Although the United Nations and certain Democratic politicians frequently dwell on issues involving Palestinian refugees, almost nothing had been done to address Jewish people being displaced from Arab lands in recent decades. Two newly-elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives – Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) – continue to make outrageous remarks, as noted below, denying Jews a nation and targeting Israel as an apartheid state despite this fact. Individuals who shame Israel are ignoring its main purpose: to provide a safe haven for the Jewish people.
Jews have resided in the Arab world for over 2,000 years, long predating the founding of Islam. In fact, up until the 17th century, more Jews lived in the Middle Eastern region than in the entirety of Europe. In 1945, nearly one million Jews lived relatively harmoniously in Arab lands throughout the Middle East and North Africa. However, following the United Nation’s partition of Israel, Jews in Muslim states throughout the Middle East became targets of persecution. In 1947, Egypt’s delegate to the UN announced to the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by the partition.”
The 1940s and 50s were dire periods for Jews living in Muslim territories. In Aleppo, a devastating pogrom and the brutal rape and murder of young Jewish girls in 1947 pressured Jews in the region into exile. In 1951 the bombing of the Mas’uda Shem Tob synagogue in Baghdad left Jews terrified to practice their religion. There were similar stories of persecution, forced removal and intensified pressure in Yemen, Libya and Egypt. Of the 30,000 Jews who resided in Syria in 1948, less than 50 remain today. Of the 135,000 Jews who lived in Iraq in 1948, less than 10 remain today. This alarming pattern is the same for other Muslim nations.
The influx of Jewish refugees in the newly founded State of Israel during this period was massive. Overall, the number of Jewish people escaping persecution from Arab nations for Israel was almost double the number of Arabs fleeing Palestine.
Another factor to consider is the great cultural, linguistic and geographic dislocation Jews had to endure as they traveled across continents to reach Israel. Despite this problem, the Israeli government took major steps to try and integrate these Jewish refugees into the cultural fabric of the newly formed state. About one million Jewish refugees became citizens of Israel. Overall, this was a very successful effort although some cultural tensions still exist.
Palestinians on the other hand mostly ventured right across the armistice lines where they remained in a familiar cultural and linguistic bubble. However, most if not all, of the Arab countries refused to let the Palestinians integrate into their states. About 750,000 Palestinians were forced into refugee camps and now claim 3 to 4 million descendants. No other refugee group has ever considered third and fourth generation descendants to be original refugees.
Many Arabs claim that nearly 1 million Palestinians were forcibly expelled or ‘ethnically cleansed’ by Israeli Jews from 1947 to 1949. This myth, although debunked, is what Arab-Palestinians cling to in order to further their Anti-Israel claims. The truthful number of refugees falls somewhere between 472,000 and 600,000, as reported by UN officials and a consensus taken by Israel at the time. However, the Palestinians who make up this number were not forced from their homes or expelled from the nation. As Mitchell Bard explains in Myths and Facts: A Guide to the Arab Israel Conflict: “Thousands of wealthy Arabs left in anticipation of the war, thousands more responded to Arab leaders’ calls to get out of the way of the advancing armies… or fled to avoid being caught in the cross fire of war.” The claim that Jews forced Palestinians to flee the land of Israel is absurd. In fact, had the Palestinians accepted the original 1947 UN resolution which included the establishment of an independent Arab state alongside Israel, not a single Palestinian would have become a refugee.
Unlike the Palestinian-Arab refugees, the Jewish people who fled policies of anti-Semitic incitement and persecution in the Arab world post-1945 have been forgotten in the international arena. Instead, the UN and the Democratic party have chosen to elevate dubious and false Palestinian claims over those of the Jewish people. To date, around 185 UN resolutions spotlight issues involving Palestinian refugees. Zero have been passed which address the plight of Jewish refugees.
This willful ignorance on a political and global scale is dangerous as it further enables Representatives like Omar and Tlaib to denounce Israel and its need to exist as a counter to the persecution and anti-Semitism the Jews have endured at the hands of the Arab world itself.