 500 American soldiers died in the landing at Casablanca that same month, none died landing at Algiers – thanks to the mainly Jewish underground movement.
In fact, it was a symbolic turn of events that it was a mostly Jewish underground located in an Arab country that facilitated one of the first Allied victories in World War II. Until then, Germany and its allies were winning all their battles, but after the Jewish capture of Algiers and the USA landing in North Africa, their fortune turned for the worse.
Tunis Populace in Ire when Jewish Football Team Beats All Rivals (part 3) Written by Adv Charles Abelsohn
We all “know” that riots and attacks against Jews in the Middle East are due to ”the destruction of the Al Aqsa mosque, settlements, occupation, oppression, poverty, colonization, theft of land, genocide, denial of statehood to Palestinians, despair of the population and the like”. So let`s have a look at why Jews were attacked with stones and knives (does it sound familiar?) in Tunisia in March 1928.
March 8, 1928
Tunis (Mar. 7)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
A prohibition on football games throughout Tunis was the only means found practicable by the French authorities to prevent racial and religious outbreaks.
The outbreaks followed the victories of a Jewish football team over the French, Italian and Maltese teams. Repeatedly, following the conclusion of matches won by the Jewish team, the mob in jealous rage shouted: “Down with the Jews” and employed pistols, knives and stones in attacks on the Jewish population.
The Government increased the police force in the Jewish quarters and issued a declaration that all further disturbances will be severely punished. A group of French students marched through the city yesterday protesting against the prohibition of football games. The students’ demonstration denounced the Jews. Many passersby were attacked.
Summary: In the neglected history of Jews from Arab countries, 1941 is remembered as the year of the (1/ 2 June) Farhud, the brutal Nazi-inspired pogrom against the Jews of Iraq, which claimed at least 179 lives. But a mini-Farhud also took place in Tunisia in 1941, an event scarcely mentioned by Tunisian Jews eager to reminisce about their idyllic childhoods.
In Tunisia too, feverish pro-Nazi sentiment had spread. On 20 May 1941, the Arabs of Gabes, fired up by the propaganda of the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al- Husseini and the defeat of France by the Nazis, murdered seven Jews on the Place de La Synagogue in what became know as the Gabes pogrom.
In actual fact, the Gabes pogrom in Tunisia was not unique – it was the culmination of a series of disturbances. In August 1940, the towns of Kef, Ebba, Ksour, Moktat, and Siliana were the scene of riots and pillaging against Jews, triggered by rumours that the Jews had kidnapped a Muslim girl. Antisemitic sentiment rose further when the Jews were blamed for wartime shortages. Anti-Jewish riots erupted in November 1940 in Degache and in early 1941 in Gafsa.
|Ancient Jewish community endures on Tunisian isle|
The Jewish community on the Tunisian resort island of Djerba traces its roots back to the Babylonian exile of 586 B.C.E., and is one of the few communities of its kind to have survived the turmoil around the creation of Israel.
Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff
|Yona Sabbagh in his Brik restaurant at Hara Kbira, the main Jewish neighborhood on Djerba
Photo credit: AP
A kosher restaurant
Interior of El Ghriba Synagogue
Rabbis at the entrance of El Ghriba synagogue, Tunisia, 1940’s. Beit Hatfutsot,
When school lets out, the streets around the ancient synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba fill with rambunctious boys wearing kippot and girls in long skirts, shouting to each other in Hebrew, Arabic and French.
The Jewish community in the resort island traces its roots all the way back to Babylonian exile of 586 B.C.E, and is one of the few communities of its kind in the Arab world to have survived the turmoil around the creation of Israel, when more than 850,000 Jews across the Arab world either emigrated or were driven from their homes.
Here the faithful pray at the La Ghriba synagogue — widely believed to be Africa’s oldest synagogue — beneath intricate tile walls bearing blue and yellow geometric shapes that would not seem out of place at a mosque. The synagogue’s name can be translated as “strange” or “miraculous.”
The surrounding streets include a kosher butcher, a bakery that sells a traditional tuna-filled pastry known as “brik,” and schools that teach in Hebrew, French and Arabic. During the annual Lag Ba’omer festival, the streets throng with Jewish pilgrims who venerate Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a second-century mystic.
“We’re almost 1,500 now across the country, maybe fewer than residents of a building in New York,” says Jacob LaLoush, 55, the owner of Mamie Lily, a popular kosher restaurant in the capital, Tunis. “But we have a perfect Jewish life: schools, synagogues, and kosher shops. Even if they are not many.”
Tunisia’s Jewish population has dwindled from 100,000 in 1956, when the country won independence from France, to less than 1,500, mainly as a result of emigration to France and Israel. But unlike in much of the rest of the Arab world, Tunisian Jews have seen little direct persecution and have only rarely been targeted by extremists.
LaLoush says their situation is “completely different from other Arab countries, where there were laws and policies that forced the Jewish communities out.” But he says there have been times when they were “not pushed out of Tunis, but were shown the doors.”
A suicide truck bombing carried out by al-Qaida outside the Djerba synagogue in 2002 killed 19 people, mainly German tourists. To this day the neighborhood and the synagogue are heavily guarded by police.
“We have coexisted with our Muslim friends for a long time. We share food, music and tradition,” said Ariel Houri, who works in his father’s furniture shop in Djerba. As to the occasional friction, “it’s mostly the hot-headed youth; they get affected by the news. But the older ones are still sitting in cafes, sharing drinks every day.”
Jews had a presence in Libya at least since the time of Hellenistic rule under Ptolemy Lagos in 323 B.C.E. in Cyrene. Once home to a very large and thriving Jewish community, there are no longer any Jews in Libya due to anti-Jewish pogroms and immigration to Israel.
A savage pogrom in Tripoli on November 5, 1945, killed more than 140 Jews and wounded hundreds more. Almost every synagogue was looted. In June 1948, rioters murdered another 12 Jews and destroyed 280 Jewish homes.
Thousands of Jews fled the country after Libya was granted independence and membership in the Arab League in 1951. After the Six-Day War, the Jewish population of 7,000 was again subjected to pogroms in which 18 were killed, and many more injured, sparking a near-total exodus that left fewer than 100 Jews in Libya.
1948: 75,000 | 2013: <50
Egyptian Jews constituted one of the oldest communities in the world. For instance, the history of the Alexandrian Jews dates from the foundation of the city by Alexander the Great, 332 BCE, at which they were present. There followed many periods of calm and growth as well as murder and expulsion.
Let`s go straight to the 12th century. About 1160, Benjamin of Tudela was in Egypt. He gives a general account of the Jewish communities which he found there. Basically, the Jewish communities were left alone. In Cairo there were 2,000 Jews; in Alexandria 3,000, in the Faiyum, there were 20 families; at Damietta 200 persons; at Bilbeis, east of the Nile, 300 persons; and at Damira 700. Importantly, Saladin‘s war with the Crusaders (1169–93) does not appear to have adversely impacted the Jewish population.
Under the Mamelukes (13th to 16th century), the Jews both enjoyed and suffered mixed fortunes. There were periods when synagogues and churches were closed and heavy taxes imposed. However, there do not appear to be reports of murder or massacres; the occasional mob violence was directed mainly against synagogues and churches.
On January 22, 1517, the Ottoman sultan, Selim I, defeated Tuman Bey, the last of the Mamelukes. According to Manasseh b. Israel (1656), “The viceroy of Egypt has always at his side a Jew with the title ‘zaraf bashi,’ or ‘treasurer,’ who gathers the taxes of the land. At present Abraham Alkula holds the position.” Despite the occasional trial and death sentence, on the whole, it would appear that Jewish communities were left alone and governed themselves. In particular, Talmudic studies flourished. Despite blood libels occurring in Alexandria in 1844 and in 1881, at the turn of the 20th century, a Jewish observer noted with ‘true satisfaction that a great spirit of tolerance sustains the majority of our fellow Jews in Egypt, and it would be difficult to find a more liberal population or one more respectful of all religious beliefs.’
According to the official census published in 1898, there were in Egypt 25,200 Jews in a total population of 9,734,405.
Following the defeat of the Ottomans in World War One, the British ruled Egypt. During British rule, and under King Fuad I, Egypt was friendly towards its Jewish population although about 90% of Egyptian Jews did not possess Egyptian nationality. Jews played important roles in the economy, and their population climbed to nearly 80,000 as Jewish refugees settled there in response to increasing persecution in Europe. Many Jewish communities had extensive economic relations with non-Jewish Egyptians, and Individual Jews played an important role in Egyptian nationalism.
The impact of the well-publicized Arab-Jewish clash in Palestine from 1936 to 1939, together with the rise of Nazi Germany, also began to affect the Jewish relations with Egyptian society, despite the fact that the number of active Zionists in their ranks was small. Groups including the Muslim Brotherhood circulated reports in mosques and factories that Jews and the British were destroying holy places in Jerusalem, as well as sending other false reports that hundreds of Arab women and children were being killed. Much of the anti-Semitism of the 1930s and 40’s was fueled by a close association between Hitler’s new regime in Germany and anti-imperialist Arab powers. By the 1940s, the situation worsened. Sporadic pogroms took place in 1942 onwards. In 1945, the Jewish quarter of Cairo was severely damaged. As the Partition of Palestine and the founding of Israel drew closer, hostility strengthened, which was fed also by press attacks on all foreigners accompanying the rising ethnocentric nationalism of the age.
On 24 November 1947, the head of the Egyptian delegation to the General Assembly, Muhammad Hussein Heykal Pasha, said that “the lives of 1,000,000 Jews in Moslem countries would be jeopardized by the establishment of a Jewish state.” On 24 November 1947, Dr Heykal Pasha said: “if the U.N decide to amputate a part of Palestine in order to establish a Jewish state, …Jewish blood will necessarily be shed elsewhere in the Arab world… to place in certain and serious danger a million Jews. Mahmud Bey Fawzi (Egypt) said: “Imposed partition was sure to result in bloodshed in Palestine and in the rest of the Arab world”.
After the foundation of Israel in 1948, and the subsequent 1948 Arab–Israeli War, in which Egypt participated, difficulties multiplied for Egyptian Jews, who then numbered 75,000.The first casualties occurred between June and November 1948, when bombs set off in the Jewish Quarter of Cairo killed more than 70 Jews and wounded nearly 200. As a result, many Egyptian Jews emigrated abroad. By 1950, nearly 40% of Egypt’s Jewish population had emigrated. About 14,000 of them went to Israel, and the rest to other countries.
In the immediate aftermath of trilateral invasion during the Suez Crisis of 1956 by Britain France and Israel, a proclamation was issued in November 1956 and read aloud in mosques throughout Egypt stating that ‘all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state’ and it promised that they would be soon expelled.
The expulsions followed almost immediately with the Egyptian government expelling almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscating their property. They were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating” their property to the Egyptian government. Approximately 1,000 more Jews were sent to prisons and detention camps. Foreign observers reported that members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government.
After the Six-Day War in 1967, more confiscations took place. Nearly all Egyptian Jewish men between the ages of 17 and 60 were either thrown out of the country immediately, or taken to the detention centers of Abou Za’abal and Tura, where they were incarcerated and tortured for more than three years. The home and property of the remaining Jews were confiscated. Most of the remaining Jews left Egypt, taking with them one suitcase each and a small sum of cash. The eventual result was the almost complete disappearance of the 3,000-year-old Jewish community in Egypt. Most Egyptian Jews fled to Israel (35,000), Brazil (15,000), France (10,000), the USA (9,000) and Argentina (9,000).
Following the Israel-Egyptian Peace Treaty, the Egyptian Jewish community became in 1979 the first in the Arab world to establish official contact with Israel. Israel now has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate general in Alexandria. At present, the few remaining Jews are free to practice Judaism without any restrictions or harassment. Shaar Hashamayim is the only functioning synagogue in Cairo. Of the many synagogues in Alexandria, only the Eliahu Hanabi is open for worship.
Anti-Semitism continues to be rampant in the government-controlled press, and increased in late 2000 and 2001 following the outbreak of violence in Israel and the territories. In April 2001, columnist Ahmed Ragheb lamented Hitler’s failure to finish the job of annihilating the Jews. In May 2001, an article in Al-Akhbar attacked Europeans and Americans for believing in the false Holocaust. On March 18, 2004, ’Bad al-Ahab ’Adams, deputy director of Al Jumhuriya, accused the Jews of the terrorist attack in Madrid on March 11 as well as of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Despite these anti-Semitic press attacks, there have been no anti-Semitic incidents in recent years directed at the tiny remaining Jewish community.
On October 30, 2007, the Sha’ar Hashamayim synagogue in Cairo was rededicated by the city’s small Jewish community. Many guests from Egypt and around the world attended the event which celebrated the synagogue’s 100-year anniversary. The Egyptian government assisted with the renovation of the synagogue.
As of 2013, the Jewish community in Egypt numbered only a few dozen and is quickly fading into extinction. In May 2013, the Egyptian government announced that it would be canceling its annual $14,000 stipend to the Jewish community which has been part of the state budget since 1988. The stipend had been used to pay for renovations to the Bassatine cemetery, the second-oldest Jewish cemetery in the world behind only the Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. The funds also helped to pay for security.
On September 9, 2011, angry and violent protestors descended upon the Israeli embassy in Egypt, forcing the diplomats and other officials inside to evacuate immediately. In 2012, former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi recalled the previous ambassador to Israel in protest of Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. However, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi appointed an ambassador to Israel in June 2015, following a significant three year lapse in diplomatic relations between the countries. The Israeli embassy in Egypt was re-opened on September 9, 2015, after a closure due to security concerns during the Egyptian revolution that began in January 2011. Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, stated at the re-opening ceremony on September 9, 2015, that, “Egypt will always be the biggest and most important state in the region. This event taking place in Cairo is also the beginning of something new.”
Well, something new occurred. For the first time since the State of Israel’s creation in 1948, Egyptian representatives at the United Nations voted in Israel’s favor, in October 2015. Egypt was one of 117 countries who voted in favor of Israel joining the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs.
According to Talmudic references, Jews have lived in Bahrain since ancient times. It was also recorded in Arabic sources that Jews lived in Hajar, the capital of Bahrain, in 630 C.E. and refused to convert to Islam when Muhammad sent an army to occupy the territory.
Benjamin of Tudela recorded in the 12th century that nearly 500 Jews lived in Qays and that a population of 5,000 resided in al-Qatifa. Benjamin also recounted that these Jews controlled the local pearl industry.
In the late 19th century, Jews from Iraq, and some from Iran and India settled in Bahrain, beginning with the Yadgar family, who came to Bahrain from Iraq in 1880. The community thrived in local commerce and crafts. For instance the Yadgars became wealthy from the textile trade. Other prominent Jewish families, such as the Nonoos, became wealthy in the banking industry. One local Jewish man, Rouben D. stated, “My family came to Bahrain in 1914. Nothing happened to make us leave Iraq. My grandfather was a trader and when he came here, he just decided he wanted to live here.” The Jewish community consecrated a small synagogue in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. Nancy Khedouri, a Bahraini Jew writing a book on the community, estimates that at its largest, Bahrain was home to as many as 1,500 Jews.
Before the establishment of the State of Israel, nearly 600 Jews lived in Bahrain. In fact, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, there were so many Jewish-owned businesses along Al-Mutanabi Road that it was called “Jews’ Street” and all the shops would close for the Jewish Sabbath. Things changed with the birth of the Jewish State. Anti-Semitic riots erupted and the synagogue was burned down. In 1947, many Jews immigrated to Israel after several anti-Semitic attacks on the Jewish community.
In 1948, many Muslims foreigners came into Bahrain and initiated massive protests over the creation of Israel; it was these foreigners, and not the Bahrainis, who caused the destruction of the local synagogue and several Jewish homes. Many Jewish families hid from the conflict in Bahraini Muslim homes, until things settled down. Nevertheless, after a few years, most of the Jewish community left Bahrain for the United States or England. By the 1960s, about 200 to 300 Jews remained in Bahrain, but once riots broke out again following the Six Day War in 1967, virtually the entire Jewish community left the country.
Today, there are about 30 Jews in Bahrain out of a total population of 700,000. While the community can rarely make a minyan, Bahrain is the only country in the Persian Gulf with any kind of Jewish community or synagogue. The community also maintains a small Jewish cemetery. Abraham David Nonoo, the Jewish community’s unofficial leader and a member of Bahrain’s forty-man Shura, or parliamentary council, recently renovated the country’s synagogue with his own funds. Since the synagogue is no longer in use, the Jewish community had considered converting the building for another use or donating it to charity, but the Bahraini government insisted it remain a synagogue. However, both the synagogue and cemetery are always closed. The government has also offered the Jewish community a piece of land to rebuild the synagogue that was destroyed in 1948.
The Jewish community in Bahrain has no rabbi, so religious ceremonies are conducted abroad. The last Jewish funeral in Bahrain was in 2001, and the community barely managed to get a minyan. On religious holidays, services are conducted in a congregant’s home. According to Houda Ezra Nonoo, “We keep Rosh Hashana and Pesach and the other holidays in our homes. When my son had his Bar Mitzvah, I flew a rabbi over from London for it.” There are no yeshivas or Jewish schools in Bahrain so all Jewish education takes place in the home. Furthermore, children are sent to one of three schools: public school, Catholic school, or private “American” school. The majority of Jewish boys were sent to public school, where much of the religious education was centered on the Koran. The majority of Jewish families sent their daughters to the American school. Most of the Jewish families of Bahrain do not believe that boys and girls should be educated together. Today, most of the Jews who remain in Bahrain are single, as there are so few Jews in Bahrain and Jews and Arabs rarely intermarry.
Ironically, in a region filled with religious tension, the Jews in Bahrain feel comfortable and welcomed. Bahraini Jews have equal rights along with their Muslim neighbors. “When the late Amir (Shaikh Isa bin Sulman Al Khalifa) passed away last year, the present Amir (Shaikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa) called the Jewish community together and told us there was nothing to worry about, the government would continue with its same policy. He assured us nothing would change.”
Indeed, those Jews remaining in Bahrain today claim they feel no discrimination. The Khedouri family is Bahrain’s leading importer of tablecloths and linens. Ninety-five percent of customers at Rouben Rouben’s electronics business are Bahraini and the government is his largest corporate consumer.
The only restriction on Bahraini Jews is that they are unable to visit Israel because they hold Bahraini passports. Relations between Israel and Bahrain seemed to be improving in the early 1990s when a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict seemed to be approaching. In 2004, Bahrain agreed to drop its boycott of companies that do business with Israel in exchange for a free-trade agreement with the United States.
In 2008, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa issued a royal decree officially appointing female Jewish lawmaker Houda Nonoo as the Bahrain ambassador to the United States. Nonoo, whose family is originally from Iraq, lives in Bahrain with her husband and two sons and had previously served for three years as a legislator in Bahrain’s all-appointed, 40-member Shura Council. She is the first Jew, much less the first Jewish woman, in the Arab world to become ambassador.
Muslims like to pretend that they treated Jews in their lands well throughout history. In some cases the Jews were treated reasonably, in others they were treated horribly.
Ali Bey al Abbasi was a pseudonym of a European traveler who disguised himself as a Muslim prince in order to explore the Muslim world from Morocco to Mecca between 1803 and 1807.
Here is his eye witness account of the Jews of Morocco, from Travels of Ali Bey: In Morocco, Tripoli, Cyprus, Egypt, Arabia, Syria and Turkey: Between the Years 1803 and 1807:
THE Jews in Morocco are in the most abject state of slavery; but at Tangier it is remarkable that they live intermingled with the Moors, without having any separate quarter, which is the case in all other places where the Mahometan religion prevails. This distinction occasions perpetual disagreements; it excites disputes, in which, if the Jew is wrong, the Moor takes his own satisfaction; and if the Jew is right, he lodges a complaint with the judge, who always decides in favour of the Mussulman.
This shocking partiality in the dispensation of justice between individuals of different sects begins from the cradle; so that a Mussulman child will insult and strike a Jew, whatever be his age and infirmities, without his being allowed to complain, or even to defend himself. This inequality prevails even among the children of these different religions; so that I have seen the Mahometan children amuse themselves with beating little Jews, without these daring to defend themselves.
The Jews are obliged, by order of the Government, to wear a particular dress composed of large drawers, of a tunic, which descends to their knees, Of a kind of burnous or cloak thrown on one side, slippers, and a very small cap; every part of their dress is black except the shirt, of which the sleeves are extremely wide, open, and hanging down very low.
When a Jew passes before a mosque, he is obliged to take off his slippers, or sandals; he must do the same when he passes before the house of the Kaid, the Kadi, or of any Mussulman of distinction. At Fez and in some other towns they are obliged to walk barefoot.
When they meet a Mussulman of high rank they are obliged to turn away hastily to a certain distance on the left of the road, to leave their sandals on the ground several paces off, and to put themselves into a most humble posture, their body intirely bent forward, till the Mussulman has passed to a great distance; if they hesitate to do this, or to dismount from their horse when they meet a Mahometan, they are severely punished. I have often been obliged to restrain my soldiers or servants from beating these poor wretches, when they were not active enough in placing themselves in the humble attitude prescribed on them by the Mahometan tyranny.
Notwithstanding these inconveniencies, the Jews carry on a considerable trade at Morocco, and have even several times farmed the custom-house; but it happens almost always that in the end they are plundered by the Moors, or by the Government. On my arrival, I had two Jews amongst my servants: when I saw that they were so ill treated and vexed in different ways, I asked them why they did not go to another country; they answered me, that they could not do so because they were slaves of the sultan.
History was made, when for the first time in the annals of the state, official recognition was given to Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran. Legislation was passed by the Knesset in June 2014 designating November 30 as the national day of commemoration of the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran. The date was significant in that it commemorates the day after the anniversary of the November 29, 1947 UN resolution on the partition of Palestine, which led to an immediate flare up of anti-Zionist action and policy among Arab states, resulting in the killing, persecution, humiliation, oppression and expulsion of Jews, the sequestration of Jewish property and a war against the nascent State of Israel. In 1948, close to a million Jews were living in Arab lands. Some were massacred in pogroms. Most fled or were expelled between 1948 and 1967.
There are several things wrong with this reading of history.
Thirdly, violent riots against defenseless Jews in Arab countries preceded the outbreak of war in Palestine and the resulting flight of several hundred thousand Arab refugees.
In 1947, the Political Committee of the UN General Assembly debated the proposed Partition of Palestine.
The Egyptian delegate, Heykal Pasha, made the following remarks: “The United Nations…should not lose sight of the fact that the proposed solution might endanger a million Jews living in the Muslim countries. Partition of Palestine might create antisemitism in those countries even more difficult to root out than the antisemitism which the Allies tried to eradicate in Germany…If a Jewish state is established, nobody could prevent disorders. Riots would break out in Palestine, would spread through all the Arab states and might lead to a war between two races.”
Sure enough, a wave of violence spread in Egypt following the vote in favour of Partition on 29 November 1947. Demonstrations were called for 2 – 5 December. It was only because the police prevented the mob from attacking the Cairo Jewish quarter that lives were spared.
In Bahrain, beginning on 5 December, crowds began looting Jewish homes and shops and destroyed the synagogue. Two elderly ladies were killed.
In Aleppo, Syria, the Jewish community was devastated by a mob led by the Muslim Brotherhood. At least 150 homes, 50 shops, all 18 synagogues, five schools, an orphanage and a youth club were destroyed. Many people were killed, but the exact figure is not known. Over half the city’s 10,000 Jews fled into Turkey, Lebanon and Palestine.
In Aden, the police could not contain the rioting. By the time order was restored on 4 December, 82 Jews had been killed. Of 170 Jewish-owned shops, 106 were destroyed. The synagogue and two schools were among the Jewish institutions burnt down.
Arab statesmen were making threats against their Jewish citizens six months before Ben Gurion declared Israel established. More alarming still, Jews had been targeted for violence years earlier.
In Iraq in 1941, 179 Jews were murdered in a Nazi-style pogrom, the Farhud, seven years before Israel was created.
In November 1945, two years before Israel was declared, and before the UN Partition Plan vote, a series of anti-Jewish riots broke out in several Arab countries on the anniversary of the 1917 Balfour Declaration.
In Egypt, anti-Zionist demonstrations were called by the Muslim Brotherhood, Misr al-Fatat and the Young Men”s Muslim Association. Mass demonstrations took place on Balfour Day (2 November) in Cairo, Alexandria and other cities. Jewish businesses in Cairo and in the Jewish Quarter were looted and the Ashkenazi synagogue ransacked. The disturbances soon spilled over into anti-dhimmi violence, with Coptic, Greek Orthodox and Catholic institutions also attacked. Of 500 businesses looted, 109 belonged to Jews.
Far worse was the pogrom in Libya which began on 4 November 1945 in Tripoli when thousands went on the rampage in the Jewish quarter and bazaar. Jewish homes and businesses had been marked out beforehand for exclusive attack.
The violence spread to other towns. Over three days of rioting, the police stood by and British and US servicemen on the outskirts waited until three days later to impose a curfew. By then 130 Jews were dead including 36 children. Women were raped, some 4,000 Jews were left homeless and nine synagogues destroyed.
In Syria a mob broke into the great synagogue in Aleppo and beat up two elderly men. In Iraq, the government avoided a repeat of the 1941 Farhud by banning public demonstrations.
But in November 1947, the bloodcurdling threats coming from Arab officials were none other than state-sanctioned incitement. The Palestine Post ran an editorial entitled “Unwilling hostages” on 11 December 1947. It quoted an editorial in the Manchester Guardian the day before, entitled ”Hostages”. This article deplored inflammatory statements made by Arab leaders which could be interpreted as threats against the Jewish minorities.
Both in Syria and Iraq “pressure has been put on the Jews to denounce Zionism and support the Arab cause. One cannot help wonder what threats have been made to bring this about.” The riots of the previous week had been attributed by Arab governments to the ”fury of the people”. The editorial charged that “the governments concerned, if they do not activate or instigate them, look upon them with a benevolent eye.” As well as approving or instigating violence against their Jewish minorities, the member states of the Arab League drafted a plan to victimize their Jewish citizens ‘as the Jewish minority of Palestine.”
By the time Israel was established on 15 May 1948, the Jewish communities in Arab countries had been rocked to their very foundations. As the historian Norman Stillman writes, the Palestine issue was a major contributing factor, but it was not the only one – it was more of a catalyst. Arab and Islamic nationalism could find no room for ethnic and religious groups that deviated from the norm, and Jews found themselves alienated and isolated from society at large.
The most reliable estimate of the value of property and other assets abandoned by Jews fleeing or being expelled from Arab countries and Iran has probably been made by The World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC). WOJAC bases its estimate on detailed information provided by individuals. In 2006, WOJAC estimated that Jewish property both Jewish community assets and individual ones abandoned in Arab countries would be valued at more than $100 billion, later revising their estimate in 2007 to $300 billion. They also estimated Jewish-owned real-estate left behind in Arab lands at 100,000 square kilometers (four times the size of the state of Israel).
We now take a look at the history of, and violence against, Jews in Iraq, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Algeria. In Iraq, Tunisia, Libya and Syria, the riots took place well before there was any thought of a Jewish State.
“By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept…” – Psalm 137
The people of Jacob have dwelt by the rivers of Babylon ever since the destruction of the First Temple, a continuous period exceeding 2,500 years. The Jewish community of Iraq had existed for more than 2,500 years and were a cultural centre of Judaism where the Babylonian Talmud was written and compiled.
The Jewish community of Babylon started along the same path the other peoples of the region had trodden, that of captivity, assimilation and absorption of the other peoples into the ancient Babylonian culture, and finally their disappearance. But unlike the others, Jews remained steadfast in their faith and firm in upholding the traditions of their ancestors. The light of Judaism remained lit and their faith produced prophets and sages.
A substantial change and marked deterioration, however, occurred in the situation of Jews during the period between the two world wars. The achievement of independence by the Arab countries was accompanied by a blind hatred directed toward all minorities, including the Armenians, the Assyrian Christians and the Kurds in Northern Iraq.
The Jews had secured a special place in the economic, administrative and cultural life of Iraq. They were superior to their neighbors in education and knowledge, they were outstanding in commerce and many were employed in government administration and in private clerical practice, which fact made the Arabs jealous. What made matters worse was that the Jews found an honored position among the British administration that needed senior officials and local agents proficient in English and Arabic.
When Hitler came to power in Germany, Goebbel’s agent arrived in Iraq and began to disseminate propaganda against the Jewish domination of government institutions and the economy. He incited the Muslims against the Jews, and in l935 Arab hatred found expression in crowded meetings which terminated in murderous pogroms. The Golden Age was over. Arab hatred of the English was transferred to the Jews, and the brunt of the war declared on Britain was diverted to a campaign against the unfortunate, defenseless Jews of Iraq. Many were imprisoned and tortured, and an enormous amount of money was extorted.
ONE SUNDAY, June 1, 1941, the first day of Shavuot, at 10:00 a.m. youths who had gathered to greet the crown prince Abd al-Ilah came to the airport. Meanwhile, Jews dressed in festive attire went out into the streets in a markedly happy atmosphere. All of them were pleased at the return of the crown prince and at the restoration of order to the capital, Baghdad.
Suddenly, however, hooligans began to stone the Jews. A panic-stricken fight began. Large numbers of Jews fled into the side streets. There were sounds of shooting, cries, the flash of knives. That was the beginning of an unforgettable pogrom called the “farhud.” They began dragging Jews out of buses and murdering them in the road. Wild crowds and defeated soldiers who had returned with their weapons to the city saw the pogrom as a celebration and a sort of amusement. The Jewish Quarter in the city center became a battlefield, with looting, robbery and rape. Babies were killed in the arms of their mothers. Young children were forced to murder their parents and parents were made to slaughter their own offspring.
More on the “Farhud”. Farhud refers to the pogrom or “violent dispossession” carried out against the Jewish population of Baghdad, Iraq, on June 1–2, 1941, immediately following the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi War. The riots occurred in a power vacuum following the collapse of the pro-Nazi government of Rashid Ali while the city was in a state of instability. Over 180 Jews were killed and 1,000 injured. Looting of Jewish property took place and 900 Jewish homes were destroyed. The violence came immediately after the rapid defeat by the British of Rashid Ali, whose earlier coup had generated a short period of national euphoria, and was charged by allegations that Iraqi Jews had aided the British. The pogrom inflicted mortal wounds on the Jewish community. Arab voices could be heard everywhere in Baghdad: “The small feast is over, now you [the Jews] prepare for the great feast !” The Jews began to organize themselves and to whisper about self defense. The future of the community lay in the hands of youths and younger men and girls. With a sort of unexpected enthusiasm a movement arose clandestinely.
After the second round of the pogrom many of those who had escaped death wished to leave Iraq, but were not allowed to. The Jews remained silent and organized themselves clandestinely. The Underground Movement was organized, turning all Jewish eyes to Zion. The news of the establishment of a new state, the State of Israel, in 1948 aroused great joy that was celebrated in silence behind closed doors. In police circles it was whispered that if the mobs burst into the Jewish quarters of the capital in a pogrom like that which occurred in June 1941, this time it would not be so easy to control the situation, since a change had occurred in the spirit of the Jews. The police knew that many Jews had armed themselves and decided to fight for their lives at all costs. The “chalutz,” or pioneer, movement, and all the clandestine underground movements, mobilized and set up barricades to defend the Jewish quarters at strategic points. Radio communication was established between these points. Secret broadcasting stations were also set up, and Molotov cocktails were prepared in each Jewish house under the guidance of the young chalutzim (“pioneers”).
After the establishment of the State of Israel , the Jews of Iraq became hostages in the land of their birth. Children 14 years of age joined the young Underground Zionist Movement, and wanted to flee the country through the desert or by any other route. About 20,000 young people, boys and girls, left Iraq by impossible and dangerous routes. There was no Jewish home without some member of the family missing. The graves of those who couldn’t make it are to be found on the mountains, in the desert or by the sea. Three years after the establishment of the State of Israel, Iraqi Jews were given an opportunity to leave Iraq en masse provided that they gave up their citizenship and all their property. So began Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, when an airlift – the most daring ever organized in peacetime – transferred over 120,000 Jews from Iraq to Israel – see item on Alaska Airlines below. The Jews of Iraq left behind them not only a continuous history of 2,500 years, but all that was holy and precious to them, both spiritually and materially. Tombstones of prophets stood on the banks of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers, and in the Kurdish areas. But in Israel there was no apartment with a key ready to welcome them. All they were given was an iron bedstead, and a leaky tent in a transition camp they called a “ma’abara.” Immediately the Six Day War began, the Iraqi authorities began to persecute the remaining small Jewish community.
‘Shadow in Baghdad’ reviewed
The film is a documentary of the story of Linda Menuhin who fled the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein in Dec 1970 when she was 20 years old to go to Israel awaiting the rest of the family to follow, which they did some 5 months later except for her father Yacoob Abdul Aziz, a well-respected lawyer who stayed awaiting the right moment.
In 1969 the Ba’ath party staged a mass execution of nine Jews and displayed their bodies in the main square amongst cheering fans. They were scapegoats to make up for the loss of the 1967 war and the writing was on the wall for the remaining few Jews of Iraq.
In 1970 and 1971 many Jews fled through Kurdistan in small groups arriving in Iran passing over precipitous mountains and dangerous terrain to avoid border police patrols. It was indeed a risky adventure requiring a lot of courage for, if caught, they would be subjected to the horrors and torture as Saddam’s prisoners but such was the level of despair that some 2300 out of 3000 people took that route.
So ended 2500 years of Jewish history in Iraq.