Saturday, April 08, 2006

Associated Press rewrites history of Moroccan Jews

Gilead Ini of CAMERA, a media monitoring watchdog, has a good article exposing the double standards operating whenever Arab and Jewish refugees are discussed. Palestinian grievances are reported uncritically, while the word 'refugee' is not even mentioned when it comes to Jews driven out of Arab countries.

"American media outlets—including the influential Associated Press (AP) wire service—rarely discuss the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who fled under duress from Arab and Muslim countries. By contrast, news reports certainly don’t shy away from discussing Palestinian refugees and relaying their narrative.

"Take, for instance, AP’s May 15, 2005 story, "Palestinians hold rallies to lament Israel's founding 57 years ago." That article repeatedly quotes Palestinians lamenting the anniversary of Israel’s independence and emotively describing the flight of the Palestinian refugees from Israel, implying that this exodus was the result of an Israeli "crime"(...)

"Critics are provided no opportunity to respond to the allegations that Israel committed a "crime" and "uproot[ed] hundreds of thousands" of Palestinians. Consequently, readers are not informed that most of the Arab refugees were not at all "uprooted" by Israelis. Many fled at the prompting of Arab leaders, and in some cases Jews implored that the local Arabs remain. According to scholar Ephraim Karsh, for example, "the Haifa Jewish leadership ... went to great lengths to convince the Arabs [in that city] to stay" (Commentary, July-August, 2000). (See here for more details.)

"Associated Press finally did discuss Jewish refugees (although the journalists refrain from using the word "refugee" even once) in a March 22, 2006 story about Moroccan-born Israeli politician Amir Peretz (featured here on Point of no return). While this was an excellent opportunity for the wire service to finally look at the often harsh and injust treatment of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries, the report instead whitewashed the situation, ignoring anti-Jewish prejudice and even massacres.

"Although Jews in Morocco were better off than their co-religionists in other North African and Middle Eastern countries, almost the entire Moroccan Jewish community, which once numbered over 250,000, were driven to permanently leave their homes. AP's story, entitled “In Morocco, an Israeli's political climb stirs memories of gentler times,” acknowledges this dramatic exile, but gives no indication what caused the flight. It would not be a surprise, in fact, if after reading the story one were confused as to why the Jewish community virtually disappeared. Reporters Scheherezade Faramarzi and Laurie Copans describe a harmonious relationship between Jews and Muslims. (..)

"According to this report, then, "some street protests" were the extent of the difficulties faced by Moroccan Jews after Israel gained its independence. But the story’s rosy depiction of historical ties between Jews and Arabs in Morocco is incomplete, at best.

"The situation is summed up well by this passage from a May 19, 2003 JTA article:

Moroccan government officials like to boast of what they call the country's "2,000 years of peaceful Arab-Jewish coexistence."

The historical record is more complex and includes anti-Jewish pogroms. But Jews generally fared better in Morocco than in many other parts of North Africa or Europe.

But the Jewish experience in Morocco was cyclical, with favorable times followed by periods of anti-Semitism. During World War II, for example, King Mohammed V refused a request by the pro-Nazi Vichy France regime to round up the country's Jews for deportation.

Several years later, Moroccan Jews, like others in the Arab world, were attacked by the local population during the period surrounding the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Maurice M. Roumani’s book, “The Case of the Jews from Arab Countries: a Neglected Issue,” elaborates, describing the massacre of dozens of Moroccan Jews:

... bloody riots broke out in June 1948 against the Jews in Oujda and Djerada in Morocco. In Oujda, within three hours, five Jews had been killed, 30 seriously injured, shops and homes sacked. In Djerada, the Jewish population of 100 suffered 39 deaths and 30 severely wounded, the remainder less seriously.

And Heskel M. Haddad’s “Jews of Arab and Islamic Countries: History, Problems, Solutions” notes:

The attack on the Jews of Casablanca in 1945 may have been an additional consideration in their decision to immigrate. However, after 1948, a combination of factors led to an increased rate of immigration. With the establishment of the Jewish state, more Jews felt free to immigrate. The arrival of some Israeli emissaries helped to inform Jews of the opportunities in Israel and encouraged their immigration. The major cause of the Jewish exocus from Morocco is the two pogroms that occurred in 1948 and 1953. Within a few years, several thousand Moroccan Jews immigrated to Israel. But mass immigration of Jews from Morocco occurred in 1954 when it became clear that France intended to grant Morocco full independence. Tens of thousands of Jews left Morocco, thereby betraying the typical anxiety of Jews in an independent Arab country.

A September 1954 article in Commentary magazine also describes problems faced by Moroccan Jews, noting that

In disputes with Moslems, or on civil commercial, and criminal issues among themselves, Jews are almost entirely subject to Islamic courts. ... [E]ven under the best of circumstances [the courts] regard Jewish litigants as unclean, inferior beings.

Why is it that when AP covers Palestinian refugees, the stories often uncritically present Palestinian grievances about purported Israeli "crimes," but when when the wire service (however infrequently) discusses Jewish refugees from Morocco, only glowing accounts of the Arab-Jewish relationship are cited, while discrimination and pogroms are overlooked completely?

Read article in full


Anonymous said...

The story about Muslims bombing a synagogue in Iraq in 1951 is another abominable lie that is shamelesly and often repeated by zionist Jews. This is a despicable distortion of the facts. Jews were sent from israel to convince Iraqi Jews to make aliyah and take their wealth and business expertise to their newly stolen land of Palestine. If Iraqi Jews refused, the israeli Jews were instructed to blow up a synagogue and to invoke fear by spreading leaflets in Arabic at night, as if a warning from Arabs, that every Jew had better leave Iraq or every man, woman and child would be slaughtered, and many did exactly as instructed. Now, that is the truth, and it was reported by an Iraqi-born Jew who was an investigative reporter and who has since become a virulent anti-zionist, may God Almighty bless and reward him and protect him from all harm. Stop lying. Is it any wonder why Jews have been hated for thousands of years? Have you no decency or any sense of shame or self-respect? Spare me the charge of being an anti-Semite. I AM a Semite. Neither am I a self-hating Jew for I a, not a Jew. But, I have a conscience, and I speak the truth.

bataween said...

Nonsense prevails:

The Iraqi government needed no help from the Israelis in harrassing, extorting money and discriminating against the Jews. They stripped them of their citizenship and stole their property. But perhaps that was Israel's idea all along?
Even those 5,000 Jews who stayed on in Iraq were forced to leave eventually. But hey, it must have been the Mossad who hanged nine Jews in 1969, and those who were tortured and jailed must have imagined the whole thing.