Written by Reut R Cohen (www.reutrcohen.com)
Cross-posted to Radarsite by Gary Fouse
The below post is written by my friend and colleague Reut Cohen. Reut has her own blog at Reut R Cohen. She is a recent graduate from UC-Irvine, where she took the lead in documenting the hate speech brought onto our campus by the Muslim Student Union. For this effort, she put herself in harm's way and received no support from the university.
Reut is the descendant of Middle Eastern Jews who were driven from their homes because of the issue of the State of Israel. This is a story all but ignored by our media. It needs to be told.
"According to the definition of the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is a person who:
Owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of their nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail him/herself of the protection of that country.
The Jewish people have had a continued presence in what are known as Arab states today since the Babylonian captivity of around 597 BCE. Discrimination against indigenous Middle Eastern Jews was continuous throughout history, particularly during the period of the rise of Islam.
With the rise of Arab nationalism in the early 1900s, Jews in what became Islamic lands found that they had become a scapegoat. No longer living under colonial rule, their situation began to worsen. Even prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, Jews found that they were being discriminated against--in many cases, being Jewish was practically outlawed.
In 1948 the Arab League declared all Jewish people enemy citizens, regardless of the fact that several had no will or motivation to leave their homes. Jewish bank accounts and property were confiscated, Jews were arrested and fired from their jobs, and synagogues were attacked. Homes were looted, women were raped and people were killed.
According to official Arab statistics, approximately 900,000 to 1,000,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries from 1940 until the early 1970s. Over 600,000 resettled in Israel. Their descendants, and those of Iranian and Turkish Jews, now number 3.06 million of Israel's 5.4 to 5.8 million Jewish citizens, thereby accounting for more than half of Israel’s population. The plight of the Jews in Arab lands worsened following the 1967 Six-Day War, prompting the remaining Jews to flee.
Today, fewer than 3,000 Jews remain in Middle Eastern lands, many living in poverty. They also often find themselves the recipients of religious hate-crimes.
In 2007, similar resolutions (H.Res.185 and S.Res.85) were proposed to the US Senate and Congress, to:
Make clear that the United States Government supports the position that, as an integral part of any comprehensive peace, the issue of refugees and the mass violations of human rights of minorities in Arab and Muslim countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf must be resolved in a manner that includes (A) consideration of the legitimate rights of all refugees displaced from Arab and Muslim countries throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf; and (B) recognition of the losses incurred by Jews, Christians, and other minority groups as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. S. Res. 85. These resolutions were discussed on July 19th 2007 at the bicameral Congressional Human Rights Caucus in preparation for voting.
Over the course of the next few days, I will publish information about Jews from several Middle Eastern lands. As a daughter of indigenous Middle Eastern Jews who were robbed of their birthright, dignity and history, I have always been deeply attached to this issue. The lack of recognition this issue receives astonishes me. I hope that I can do my part to educate others."
Reut R Cohen