Debunking Lies and Myths

Debunking Lies and Myths

Monday, October 13, 2014

THE FORGOTTEN REFUGEES - More than half of Israeli Jews have deep roots in the Middle East - And a million of them arrived as refugees fleeing persecution and violence in Arab countries.

We hear a lot about Palestinian refugees, but not much about a million Jewish refugees from Arab lands who lost all their possessions and fled to Israel.  Here is their story.

Mizrahi Nation
Yemenite Jews on their way to Israel in 1949 fleeing Arab violence.
MIZRAHI NATION  -  Long shut out of the country’s story, Middle Eastern Jews now make up half of Israel’s population, influencing its culture in surprising ways. Who are they?
  • The typical Israeli pioneer is thought to be a European-looking Jew. 
  •  Thus Israel is accused of being a European colony for Holocaust survivors.
  • Rarely mentioned is the million Jews who returned to Israel from Arab lands.
  • And no word is said about the oppression and murderous Arab violence they were fleeing from.
  • Or about their possessions, which were lost without compensation.
  • In the 1940s there were about 260,000 Jews living in Morocco, 140,000 in Algeria, 40,000 in Libya, 140,000 in Iraq, 80,000 in Egypt, 60,000 in Yemen, and many others in Arab countries and in non-Arab countries like Iran and Turkey.
  • In fact, 1,000 years after the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, nine out of every ten Jews on earth still lived in the Middle East.
  • By the time European Jews began resettling in Palestine, as it was known then, Middle Eastern Jews were already well-established there.
  • The notion that Arabs were tolerant of Jews in Muslim countries is a complete myth.
  • Long before the reconstitution of the state of Israel in 1948, Arabs were already slaughtering Jews.
  • While Mizrahi Jews were not native to Israel, neither were most of the Arabs who came to live there attracted by jobs within the Jewish community there.
  • Mizrahi Jews were not well treated by the European Jews, who looked down on their culture.
The Mizrahi Nation
By Matti Friedman,
Matti Friedman is the author of The Aleppo Codex: In Pursuit of One of the World’s Most Coveted, Sacred, and Mysterious Books, which won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the ALA’s Sophie Brody Medal, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for history. He has been reporting on Israel since 1997.
The story of Israel, as most people know it, is well trod.

It begins with anti-Semitism in Europe and passes through Theodor Herzl, the Zionist pioneers, the kibbutz, socialism, the Holocaust, and the 1948 War of Independence.
In the early decades of the return to Zion and the new state, the image of the Israeli was of a blond pioneer tilling the fields shirtless, or of an audience listening to Haydn in one of the new concert halls. Israel might have been located, for historical reasons, in the Middle East, but the new country was an outpost of Europe. Its story was a story about Europe.