An Exchange Of Populations

In all the furor that has been created in Israel and the world Jewish community over the suggestion by certain "radical" Jews that Israeli Arabs be transferred from the country, there appears to be forgotten the fact that such an action would only be the second part of an ultimate exchange of populations.

The fact is, that with the creation of the Jewish state in 1948, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab countries, almost all of whom left behind all their property for which compensation was never paid. It is worthwhile to look at the record before we dismiss the concept of the transfer of Arabs from Israel.

Algeria had 150,000 Jews in 1948. Pogroms in that country had occurred almost every 10 years since tha 1890's, and during the 1930's, many Jews of Constantine were massacred despite French intervention. In 1961, the Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN) attacked the large cities where most of the Jews lived and 100,000 were forced to flee the country, leaving behind all their belongings. The FLN desecrated the Great Synagogue at Algiers and the ancient Jewish Cemetery at Oran, and succeeded in driving out all but 900 Jews by 1973. And so: Algeria 1948: 150,000 Jews; Algeria 1973: 750 Jews.

In Morocco in 1948 there were 300,000 Jews.
On June 7 of that year, mobs in Oujda sacked the Jewish quarter, killing and wounding hundreds of Jews, and in nearby Djerada, 30 Jews were massacred by Arab mobs the same night. The new revolutionary government passed anti-Jewish laws so severe that they drove out 300,000 Jews. With the return of the Sultan in 1961, there was some relaxation of the laws; but by 1973 only 25,000 of the original 300,000 Jews remained. Morocco 1948: 300,000 Jews; Morocco 1973: 25,000 Jews.

There were 23,000 Jews in Tunisia in 1948.
Following the revolutionary government's program of Arabization, Jews became "instant scapegoats," and many were arrested for "economic" crimes simply for being merchants or practicing any gainful occupation. By 1973, all but 9,000 Jews had been driven out of Tunisia. Tunisia 1948: 23,000 Jews, Tunisia 1973: 9,000 Jews.

Syria had 45,000 Jews in 1948. They had prospered under the Turks and the French, but when the Arabs took over, they at once became the target for both official and unofficial violence. Anti-Jewish legislation froze bank accounts and confiscated property. New laws forbade Jews to sell their property or move more than three miles from their homes. Special identity cards were issued to them, and they were allowed to work only at certain jobs. Government employees and military personnel were forbidden to patronize Jewish shops. Today there are fewer than 4,000 Jews in Syria, and they are under constant attack. Syria 1948: 45,000 Jews, Syria 1973: 4,000 Jews.

There were 45,000 Jews living in Libya in 1948. In Tripoli in 1945, 120 Jews had been killed by mobs of Arabs. After independence, most of the others were driven from the country, many were murdered after the Six-Day War and numerous others were arrested. In 1976, there were only about 70 Jews remaining in the country ruled by Colonel Qaddafi. Libya 1948: 45,000 Jews, Libya 1976: 70 Jews.

Jews have been in Egypt since Biblical times, and Alexandria had once been, at least partially, a Jewish city. In 1945, the pro-Nazi "Young Egypt" group led anti-Jewish rioting in which many Jews were killed. In 1947, a new law for companies made it practically impossible for Jewish businesses to operate.
Egypt had 75,000 Jews in 1948, when bombings, burnings and looting destroyed almost $50 million worth of Jewish property. After the overthrow of King Farouk by Nasser and his "Free Officers," life for Jews became intolerable in that country. After the Suez War, 3,000 Jews were arrested and imprisoned without trial. Thousands of others were presented with deportation orders forcing them to quit the country within days and leave all their property behind. By 1967, Nasser had managed to force all but 3,000 Jews out of Egypt. There were fewer than 500 Jews remaining in the land ruled by the "moderate" el-Sadat in 1976; the rest were driven out to find new homes, mostly in Israel. Egypt 1948: 75,000 Jews, Egypt 1976: 500 Jews. (Amnesty International reported in 1976 that there were only 350 Jews in Egypt.)

Iraq was the home of 125,000 Jews in 1948. Since then, the revolutionary government has conducted an almost incessant campaign of terror against them. Nine Jews were hanged in public and 68 tried as Israeli spies in January 1968 while chanting mobs moved through the streets beating up any Jew that passed their way, women and children included! By 1973, only 400 Jews remained in Iraq.
Iraq 1948: 125,000 Jews, Iraq 1973: 400 Jews.

Yemen, where 54,000 Jews lived in 1948, had none in 1976. Hundreds were killed, and the rest found shelter in British bases until they were carried to Israel by Operation Magic Carpet. Before that,
it was legal to stone a Jew to death, and the law decreed that "fatherless Jewish children under thirteen be taken from their mothers and raised as Muslims." Yemen 1948: 54,000 Jews, Yemen 1976: No Jews whatsoever!

In Aden, there were 5,000 Jews in 1947, but in 1976 there were none. In December, 1947, Arab mobs attacked the Jewish quarter, killing several people and burning down buildings. Between 1948 and 1967, most Aden Jews fled to Israel. The 130 who remained fled after the riots in June 1967 to escape torture and certain death.
Aden 1948: 5,000 Jews, Aden 1967: No Jews Whatsoever!

A total of some 750,000 Jews fled Arab lands since 1948. Surely it is time for Jews, worried over the huge growth of Arabs in Israel, to consider finishing the exchange of populations that began 35 years ago.

By Rabbi Meir Kahane
March 18, 1983 
On Jews and Judaism
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