PA journalist: We must help Jews leave Israel, return to their countries

Matar endorsed the idea conceived by Mahmoud Abbas that there should be an "Arab Keren Hayesod."

Aliyah, Jewish immigration to Israel (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Aliyah, Jewish immigration to Israel
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
 In an article published in Palestinian Authority (PA) daily al-Hayat al-Jadida, a journalist named Muwaffaq Matar called to adopt the idea of establishing an Arab foundation that would help Mizrahi Jews disenchanted with Israel return to their countries of origin, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported last week.

According to MEMRI, Matar endorsed an idea first conceived by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, in a booklet published by him in 1982, titled "We Need an Arab Keren Hayesod," referring to the Zionist organization that encouraged Jewish immigration to Palestine in the early 20th century.

"Abbas reviewed the activity of the Zionist movement after Theodor Herzl, the founder of modern Zionism, with emphasis on the Keren Hayesod organization, which was established in 1920 to raise funds for encouraging Jewish immigration to Palestine and consolidating the Jewish settlement there," Matar wrote. "Abbas concluded the booklet by stating that Keren Hayesod had served its purpose and that Israel no longer had any use of it. However, he advocated establishing an 'Arab Keren Hayesod' that would help Jews leave Israel."

Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews immigrated to Israel in the 1950s and 1960s, mainly due to acts of violence against members of their communities.

The young State of Israel, not being ready to absorb a vast amount of Jewish refugees – the numbers of which were close to 900,000 – settled the Mizrahi and Sephardic immigrants in the country's peripheral areas, mainly the Negev desert in the South.

The economic crisis that followed and the difficult economic condition of the immigrants – as well as claims of prejudice and discrimination against Mizrahis – raised much speculation over the treatment of the refugees by the "Zionist establishment" and the ruling Workers Party of the Land of Israel (MAPAI). The Near-Eastern-Jewish resentment in the state grew and broke out in the form of a small uprising in Haifa in 1959, known as the Wadi Salib riots, and the Israeli Black Panthers movement in the 1970s. Israeli scholar Ella Shohat, born to Iraqi-Jewish immigrants, wrote about those issues in her article "Sephardim in Israel: Zionism from the Standpoint of its Jewish Victims" published in 1988.
According to MEMRI, Abbas wrote that the Zionist movement had lured the Jews to Palestine with lies and false promises, and that their lives there have been nothing but "pain, difficulty, anxiety and loss," claiming that many of them now wished to flee Israel, and helping them do so would benefit the Palestinian cause.

Matar wrote that the Zionist Movement deliberately pushed Mizrahis, whom he called "Jewish Arabs," out of their countries of origin by drumming up the fear of antisemitism, claiming that to do so Israel had instigated terrorist actions against Jews in the world. There has been much speculation over Israel's role in the departure of Mizrahi Jews from Arab countries after the failed Operation Susannah, also known as the Lavon Affair, in which Israeli military intelligence recruited Egyptian Jews to carry out a series of false-flag terrorist attacks against Western civilian targets.

The attacks, committed by Israel's Unit 131 in 1954 ahead of the 1956 Suez Crisis, were to be blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Communists and 'local nationalists' with the aim of creating a sufficient climate of instability, making France and Britain retain their forces in the Suez Canal.