An interesting exchange in Rosner's Blog (Haaretz US correspondent) between Salman (Jack) Hikmet and Walter Reich, psychiatry professor and former director of the Washington Holocaust Museum:
I know our suffering is but a grain in the sand compared to the Holocaust, but I feel that the Jewish people both in Israel and in the Diaspora fail to recognize what was done to Arab Jewry before and after the establishment of the State of Israel.
As an Iraqi Jew, I was in Baghdad in the late 60s-early 70s, and witnessed the public hanging of several members of our community by the murderous Saddam and his cohorts, as well as torture, disappearances and confiscation of property.
Libyan, Syrian, and Egyptian Jews have a similar tale to tell, and I feel that a mention of this chapter in our history is long overdue.
Best regards and keep up the good work
Salman (Jack) Hikmet
You're right, of course. Jews in Arab lands, during the last century, suffered significantly and in many places. Moreover, they experienced a very great deal of discrimination under Muslim rule during previous centuries. Bernard Lewis has written valuably, as have many other historians, on the experience of Jews in Arab and Muslim lands. The reason this discrimination isn't focused on very much is that, compared with the experience of the persecution, frequent massacres and genocide of the Jews in Europe, the experience of Jews in Arab and Muslim lands was much more tolerable.
In a way, this matter is analogous to the general sense of the experience of Jews in North Africa during the Holocaust. Many of these Jews did suffer, many were confined in labor camps, and quite a few were killed by French Vichy and German authorities. But, in the end, only about 1 percent of the Jews in French North Africa were killed, while some 70 percent of the Jews in Europe were killed. While that 1 percent is a large number, it doesn't compare to the percentage or the number killed in Europe. And so, unjustifiably but inevitably, we focus hardly at all on the Holocaust in North Africa. I should mention, by the way, that an important study of the experience of Jews in North Africa during the Holocaust - In Search of Righteous Arabs: Heroes and Villains of the Holocaust's Long Reach into Arab Lands, by Robert Satloff *- will be published later this year.
*See Satloff's (abridged) article here