Monday, June 02, 2014

An inconvenient truth: Jews expelled from Arab lands

 The aftermath of an anti-Jewish riot in Yemen

Nathan Weinstock's groundbreaking book on Jews from Arab lands is now out in Hebrew translation. Here's the official English version of Adi Schwartz's interview with the ex-anti-Zionist Trotskyist in Haaretz, reproduced in the Forward. Now we await the book in English translation:
(Haaretz) — Nathan Weinstock hadn’t planned to write a book about the Jews of Arab lands. But when he looked for information about the modern history of Moroccan or Iraqi Jewry, he was surprised to discover that there was no book in French that told the story of the elimination of the Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa in the mid-20th century.

“In the end,” he says, “I decided to write it myself.”

One of the surprising discoveries he made was about the powerful bond with their roots felt by many of the roughly 1 million Jews in North Africa and the Middle East who left their homes in the decade after the creation of Israel.
“The story I knew,” Weinstock relates in a Skype interview from his home in Nice, in the south of France, “was that the Jews were happy to leave the Arab countries the moment they were given the opportunity to do so. We were not told anything about the Jews’ deep connection with Arab culture, for example. It was only later that I learned that Jewish writers were the foundation of Iraqi literature. And that in mid-19th-century Egypt, the man who invented the nationalist slogan ‘Egypt for the Egyptians,’ and was known as ‘the Egyptian Molière,’ was a Jew named Jacob Sanua.

“In the course of my research,” he continues, “I found out that the story we had been told – that the Jews left the Arab countries because they were Zionists – was for the most part wrong. True, they had an affinity for the Land of Israel – that is certainly correct – but the organized Zionist movement was very weak in the Arab countries. The great mass of Jews left under duress. They were expelled. They were subjected to such enormous pressure that they had no choice but to leave.”

Read article in full 

Nathan Weinstock's groundbreaker, now out in Hebrew 

Weinstock: mass Jewish was flight unprecedented


syrianjew said...

Does anyone know if L'exil au Maghreb by David Littman will be translated into English?

Sylvia said...

Interestingly, Nathan Weinstock's anti-Zionist pamphlet "Le sionisme contre Israel" (1969) is listed in a Bibliography of Moroccan Judaism in French, apparently he already discusses it (but in what way?)on pages 146-147-148 of the book.
I can guess what he was saying then.

Syrian Jew I don't know of any published translation but if there is some specific information you need from that book (something short) I'll be happy to translate it for you.

Sylvia said...

Syrian Jew you should ask Paul fenton, who is the co-author of L'exil au Maghreb, he is probably still at Paris-Sorbonne

bataween said...

I thought Weinstock asked for all copies of 'Le Sionisme' contre Israel to be withdrawn - so he will not be best pleased to have it listed in a bibliography...

syrianjew said...

Thanks Sylvia

Why did the article have to quote Sami Shalom Chetrit? He is completely dhimmi-fied. Has there ever been a group of people so willing to whitewash the crimes of their oppressors? Why do these people pretend as if they know what it was like to be a jew in 17th century north africa? The Muslims say they treated us wonderfully, so it must be true.

We are our own worst enemies.

Sylvia said...

No, Sami Shalom Shetrit is the antithesis of the dhimmi. He feels that in Israel he is not an equal and he has fought back.

But he is consumed by his rage and it colors his discourse as well as his politics.

Make no mistake, he knows the facts. But he'll select only those that suit his arguments and twist others or lie outright.

This lack of maturity of those intellectuals the likes of S.S. Shetrit, the desire to fit in the Israeli far left- for the same reasons some Jews in Muslim countries called themselves communists - have plagued the intellectual debate among Jews from Arab lands in Israel which remained bogged down in a stupid and sterile matter of identity: yes we're Arab Jews no we aren't Arab Jews.And that's it.

Needless to say, those intellectuals have embraced the narrative and the discourse of the Ashkenazi extreme left on the Jews of Arab lands even though they knew better.

Now it's too late, they can't take it back even if they wanted to.

Sylvia said...

Bataween it's a printed published bibliography. Les Juifs du Maroc Arrik Delouya, 2001.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Sylvia, what you call " the discourse of the Ashkenazi extreme left on the Jews of Arab lands" goes back to the Bolsheviks in 1917 if not earlier. A few months after the Bolshevik coup d'état in the Russian Empire, Stalin's commissariat of nationalities issued an appeal to the Muslim Toilers of the East or some such title. See link for text:

Sylvia said...

I don't quite understand the relation, Eliyahu.

I don't think it comes from Eurocentrism as is generally thought.
I came to the conclusion that it stems from a curious sense of "ownership" of things Jewish, including but not limited to Zionism, Israel, Judaism, Jewish identity, Jewish history...

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Well, that sense of ownership may be part of it. But don't forget that Communists were taught that Arabs and other Muslims could do no wrong. Even when they did wrong. The British Establishment mainly took that position too. So if Jews from Arab lands complained about their treatment the loyal Communist had to feel anger that these people were making up a tale of victimhood when "everybody knows" that the Arabs and Muslims kind and tolerant toward the Jews, and even the Chief rabbis of Iraq or Egypt told foreigners, including officials of the US American Council for Judaism, that everything was fine, just hunky dory, very tolerant, good relations, eternal friends, generosity and kindness, etc.

If people believe something strongly, whether a lie or not, and you come along and explain to him that his belief is false, then the cognitive dissonance may make him angry. You have disturbed his prejudice. Look, when I was a kid I knew kids and others who blamed the Jews for the crucifixion of Jesus. If you try to argue against that you may have a fight on your hands. Well, Leftists have deep beliefs that are regularly indoctrinated --here in Israel-- by prestigious people. Who are you or who am I to disagree with Yoel Marcus at HaArets? Actually, Haarets did publish a letter of mine in the English edition about something that one of those holy gurus at Haarets had written on a related issue.
But it is hard to argue with people who have deeply ingrained ideas, even if you have proof, etc.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

If a Jews from an Arab land told of his persecution in Egypt or Libya or Iraq, etc, the Communist or Communist sympathizer had to reject this. After all the Israel CP and MAPAM wanted to attract Arab voters and make peace with Arabs. So party loyalists could not accept the implications of such reports by Jews from Arab lands. And after all, such reports and tales could only be an obstacle to peace with the Arabs.

syrianjew said...

I agree Sylvia....ashkenazim on both the left and right are always trying to be our mouthpiece. However, ideologues like Ella Shohat, Yehuda Shenhav, and Chetrit are a major problem. They are so dedicated to their postmodern narrative of oppressed brown people under the boot of wicked Europeans. This is utterly repugnant that they are willing to whitewash 1300 years of Arab Islamic supremacy and dhimmitude in order to stay faithful to their political views.

Sylvia said...

That's why I say they lack maturity. They don't conceive that you can be a strong critic of the self-proclaimed elites (I am) and be pro-Israel or a Zionist. The notion that Israel and Ashkenazim are interchangeable has been impressed upon them since childhood so evidently they view Israel as the father who betrayed them. I see the Ashkenazi "elite" as the partner who defrauded me. And Israel has nothing to do with it.

Sylvia said...

Weinstock says he didn't find anything by Muslims on the subject except a small tiny note from Edward Said. Well it didn't take me long to find something from 1965 (13 years before Orientalism) by a Muslim Moroccan and in French:

Said Ghallab
Les Juifs vont en enfer[Jews are going to hell]
Paris, Les Temps Modernes (dir.) Jean-Paul Sartre, #229, June 1965.

Note: Testimony of a Moroccan Muslim on Muslim attitude toward Jews and the latter's attitude toward Muslims. ... An example, quite rare, of a culpability complex in a Muslim regarding Jews.

Sylvia said...

As an illustration, Eliahu, here is Machover from Matzpen comparing the immigration of Jews of Arab lands to Israel to the importation of black slaves to the United States. On Mondoweiss, of all places. The sad part is that people like Shenhav and Shetrit really believe it.

Tell us a lesson from the essays in this book.

I think what is important and significant is the view of the conflict, first of all as a colonial one. It is not colonial like South Africa, but the most pertinent parallel is with the United States; Palestinians are “our Indians”. The US did not use indigenous labor, and the South imported slaves from far away, imported slave labor from Africa. Zionists imported Oriental Jews. Of course the situation was quite different. They were not slaves, of course, they were “our brethren”. They were culturally despised, but they were integrated in the dominant nation.

syrianjew said...

Thanks for the info Sylvia.

Aomar Boum, a moroccan Muslim professor in the USA, is also fairly honest about moroccan attitudes towards Jews. He romanticized the relations between jews and Muslims during his childhood, but he also admits the discrimination and strong prejudices that existed.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Eyn Hadash tahat hashemesh
Just by the way, the anti-Zionist propaganda in the USSR and other east European Communist states back in the 1950s when there were still sizable Jewish populations in those places was that Israel was a bourgeois capitalist state where the Zionist bourgeois exploited and oppressed the Jewish working class and only wanted Jewish immigrants as labor to be exploited. This message was meant to deter Jews in those places, mostly Ashkenazim, from sympathizing with Israel or wanting to go there. The message is different but not all that different from what Machover wrote about Mizrahim. Nothing new under the sun. By the way, Machover is one of those in the UK who has been trying to have Israeli officials traveling to London arrested. He and his group want to prosecute any Israeli official who had anything to do with the 20008-2009 Gaza war. In other words, he wants Hamas to be free to shoot rockets at southern Israel, at Sderot, Netivot, Ashdod, etc. Thus he expresses his concern for the Mizrahi Jews living in southern Israel.

Anonymous said...

if we are talking about Arabs who wrote sympathetically about Israel, we should not forget Abdel Razak Abdel Kader. He wrote "Le conflit judeo-arabe" and "Le monde arabe a la veille d'un tournant." It is interesting that the first book was translated into both Spanish and Italian, and the second book into Italian. Very noteworthy that none of his books was translated into English.
He also published articles in defense of Israel in La Terre Retrouvee [Paris May & June 1967].

He was born in Syria in 1914 but was of Algerian origin, a scion of the famous Emir Abdel Kader. He went to Algeria to live after independence in 1962 and founded a Marxist-Leninist Group which was anti-Ben Bella. In 1963 he was arrested by the regime and spent 13 months in jail before being expelled from the country in 1964.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

in addition to Abdel Razak Abdel Kader, I forgot to mention Magdi Allam, who wrote Viva Israele in Italian.
Whereas Abdel Kader was a Marxist, Allam is liberal or more or less secular liberal. After writing Viva Israele, he became a Roman Catholic converted by the pope himself [Benedict]. He has been an important Italian journalist for many years and is now with Corriere della Sera

Sylvia said...

There was also an Egyptian activist as I recall whose name I don 't remember right now and we even mentioned him here.

So here are a few off the cuff. And I am not even mentioning the numerous magazine articles. All in French.
But Weinstock didn't find any.

Elyahu, this may be a known fact to you but not to us. I had no idea that I had come to serve as slave labor to some Machover. Frankly, I can't blame the Shetrits and the Shenhavs, they, at least, have an excuse.

Sylvia said...

PS Eliahu- we are not talking about Arabs who wrote sympathetically about Israel. We are talking about Arabs who describe Arab-Jewish relations in the old country, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

I think I did see that article in Les Temps Modernes before the 6 Day War. But did not read it at the time. As to the other names that I mentioned, I think that may be they did not deal with the treatment of Jews IN Arab lands, that is, with Jews as dhimmis.
On the other hand, some Arab-speaking Xians, maybe Samuel Tadros, a Copt, and some Lebanese have agreed with Bat Yeor on this point. She mentioned agreement from Bashir Gemayel. Some Muslims, including Arabs, who are now academics or professionals in the West, may have agreed on this issue in recent years.

As to Machover and his comrades, I view him and them as fanatics impervious to truth and reason, inclined to lie for the cause. My point about him was that some of the things he said about immigration to Israel were similar to what the Communists in eastern Europe were saying to the local Jews back in the 1950s. Communists often talk in standardized themes & formulas and slogans --which may sometimes have some truth to them. But my point was that in some sense, to some extent, machover was repeating old slogans and formulas.

What is curious about machover & his comrades is that they typically talk against imperialism and see imperialism as using Israel. [if they claim that Israel is behind the imperialists, then they are already Nazis]. However, they have their base in Britain and Britain according to Marxist-Leninism is imperialist. But they have little to say against the UK as far as I know. So are they really anti-imperialist by Marxist-leninist standards??