General Antisemitism

The Guardian’s Ian Black and the expulsion of Jews from Arab lands


H/T Lyn and Just Journalism

I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of Israel’s leading wine makers, Eli Ben-Zaken.  

Ben-Zaken’s family lived in Cairo for generations but was forced to flee in the 1950s after their citizenship was stripped (and additional anti-Jewish measures were implemented) following Israel’s creation, making life there – which was never easy for Egyptian Jewry – almost impossible.

Ben-Zaken told us about the tax Egyptian Authorities required his father to pay merely for the privilege of leaving the country, and the stamp on their travel documents which explicitly noted that they were not permitted to return.

Such a story is not uncommon for Jews from Arab lands, but it came to mind upon reading a Guardian online discussion about the Arab Spring with the paper’s Middle East editor, Ian Black.

When asked about  the issue of minorities in the region – including Copts and Jews – Black said the following:

“It’s hard to imagine a Jewish renaissance in the Arab world without a settlement of the Palestinian question. Christians in Egypt are certainly worried about the rise of Islamists, but the Muslim Brotherhood has been going out of its way to be reassuring on this point. Salafi groups are a source of greater concern and have featured in several bad cases of sectarian violence – notably in the Cairo neighbourhood of Imbaba in May. Many have warned of the risks of manipulation by shadowy pro-Mubarak forces.” [emphasis mine]

While the Guardian’s Middle East editor’s naivete about the vulnerability of Copts and the intentions of the Muslim Brotherhood is itself worth discussing – a topic explored in great detail by Middle East scholarBarry Rubin – Black’s inability to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands is appalling, and his suggestion about the future of Jewry in the region is itself based on the logic of the very Arab leaders who saw fit to expel their Jews in the first place.

As the only crime of the roughly 850,000 Jews expelled from Arab lands was that they shared the same religion of citizens of the nation which Arab leaders so despised – and subsequently attempted to annihilate – what possibly would allow Black to conclude that a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict would suddenly convince Arab leaders to allow back their expelled Jews (and their descendants) or compensate these families for their stolen property and forfeited assets?

Further, as Just Journalism noted:

“The suggestion that this situation won’t be resolved without a ‘settlement of the Palestinian question’ underplays the sheer level of hostility towards Jews in these countries, which goes far beyond political sympathy for the Palestinians. For example, throughout the Arab Spring both regimes and protesters in several countries denounced their opponents by smearing them as ‘Zionists’The Times recently highlighted how even in Egypt, which has been at peace with Israel for several decades, postcards of Hitler are popular ‘because he killed Jews’.

As Eli Ben-Zaken, or any of the hundreds of thousands of refugees from Arab lands, and their millions of descendants, could surely tell Black, Jewish life in Arab lands – which in some cases went back thousands of years – is all but certainly extinguished forever.

A “settlement to the Palestinian question” will not address nor ameliorate this profound and under reported injustice. 

23 replies »

  1. what possibly would allow Black to conclude that a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict would suddenly convince Arab leaders to allow back their expelled Jews

    But he makes no such conclusion, does he?
    And they call themselves “Just Journalism”???

    • Black says this: “It’s hard to imagine a Jewish renaissance in the Arab world without a settlement of the Palestinian question.” Pretz, what is Black saying in this quote, in your mind?

      • My reading? Any said change in Arab leaders’ approach would first require a resolution to the I/P conflict.

        What he’s NOT saying is that “a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict would suddenly convince Arab leaders to allow back their expelled Jews”.

        • So Assad using military jets to bomb and straf his citizens is due to Assads concern over the Israel/Paleswine…

          or Gadaffis using military jets to bomb and and straf his citizens is due to Gadaffis concern over the Israel/Paleswine conflict…

          Jews aren’t going to the back of the bus anymore.

          pretzels must think that the US, UK were “nazis” due to the way they treated Germany in WW2.

          • Gadaffis using military jets to bomb and and straf his citizens is due to Gadaffis concern over the Israel/Paleswine conflict…

            Eh?

            pretzels must think that the US, UK were “nazis” due to the way they treated Germany in WW2.

            Must I? I don’t think so.
            Truly bizarre, whatever the planet Thank God I’m An Infidel is living on.

    • Pretzelberg, Just Journalism didn’t even say that, go read the article. I bet you’ve been waiting to say “And they call themselves Just Journalism” for a while and thought that this might be your best chance :[

      • You are much mistaken. I’ve been aware of them since their launch, and found them to be a reasonable bunch.

  2. One should really not expect anything else when Europe is still in denial about far worse depredations inflicted on the Jewish people by her own non-Jewish citizens:

    Israeli Holocaust survivors sue Austria

    “Austria became rich as a result of the robbery of its Jews. This is unbelievable insolence. I tremble in anger every time I think about it.”

    http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4109064,00.html

    ‘Obama must raise Jewish property restitution problem’

    “Poland is the only major country in the former Soviet bloc yet to solve the problem of returning private property confiscated by the Nazis or nationalized by the Communist regime. About 3,500,000 Jews lived in Poland prior to the war; about 10,000 currently reside there, writes the World Jewish Restitution Organization on its page.”

    [Incidentally, if you want to see the typical Polish reaction to these matters I suggest you check out the two comments at the end of the article]

    http://www.thenews.pl/1/10/Artykul/25065,%E2%80%98Obama-must-raise-Jewish-property-restitution-problem

    • European denial is still a massive problem – but at least governments have apologised and peoples have tried to make amends.

      This is not the case in the Arab world where denial is not only rampant, but the facts have been twisted to make it look like the ethnic cleansing and mass despoliation of Jewish citizens is not the Arabs’ responsibility.

      Some do admit that Arabs drove out Jews, but blame it on the ‘understandable backlash’ to Israel’s creation, a way of rationalising what they did.

      Ian Black seems to be aligning himself with this view: ie if the injustice done to the Palestinians was rectified, Jewish life would revert to normal in the Arab world.

      This is to misunderstand the root cause of the conflict: Arab and Muslim antisemitism.

      • Some do admit that Arabs drove out Jews, but blame it on the ‘understandable backlash’ to Israel’s creation

        An approach which is obviously ridiculous. What on earth did Jews with roots in e.g. Iraq have to do with the creation of Israel?

        • Arabs were using the old Antisemitism of dual loyalty.

          Since Arab nationalism was very strong in the 30’s and 40’s they drew a lot of the ideologies directly from Europe at the time and with it the old Antisemitic blood libels. This led to riots and another excuse to attack Jews and loot their properites in arab lands.

          Later it changed with the excuse of espionage…

        • ” What on earth did Jews with roots in e.g. Iraq have to do with the creation of Israel?”

          Iraqi Jews were within arms reach of outraged Iraqi non-Jews, outraged that the “sons of pigs and apes” were not defeated by five Arab armies, just two years after the end of WW2.

    • Europe is still in denial about far worse depredations inflicted on the Jewish people by her own non-Jewish citizens:

      What depradations are you referring to re. the UK?

  3. Black is clearly in politically driven denial about Arab antisemitism. According to the Pew Research Centre, 97% of Palestinians hold antisemitic views, whilst in Egypt, it also stands at an incredible 97%. Similar levels are seen throughout the Arab and wider Islamic worlds.It is hard to get 97% of people to agree on almost anything. Yet, in the Arab world, hating Jews is endemic.

    Mr Black, it is hard to see a Jewish renaissance in the Arab world with such levels of sheer bigotry and racism amongst Arabs. But then, you wouldn’t point that out, would you?

    What a propagandist.

    • This is not directly related but, upon leaving the Soviet Union in 1988, my family was stripped of USSR citizenship – in effect prohibiting a return, while all of our personal documents such as birth certificates and diplomas had to be returned to the institutions of their issuance. Copies of these documents were supposed to be transferred through the Swiss embassy, since the USSR had no diplomatic relationship with Israel at the time, but were – unsurprisingly – lost in the process. Just another example of commonality between Soviet and Arab dictatorships.

    • Mr Black, it is hard to see a Jewish renaissance in the Arab world with such levels of sheer bigotry and racism amongst Arabs.

      Absolutely right, in case (ahem) anyone’s misunderstood me.

  4. What exactly would a “Jewish renaissance in the Arab world” involve? Better yet, why would Jews experience a “renaissance” in the Arab world? It’s certainly not as if some greater level of freedom, social or political, would exist for Jews should they have a renaissance in the Arab world by moving from let us say Arizona to Cairo or Bagdad. Most of all, anyone with an ounce of sense, which Mr. Black clearly lacks, know that inviting in Jews would be far more a benefit to the Arabs than the other way around. The Jews would in fact help the Arabs to achieve a renaissance, which they surely need. What Mr. Black is saying is that Jews would be treated better if there was a solution acceptable to the Arabs regarding the I/P issue. What he fails to say is that the only acceptable solution to a large part of the Arab world is the elimination of Israel. Chances of the Jews having a renaissance in the Arab world are bout the same as finding a map with the state of Israel on it in Gaza.

    • What Mr. Black is saying is that Jews would be treated better if there was a solution acceptable to the Arabs regarding the I/P issue.

      He’s not saying that at all.

      • Funny that’s exactly how I read it.

        Your reading reflects more on Arab leader’s diplomatic attitudes towards Israel rather than the Arab people ability to get along ith Jews in their countries, and allow them equal rights to flourish.