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The absurd notion of Jewish 'refugees' from Arab lands

Attempts to draw a comparison between the voluntary emigration of Jews from the Arab world after 1948 and the forced expulsion of Palestinians in the Nakba is ludicrous and doomed to failure

Khalid Amayreh , Sunday 4 Nov 2012
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The right-wing Israeli government of Benyamin Netanyahu is trying to revive demands for international recognition of a "Jewish refugee problem."

A few weeks ago, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon held a meeting at the UN to discuss the so-called "plight of Jewish refugees from the Arab world."

The meeting, publicised by the pro Israel media in Europe and North America, was widely seen as a propagandistic effort aimed at offsetting the Palestinian Nakba or 'catastrophe,' the deliberate and premeditated extirpation and subsequent expulsion of the bulk of the Palestinian people from their ancestral homeland at the hands of western-backed Jewish invaders from Eastern Europe.

Indeed, referring to Arab Jews – who were urged, terrorised and even bombed by Zionist agents in order to make them leave their original homelands in order to fulfil the aims of Zionism – is nothing less than the distortion of truth, history and even language.

It also reflects a mendacious which seeks to create "virtual truths" based on lies.

But we should not be surprised at or baffled by the odious audacity of psychopaths and pathological liars like Ayalon, his boss Avigdor Lieberman or, indeed, their Prime Minister Netanyahu. Needless to say, these people, like most other Israeli leaders, adopt mendacity – even in its most brazen form – as their modus operandi.

I know many conscientious Jews who would dismiss Ayalon's gambit as a brash lie from A to Z. His efforts in this regard go beyond the pale of human decency and simple rectitude.

Earlier this month, Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post published an article entitled "Jews from Arab land sceptical over refugee status."

The article quoted a group calling itself the 'Committee of Baghdadi Jews,' who live in Ramat Gan, east of Tel Aviv, as saying that "it is wrong to expect Jewish lessons in Iraq to be used to offset the losses the Palestinian suffered in 1948 and 1967."

The group's leader said he preferred to remain anonymous for the time being for fear of reprisals from the authorities and right-wing circles.

"We are refugees from Iraq, but we know that the government just wants to use this against the Palestinian refugees without trying to give us and the Palestinian refugees compensation for our property," the group spokesman said.

Palestinians and other Arabs don't deny that Jews in the Arab world have suffered, mostly psychologically, as a result of the rise of Zionism and establishment of Israel at the expense of Palestinian Arabs who were banished and dispersed around the globe.

In the final analysis, the transfer of Arab Jews into Israel was considered one of Israel's paramount goals, which serves to expose the utter mendacity and preposterousness of the Israeli feat at the United Nations.

Yehuda Shenav, a professor of history at Tel Aviv University, asserted this fact in an article published in Israeli daily Haaretz in 2006.

In that article, entitled 'Arab Jews, Palestinian refugees and Israel's folly politics,' Shenav argued that any analogy between Palestinian refugees and Jewish immigrants from Arab lands is folly in historical terms.

"Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Arab Jews is unfounded.

"Palestinian refugees didn't want to leave Palestine. Many Palestinian communities were destroyed in 1948, and some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from the borders of historic Palestine. Those who left didn't do so of their own volition.

"In contrast, Arab Jews arrived to Israel under the initiative of the state of Israel and Jewish organisations. Some arrived of their free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression."

Shenav noted that past Israeli governments refrained from raising the subject of 'Jewish refugees' from the Arab world for three main reasons:

First, there was a concern that raising the subject would underscore what Israel had tried to repress and forget, namely the Palestinians' right of return. Second, Israel was anxious that raising the subject would encourage property claims submitted by Jews against Arab states and, in response, encourage Palestinians to make counter-claims on lost property.

Third, raising the issue would require Israel to alter its school textbooks and devise a new narrative by which Arab Jews journeyed to Palestine under duress, without being motivated by Zionist aspirations.

To conclude, the analogy between the Palestinian Nakba, which can only be analogous to genocide, and the  mostly voluntary emigration of Arab Jews from their original native Arab countries to the newly-created Zionist state of Israel is – at best – corrupt. It is 'beyond chutzpah,' so to speak, especially from a moral standpoint.

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