THE REMAINS of a synagogue are seen in the center of Baghdad, Iraq in April 2018.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
I am amazed every time anew when I speak with an Israeli intellectual who tells me, “Jews received very good treatment in Arab states, they were well off there.”
This statement does not at all reflect the historical reality of Arab states that had significant Jewish population, that is: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Iran (Muslim, but not Arab, State), from which about 1,020,000 Jews left between 1945 and 1975. For the most part, they were forced to leave and lost all of their belongings at best. In the worst case, they were murdered.
Many Arab states succeeded where Hitler failed in Nazi Germany: they are truly “Judenrein,” that is, “clean” of any Jews. Today there are no Jews in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and more. And also not in… the Palestinian Authority’s administered territories! Mahmoud Abbas declared in 2013, “In a permanent agreement there will not be the presence of one Israeli upon our lands, citizen or soldier.”
When Abbas says, “Israeli,” he means “Jew.” Because the Arabs with Israeli citizenship freely enter and leave the PA without endangering themselves with being lynched – which is the traditional hospitality for Jewish guests.
In Islamic States before 1945, up until the period of Western colonization, the Jews lived under the painful and humiliating yoke of “dhimma.”
The Israeli intellectual asks me, “What’s dhimma?” After giving him an improvised history lesson, I add a quick lesson in Islamic theology and explain that dhimma is the status of dhimmis – the people of the book, Jews and Christians – in an Islamic State.
This Islamic ruling determines that dhimmis must always be humiliated and exploited habitants through a long list of obligations and prohibitions.
For example, a dhimmi must pay a poll tax called “jizya,” is prohibited from riding on a horse (riding on a mule or a donkey is allowed!), is prohibited from being a witness in a court of law, etc.
From time to time, there were very dramatic pogroms. In Iraq in 1941, the “Farhud” happened. In this pogrom, more than 180 Jews were murdered and over 2,000 injured.
When I ask the intellectual that went through the Israeli education system if he has ever heard of it, usually the answer is, “No, but I did learn about the Kishinev pogroms.”
Indeed, in Kishinev, when it was a part of the Russian Empire, there were very serious pogroms in 1903 and in 1905 in which 49 and 19 Jews were killed, respectively. Why is a pogrom that happened much closer to us in terms of time and distance, and was much deadlier for the Jews, the Farhud, less well known than the Kishinev pogroms? Perhaps they thought in the education system that it’s better to lessen the horrors perpetrated by Islamic countries against the Jews because they might hurt the chances of peace with the Muslim Arab world? I don’t know. In my eyes, we can only reach true peace on the basis of truth. As proof, Germany of today is one of Israel’s best friends in Europe. This couldn’t have happened without Germany’s complete recognition of its responsibility in the Holocaust.
Sometimes, when someone tries to write up a draft of an agreement between the Arab world and the State of Israel, the script includes reparations for descendants of Arabs that left the Land of Israel during Israel’s War of Independence. But what about reparations for Jews that had to leave Islamic lands, as well? The number of Jewish refugees is larger than the number of Arab refugees, above one million as compared to approximately six hundred thousand.
In addition, the Jews in Islamic lands were on average much wealthier than Arab refugees, and the Jews were mostly forced to leave – while most of the Arabs deserted the Land of Israel in order to follow the instructions of the Arab radio broadcasts.
In conclusion, I recommend that the Israeli education system add these meaningful topics, which will certainly bring about discourse that could lead to a peace agreement based on mutual understanding, taking responsibility, and simply – the truth.The author is a businessman, economist, and Zehut party candidate.