Point Of No Return: Jewish Refugees From Arab And Muslim Countries

In just 50 years, almost a million Jews, whose communities stretch back up to 3,000 years, have been ‘ethnically cleansed’ from 10 Arab countries. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Unlike Palestinian refugees, they fled not war, but systematic persecution. Seen in this light, Israel, where some 50 percent of the Jewish population descend from these refugees and are now full citizens, is the legitimate expression of the self-determination of an oppressed indigenous, Middle Eastern people.

This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, which can never return to what and where they once were – even if they wanted to. It will attempt to pass on the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution. Awareness of the injustice done to these Jews can only advance the cause of peace and reconciliation.
(Iran: once an ally of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now an implacable enemy and numbers of Iranian Jews have fallen drastically from 80,000 to 20,000 since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Their plight – and that of all other communities threatened by Islamism – does therefore fall within the scope of this blog.)

Read more: http://jewishrefugees.blogspot.com/2019/06/

Emily Benichou Gottreich ~ Historicizing the Concept of Arab Jews in the Maghrib

Jewish Quarterly Review – Volume 98, Number 4, Fall 2008 – University of Pennsylvania Press

To begin, a few quick observations about the concept of the “Arab Jew” that prompt the current intervention: (1), it is largely an identity of exile; (2), it implies a particular politics of knowledge vis-à-vis the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and larger Zionist narrative(s); (3), it was originally theorized from within the frameworks of, and remains especially prominent in, specific academic fields, namely, literary and cultural studies.1While clearly recognizing the significance of the concept of Arab Jews to post-Zionist discourse, not to mention the groundbreaking contributions of those who have revitalized the term in recent years, this essay will nonetheless argue that these three factors have, to varying degrees, converged to keep the discourse about Arab Jews limited to the semantic-epistemological level, resulting in a flattened identity that is both historically and geographically ambiguous. Developed in conversation with and presented here alongside the related essay by Lital Levy, this essay questions the presumed cultural (i.e., historical) unity inherent in contemporary articulations of the Arab Jew from a Magrhibi perspective. That is, I will try to imagine how Arabness and Jewishness may have intersected in the Maghrib—and particularly in Morocco—at pivotal junctures in the past. Such efforts at historicization, it is hoped, will allow for much-needed nuance and specificity to accrue to this important identity-category, lending the concept of “Arab Jews” meaning beyond merely the ethical or political.

Read more: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/252138

The Jewish Miss Iraq

In 1947, the first-ever Miss Iraq was chosen – a Jewish beauty queen. But there was little time to celebrate. The State of Israel was created soon after, and life changed for the worse for the Iraqi Jewish community. Here’s their story.

November 30th commemorates the Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. A day to acknowledge the collective trauma the communities faced. Their plight will not be forgotten.

The Jewish Community In Baghdad In The Eighteenth Century, Zvi Yehuda, Nehardea, Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center, 2003

Photo: cojs.org

For the last few years, interest in the history of the Jewish Community that dwelt in Iraq has increased, especially the community who lived in Baghdad and which was the most significant and numerous of all other Iraqi Jewish communities, just prior to the mass Aliya which spelled the end of the ancient Babylonian Diaspora. Considerable interest has been shown not only by members of the community and their offspring, who are scattered all over the world and who want to know something of their origins, but also by researchers seeking common roots of various populations, in order to investigate various medical manifestations. However, what little research has been conducted regarding the history of Iraqi Jews in the latter generations, especially from the 14th Century to the present day, never touched upon this subject.

Investigations of the chronicles of the Jewish community in Baghdad during the second Millennium have always drawn a blank, when they encountered some break in the lineage of Baghdadi Jewish families in the 20th Century, from their historical origins as the offspring of the Babylonian Diaspora, the Geonim and the Exilarchs. This manifestation became increasingly significant later due to the liquidation of the Iraqi community ≠ the Exodus of Iraqi Jews from the land of their exile in the second half of the 20th Century and their settlement in Israel, Western Europe, the United States, Australia and the Far East.

Read more: http://cojs.org/jewish_community_in_baghdad_in_the_eighteenth_century

Sarah Ehrlich ~ Farhud Memories: Baghdad’s 1941 Slaughter Of The Jews

BBC News. June 2011. 
On 1 June 1941, a Nazi-inspired pogrom erupted in Baghdad, bringing to an end more than two millennia of peaceful existence for the city’s Jewish minority. Some Jewish children witnessed the bloodshed, and retain vivid memories 70 years later.
Heskel Haddad, an 11-year-old boy was finishing a festive meal and preparing to celebrate the Jewish festival of Shavuot, oblivious to the angry mob that was about to take over the city.
Thousands of armed Iraqi Muslims were on the rampage, with swords, knives and guns.

The two days of violence that followed have become known as the Farhud (Arabic for “violent dispossession”). It spelt the end for a Jewish community that dated from the time of Babylon. There are contemporary reports of up to 180 people killed, but some sources put the number much higher. The Israeli-based Babylonian Heritage Museum says about another 600 unidentified victims were buried in a mass grave.

“On the first night of Shavuot we usually go to synagogue and stay up all night studying Torah,” says Haddad, now a veteran ophthalmologist in New York.
“Suddenly we heard screams, ‘Allah Allah!’ and shots were fired. We went out to the roof to see what’s happening, we saw fires, we saw people on the roofs in the ghetto screaming, begging God to help them.”
The violence continued through the night. A red hand sign, or hamsa, had been painted on Jewish homes, to mark them out. Families had to defend themselves by whatever means they could.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-

The Disappeared Children Of Israel

Photo: en.wikipedia.org

ROSH HAAYIN, Israel — Ofra Mazor, 62, had been looking for her sister, Varda, for 30 years when she submitted her DNA samples to the Israeli genealogy company MyHeritage in 2017. Her mother, Yochevet, who is now deceased, said that she got to breast-feed her sister only once after giving birth to her in an Israeli hospital in 1950. She was told by the nurses that her newborn daughter had died. Ms. Mazor’s mother didn’t believe the nurses and had her husband demand their child back. He was never given the child.

A few months after submitting her DNA, Ms. Mazor received the call she’d been waiting for: A match had been found. Last January, the sisters were reunited. Varda Fuchs had been adopted by a German-Jewish couple in Israel. She was told at a young age that she was adopted. The sisters are part of a community of Israelis of Yemenite descent who for decades have been seeking answers about their lost kin.

Known as the “Yemenite Children Affair,” there are over 1,000 official reported cases of missing babies and toddlers, but some estimates from advocates are as high as 4,500. Their families believe the babies were abducted by the Israeli authorities in the 1950s, and were illegally put up for adoption to childless Ashkenazi families, Jews of European descent. The children who disappeared were mostly from the Yemenite and other “Mizrahi” communities, an umbrella term for Jews from North Africa and the Middle East. While the Israeli government is trying to be more transparent about the disappearances, to this day, it denies that there were systematic abductions.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/israel-yemenite-children-affair.html