Friday, June 27, 2008

Only ethnic cleansing in Middle East was of Jews

Ashley Perry in the Jerusalem Post sets the record straight on just who is guilty of ethnic cleansing in the Middle East:

Israel is perhaps the least efficient "ethnic cleanser" in the history of mankind, calumnies to the contrary notwithstanding.

In 1947 some 740,000 Palestinians lived in the British Mandate for Palestine. Today, the Arab residents of the West Bank and Gaza, together with Arab citizens of Israel, comprise a total of over five million Palestinians (altogether over nine million people worldwide refer to themselves as Palestinian.)

Using a popular population growth rate equation, the Palestinian growth rate has been calculated as close to double that of Asia and Africa over a comparable period of time.

Drazen Petrovic defines ethnic cleansing as "a well-defined policy of a particular group of persons to systematically eliminate another group from a given territory." By this definition, only one type of ethnic cleansing has occurred in the Arab-Israeli conflict - that of the Jews of Asia and North Africa. Whereas before 1948 there were nearly 900,000 Jews living in Arab lands, by 2001 only 6,500 remained.

Those who claim Israel carried out ethnic cleansing of Arabs can point to no official command to that effect. Jewish ethnic cleansing from Arab lands, on the other hand, was often official state policy.

Jews were formally expelled from many areas in the Arab world. The Arab League released a statement urging Arab governments to facilitate the exit of Jews from Arab countries, a resolution which was carried out through a series of punitive measures and discriminatory decrees that made it untenable for Jews to remain in their native lands.

On May 16, 1948, The New York Times recorded a series of measures taken by the Arab League to marginalize and persecute the Jewish residents of Arab League member states. It reported on the "text of a law drafted by the Political Committee of the Arab League, which was intended to govern the legal status of Jewish residents of Arab League countries. It provides that, beginning on an unspecified date, all Jews except citizens of non-Arab states would be considered 'members of the Jewish minority state of Palestine.' Their bank accounts would be frozen and used to finance resistance to 'Zionist ambitions in Palestine.' Jews believed to be active Zionists would be interned and their assets confiscated."

IN 1951, the Iraqi government passed legislation that made affiliation with Zionism a felony and ordered "the expulsion of Jews who refused to sign a statement of anti-Zionism." This pushed tens of thousands of Jews to leave Iraq, while much of their property was confiscated by the state.

In 1967, many Egyptian Jews were detained and tortured, and Jewish homes confiscated. In Libya that year, the government "urged the Jews to leave the country temporarily," permitting each to take one suitcase and the equivalent of $50.

In 1970, the Libyan government issued new laws confiscating all the assets of Libya's Jews, issuing in their stead 15-year bonds. But when the bonds matured, no compensation was paid. Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi justified this on the grounds that "the alignment of the Jews with Israel, the Arab nations' enemy, has forfeited their right to compensation."

These are just a few examples of what would became common measures throughout the Arab world - not to mention the pogroms and attacks on Jews and their institutions that drove a major part of the Jewish exodus.

The economic suffering on the part of the two refugee populations was equally lopsided.

According to the newly released study "The Palestinian Refugee Issue: Rhetoric vs. Reality" by former CIA and State Department Treasury official Sidney Zabludoff in the Jewish Political Studies Review, the value of assets lost by both refugee populations is strikingly uneven.

Zabludoff uses data from John Measham Berncastle, who in the early 1950s, under the aegis of the newly formed United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP), undertook the task of calculating the assets of the Palestinian refugees. Zabludoff calculates that their assets were worth $3.9 billion in today's currency.

The Jewish refugees, being greater in number and more urban, had almost double those assets.

On top of this equation, it must be taken into account that Israel returned over 90 percent of blocked bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and other items belonging to Palestinian refugees during the 1950s. This considerably diminishes the UNCCP calculations.

These facts are conveniently forgotten or not publicized, leaving the way open for Israel-bashers like Exeter University history Prof. Ilan Pappe to omit any mention of the Middle East's greatest ethnic cleansing.

Read article in full


Visit Ashley Perry's blog The Sephardi Perspective

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Actually it is not only of the Jews, I wonder if the author is aware of the Baha'is who are being tortured and killed in some Islamic societies, namely Iran, where Judaism is recognized by the state yet the Baha'i Faith is not - so you can imagine who is the bigger victim in this horror story. Currently it is the Baha'is, who have 7 of their leaders suffering in Evin prison without justification. Jews have long been oppressed in the Middle East but not so much in the Gulf states anymore, where it's still dangerous to be a Baha'i but where Judaism is equally embraced even within the governments. Jews had it bad, but right now, Baha'is have it way worse.

bataween said...

Point taken Esra but in fairness the author was talking about the Arab-Israeli conflict with its baseless claims of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians.
The oppression of the Bahais is worse at the moment in the Middle East, but I don't think they have yet been ethnically cleansed as completely as the Jews.

Anonymous said...

Esra'a:
at least in israel, the bahai are very successful and we can enjoy their gardens and presence.
Unfortuantely, right now the mandaeans are being ethnically cleansed in iraq (though some may survive in iran) and the assyrians are having it very bad as well.