Remembering the Jews expelled from Muslim lands

Jews have lived among the Arabs and Persians long before the invention of Islam — literally from time immemorial, as Joan Peters detailed in her well documented book of the same name.  The relationship of the multifaceted and diverse dominant Arab cultures with the Jews varied in time and place, ranging from Arab tolerance to severe restrictions and forced conversions, expulsions, and death.  Sound familiar?  Outside invaders and conquerors even expelled Jews from their own land, now known as Israel, several times, who then sought refuge and safety by joining their fellow Jews in other lands.  However, some Jews always remained in their real homeland, Israel, while others managed to return over the centuries.  And all of this occurred long before the return to and re-establishment of Israel in 1948.

But there are also the modern Jewish refugees that few acknowledge.  While many crocodile tears have been shed over the so-called Palestinian refugees who fled after they fought and lost to the new/old Jewish state 72 years ago, little has been written about those other refugees — Jews forcibly expelled from Muslim lands.  As Dana Avrish, the granddaughter of Jews who fled Iran, Syria, and Lebanon explains:

"Get out! leave, never to return!" How would you feel if you were told today? that you are expelled, need to leave and never to return. You have one direction of travel, and at best you will be allowed to take one suitcase in which you will have to shrink your entire world.

This is what happened to hundreds of thousands of Jews in Arab countries and Iran, those words stamped on their exit certificates and passports of hundreds of thousands of Jews who became refugees overnight. The Jewish refugees from the Arab countries and Iran. (snip)

The Jews who were displaced from Arab countries and Iran became victims, who suffered blatant violations of human rights in the countries where their lives were conducted. Some were forced to leave, to sign a document allowing them to leave the country while confiscating all their property, when all the property they could carry with them in their escape was confined to one suitcase.

As Hillel Neuer of U.N. Watch asked the various Muslim countries at the U.N. last year on the 73rd anniversary of the U.N.'s partition plan, which was accepted by the Jews but rejected by the Arabs, who launched a war of annihilation against Israel and the Jews living in Muslim countries: "Where are your Jews?"

We're still waiting for an answer.

In a speech along with a Twitter thread, Neuer outlined the true — and tragic — answer.  

On this day 72 years ago, Nov. 30, 1947 — a day after the UN voted to partition Palestine into Arab and Jewish states — Syria incited mobs in Aleppo. Rioters burned 50 Jewish shops, 5 schools, 18 synagogues, the community's orphanage, a youth club & 150 homes.

In Aden, now part of Yemen, local Arabs slaughtered 87 Jews, including children, women and the elderly; dozens more were seriously injured; the two Jewish schools, several synagogues and many homes were destroyed; every Jewish shop was looted.

In December 1960, Algerian Arabs attacked the Great Synagogue of Algiers, ripped memorial plaques from the walls & torched Torah scrolls. In June 1961, the murder of famed Jewish musician Sheikh Raymond Leiris was seen as a warning, prompting Jews to flee.

And on and on and on...

Remembering this tragedy, Israel established a commemorative day to mark the departure and deportation of Jews from Arab countries and Iran, celebrated in Israel and around the world, in ceremonies, academic conferences, poetry evenings, and Kaddish prayers in memory of all Arab Jews murdered or that their burial place was not known.

There are also be concerts of Arab Jewish music and undoubtedly many family gatherings, religious services, and other private events where the surviving refugees and their families and friends will reminisce about the old country and their forced, abrupt departure, telling their descendants about their ancestors' past.

Remember.  And don't forget.