Mr. Sylvain Abitbol (Co-President, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries):
Mr. Chairman, as co-president of Justice for Jews from Arab countries, I am here to give you an overview of our presentation.
Mr. Stanley Urman will speak to the international community's response to the problems of Jewish refugees in Arab countries. Mr. David Bensoussan will then present a historic perspective and Mr. David Matas will present a legal perspective.
Thank you for inviting us to appear.
I will begin the presentation. My name is Sylvain Abitbol. I am pleased to be here today as co-president of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries—JJAC—an international coalition of Jewish communities and organizations that represent the interests of Sephardim and Mizrahim Jews that were displaced from Arab countries. Our mandate is to ensure that justice for Jews from Arab countries appear on the international agenda and that their rights be guaranteed as a legal and fairness issue.
I would like to thank the Canadian government for its leadership, both Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, and you yourself, Mr. Chairman, for the leadership you have shown in organizing these hearings before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, in order to address an injustice that has been ignored by the international community for far too long.
In the quest for peace in the Middle East, we need governments such as yours, that demonstrate leadership and search for sustainable solutions, and are not silenced by political opportunism, since the challenge is clearly monumental. The tragedy of the conflict in the Middle East is reflected in the hundreds of thousands of victims who were ejected from their homes, who lost their livelihoods and who have been deprived of all they owned.
It is the policy at JJAC that the legitimate call to guarantee the rights and reparation for Jews displaced from Arab countries not be used to counter Palestinian rights and claims. It is simply a recognition of the fact that there are two groups of refugees in the Middle East, whereas the world is only concerned with Palestinian refugees. It is also important to ensure that the rights of hundreds of thousands of Jews displaced from Arab countries remain recognized and dealt with in the future. This is the only way to ensure a sustainable and balanced solution for all the Middle East refugees.
When JJAC began its work, about 12 years ago, no government was interested in examining the rights of refugees from Arab countries. Only JJAC has undertaken a series of initiatives to raise the issue of Jewish refugees on the international stage. I have appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva and my colleagues have testified before the European Parliament in Brussels. JJAC has participated in official government hearings that took place in the American Congress, at the House of Lords in London and at the Chamber of Deputies in Rome.
I appear before you today as a Canadian, proud that my own government has planned these hearings and in the hope that the rights of all the refugees in the Middle East will be recognized, including Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and that that recognition will be enshrined as a principle of Canadian foreign policy. I am also appearing as a Jew from an Arab country.
Born in Morocco, I was one of the luckier ones since I was born in a Muslim country that is relatively tolerant. Morocco is one of the rare Arab countries in which Jews live and have lived in relative peace, thanks to the leadership of several successive sultans who behaved nobly. Yet, even in Morocco, despite its tolerant attitude, only 3,000 Jews remain there today out of a population of approximately 265,000 in 1948.
Others were not so lucky. During the 20th century, large Jewish populations were persecuted and finally, displaced, in countries such as Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. A little later, you will hear experts tell you about massive human rights violations against Jews: persecution, violence, mandatory arrest and detention—and I myself have been arbitrarily detained—expulsions, expropriation of community assets and of Jewish personal assets. The list of injustices is as long as it is varied.
These measures, taken in many Arab countries, did not take place spontaneously nor in a vacuum. Documents have been discovered by JJAC in the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Geneva.
Mr. Sylvain Abitbol:
They reveal that the League of Arab States was colluding to use their Jewish citizens as leverage in their struggle against the State of Israel.
On February 17, 1948, the Arab League's Political Committee, which included Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan and Yemen, adopted a seven-point bill dealing with the treatment of Jews in Arab countries.
The bill included seven provisions including the following: that Jews must register as members of the state of the Jewish minority of Palestine, meaning that Jews became citizens of an enemy country, that is to say Israel; that Jews' bank accounts would be frozen; that these frozen funds would be used to fund the war waged by Arab countries against Israel; that Jews were to be imprisoned for Zionist activities. Jews had to prove that their activities were anti-Zionist and had to declare their willingness to join Arab armies at war with Israel. It was inhumane.
These measures and others made the lives of Jews in Arab countries quite simply unbearable. In most of these Arab countries, Jews realized they had no long-term future, and that their children and family had no future in their country of origin. In seeking to leave, many chose to move to Israel, whereas others chose other countries that offered refuge. This displacement took place between 1948 and 1972 and over 856,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries. They left empty-handed.
However, whether displaced Jews from Arab countries moved to Israel or elsewhere, they were considered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as refugees under international law. To its credit, Canada opened its doors and offered safe harbour to Jews fleeing Egypt, Syria, Libya, Iraq or elsewhere. This is a commendable part of this country's history which must be remembered.
In closing, I would like to reply to the following question: why now? Why must refugees from Arab countries now be included in peace negotiations in the Middle East? The answer is fundamental. Many detractors claim that Israel is an illegitimate state, that Jews are foreigners and do not belong in the region. This is an obscene and grotesque twisting of history.
We should be reminded at every opportunity that for over 2,500 years, well before the arrival of Christianity and Islam, large Jewish populations lived in the Middle East and in North Africa. We Sephardic Mizrahim Jews are the aboriginal peoples of that region. We are the native inhabitants of the Middle Eastern region and we must not allow the rich and vibrant heritage of this region's Jews to be erased from the history books.
On the basis of these truths, Mr. Chairman, I respectfully recommend that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development take the following actions.
Firstly, that the committee publish a statement recognizing that two groups of refugees have been victims of the Israeli-Arab conflict and both groups should be treated fairly throughout the peace process in the Middle East. Secondly, that the committee introduce a resolution in the House of Commons ensuring that the rights of all bona fide Middle Eastern refugees be fully acknowledged, and that during all Canadian debates on the Middle East, any explicit reference to the required resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem be accompanied by an explicit reference to the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
For peace in the Middle East to be sustainable and long-lasting, we must ensure that the rights of all refugees, both Arab and Jewish, be recognized and guaranteed as an issue of legal rights and fairness.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Dr. Stanley Urman (Executive Director, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, honourable members of this committee, ladies and gentlemen.
I want to thank you for convening these hearings on Jewish refugees from Arab countries. I also want to commend you for seeking truth and justice, which in Middle East affairs is often a very daunting task. This particularly applies to the issue of refugees.
The Arab-Israeli conflict has dominated Middle East affairs for more than 65 years. The ultimate and inevitable victims of these years of strife are the peoples of the region, Arabs, Jews, Christians, and others, who were uprooted from their countries of birth and were forced to find safe havens and homes elsewhere.
Two of these groups, Arabs and Jews, were both recognized as bona fide refugees by the relevant United Nations agencies. Yet when the issue of refugees is raised within the context of the Middle East, people invariably refer to Palestinian refugees, virtually never to Jews from Arab countries.
Asserting rights and redress for Jewish refugees is not intended to argue against any claimed Palestinian refugee rights. They stand on their own merits. It is a legitimate call to recognize that Jewish refugees from Arab countries, as a matter of law and equity, possess the same rights as all other Middle East refugees.
David Bensoussan, my colleague, will provide a historical perspective which shows that the status of Jews in the region is long standing. Jews and Jewish communities have existed in the Middle East, north Africa, and the gulf region for more than 2,500 years, fully 1,000 years before the advent of Islam.
Following the Muslim conquest of the region, under Islamic rules, Jews and Christians were considered “dhimmi”, a privileged minority but still second-class citizens. Jews were, for a period of time, permitted limited religious, educational, professional, and business opportunities, but this changed dramatically in the 20th century, as witnessed by a widespread pattern of persecution and the mass violations of the human rights of Jewish minorities in Arab countries.
The deterioration in their status was precipitated by official decrees and legislation that denied human and civil rights to minority populations, that expropriated properties, and that removed minorities from civil service and other forms of employment.
Edicts of expulsion were enacted in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Many Arab regimes stripped Jews of their citizenship.
By way of example, in Iraq, Law No. 1 of 1950, entitled “Supplement to Ordinance Cancelling Iraqi Nationality” was utilized to deprive Jews of their Iraqi nationality.
In Egypt, the Nationality Code, enacted on May 26, 1926, established that a person born in Egypt was entitled to Egyptian nationality only if their father belonged racially to the majority of the population of a country whose language is Arabic or whose religion is Islam. This provision later served, in the mid-1950s, as the official pretext for expelling many Jews from Egypt.
In Libya, the Council of Ministers in 1962 issued a royal decree that provided that a Libyan national forfeited his nationality if he had any contact with a Zionist, defined as someone who had acted “morally or materially in favour of Israel interests”. This vague language allowed authorities to deprive Jews of Libyan nationality at will.
The mass exodus of Jews from Arab countries was precipitated by several factors, including the rise of Arab nationalism, the establishment of sovereign Arab Islamic states, and the Arab-Israel conflict. Jews were often victims of murder, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and executions. The danger was well known.
Here we see an article which appeared in The New York Times on May 16, 1948, just two days after the state of Israel was proclaimed.
The status of Jews worsened dramatically in 1948, as virtually all Arab countries declared war, or backed the war against Israel. Jews were either uprooted from their countries of residence or became subjugated, political hostages in the Arab Israeli conflict.
In virtually all cases, as Jews were forced to flee, individual and communal properties were seized and/or confiscated without any compensation provided by the Arab governments involved.
The result was the displacement, or to use today's jargon, the ethnic cleansing of Jews from some 10 Arab countries.
What are the numbers? In 1948 there were 856,000 Jews resident in some 10 Arab countries. Today less than 4,500 remain.
From the chart that appears, you will note that coinciding with every Arab-Israeli conflict, i.e., 1947, 1956, 1967, and 1976, each time the Arab-Israeli conflict resumed, the number of Jews in Arab countries dropped precipitously.
By way of comparison, the next chart provides estimates of Palestinian refugees. This original document was discovered in the archives of the UNHCR in Geneva. It lists estimates on the number of Palestinian refugees as provided by the British, by the U.S., by Palestinians, by Israel, and by the UN. Shown is a typed version of the original document.
The United Nations Conciliation Commission in September 1949, estimated that there were 726,000 Palestinian refugees displaced as a result of Israel's War of Independence. The highest quote comes from the United States authorities, who said that there were 875,000 Palestinian refugees. The Israelis, of course, are on the low end, at 650,000 Palestinian refugees.
The world knows well what happened to Palestinian refugees. Less known is what happened to Jewish refugees.
The majority of Jews displaced from Arab countries immigrated to Israel to fulfill the Zionist dream of returning to the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. Some two-thirds, or nearly 650,000 Jews, immigrated to Israel, while roughly one-third, or over 200,000 Jews, found a safe haven in countries other than Israel, including Canada.
Mr. Chairman, I would suggest there are two fundamental questions which this committee must address.
Number one, were Jews displaced from Arab countries really refugees? We can see here that on two occasions the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Jews fleeing Arab countries were indeed bona fide refugees under international law, under the protection of the High Commissioner for Refugees. The first time was in 1957, relating to Jews fleeing from Egypt. The second time was a declaration in 1972 in reference to Jews fleeing from North African countries.
You will be hearing later from my colleague David Matas, who will underscore how, under international law, the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries are compelling and how their recognition finds expression in numerous legal and political declarations: Resolution 242, the Madrid conference, etc.
Number two, even if Jews fleeing Arab countries were refugees, do they have any rights today, over half a century later, when they are no longer refugees? The answer to that question, similarly, is yes.
There is no statute of limitations on the rights of refugees. The passage of time does not negate refugee rights to petition for redress for mass violations of human rights, as well as for physical and material losses. If a refugee leaves behind assets, including bank accounts and pension plans, they do not lose their rights to these assets, notwithstanding how many years have passed.
In reality, there were two populations of refugees, Arabs and Jews, in roughly the same numbers, in roughly during the same time period, both legally declared refugees under international law. It is important to note how the international community through the United Nations reacted to these two populations of refugees that emerged at the same time.
Our research revealed startling differential and disproportionate treatment by the United Nations in favour of Palestinian refugees, as opposed to Jewish refugees. We examined three factors: one, UN resolutions; two, how many UN agencies dealt with Palestinian or Jewish refugees; and three, what resources were provided to Palestinian and Jewish refugees.
On number one, with respect to UN resolutions from 1949 to 2009, there has been a total of 1,088 resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly on every conceivable Middle East issue. One hundred and seventy-two resolutions have dealt specifically with Palestinian refugees.
There has never been any Security Council resolution, any General Assembly resolution, that specifically addresses the issue of Jewish refugees, or any resolutions on other topics that even mention Jewish refugees from Arab countries. This differential UN pattern of exclusivity focusing only on Palestinian refugees continues to this very day.
Notwithstanding the plight of Jewish refugees, although never mentioned, there is one seminal UN resolution on the Middle East that must be looked at more closely: United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.
Still considered the primary vehicle for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, Resolution 242 stipulates that a comprehensive peace settlement should necessarily include “a just settlement of the refugee problem”.
No distinction is made between Arab refugees and Jewish refugees. This was the intent of the drafters and the sponsors.
Even unstated, in the face of 172 resolutions specifically on Palestinian refugees, the language of Resolution 242 suggests that the UN must consider the legitimate rights of all Middle East refugees, Jews and Arabs as well.
With respect to the second criteria, 10 UN agencies were mandated or created to deal with the rights and welfare of Palestinian refugees. Only the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees dealt with Jews, and it was only for the recovery of assets.
With respect to the third criteria, resources, between 1950 and 2007 the United Nations, through UNRWA, contributed $13.7 billion to maintain and sustain Palestinian refugees in geographically mandated areas of the West Bank, Gaza, Syria, and Jordan. By contrast, we have found only one grant of $35,000 that the United Nations High Commissioner contributed to Jews fleeing Egypt, and it was a grant that was converted to a loan and had to be paid back.
With respect to assets lost, estimates project $6 billion in losses for Jewish refugees, and $3.9 billion in losses for Palestinian refugees.
In closing, let me ask one final question. Why is it important to talk about Jewish refugees 60 years after the fact?
While there is no symmetry between the two narratives, there is one important factor that applies to both, namely, the moral and legal imperative to ensure that the rights of all bona fide refugees are fully acknowledged, respected, and addressed within any putative resolution of the conflict in the Middle East.
For any peace process to be credible and enduring, it must equitably address all populations of refugees that arose out of the Arab-Israeli conflict. There must be a recognition of the historical injustice perpetrated upon Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
Let there be no doubt that where there is no remembrance, there will be no truth; where there is no truth, there will be no justice; where there is no justice, there will be no reconciliation; and where there is no reconciliation, there will be no durable peace between and among all peoples in the region.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Mr. David Matas (Legal Counsel, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries):
Thanks for having me back again. I did have a written brief, which I think should have been distributed and translated. I will try to skip over it, so to speak, rather than read it out.
The Jewish refugees from Arab countries are entitled to recognition of their rights and acknowledgement of the violation of those rights. They are, further, entitled to redress for those violations. It would be an injustice if the rights of Palestinian refugees were recognized and their rights redressed and yet the rights of Jewish refugees were ignored and their violations not redressed, when both sets of violations arose from the same conflict.
As Stan Urman has indicated, I do have kind of a legal brief here where I'll go through some of the foundations for the assertion of Jewish refugee rights. I refer first of all to the two statements from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which Stan Urman actually put up on the screen.
Sadako Ogata, when she was High Commissioner for Refugees—before that she was a Japanese academic—opened up the archives of the UNHCR to researchers. It had been closed before. Stan Urman and I went to Geneva and went to the archives and found these documents that are quoted here, and they were made public for the first time through our research.
There are a number of multilateral initiatives, which have been generic in nature and not focused specifically on Palestinian refugees. There's been the Madrid conference and the road map. What I should say about the Madrid conference is that Canada is the convener of the refugee working group, and so this issue should be of importance particularly to Canada. There's the road map to the Middle East and there's also Resolution 242. Stan Urman mentioned it was generic, but there's more to the history than that, because if you look at the travaux préparatoires, the history of that resolution, the Soviets at the time had actually tried to get the resolution specific to Palestinian refugees. Arthur Goldberg was the American representative at the UN at the time. He talked about that debate afterwards and said that basically the others insisted and persisted and the Soviets withdrew, and the reason the language was generic was to encompass the Jewish refugees.
We then have these bilateral agreements between Israel and Egypt in 1978, Israel and Egypt in 1979, Israel and Jordan in 1994, and Israel and Palestine in September 1993 and September 1995. Again the language is generic, and it's apparent from the generic language it's meant to apply to both populations. For instance, the Egypt 1979 agreement says, “Parties agree to establish a claims commission for the mutual settlement of all financial claims”. The very reference to mutuality means that both populations are being considered.
There's also been recognition by states of the two different refugee populations. There were very strong statements by U.S. President Bill Clinton in July 2000, which are quoted in my brief, and by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as part of the Camp David accord brokerage in October 1977. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin actually made a very strong statement in June and July 2005. He said, “A refugee is a refugee and that the situation of Jewish refugees from Arab lands must be recognized. All refugees deserve our consideration.... I did not imply that the claims of Jewish refugees are less legitimate or merit less attention than those of Palestinian refugees.” So there's already a Canadian history here.
I have a section here where I acknowledge that the two refugee populations are not the same. There are significant legal differences between the two. In this section I mentioned four of them. This is part of a much longer analysis I've done, where there are many more differences I've pointed out. If any members of the committee are interested, I could send it to them.
Jewish refugees, at the time of their displacement, met the standard international law definition of refugees. Palestinian refugees, in contrast, are not refugees in the standard international law sense. This is so in a variety of ways, some of which I've mentioned here. By pointing out these differences, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries do not mean to suggest that Palestinians who are artificially labelled refugees do not justify our concern or that they have not suffered. On the contrary, the very quarantining to the label and life of refugees has been a large part of the plight of the Palestinians, which needs alleviation. The distinctions between the Palestinian and Jewish refugee populations both highlight the unfair limitation to the life of refugees that has been inflicted on Palestinians and the real criteria for refugees, which Jews from Arab countries have met.
I give by way of example four differences.
First, the Jews from Arab countries come within the generic refugee definition, which is a universal standard applicable to all. Palestinians have a separate agency and a separate definition, which is tied to a geographic location and to the benefit of a specific population. The agency is the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, which has its own specific definition on its website, which you can look at.
Second, the status of Palestinian refugees is hereditary, unlike that of Jewish refugees, or indeed other refugees. The descendants of Jewish refugees from Arab countries do not inherit the refugee status of their parents, but Palestinians do.
Third, if you acquire a new nationality and you're a refugee, you cease to be a refugee. That's true of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. It's true for refugees generally, but not true for Palestinian refugees, who maintain refugee status even though they are nationalists of another state that's both willing and able to protect them. There are an estimated two million Palestinians who have refugee status with UNRWA despite having Jordanian nationality.
Fourth, and this is the last difference I mention here, the duration of residency is different. All the world's other refugees, including Jewish refugees from other countries, must have had nationality or habitual residence in the country from which they fled. UNRWA, in contrast, requires only a two-year residency. Palestinian refugees need only to have been living in the British Mandate Palestine for two years between June 1946 and May 1948 to be eligible for UNRWA refugee status.
The last section I have here deals with redress. The principle is quite simple. Jews from Arab countries are entitled to invoke the right to redress because of the injustices inflicted upon them that caused their displacement. Even if they've ceased to be refugees because they have acquired the nationality of Canada, Israel, or another country, the right to redress for the violations has not disappeared. When it comes to redress, there's a wide variety of possibilities. I've listed some here. Redress ultimately will be decided by the parties directly involved in the negotiations. Canada is a country committed to equity, and the rule of law cannot be indifferent to the result. Canada should support the principle that in Middle East peace negotiations, all refugees should be treated with equity and justice.
Thank you very much.
Dr. David Bensoussan (Past President, Communauté Sépharade Unifiée du Québec):
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Allow me to thank the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for the opportunity to give you a historical perspective on those we have come to group under the forgotten Jewish exodus from Arab countries.
The personal research I have done out of interest on the topic has been published in a number of books and articles. I will try to give you a general overview in the time provided to me today.
There has been a Jewish presence in Arab-Muslim countries since well before Islam was introduced and it dates back to before the 6th century before the current era. These communities have disappeared or are in the process of disappearing in the majority of Arab-Muslim countries. In fact, 865,000 Jews were excluded in the very countries they were born in and felt that they had to leave.
I am going to begin by talking about the traditional legal status of non-Muslims in Muslim countries, then I will talk about the changes in Jewish-Muslim relations during the pre-colonial and colonial periods, finally I will list some of the discriminatory measures that were taken against Jews and that led to the quasi-disappearance of Jews in these countries.
Let us begin with the status of dhimmis. Non-Muslim minorities in Muslim countries have the status of dhimmi, which means “tolerated” or “protected”. This flows from the assertion that Jewish and Christian scripture was distorted by their unworthy depositories. It is legislated under the Pact of Umar which was amended several times with the addition of other discriminatory measures. A dhimmi is in an inferior position within Muslim society: they have special taxes, wear recognizable clothing, are the subject of humiliating measures, and do not have legal status when they are involved in a legal matter involving Muslims.
Shia Islam considers Jews to be a source of impurity. While the conditions of Jews have differed between countries, some features overlap for Jews in Morocco, and in the Ottoman and Persian Empires.
In the 19th century, several travellers, consuls and educators, sent out by the Alliance israélite universelle, sent back alarming reports on the situation of Jews, including the following: daily humiliation, objects of scorn, submissive to the point of atrophy, constant insecurity, abductions, densely populated Jewish quarters, dramatic impoverishment and seriously unsanitary living conditions. They described nightmarish fanaticism on the one hand and resignation on the other.
The difficult circumstances of Jews, who made up 0.5% to 3% of the population, depending on the country, was also raised by Muslim chroniclers. Jews automatically became the scapegoats whenever there was political instability, a military defeat or difficult economic conditions, as well as drought. Massacres and plundering happened on a regular basis. You have the list in your document; reading it would be rather tedious at this point.
There were nonetheless the elite and the leaders who were close to power and enjoyed certain privileges. Generally speaking, the rulers were benevolent to a certain degree—of course there were exceptions—but their decisions were not always applied accordingly. For example, the decree agreed to in 1864 by the Moroccan ruler and the philanthropist, Moses Montefiore, on the cessation of mistreatment of Jews, never actually changed anything.
Jews were accused of ritual murder in Damascus in 1840 and in Cairo in 1902. In the Ottoman Empire, there were reforms that ended the mandatory wearing of distinctive clothing and the special tax on non-Muslims, but once again, in the more remote areas of the Empire, this was never enforced.
What happened during the pre-colonial and colonial periods? Being on the fringes of the 19th century expansion of Europe, many Jews sought consular protection, and the parameters were set down at international conferences in Tangier, Madrid, Lausanne, and so on. Algerian Jews obtained the right to French nationality in 1870, Tunisian Jews obtained it at their request in 1923 and Moroccan Jews maintained their status of dhimmi when Morocco became a protectorate.
A large number of Jews acquired Egyptian nationality but this was quietly withdrawn in 1940 which left about a quarter of Jews without a nationality. In Yemen, Sharia law was applied in 1948 and Jewish orphans were taken in order to be converted to Islam, a practice that had been in use since 1922.
I should point out that improved legal status for Jews did not always translate into improved lives, because mentalities do not evolve as quickly as one might hope.
Overall, the westernization of Jews in countries where the majority is Muslim preceded that of Muslims by more than one generation because of, among other reasons, the reach of the school network of the Alliance israélite universelle. Under the colonial regime, Jews were finally able to live outside the Jewish quarter, the mellah or hara, and they no longer had to wear distinctive clothing. Many Muslims saw this as changing the Jewish status that they felt had been carved in stone by Islamic law. The tradition of prosecuting Jews during difficult domestic times, as well as the resentment against colonial power and the emancipation of Jews, were all key factors in triggering anti-Jewish actions, as happened in Fez in 1912, in Cairo in 1945, and so on.
In order to avoid antagonizing the Muslim majority and even the anti-Semitic European colonists, the colonial authorities often turned a blind eye to the abuse of Jews, for example in Baghdad in 1942. No doubt Jews were considering leaving their country if they could not achieve equal rights.
During the Second World War, a pro-Nazi regime came to power in Iraq and the sweeping pogrom, the Farhoud, was carried out in 1941. The Mufti in Jerusalem was the self-appointed voice of Nazi propaganda and he encouraged Bosnia Muslims to join the Waffen SS. As well, Jews in Libya were sent to death camps in Europe and a number in Jews in Tunisia were made to do forced labour.
After the war, there was growing insecurity in eastern Jewish communities. There had been a pogrom in Libya in 1945, anti-British and anti-Semitic riots within the same year in Egypt, in Syria, Yemen and Aden in 1947, and Jews were excluded from the Syrian and Lebanese administrations in 1947. The political committee of the Arab League, made up of seven countries, proposed in 1947, well before Israel's independence, that the assets of Jews be frozen.
Israel's independence and their surprise victory over invading Arab armies was a miracle in the eyes of Jews. Pressure was put on Jews who were told to prove their loyalty by opposing the Jewish state and the Arab press was full of invective against Israel and Jews. People left in a panic for Israel from several countries despite threats to destroy the newly formed state.
There were multiple anti-Jewish measures: non-renewal of professional licences in Iraq, a prohibition on leaving Iraq in 1948 and Yemen in 1949, the withdrawal of Egyptian nationality from Jews, who then became stateless in the 1950s, and the withdrawal of the right to vote for Jews in Libya in 1951.
Add to that the pogroms in Djerada, in Morocco in 1948, in Damascus and Aleppo in 1948, in Benghazi and Tripoli in 1948, in Bahrein in 1949, in Egypt in 1952, and in Libya and Tunisia in 1967. There were arrests and expulsions in Egypt in 1956, economic strangulation by spoliation in Iraq in 1951, in Syria in 1949, in Libya in 1970, or by exclusion in Syria and Lebanon in 1947, in Libya in 1958, in Iran in 2000, or by allowing Egyptian business only in Egypt in 1961. Jewish heritage was destroyed in Oran in 1961 and in Libya in 1969 and 1978, there was police abuse and abductions of young girls with forced conversions in Morocco from 1961 to 1962, Jews were kidnapped in Lebanon in 1967, there were public hangings in Baghdad in 1969, anti-Semitic clichés were used in the Arab press, and campaigns were used to increase anti-Jewish sentiment and incite hatred, using Zionism as an excuse. After the Six-Day War, this rhetoric increased considerably.
Even though there were assurances of equality before the law in countries considered to be moderate, such as Morocco and Tunisia after their independence, membership in the Arab League meant a full boycott in terms of relations or contact with Israel. Mail was prohibited, it was difficult to get a passport, and any media that did not portray Israel extremely negatively was prohibited from reporting. This boycott absolutely prevented any dialogue that could have led to mutual understanding.
In conclusion, modern times opened the door to the possibility of the dignity of citizenship for Jews, and prejudice compelled them to leave their place of birth. The end of commonplace servitude in Muslim-Arab countries was dramatic for the Muslim world, which is why Arab nationalism has made Palestine its focal point for mobilization. Zionism represents Jews who have reclaimed their dignity and defend themselves, in other words the antithesis of dhimmis.
One must consider, furthermore, that the measures taken against Jews varied from one country to another.
Once they were promulgated, the measures taken to protect Jews were rarely applied. In addition, it did not take much to arouse the people's animosity toward Jews, regardless of these measures.
The policy of terror and exclusion led to ethnic cleansing without regard for rights or a possessions that were lost, confiscated or abandoned, or to discriminatory measures along with their vicious propaganda, which ultimately led to an exodus that was practically forced, and often people left very quietly.
These discriminatory measures came in different forms and varied depending on the country. If it had not been for the Arab media's anti-Israeli frenzy and the discriminatory measures against Jews, it is highly likely that some of them would have decided to stay in their country. The feeling of insecurity constantly hung over Jewish communities. Their departure became necessary for their survival, otherwise it was just a question of time before they would be taken hostage by the potential unrest, which they were sure they would fall victim to next.
Therefore, Jews who had been present in Arab Muslim countries for a thousand years were squeezed out in the span of one generation, and they had to choose exile to other countries.
I am ready to answer your questions and go into more detail on the brief presentation that I just gave.