One-stop blog on Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries and the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees, updated daily
Friday, August 07, 2015
Countering the Arab narrative on Tel Aviv
'Snapchat Tel Aviv' (photo: 972 magazine)
This article in +972 Magazine peddles the revisionist narrative that Arabs were displaced and dispossessed from Jaffa, and Jewish Tel Aviv swallowed what was left. In fact, Jaffa was never exclusively Arab, and Jews were the first to be driven out of the port by Arab riots. This comment by 'Bar' sets the record straight:
Tel Aviv is a vibrant, amazing modern city. It was built over sand dunes and purchased property initially, even if it eventually grew beyond into areas where Arabs had lived.
However, the story of Tel Aviv is different than the authors’ tale. It is a story of a vibrant, new community built by people seeking to establish a home for themselves. They built a modern town on dunes, using their own resources and nobody else’s. They then had to fight wars to protect their homes – wars started by the Arabs and intended to drive away the Jews. These wars of ethnic cleansing which the Arabs launched – and by Arabs I’m referring to local and regional groups and states – demonstrated with finality to the Jewish Yishuv and then to Israel that it must take on a defensive posture, protect the areas it conquered in the war and limit the number of Arabs in its midst lest it find itself in yet another war. The Israelis had reason to be afraid: they lost over 1% of their population in the war, many times that became casualties and, the Arabs continued to threaten them and Jews all across the Middle East.
This last part is critical because Jews across the Middle East found themselves having to flee their homes and communities. Most found refuge in Israel and re-established their lives there. One of the cities that benefited from this influx was Tel Aviv. Like all of Israel, this city has a high percentage of refugees and their descendants from Arab lands. These are people who have built new homes because their old homes are gone forever – and gone forever because of the violence Arabs launched against Jews, not the other way around. (My emphasis)
Today, Tel Aviv is bustling and a major city because Israelis built up this country out of a need to establish a safe refuge for Jews in what is obviously a very hostile Middle East. And let’s not kid ourselves, we can all see clearly what would have happened in 1948 in the fate of other minorities in the Middle East. Ask the Kurds, Yazidis, Copts, Baha’i, Druze, non-Coptic Christians and even Shia in Sunni majority areas and vice versa whether it’s better to have a strong state to protect a minority from those who will attack it. Their answer would be unequivocally yes. The Jewish people did this and did it well enough that Tel Aviv is one of the world’s greatest cities. Those who would seek to color this achievement through the lens of political fate of those who launched this war would do much better to push for full integration of Arab refugees into the countries where they’ve been living for some decades. They can build their own beautiful and vibrant cities.
In just 50 years, almost a million Jews, whose communities stretch back up to 3,000 years, have been 'ethnically cleansed' from 10 Arab countries. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Unlike Palestinian refugees, they fled not war, but systematic persecution. Seen in this light, Israel, where some 50 percent of the Jewish population descend from these refugees and are now full citizens, is the legitimate expression of the self-determination of an oppressed indigenous, Middle Eastern people. This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, which can never return to what and where they once were - even if they wanted to. It will attempt to pass on the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution. Awareness of the injustice done to these Jews can only advance the cause of peace and reconciliation. (Iran: once an ally of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now an implacable enemy and numbers of Iranian Jews have fallen drastically from 80,000 to 20,000 since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Their plight - and that of all other communities threatened by Islamism - does therefore fall within the scope of this blog.)