Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Immigration from Arab lands motivated by distress

 A refugee or transit camp (ma'abara) in Nahariya

Solid evidence that Jews were being 'pushed' from Arab countries  in the early years of Israel's establishment comes from Israel's National Archivist. The largest numbers (12, 000 in three months) were projected from Iraq in 1950. But 10, 000 were also arriving from Romania, and the state was faced with the agonising decision: which refugees should be given priority? (With thanks: Silke)
Today's document gives a taste of the atmosphere Israeli immigration officials operated in during the summer of 1950, when mass immigration of almost penniless immigrants had simply become the natural way of the world. It was penned by one Itzhak Refael, who later went on to become one of the leaders of the National Religious Party; the three-page document gives the projections for immigration in the coming three months (after June 1950). The purpose is to control the pace of arrivals, although, as Refael notes, this is only partially possible. The immigration from Arab lands, he explains, is motivated by distress, and if conditions get worse we can't keep people out. (My emphasis -ed)

Which is an interesting point, since present-day polemicists love to argue about whether the Jews were being forced out of the Arab lands, and were thus refugees, or they were coming because of religious belief in the centrality of Israel and the sudden possibility to move to a Jewish state, so they were immigrants (or worse, colonialists). As if there's necessarily a contradiction between being pushed and pulled.

Read post in full

Most pre-1952 immigrants were from Muslim lands

1 comment:

Silke said...

I think this is a good occasion to do one of my Israel is unique in the neighbourhood rants.

which of her neighbours have accessible and publishing state archives?

only those who have archives who match Israel's are IMHO opinion entitled to have their "narratives" considered as more than mere newspaper reports.

Turkey's FM Davutoglu mentioned in his AlJazeera interview Istanbul archives.

Of course there must be archives in Turkey but an institution called "Istanbul archives" - at least I have never heard it mentioned.