Last night I had the opportunity to attend an event dedicated to a historical disaster that receives very little attention in historiography and media. Starting from 1948 until 1974 nearly 900,000 Jews were expelled (and many killed) from Muslim-dominated countries, where they had lived for millennia. The key dates of that catastrophe are closely linked to key events in Israel’s history – from the War of Independence to the Yom Kippur war. As we will see later, this was not a random act but a culmination of the Muslim anti-Semitism, which simmered in those countries for centuries.
The main part of the event was the screening of the little-known documentary “Silent Exodus – The Jewish Nakbah,” but it also included talks by two survivors of the expulsion, both of them from Libya – Gina Waldman (via recorded video message) and Noemi Lieberman (born Habib). The conclusion was a conversation with the movie’s creator Pierre Rehov, who was kind enough to forsake his sleep and talk with the audience from Israel in the middle of the night via Skype. It took a lot of work to organize the event, done exclusively by Ilana Shneider and Evgenia Rachevsky from the Canada-Israel Friendship Association. The event even defied Facebook’s logic – by the time it started only about 30 people had confirmed their participation through Facebook, which usually means that no more than five would show up. In reality, a few hundred swarmed the big hall of Lodzer Congregation and the organizers had to bring in extra chairs to accommodate everybody.
It was not by accident that the interest was so high. The Holocaust had been covered in detail in the press, at schools and special events like the Holocaust Education Week taking place right now. Even those who hate Israel mark it occasionally, maybe because they feel it is safer to commemorate six million dead Jews than to stand for their rights today. The Holocaust is often explained by the same people in a simplistic way, as an act of a mentally unstable man who accidentally came to power but was eventually defeated, so nothing like that could happen again. When recently Prime Minister B. Netanyahu spoke about the influence of the Jerusalem Mufti on Hitler’s decisions regarding the Jews, the reaction was stormy, to say the least. The issue of Muslim anti-Semitism has become taboo since the proliferation of Muslim terrorism around the world – it’s always said that it is a problem of a few crazy extremists who don’t represent Islam.
And that’s the reason why the “Jewish Nakbah” is always swept under the rug. The facts surrounding the events of the expulsion reveal the dirty laundry of Islam, which doesn’t match its traditional sugary image of “religion of peace.” In his talk in the end Pierre Rehov shared his frustration with the Western media who don’t want to touch that theme and ignore his work. When that exodus is scrutinized, it brings into light the different treatment of the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and the Jewish refugees of 1948-1974. While the Palestinians still receive billions of dollars from gullible countries through the UN agency created specifically for them, the Jews were kicked out of their Muslim homelands with nothing and their properties were confiscated.
The movie presented several points of view, including the Arab. A Palestinian “historian” claimed that the Jews in Arab countries lived in harmony with their hosts and Israel had to plant secretly bombs to scare them into moving to the Jewish State. A UN official of Muslim background was adamant that those Jews were not refugees since they decided voluntarily to move to another country.
The testimonies of the survivors and the old reels painted a very different picture. Jews had lived scattered in different lands long before Mohammed’s murderers showed up. The procedure was always the same – the Arabs invaded the lands, killed anybody who resisted and forced the survivors to pay taxes for “protecting” their rights. Though Jews and Christians were considered “people of the book,” possessing part of the Muslim wisdom, their status was that of “dhimmis,” subject to many restrictions. Jews were considered dirty and had to live in ghettos (“mellah”). In some countries, even in the 20th century, they could not go out without special permission. They had to leave the sidewalk to avoid crossing the path of a Muslim. One survivor explained how in Tehran during a rainstorm a Jew accidentally bumped into a mullah. Later the Jew was burned alive for “dirtying” the mullah. In Yemen all Jewish orphans had to be converted to Islam.
To add to the humiliation, the synagogues had to be much lower than mosques. The same applied to Christian churches. An example of the rule is the Orthodox church of St. Petka in downtown Sofia shown below (Bulgaria was occupied by the Turkish barbarians for about 500 years). A church was not supposed to be higher than a rider on a horse (only Turks were allowed to ride horses, the rest had to use donkeys). A way to cope with that was to dig underground. Most of the church building had always been buried with a few stairs leading downwards to the entrance. Not far from St. Petka was the tiny synagogue, which in 1909 was replaced by a magnificent building (still the third largest synagogue in Europe). Also close to it still stands the huge mosque built by the Turks in 16th century.
Their lives were difficult, but the Jews learned how to appear invisible to avoid trouble. They often managed to survive for long time without being terrorized. However, as a supremacist religion, Islam often causes outbursts that turn seemingly peaceful people into uncontrollable savages. We see that even today in Arab countries and in Europe (and probably soon it is coming to Canada). Those testimonies were most painful to watch.
The periodic pogroms included stealing Jewish belongings, killing men, raping women and children, mutilating pregnant women and many other deeds that ISIS successfully copies today. The hostility increased exponentially during World War II. It wasn’t just the Jerusalem Mufti, who created Muslim Nazi squads. Iraq was taken over by a pro-Nazi government, which started to exterminate Jews. Adolf Hitler was appreciative of the “contributions” of Islam and highly praised that religion. In one of his talks on August 28, 1942, he expressed his admiration:
“Only in the Roman Empire and in Spain under Arab domination has culture been a potent factor. Under the latter, the standard of civilization attained was wholly admirable; to Spain flocked the greatest scientists, thinkers, astronomers and mathematicians of the world, and side by side there flourished a spirit of sweet human tolerance and a sense of the purest chivalry. Then, with the advent of Christianity, came the barbarians. The chivalry of the Castilians has been inherited from the Arabs. Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers—already, you see, the world had fallen into the hands of the Jews, so gutless a thing was Christianity!—then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies heroism and which opens the seventh Heaven to the bold warrior alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so.” (“Hitler’s Table Talk 1941–1944: His Private Conversations,” Enigma Books, New York, 2000, Chapter 302, entry for August 28, 1942, page 667)
Western colonization, which established some semblance of order in the Muslim countries, provided short reprieve from the savagery, but things quickly turned sour after the victory of the Islamic nationalist movements. That is what eventually caused the “final solution” of the Jewish question in the Muslim-dominated countries. The specific catalyst, which amplified Islamic rage to an unseen level, was the partition of the Mandate for Palestine. The fierce rejection of the newly-established Jewish State and the war against it that the Muslims lost made the life of the Jews truly unbearable.
The new pogroms and mass murders eventually resulted in a mass forced exodus and confiscation of Jewish property. Israel absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who had to choose between Muslim atrocities and a perilous journey to their new homeland. In many Arab countries they still kept thousands of Jews as hostages. Every consecutive Muslim attack against Israel was used as an excuse to make the lives of those Jews even more miserable.
Another low point was the monumental Arab loss in the Six Day War of 1967. Both women who told their stories at the event were from Libya. Friends warned Gina Waldman’s family to leave. As in many other cases, their Arab neighbours turned against them. On the way to the airport they were about to be attacked when a few people from Great Britain interfered on their behalf. They had to leave all of their property and get out only with the luggage they could carry.
Noemi Lieberman’s family experienced a similar ordeal. Somebody warned them confidentially that they should leave as soon as possible in a discreet way. They pretended that they went on vacation to Tunisia (her father worked as an accountant for an Italian company in Tripoli). The family left everything in the house intact and their gold and money were hidden under a tiny mattress in a basket carrying Noemi’s one-year old brother (the baby died the following year on the way to Israel). It wasn’t easy to settle in Israel. Her father had to work for a while as a night watchman because he didn’t speak enough Hebrew. Her older sisters had to start working at an early age – there were no free UN money allowances for Jews in Israel.
At least those families managed to leave the country unharmed. Others were not so lucky. The movie started with a woman who explained how she was locked up in an Arab jail as 12-year old girl. She remembered how a commander told four soldiers that she was Jewish, she was virgin and they could have fun with her. She felt like she switched off the outside world during the horrific experience.
Now it is estimated that only about 7,000 Jews left in Muslim countries. Somebody in the movie jokingly called them grave keepers, because they were the only ones to take care of the Jewish cemeteries in the old countries. In the times of Gadhafi Libya announced that it will pay compensations to the exiled Jews, but it was more of a mockery than a real plan. Only certain properties could be compensated only to men who have never lived or even visited Israel. So far, nobody had received any money.
The grim testimonies went on and on and the worst part was that everything sounded so familiar. The Muslim invasion in Europe is turning many countries in mirror images of the Arab world where being Jewish is dangerous. Everybody is satisfied that a madman like Hitler can’t take over the continent again and re-establish the killing factories. However, nobody wants to talk about the slow bleeding of the Jewish communities living under tension and terror, where even the kindergartens must have metal bars and bulletproof glass on the windows.
Canada is on the same path of deterioration. The new Islamist airhead who became our Prime Minister wants to import at least 25,000 potential terrorists from Syria, a country where they had hated Jews for centuries. The rich Jews who financed his campaign are not worried – they can hire little armies to protect them from the exciting Muslim multiculturalism but the rest are on their own. It will be a pity if the Jews in Canada have to go through the same tribulations that their ancestors in the Arab world experienced.
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