The Glaring Light of History on The Palestinian Conflict
by Jerry D. Kaifetz, Ph.D.
As the rhetoric, emotion and religious fervor of the current crisis in Israel continues to overflow from a rolling boil, it would seem both timely and informative to examine the purely historical record of the Palestinian conflict. A documented, historical record which is detailed and replete should not be subject to opinion or spin. Here are a few historical facts which should be safeguarded from the political intents of revisionist historians:
1. When Israel’s independence was declared in 1948, the majority of Arab refugees were not expelled. Sixty-eight percent left without seeing an Israeli soldier. History reveals that Arab leaders called on the “refugees” to flee. The UN then amended its standard definition of a refugee, seemingly to suit Arab refugees. The universal description of a refugee changed in1948 to describe a Palestinian refugee as someone who had been in Palestine for only two years before 1948, not those who had been forced to leave “permanent or habitual” homes, as had been the traditional UN standard.
It is a sad commentary on our world that the struggle of Jewish refugees has been seemingly erased from the pages of history. It deserves to be remembered, and the right of Israel to defend itself from its historical oppressors of thirteen centuries should never be questioned
2. The Jewish Haifa Worker’s Council issued an impassioned appeal to the Arabs to stay, even as Arab forces combined from every direction to crush Israel. Israel was victorious, yet Arabs have since refused to accept the reality of that defeat, or the defeat of 1967 and 1973.
3. After the 1967 annexation of the West Bank by Jordan and for the next two decades, the myth of “Palestine for the Palestinians” remained unexpressed. King Hussein of Jordan in 1960 expressed great dismay that Arab leaders “...have used the Palestine people for selfish and political purposes,” calling these actions “ridiculous and even criminal.” The prominent Palestinian spokesman Al-Ayubi complained bitterly that neighboring Arab states had “shut the doors of citizenship in the faces of the Palestinians and imprison them in camps.”
4. Hundreds of historical sources document the persecution and genocide of the Jewish people in Arab states from the time of Mohammed in 625 to the twentieth century. This begins with the Meccan army’s extermination of the Jewish tribe at Quraiz. It was then legitimized by Mohamed’s successor in the “Charter of Omar,” which stated that no non-Muslim was “allowed to exist” among “believers.” Special taxes on Jews existed in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Turkey until 1925.
5. Hitler’s crimes against the Jews have been frequently justified in Arab writings. Anwar Sadat published an open letter to Hitler sympathizing with his cause. In 1973 Egyptian writer Anis Mansour wrote that “Hitler was right” about the Jews. “Would that he had finished it!” exclaimed Mansour.
6. In 1947 the “Disaster of the Jews of Aden” described an anti-Jewish uprising in this Saudi Arabian town — an Arab-led mass murder, pillage and complete destruction.
7. Between 1949 and 1952 more than 123,000 Iraqi Jews living in near slavery were forced to flee rampant persecution there. This slavery was later documented by the British vice-consul in Mosul. In 1948 Zionism became a capital crime in Iraq and many Jews were publicly hanged in the center of Baghdad. Seventeen Jews were publicly hanged in Baghdad between 1969 and 1973, while dozens more were slaughtered in their homes.
8. In Cairo, the caliph had the Jewish quarter destroyed in 1012, along with all of its Jewish residents. Hundreds of Jews in Egypt have since been put to death for failing to show respect for the prophet Mohammed. Historians have documented continuous blood libel persecution of Jews in Egypt throughout the 19th century. As late as 1964 the president of Egypt still publicly pledged Egyptian allegiance to the old Nazi cause.
9. The Jews of Morocco and Tunisia suffered relentless persecution from the seventh century at the hands of Arabs. Rapes and looting, burning of synagogues, ripping of sacred Torah scrolls and murders were “so frequent that it is impossible to list them,” writes one historian of that period. In 1946 Fez was attacked by the Arab Almohads, leaving 100,000 Jews killed. In Marakesh, 120,000 Jews were slaughtered. Muslim law required the denial of Jews to raise their own children if the parents had been deemed to convert to Islam just to avoid execution. Algerian Jews fared no better, suffering pillage and massacre, including the fierce persecution of 1640 called the al-Khada. Jews were forbidden to resist or bear arms under Muslim law. These persecutions lasted in North Africa until the French liberation of WW II.
10. When Kairouan, Tunis was declared a holy city of Islam in the 13th century, all the Jews were immediately expelled after years of hardship. Syrian Jews fared no better. While celebrating a Muslim holiday in 1945, a mob of students descended on a synagogue during prayer time and viciously beat the praying Jews, later burning their books in the street. Jewish leaders were informed that unless they publicly denounced Zionism and surrendered fleeing Jewish refugees, they would be put to death. Mass-murders of Jews occurred in Lebanon in 1945, 1947, 1948 and 1950. Libyan Jews were sent to prison camps by the thousands in WW II where most died. Persecution of the Jews under Khadafi has been just as bad.
The Arab world has been virtually emptied of its Jews. In 1948 there were 850,000 Jews in Arab lands. That number has now been diminished by over 95%. The state of Israel has borne the burden of these true refugees without fanfare or crazed chauvinism. When we think of “Middle East Refugees,” most of us think immediately of the Palestinians. It is a sad commentary on our world that the struggle of Jewish refugees has been seemingly erased from the pages of history. It deserves to be remembered, and the right of Israel to defend itself from its historical oppressors of thirteen centuries should never be questioned.Y
E-Mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org