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Israel was a new country in 1948. The state of the economy can be seen in its frequent devaluation and then change to a new currency.  The Israeli  Israeli lira was the currency of the State of Israel from 9 June 1952 until 23 February 1980. Its symbol was "I£". The Israeli pound replaced the Palestine pound and was also pegged to the pound sterling at par. It was replaced by the shekel on 24 February 1980, at the rate of 1 shekel = 10 Israeli pounds, which was in turn replaced by the new shekel in 1985. Wikipedia

The rapid growth in population based on European Jews after World War 2 and exiles from the Arab countries is shown in the table and chart above.  This was  a growth of approximately 700,000 or 58% between 1850 and 1960.  These were people who usually came with nothing and required an infrastructure which included housing, health services and  education.  This was met by setting up camps called Maabarot.

During the 1950s, many Jews fled from Arab countries expelled their Jewish population. Many of them immigrated to Israel. Other Jews arrived in Israel after surviving the horrors of the Holocaust.  Those within the camps spoke many different languages and had different cultural backgrounds and a vaariety of religious customs.  The climate created many different problems from the heat of summer to winter mubaths.

By the mid 1960’s they had vanished blending into the existing population.  This can be contrasted to the Palestinian refugees many of whom still live in one of their 58 camps

Learning with the National Library of Israel
(GO TO SITE TO SEE List of Discussion Points and Activity Suggestions)

During the 1950s, many Arab countries expelled their Jewish populations, and a large number of these people immigrated to Israel. Many other Jews arrived in Israel after surviving the horrors of the Holocaust and losing their homes and possessions

The ma'abarot were temporary absorption camps that were built to accommodate the large influx of Jewish immigrants who came to Israel in these years. The word ma'abara derives from the Hebrew word ma'avar meaning transit. These communities were intended to be temporary places of residence until the immigrants found permanent homes. Living conditions in the ma'abarot were difficult, and inhabitants were exposed to the heat of the summer and the rain and mud of the winter. They were the first home in Israel for more than 200,000 immigrants, until the last one was closed at the end of the 1950s. Many ma'abarot became development towns providing permanent housing to Jewish refugees from Arab countries, Holocaust survivors, and other new immigrants. Many development towns, such as Kiryat Shmona, Bet Shean, and Yokneam, developed into thriving towns and cities, while others, mainly in the peripheral areas of Israel, still have difficulty overcoming socioeconomic issues.


Hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees
from Europe and the Arab lands seek a new home in the Jewish state.

Jewish Learning, Jonathan Kaplan

The years between 1948 and 1951 witnessed the largest migration ever to reach the shores of modern Israel. This influx began at a time when the state was in the throes of its greatest struggle for survival, the War of Independence, and continued throughout a period troubled by both security concerns and economic hardship. In the mid-1950s, a second wave arrived in Israel. The immigrants of the country’s first decade radically altered the demographic landscape of Israeli society as well as the balance between Israel and the Jewish diaspora. Many of today’s social issues are rooted in this mass migration: Israel’s rapid economic growth, social stratification, and the formation of new political frameworks and elites.


Some 688,000 immigrants came to Israel during the country’s first three and a half years at an average of close to 200,000 a year. As approximately 650,000 Jews lived in Israel at the time of the establishment of the state, this meant in effect a doubling of the Jewish population, even in light of the fact that some 10 percent of the new immigrants left the country during the next few years. Although immigration declined rapidly during the early 1950s, another 166,000 arrived in the middle of the decade.


The first immigrants to reach the new state were survivors of the Holocaust, some from displaced persons camps in Germany, Austria, and Italy, and others from British detention camps in Cyprus. The remnants of certain communities were transferred virtually in their entirety, for example Bulgarian and Yugoslavian Jewry. Large sections of other communities, such as those from Poland and Rumania, came to Israel during the first years. After the initial influx of European Jews, the percentage of Jews from Moslem countries in Asia and Africa increased considerably (1948 - 14.4%, 1949 - 47.3%, 1950 - 49.6%, 1951 - 71.0%). During 1950 and 1951, special operations were undertaken to bring over Jewish communities perceived to be in serious danger, for example, the Jews of Yemen and Aden (Operation Magic Carpet) and the Jewish community in Iraq (Operation Ezra and Nehemia). During the same period, the vast majority of Libyan Jewry came to the country. Considerable numbers of Jews immigrated from Turkey and Iran as well as from other North African countries (Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria).

Immigration to Israel (1948-1951) by Major Countries of Origin  (#s in thousands)

• Poland 106.4

• Yemen and Aden 48.3

• Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria 45.4

• Bulgaria 37.3

• Turkey 34.5

• Libya 3 1.0

• Iran 21.9

• Czechoslovakia 18.8

• Hungary 14.3

• Germany, Austria 10.8

• Egypt 8.8

• USSR 8.2

• Yugoslavia 7.7

Source: Moshe Sicron, “The Mass Aliyah - Its Dimensions, Characteristics and Influences on the Structure of the Israeli Population,” in Mordechai Naor, ed., Olim and Ma’abarot 1948-1952 (Jerusalem: 1986): 34 (Hebrew). During the period between 1955 and 1957, most (62%) immigrants came from North African countries.


There were considerable differences between the immigrants from European countries and those from Asia and Africa. The survivor population was usually older and contained fewer children. On the other hand, the Jews from developing countries in Asia and Africa tended to have a large number of children but a smaller elderly population. The European immigrants were generally better educated. Neither group however, resembled the profile of pre-state immigration: a significantly lower percentage of the post-1948 immigrants were in the primary wage earning group (only 50.4% in the 15-45 age group as compared to 66.8% in earlier immigration waves) and consequently fewer could participate in the work force of the new state. The newer immigrants had less education: 16% of those aged 15 and above had completed secondary education as compared to 34% among the earlier settlers. Women, especially among the immigrants from Asia and Africa, tended less to work outside the home. The professions of the new arrivals were also different than those of their predecessors: few had engaged in agriculture and most had been either small craftsmen (tailors, cobblers, carpenters, smiths) or traders and peddlers.


First and foremost, the mass migration led to a steep rise in the Israeli Jewish population. Not only was the population doubled within a short period of time, but the high fertility rate of many of the newcomers led to continued population increase in the years ahead. This growth was significant both with regard to the ratio between Jews and non-Jews in Israel and to the demographic role of Israel in the Jewish world. Secondly, due to the large percentage of immigrants from Asia and Africa and to their higher fertility rate, the mass migration led to a change in the ethnic composition of Israeli society. An indication of this trend can be seen in the rise of the proportion of foreign-born Israelis who were born in Asia and Africa. In November 1948 this proportion stood at 15.1%, but by the end of 1951 it had risen to 36.9%.

Thirdly, the new state now had to deal with a considerable population that to a large extent lacked agricultural or modern professional skills, or the same degree of modem education as the veteran population. Moreover, due to an under-representation of that age group that could best adapt vocationally to new social and economic conditions, it was difficult to quickly integrate the new population. One of the most important social issues in Israel resulted from the difficulties involved in absorbing the new immigrants.


The Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries, or Jewish exodus from Arab countries, was the departure, flight, expulsion, evacuation and migration of 850,000 Jews, primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background, from Arab countries and the Muslim world, mainly from 1948 to the early 1970s. The last major migration wave took place from Iran in 1979–80, as a consequence of the Iranian Revolution.

A number of small-scale Jewish exoduses began in many Middle Eastern countries early in the 20th century with the only substantial aliyah (immigration to the area today known as Israel) coming from Yemen and Syria. Very few Jews from Muslim countries immigrated during the period of Mandatory Palestine. Prior to the creation of Israel in 1948, approximately 800,000 Jews were living in lands that now make up the Arab world. Of these, just under two-thirds lived in the French and Italian-controlled North Africa, 15–20% in the Kingdom of Iraq, approximately 10% in the Kingdom of Egypt and approximately 7% in the Kingdom of Yemen. A further 200,000 lived in Pahlavi Iran and the Republic of Turkey.

The first large-scale exoduses took place in the late 1940s and early 1950s, primarily from Iraq, Yemen and Libya. In these cases over 90% of the Jewish population left, despite the necessity of leaving their property behind. Two hundred and sixty thousand Jews from Arab countries immigrated to Israel between 1948 and 1951, accounting for 56% of the total immigration to the newly founded state; this was the product of a policy change in favour of mass immigration focused on Jews from Arab and Muslim countries. The Israeli government's policy to accommodate 600,000 immigrants over four years, doubling the existing Jewish population,[8] encountered mixed reactions in the Knesset; there were those within the Jewish Agency and government who opposed promoting a large-scale emigration movement among Jews whose lives were not in danger.

Later waves peaked at different times in different regions over the subsequent decades. The peak of the exodus from Egypt occurred in 1956 following the Suez Crisis. The exodus from the other North African Arab countries peaked in the 1960s. Lebanon was the only Arab country to see a temporary increase in its Jewish population during this period, due to an influx of Jews from other Arab countries, although by the mid-1970s the Jewish community of Lebanon had also dwindled. Six hundred thousand Jews from Arab and Muslim countries had reached Israel by 1972. In total, of the 900,000 Jews who left Arab and other Muslim countries, 600,000 settled in the new state of Israel, and 300,000 migrated to France and the United States. The descendants of the Jewish immigrants from the region, known as Mizrahi Jews ("Eastern Jews") and Sephardic Jews ("Spanish Jews"), currently constitute more than half of the total population of Israel, partially as a result of their higher fertility rate. In 2009, only 26,000 Jews remained in Arab countries and Iran. and 26,000 in Turkey.

The reasons for the exoduses are manifold, including push factors, such as persecution, antisemitism, political instability, poverty and expulsion, together with pull factors, such as the desire to fulfill Zionist yearnings or find a better economic status and a secure home in Europe or the Americas. The history of the exodus has been politicized, given its proposed relevance to the historical narrative of the Arab–Israeli conflict. When presenting the history, those who view the Jewish exodus as analogous to the 1948 Palestinian exodus generally emphasize the push factors and consider those who left as refugees, while those who do not, emphasize the pull factors and consider them willing immigrants


Israel Science and Technology Directory
Reprinted from "The Peace Encyclopedia"

Another refugee situation also resulted from Israel's independence. It was larger in numbers and in property lost than the Palestinian Arabs, yet we never hear about it, why?


Most of the world is ignoring the real catastrophe of the past recent era: the brutal expulsion of some 867,000 Jews from Arab countries, and the seizure, by the Arab governments, of over $13-billion worth of Jewish property and assets.


During the war for Algerian independence from France in the 1950s and early 1960s, Algerian nationalists carried out violent attacks on Algerian Jews. After the French left, the Algerian authorities issued a variety of anti- Jewish decrees, including the imposition of heavy taxes on the Jewish community. Nearly all of Algeria's 160,000 Jews fled the country. All but one of Algeria's synagogues were seized and turned into mosques.


The ancient Jewish community of Egypt numbered over 90,000 by the 1940s. Riots by Egyptian nationalists in 1945 claimed many Jewish lives, and synagogues and Jewish buildings were burned down. A new wave of discrimination and violence was unleashed in 1948. Over 250 Jews were killed or injured, Jewish shops were looted, and Jewish assets were frozen. Some 35,000 Jews left Egypt by 1950. Gamal Abdel Nasser, who seized power in 1954, arrested thousands of Jews and confiscated their property. Emigration reduced Egyptian Jewry to just 8,000 by 1957.


The Jews of Iraq, with roots dating back to ancient Babylonia, numbered about 190,000 in 1947. When Israel was established, Jewish emigration was forbidden, and hundreds of Jews were jailed. Those convicted of "Zionism" --a criminal offense-- were sentenced to internal exile or fines of up to $40,000 each. Tens of thousands of Jews slipped out of the country. Then, in 1950, the government legalized emigration and pressured the Jews to leave; by 1952, only 6,000 remained. Jewish emigrants were permitted to take with them only $140 per adult; all of their remaining assets and property were confiscated by the Iraqi government.


The 2,000 year-old Jewish community of Libya, which numbered almost 60,000 by the 1940s, was the target of mass anti-Jewish violence in November 1945. In Tripoli alone, 120 Jews were massacred, over 500 wounded, 2,000 were made homeless, and synagogues were torched. There were more pogroms in January 1946, with 75 Jews massacred in Zanzur, and more than 100 murdered in other towns. By the early 1950s, more than 40,000 Libyan Jews had emigrated.


In 1948, there were about 350,000 Jews living in Morocco, a community with ancient roots going back to the time of the destruction of the First Temple (586 BCE). In June 1948, pogromists massacred 39 Jews in the town of Djerada and 4 more in Oujda. Over 50,000 Jews fled Morocco in terror. During the 1950s, there was violence against Jews in Oujda, Rabat, and Casablanca. Most of Moroccan Jewry emigrated during the years to follow.


There were 17,000 Jews in Syria in 1948, a community dating back to biblical times. Anti-Jewish pogroms erupted in the Syrian town of Aleppo in 1947. All of the local synagogues were destroyed, and 7,000 of the town's 10,000 Jews fled in terror. The government then enacted legislation to freeze Jewish bank accounts and confiscate Jewish property. By the 1950s, just 5,000 Jews remained in Syria, subjected to harsh decrees; they were banned from emigrating, selling their property, or working in government offices, and were compelled to carry special cards identifying them as Jews.


Following is the statistics on the number of Jews in the Arab countries in 1988 as reported by Israeli newspaper "Vesti" (in Russian) 1/4/99.

Algeria less than 100

Egypt less than 100

Iraq 60

Libya less than 100

Morocco 7,000

Syria 100

"This is hardly the place to describe how the Jews of the Arab States were driven out of the countries in which they lived for hundreds of years, then how they were shamefully deported to Israel after their property had been confiscated or taken over at the lowest possible price.

"It is plain that Israel will air this issue in the course of any serious negotiations that might be undertaken one day in regard to the rights on the Palestinians.

"Israel's claims are these: It may perhaps be the case that we Israelis were the cause of the expulsion of some Palestinians, whose number is estimated at 700,000, from their homes during the 1948 War, and afterwards took over their properties. Against this, since 1948, you Arabs have caused the expulsion of just as many Jews from the Arab States, most of whom settled in Israel after their properties had been taken over in one way or another. Actually, therefore, what happened was only a kind of "population and property exchange," and each party must bear the consequences. Israel is absorbing the Jews of Arab States; the Arab States, for their part, must settle the Palestinians in their own midst and solve their problems. There is no doubt that, at the first serious discussion of the Palestinian problem in an international forum, Israel will put these claims forward."

- Sabri Jiryis, a well known Palestinian Arab researcher in the Institute for Palestinian Studies in Beirut, published in Al-Nahar, Beirut, on May 15, 1975

Some of the communities in more depth:


Approximately 75,000 Jews lived in Egypt in 1948, a community whose origins date back to the Babylonian captivity some 2700 years prior. In the preceding decade, Muslim elements, believing that Hitler would be successful in completing the 'Final Solution' in Europe, carried out almost continuous pogroms against Jewish communities, killing and injuring thousands. The Egyptian Company Law of July 1947 introduced prohibitive quotas against employing Jews, precluded them from most areas of employment, and confiscated many Jewish-owned businesses, properties and other assets. Then, in the days after the passage of the Partition Plan, Muslims in Cairo and Alexandria went on a rampage, murdering, looting houses and burning synagogues. In one seven-day period in 1948, an eyewitness counted 150 Jewish bodies littering the streets.

During the War of Independence, Egyptian Jews were barred from travelling abroad. In August 1949, Egypt lifted the ban and 20,000 Jews fled the country, many going to Israel. Conditions for Jews improved somewhat under General Naguib, but when General Abdul Nasser rose to power in Egypt, he ordered mass arrests of Jews and confiscated huge quantities of Jewish property, personal and commercial. Nasser issued deportation orders to thousands of Jews, concurrently confiscating all their property and assets. Most of the deportees were limited to one suitcase apiece. In 1964, Nasser boldly declared, in an interview with a German publication, that Egypt still adhered to the Nazi cause: 'Our sympathy,' he said, 'was with the Germans.' With the outbreak of the 1967 Six-Day War, Jews were arrested en masse and sent to concentration camps, where they were tortured, denied water for days and forced to chant anti-Israel slogans. By 1970, Egypt's Jewish population numbered in the mere hundreds.


Like other Muslim nations, Algeria possesses a long history of anti-Semitism, legal and popular. The colonization of Algeria by the French in 1830, though, liberated the 2500-year-old Jewish community from much of the humiliation and persecution it had sustained under Islamic rule. But the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany augured a reversion to anti-Semitic activities. In 1934, twenty-five Jews were massacred in Constantine. During the subsequent trial by French authorities, evidence revealed the attack was organized by the city's leading Muslim authorities. When the French Vichy government took power in 1940, it immediately stripped Jews of their French citizenry, banned them from schools and declared them 'pariahs.' Only the Allied landing soon thereafter saved the Jews from mass deportation to European death camps. With the fall of the Vichy regime, more than 148,000 Jews enjoyed the full benefits and affluence of French society. A civil war erupted in Algeria, and as it intensified, thousands of Jews fled the country, mostly for France.

Algeria achieved independence in 1962, by which time more than 75,000 Jews had departed. State-sanctioned persecution began the following year with the passage of the 1963 Nationality Code, limiting citizenship to those residents whose father and paternal grandfather were Muslim. The new state confiscated or destroyed Jewish private, commercial and communal property and ordered most of the nation's synagogues converted into mosques. Following a flood of anti-Semitic violence in 1965, the majority of the remaining Jewish community of 65,000 departed. Today, the once vigorous Algerian Jewish community numbers a paltry 300.


Today, no Jews are known to live in the north African nation of Libya. Like Egypt and Algeria, massive pogroms decimated the once-thriving Jewish communities in the 1940s. From 1941-1942, great waves of persecution washed over Libya. Jewish property in Benghazi was pillaged and 2,600 were sent into the desert to a forced labor camp, where 500 perished. On November 5, 1945, a horrendous bloodbath ensued in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. According to New York Times reporter Clifton Daniels: 'Babies were beaten to death with iron bars. Old men were hacked to pieces where they fell. Expectant mothers were disembowelled. Whole families were burned alive in their houses.' Several hundred Jews died in the attack.

After the approval of the Partition Plan, another 130 Jews were murdered in anti-Semitic rioting. The following year saw another Tripoli-like massacre. In 1948, Libya's Jewish population was 38,000; by 1951 only 8,000 remained. After the Six-Day War, another pogrom erupted, driving all but 400 from the country. On July 21, 1967 Libyan strongman Colonel Qadhafi nationalized all Jewish property, and soon thereafter, all remaining Jews left the country.


The Syrian Jewish community in 1948 dated to the First Century destruction of Jerusalem, approximately 1900 year earlier. Under Islamic rule, Jews were routinely subject to cruel and inhumane treatment, including forced conversions, routine pogroms and severe commercial and personal restrictions. By early 1947, only 13,000 Jews lived in Syria; 20,000 had fled throughout the course of the previous decade, as Nazi zeal permeated the region and made their lives especially difficult. Immediately after Syria gained independence from France in 1945, vitriolic anti-Semitic propaganda was broadcast on television and radio, inciting the Arab masses to violence. In December 1947, one month after the Partition Plan's acceptance, a pogrom erupted in the Syrian town of Aleppo, torching numerous Jewish properties, including synagogues, schools, orphanages and businesses. Eyewitnesses to the violence noted Syrian firemen and police dispatched to the scene actively participated in the rioting.

A flurry of anti-Semitic legislation passed in 1948 restricted, among other things, Jewish travel outside of government-approved ghettos, selling private property, acquiring land or changing their place of residence. A decree in 1949 went a step further, seizing all Jewish bank accounts. Under threats of execution, long prison sentences and torture, 10,000 Jews were able to depart between 1948 and 1962. A report published in 1981 indicated Syrian Jews were subject to "the Mukhabarat, the [Syrian] secret police, [who] conduct a reign of terror and intimidation, including searches without warrant, detention without trial, torture and summary execution." Due mainly to US influence in the context of the Madrid peace process, all but about 800 of the Jewish community have fled, most settling in the United States. Syria has confiscated all Jewish property aside from those who remain.


The Yemenite Jewish community existed in what historian S.D. Goitein described as the "worst aspect" of the Arab mistreatment of the Jew. Jewish life in Yemen, up to the time of Israel's modern evacuation of the community, contained the harshest elements imaginable under dhimmitude status. Jews could not testify in court, and were regularly murdered, limited to employment in the most demeaning of positions and forced to relinquish their property on demand, to name a very few deprivations. An "age-old" custom of stoning Jews, permissible by Muslim law, was still regularly practiced up to the time the Jews fled Yemen. Conditions for the community were exacerbated by Israel's victory over Arab armies in 1948, making the swift extraction of the community a matter of rescue or extinction. Arab mobs swarmed through Tsan'a and other towns, burning, murdering, raping and looting in the city's Jewish quarters. The region's imam - or religious authority - permitted the Jewish community to leave Yemen, provided they forfeit all property to the state. Israel launched Operation Magic Carpet in 1949, and over the course of one year, successfully airlifted some 50,000 Yemenite Jews - almost the entire ancient community - to Israel.


The 135,000 strong Iraqi Jewish community in 1948 traced their origins to the pre-exilic Jewish community of Babylon, 2700 years previous. Anti-Semitic legislation in 1948, declared "Zionism" - a crime accorded to Jews automatically - an offence punishable by a seven-year jail term. Additional legislation barred Jews from government, medicine and education, denied merchants import licenses and closed Jewish banks. The Jewish community faced economic ruin. During Israel's War of Independence, immigration to Israel was declared a capital offense while public Law No. 1, passed in 1950, stripped Jews of their Iraqi nationality. In 1950, Israel launched Operation Ali Baba to extricate the destitute remnant. Iraq, intrigued at the prospect of inheriting large quantities of abandoned Jewish property, allowed the Jews to leave, reassuring emigrants they would receive fair compensation for property and other assets they were forced to abandon. The airlift spirited 123,000 Jews out of the country, with 110,000 choosing to remain in Israel. Despite it's promise, the Iraqi government announced on March 10, 1951 - the day after the deadline for exit registration - that emigrant's property, businesses and bank accounts were forfeit. That same year, Law No. 5 was expanded to include all Jewish holdings in Iraqi banks. By itself, this extension looted $200 million in Jewish assets. By January 1952, as Iraq again closed the doors to Jewish emigration, only 6,000 remained. All remaining Jewish communal property was confiscated in 1958. Today, only 200 Jews remain in Iraq, forced to reside in a Baghdad ghetto.

source: Middle East Digest - November/December 1999

Can we hear about these refugees from a human rights perspective?

"The big issue between 1948 and 1967 was the Arab "refugees" who had left Israel and moved to areas under the control of Arabs. There was great controversy, both within Israel and outside, over whether these Arab refugees had been pushed out by Israel or had left on instructions of Arab leaders with the promise of a glorious return. There is obviously some truth to both positions. Certainly, many Arabs were frightened away by Israeli soldiers; some obviously left after hearing of civilian "massacres". (Whether these accounts were true, false, exaggerated or covered up is not as relevant as whether they were believed by the Arabs who left.)

"As a civil libertarian and human rights activist, I was never much moved by the claims of these refugees. Political solutions often require the movement of people, and such movement is not always voluntary. Making Arab families move - intact - from one Arab village or town to another may constitute a human rights violation. But in the whole spectrum of human rights issues - especially taking into account the events in Europe during the 1940's - it is a fifth-rate issue analogous in many respects to some massive urban renewal or other projects that require large-scale movement of people. For example, the building of the Aswan High Dam in Egypt necessitated the relocation of 100,000 Arabs and the destruction of numerous Arab villages. There were certainly numerous precedents following both world wars, as well as other dislocating events of history - including the establishment of new states. There were so many refugee groups throughout the postwar world, and in so much worse condition, that it is difficult to understand why this particular dislocation assumed such international proportions.

"For example, following the end of World War II, approximately fifteen million ethnic Germans were forcibly expelled from their homes in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and other Central and Eastern European areas where their families had lived for centuries. Two million died during this forced expulsion. Czechoslovakia alone expelled nearly three million Sudeten Germans, turning them into displaced persons. The United States, Britain, and the international community in general approved these expulsions, as necessary to secure a more lasting peace. [...] President Franklin Roosevelt's assistant Harry Hopkins memorialized his boss's view that although transfer of ethnic Germans "is a hard procedure, it is the only way to maintain peace." [...]

[Dershowitz describes other population transfers in the Middle East, primarily hundreds of thousands of Sephardic Jews who left their ancient communities in Arab lands for Israel.]

"But the Arab leaders did not want peace. They used the refugee issue to encourage continuing belligerency. It became an excuse for not making peace - for not accepting the reality that the ancient land of Israel-Palestine could be populated by two peoples and divided into two nations. It should be recalled that between 1948 and 1967, Israel posed no barrier to the establishment of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza. There was no Palestinian state because the Arab leaders did not want a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish state. Their collective goal was the total destruction of the Jewish state. The Palestinian refugees would better serve that goal if they were kept in camps as a homeless people than if they were allowed to move out of the camps and establish their own state.

"I believed then, and I believe now, that those who singled out the "plight" of the Arab refugees were more interested in singling out those who had allegedly caused the problem - namely the Jews - than they were in helping those who were its victims. Elevating the Arab refugee problem above the more compelling problem of other groups was a form of indirect international anti-Semitism, acceptable in a world too close to the Holocaust to legitimate direct anti-Jewish bigotry.

[Dershowitz adds here in a footnote:]

"A New York Times story of August 12, 1990, described the plight of 'fifteen million men, women and children' who have been 'internationally recognized as refugees.' Following World War II, the number was between thirty-three and forty-three million, and at the time the Palestinian refugee problem began - with 600,000 to 750,000 refugees - the number throughout the world was between sixteen and eighteen million. Many of the current group are refugees from Islamic nations. Yet the world knows little of their situation. Only the Palestinian refugees have received widespread international support. It is fair to ask why."

"All of this is not to diminish the suffering of the Palestinian people between 1948 and 1967, but it is to emphasize how much of that suffering was deliberately engineered by the leaders of those Arab nations that were determined not to settle the Palestinian issue in a manner that permitted the continued existence of the Jewish state."

by Alan Dershowitz in "Chutzpah" [from Roger David Carasso]

Were these two refugee crises
a simple 'exchange' of population and therefore 'equal'?

Without Equal.

The exchange of Arab and Jewish populations in and around Israel's War of Independence cannot be equated, as the circumstances perpetuating the refugee movements prove vastly different. The record shows the bulk of Palestinian refugees left their homes on their own accord and at the strong insistence of Arab leadership at the time. None were forcibly deprived of their wealth, and most expected to return to their homes after invading Arab armies crushed the nascent Jewish state.

In contrast, the Jewish residents of Arab countries were, almost without exception, forcefully expelled from their homelands and robbed of their wealth and livelihoods by government-planned, anti-Semitic campaigns meant to eliminate from their midst the "pariah" Jewish presence. This program of ethnic cleansing came hard on the heels of Hitler's plot to make Europe "Judenrein." Using tactics of terror, Arab/Islamic leaders effected a plan to expel their Jewish citizenry, indifferent that its execution would mean the death of thousands, gleeful of the untold wealth it would transfer into their coffers.

- Middle East Digest - December 1999, Canadian Friends of the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem

Transit Camps

The Mass Migration to Israel of the 1950s

Jewish Exodus From Arab Countries
Absorbed Into Israel

Middle East
Asked Questions

Different sources

show slightly different  figures.

But they all show the same collapse of Jewish populations  
in Arab countries.


Of the nearly 900,000 Jewish emigrants, approximately 680,000 emigrated to Israel and 235,000 to France; the remainder went to other countries in Europe as well as to the Americas..

About two thirds of the exodus was from the North Africa region, of which Morocco's Jews went mostly to Israel, Algeria's Jews went mostly to France, and Tunisia's Jews departed for both countries.