850,000 Mizrachi Refugees

  • 3 minute read
  • • by Sharon Koifman
  • • September 8, 2022

AlJazeera tries to erase the Jewish identity of the people they ethnically cleansed

If you want to talk about apartheid and ethnic cleansing, or the oppression of refugees, then you need to talk about the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were pushed out of Arab and North African countries, losing their properties and homes between 1948 and 1972.

The country that welcomed the majority of them, about 586,000, was Israel. No one applauds Israel for absorbing so many refugees throughout the years, but the fact that there are more Jewish Middle Eastern refugees than Arab refugees in the region is never mentioned. More than 50% of all Jews in Israel are Mizrachi (an umbrella term for non-Ashkenazi and groups who lived in the Middle East and North Africa). Finally, the Jewish refugees weren’t refugees anymore in a matter of a few years, while the Arab Palestinian refugees were kept refugees until now!

Those facts discredit a narrative often repeated by the Anti-Israel Marketing Machine, that Zionists are nothing but European colonialists (although, just to be clear, European Jews are equally indigenous to Israel).

Before the 1948 Independence War, over 1 million Jews were living peacefully in the Arab lands. Some communities were ancient that survived in those land for at least 2,500 years. They were subjected to many forms of discrimination, like being in lower social ranks, subjected to high taxes for being non-Muslims (despite of being poor, they had this additional burden), and were historically often bribed to forfeit Judaism and adopt Islam.

Regardless of the hardships, they were always loyal citizens and contributed in their own ways to the host country’s development. Their language, food, music, and literature was shared with their Arab neighbors. North Africa was particularly welcoming during WWII since Arabs and Jews had the same common European occupier enemies.

During UN meetings discussing the partition of the land in 1947, the Egyptian delegate threatened the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries will be jeopardized by partition.”

In the 20 years following the Independence War, 850,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Morocco, and several other countries. In Iraq, Zionism was a crime punishable by death. In Syria and Yemen, pogroms erupted. Following the fall of Persia under Iran’s claws in 1979, more than 70,000 Persian Jews were ethnically cleansed.

Israel absorbed more than half a million refugees; the Arab nations who ethnically cleansed their Jews sat idle and provided no compensation. While Palestinian living in Palestine had to travel a few miles to find a not-always friendly Arab country, the Jewish refugees from the Muslim world had to travel hundreds (and even thousands) of miles to reach Israel, where the conditions were dire (the refugees doubled the Israeli population and the country almost collapsed).

The Arab countries who expelled their Jews took their spoils, and the UN never passed a single resolution against them. Meanwhile, Israel had to swallow more than a hundred resolutions about the Palestinian question, including a resolution passed by a literal Nazi General Secretary (which was btw that resolution equating Zionism with Racism).

Today, around half of the Israeli population is descended from the Jewish refugees of Middle Eastern and North African countries, and if the Palestinians can be considered refugees at this point, the Israeli descendants also can. Since November 2014, the 30th of every December is the day to honor and remember the Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab countries following 1948’s Arab-Israeli War.

Jewish Population in Arab Countries


Source: Sergio DellaPergola, “World Jewish Population, 2018,” American Jewish Year Book 2018, Arnold Dashefsky and Ira M. Sheskin, Eds., (Springer Nature Switzerland, 2019), pp. 361-449, available at www.jewishdatabank.org.

The Anti-Israel Marketing Machine tries to erase the ethnically cleansing crimes of the Arab nations against Mizrahi Jews

P.S. For the love of everything holy, please don’t get trapped in the ridiculous white-or-not-white debate: Jews are not white. I know that Sephardic Jews (a group of Jews from Spain) and other visible minorities within the Jewish community have not always been treated well in Israel, and Israel has its own tolerance issues, like every other country. But when you start calling Ashkenazi Jews white, you are automatically falling into the trap of the haters who argue that the Zionist movement is just white Europeans oppressing and colonizing of brown Palestinians (which has their own parcel of people with white skin, blonde hair and blue eyes).

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