(JEWS and ARABS from WW2 to 1967 – continued)

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JEWS and ARABS from WW2 to 1967 (4 of 10)

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Jews Flee their Arabic Homelands

The Arab-Israeli War of 1848 and the establishment of Israel's independence increased hostility against Jews in Muslim countries where Jews had been living since ancient times. Jews felt compelled to flee what was a new hostility, and two-thirds of them – about 600,000 – went to Israel and made it their new homeland.

Egypt had approximately 80,000 Jews in 1946. In 1947, after the British withdrew from all but Suez, Egypt's parliament placed severe restrictions on Jewish business leaders and deprived thousands of Jews employment. With the war between Israelis and Egyptians in 1948, more Jews fled Egypt across the Sinai desert to the safety that Israel offered them. Fast forward to 1956 and the invasion of Egypt by Israeli, British and French forces. It created war fever among the Egyptians.  A proclamation signed by Egypt's Minister of Religious Affairs and read aloud in mosques declared that all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state."  Egypt imprisoned approximately 3,000 Jews, expelled over 25,000 and confiscated their property. By 1958 few Jews remained. 

Morocco in 1948 had between 250,000 and 265,000 Jews. During the war against Israel in 1948, riots killed 44 of them. Approximately 18,000 Jews left for Israel, and in the years that followed, Zionist organizations encouraged more to emigrate. In 1956 the newly independent Moroccan government prohibited Jewish emigration. That ban was lifted in 1961 and, between 1961 and 1964, 80,000 Moroccan Jews emigrated to Israel. The Six-Day war in 1967 inspired more Jews to leave, and by 2005 only a little more than 5,300 remained.

The Jewish population in Algeria in 1948 was around 140,000. Between 1952 and 1964 the Algerians were fighting for independence. Jews in Algeria were French citizens and many of them fled to France. The newly independent Algerian government harassed Algeria's Jewish community and put restrictions on their economic rights, and by 2003 Algeria had fewer than 100 Jews.

Tunisia had between 50,000 and 105,000 Jews in 1948. After acquiring independence in 1956, its government issued decrees against Jews. Tunisia's Jewish Community Council was abolished. Ancient synagogues, cemeteries and Jewish communities were destroyed for "urban renewal." During the Six-Day War, Arabs attacked Jews and burned synagogues and shops. Many Jews fled. In 2003 only about 1,500 Jews remained.

In 1948, approximately 38,000 Jews were living in Libya. There were pogroms against Jews three years before the creation of Israel. More than 140 Jews had been killed in Tripoli and synagogues had been looted. The pogroms came again in 1948. Fifteen Jews were killed and 280 Jewish homes were destroyed. Many Jews fled to the safety of Israel. After the Suez Crisis only about 100 remained. After Muamar al-Gaddafi came to power in 1969, remaining Jewish property was confiscated and debts to Jews were cancelled.

Lebanon had about 5,000 Jews in 1948. There, hostility toward Jews increased in 1947-48. The majority of Beirut's 7,000 Jews migrated in 1967, most of them going to Europe, mainly to France, and many went to the United States and Canada. Fewer than 100 remained in Lebanon by 2003.

In Syria, rioting against Jews took place in 1947, during the partition of Palestine. There were approximately 30,000 Jews in Syria in 1948. The Syrian government made it illegal for Syria's Jews to flee to Israel, but most managed to get out, and by 2003 there were fewer than 100. 

In 1947 Jews were also attacked in Yemen. Eighty-two Jews were killed and hundred of Jewish homes destroyed. In 1948 an estimated 45,000 to 55,000 were living in Yemen, and by 2003 less than 200. 

Jews living in Iraq in 1948 numbered around 150,000. Jewish communities there dated back to the 500s BCE. In 1914, Jews comprised one-third of Baghdad's population, and Jews contributed to an advanced judicial and postal system, international diplomacy, commerce and culture. After Iraq became independent of British rule in 1932, persecutions of the Jews began. In 1941 a pro-Nazi, Rashid Ali, took power. Armed Iraqi mobs killed 180 Jews and wounded about 1,000. The British army entered Iraq at the end of the war, and the Jewish community revived. The Jews built medical facilities and schools. Baghdad's symphony orchestra was almost all Jewish. Then, with the partition of Palestine and the war against Israel, anti-Jewish rioting became common. Being a Zionist was made a crime punished by death. With the Six-Day war in 1967, Jewish property was expropriated. Jews had their bank accounts frozen. They were dismissed from public posts. Their trading permits were cancelled, their telephones disconnected and their businesses closed. In 1969 Jews accused of spying were hanged in public, with a crowd chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to all traitors." The centuries-old community of Jews disappeared. By 2003 fewer than 100 Jews remained. 

Jews and Arabs had become more polarized. Acceptance, integration and peaceful coexistance had become more distant.


Copyright © 1998-2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.