The Inconvenient Truth About Jews From Arab Lands: They Were Expelled

Onetime Anti-Israel Radical Comes To Terms With Truth

Seeking Refuge: Yemenis gather around the ruins of buildings in the Jewish quarter after riots broke out.
getty images
Seeking Refuge: Yemenis gather around the ruins of buildings in the Jewish quarter after riots broke out.

By Adi Schwartz

Published June 01, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 4 of 4)

Weinstock quotes a Moroccan sultan saying in the mid-19th century: “Our glorious religion grants them only marks of opprobrium and inferiority.”

Weinstock also examines the situation in the Holy Land through the dhimmi prism. The Jewish minority that lived under Ottoman rule experienced humiliation and subordination, he says. Anti-Jewish riots were fomented time and again in the 18th and 19th centuries. He quotes the British consul in Palestine as writing in 1831 that the extortion and acts of suppression against the Jews were so numerous that it was said “that the Jews have to pay even for the air they breathe.”

In the twilight of Ottoman rule, a century ago, the first “Hebrew city” was founded (present-day Tel Aviv), a revival of the Hebrew language began to be felt, and Jewish cooperative farming settlements were established. The local Arab population, Weinstock says, felt that the ground was being pulled from under it, as the dhimmi Jews, who were supposed to possess inferior status, were now striving for more – even for independence.

According to Weinstock, underlying the growing hostility toward the Jewish population in Palestine was the realization that the dhimmi Jews were shaking off their traditional legal status of humiliation and submission. In retrospect, the writer maintains, dhimmi status, on the one hand, and the declared attempt by the Zionist movement to be free of it, on the other, led ultimately to the Arabs’ rejection of the United Nations partition plan in 1947 and to the War of Independence the following year.

Local Palestinians and the Arab world refused to grant the Jews of the country a status different from dhimmi, and they were even less likely to recognize the Jews’ national rights. Zionism, for its part, could not accept Arab sovereignty over all of Palestine, a situation in which the Jewish minority would again find itself under dhimmi status. “Historically, then,” Weinstock says, “dhimmi status is the root of the conflict.”

What impact does this relationship have today?

“It continues to affect Israeli-Arab relations even today, because in Arab eyes the Jew who now lives in Israel is the same Jew whom they customarily saw as humiliated – and who is now taking his revenge. The Arabs experience Israel’s establishment and existence to this day as very painful revenge and as the reversal of dhimmitude. This is a very meaningful and deep aspect of the current political problem, which we cannot allow ourselves to ignore. Without understanding this, it is impossible to understand the conflict.”

Then why is it not dealt with more by academics and the press?

“For the Jewish world, the reason is that Ashkenazi Jews, in Israel and elsewhere, continue to be indifferent to and even disdainful of the Mizrahi Jews. For the Arab world, this should come as no surprise, as self-criticism is not popular among Arab journalists, intellectuals and public-opinion leaders. With the exception of a very short incidental note by [the late Prof.] Edward Said in one of his books, it is hard to find serious references to the massive emigration of Jews from the Arab countries and its causes.

“The left tends to avoid the subject, because they don’t consider it ‘kosher.’ The left has become extraordinarily dogmatic and lacks the ability of self-criticism today. People define themselves as identifying with ‘the Palestinian cause,’ and that’s all: There is no thought behind it. This subject might upset their one-sided worldview, so they simply avoid it.

For more stories, go to Haaretz.com or to subscribe to Haaretz, click here and use the following promotional code for Forward readers: FWD13.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.