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March 07, 1975 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1975-03-07

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2 Friday, March 7, 1975


Purely Commentary

Many Distortions About Arab Refugees Turn the Tragic
Problem Into a Shocking Canard; The Record Set Straight
by a Member of the Knesset who is a Former Iraqi

By Philip

The Refugee Exaggerations: Exposing the Canards Floating in the Media

Admiration for the American press has grown in recent years. The country's newspapers often
earn criticism, but in time of crisis they protect the best interests of the nation. Watergate proved the
fearlessness of newsmen. On many other occasions, revelations of legislators' and others' mishan-
dling of public affairs have led to corrective methods to assure honesty and honor by elected officials.
This applies also to the handling of foreign affairs, to international occurrences, to relationships
among citizens.
It is to be expected, therefore, that newsmen will seek facts and adhere to truth. Why, then, the
frequent distortions in handling the Middle East issues? Why is there so much misunderstanding
regarding the refugee problem? Why the exaggerations? Why the panic regarding the many aspects
of the American-Israel friendships that have been so vital for Jews and Israelis as well as for the
American foreign policy?

`To Bigotry No Sanction': American
Rejection of Arab-Inspired Bestialities

The traditional American principle of fair play, of not giving comfort to
bigots, was reaffirmed by the President of the United States and in the U. S.
The unqualified denunciation of the Arab boycott, the reassertion that this
country and our government will not countenance the boycotting of Jews and of
firms doing business with Jews is heartening to all lovers of liberty and justice.
For nearly a quarter of a century the Arab states propagated the revival of
medievalism in dealing with Jews. The attempt to veil the dastardly tactic with a
claim that it was a war against Zionists could not blind anyone to the reality of
an inhuman plan to brand all Jews, and all non-Jews who had friendly relations
with Jews to the fullest meaning of one of the most destructive schemes perpe-
trated by evil-minded, oil-enriched governments.
The American verdict is not to countenance international banditry.
But action by our government is not sufficient. Leading American industri-
alists and financiers, important banking firms and others apparently had
yielded to the boycott. Whatever the pressures, whether they are from the oil
magnates in search for financial gains, the bankers in quest for business, indus-
tries bargaining for profit, the yielding to the Arab boycott disgraces the basic
American ideals of common decency and fairness to all regardless of race or
It is not enough that President Ford, members of both houses of Congress
and civil libertarians are condemning and rejecting the boycott. There must
emerge indignation so strong that no person or business firm of means should
feel free to give comfort to the bigots from the Middle East.
A Bicentennial legacy admonishes Arriericans never to submit to tyranny
and injustice. In 1790 George Washington wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of
Newport Rhode Island:
It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were
by the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed
the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the
Government of the United States which gives to bigotry no
sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they
live under its protection should demean themselves as good cit-
izens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support."

(The text of the Washington letter appeared in the Sept. 18, 17.90,
issue of the Providence Gazette and Country Journal.)

This is the credo that is indissolubly engraved in American history, in the
traditions that began with President Washington and assured the inalienable
rights of all men under the Stars and Stripes. It is a credo cherished by men and
decent people everywhere. Under such an ideal the boycott that threatens hu-
man rights has no place among civilized men. That is why an outraged American
public opinion relegates it to the jungle. Even .there and in the desert it is no
longer tolerable.



From the New York Times: The pressures being ex-
erted by Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Arab states
on American firms to try to make them exclude so-
called "Jewish houses" from financial syndicates and
the threats to blacklist those who do not cut off their
commercial relations with Israel are - in sharp conflict
with United States tradition and United States
law . . .
It is regrettable that the Arabs have seen fit to try
to bring political and economic pressure on the United
States in a way so repugnant to American values.
They have only served to undermine their credibility
as friends and allies of this country, or as nations that
respect the rights and traditions of others, while in-
sisting so vociferously upon their own.

From the Detroit News: But the United States
must make it clear to Arab nations that there is seri-
ous disadvantage (political and economic) in main-
taining the blacklist against American companies and
citizens. A proper "serious disadvantage," of course,
would be a refusal to do business at all on those

When a correspondent for a Detroit newspaper, writing from Washington about the erosion of
American support for Israel, found it necessary to discuss the influence of Jewish voters in-Illinois,
why write about a million Jews in Chicago when that city's Jewish population is under 300,000?
Nick Thimmesch writes a good column. Why couldn't he check on facts when writing about the
Arab refugees? Why did he flaunt a 6,000,000 figure?
The refugee question has been especially exaggerated. Commentators began to speak in terms
of a million; their figure grew to 2,000,000, it continued to escalate, and now we have the fantastic
Therefore the compulsion to resort to facts and to set the record straight again.
The basic figures relating to the refugee situation were presented to the Israel Knesset by a
member of the Alignment parties, Mordechai Ben Porat. An Iraqi Jew who has made a thorough
study of the figures gathered for presentation to the Israel parliament, Ben Porat spoke at length
about the issues involving Jewish expatriates from their Arab homelands as related to the Arabs wh- -)
had left Israel. The following portion of his address emphasizes the rudimentary facts about hot
aspects of the Middle East refugee problems:

This House has dealt many times with the
subject of reparations to Jews who have come to
Israel from the Arab countries. My proposal to-
day differs from previous motions, in that it re-
fers to legal and political aspects of the rights of
those Jews, and does not necessarily concern
property or reparations.
Many exchanges of population have oc-
curred throughout the world during the past
thirty years. The migration of Arabs out of Pa-
lestine and of Jews out of the Arab States ranks
twelfth in magnitude on the list of these ex-
changes; Germany and India certainly rank
According to the New York Times, in Octo-
ber 1947 2,388,000 Muslims migrated from India
to Pakistan, and 2,644,000 HindUs left Pakistan
for India. In addition, over 4,000,000 Muslims,
and a similar number of Hindus, abandoned
their homes. Estimates of similar situations in
Europe may be regarded as more precise. Up to
September 1950, nearly 3,000,000 Sudeten Ger-
mans had been expelled from Czechoslovakia. Of
these, 2,068,000 were resettled in West Ger-
many, and 916,000 in East Germany. Between
1949 and the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961,
over 2,739,000 refugees from East Germany had
been registered at the reception centers in West
Germany. The number of refugees from East
Germany totalled over 3,500,000.
Numbers for Africa are less precise. At any
rate, the number of Ibo refugees is estimated at
2,000,000. Over a broader geographic range, if
the refugees of Algeria, North and South Viet-
nam, North and South Korea, Biafra, Bangla-
desh and those who left China for Hong Kong
are taken into account, the scope of the exchange
is truly immense. All this has taken place since
World War Two.
The population exchange in the Middle East
embraces the 850,000 Jews who were living in
the Arab States in 1948, Over a broader geo-
graphic range, if the refugees of Algeria, North
and South Vietnam, North and South Korea,
Biafra, Bangladesh and those who left China for
Hong Kong are taken into account, the scope of
the exchange is truly immense. All this has
taken place since World War Two:
The population exchange in the Middle East
embraces the 850,000 Jews who were living in
the Arab States in 1948, from Iraq to Morocco. In
1974 they numbered only 40,000. On the other
hand, according to British Mandatory statistics,
in 1947 there were 1,200,000 Arabs in Palestine,
of whom 450,000 were not living in areas held by
Israel at the time of the 1949 armistice. There-
fore, the number of Arabs living in areas held by
Israel did not exceed 750,000. Of these, 160,000
remained in their homes, or were allowed to- re-
turn to their homes in Israel. Those who left
numbered 590,000, at the most.
Additional and similar evidence was pro-
vided at the end of 1949, by the UN Economic
Survey Commission, which estimated their num-
bers at a maximum of 726,000. The Commission
recommended that food be supplied to 562,000
only. It may, therefore, be clearly stated that the
Jewish refugees who fled from the Arab States
were far more numerous than the Arab refugees
who suffered damages in the course of the war.

The Jews in the Arab States and the Chris-
tians who were placed under the authority of
Moslem political rule, enjoyed the protection of
Allah and his prophet, Muhammad, and could
not be harmed as long as they were recognized as
protected second-class citizens. Over the years,
however, the instances of discrimination, incite-
ment, murder, robbery and rape increased in se-
verity, as did the burning of synagogues and
churches. There are sufficient examples of har-
assment of Jews and Christians throughout the
period of Arab rule, bearing no connection with
the establishment of the State of Israel, or the
spread of the socialist-Zionist concept, but I
shall not cite them due to limitation of time. I
admit, the Arabs did not go as far as to build
crematoria; possibly because they had not
reached the degree of sophistication attained by
the Nazi beast. But when King Hussein envis-
aged conquering sections of Israel on the eve of
the Six-Day War, he deemed it necessary to in-
clude, in the operational instructions for the cap-
ture of Kibutz Shaalabim, the directive to kill
the entire kibutz population, with emphasis on
women and children.
Jews lived in most of the Arab countries be-
fore the advent of the Arabs themselves. There
were Jews in Iraq 1000 years earlier; in Afrikia
(present-day Libya) there was a prosperous and
flourishing community 600 years before the
Arab conquest. We. the Jews who came from the
Arab States, were those who brought progress
and wealth, affluence and culture to the coun-
tries we inhabited in the Middle Ages and in
modern times, as opposed to the poverty and ig-
norance introduced by the Arab invaders. As
a result of the oppressive atmosphere in the
Arab States, and the great longing for the new-
ly-established Israel, the Jews abandoned the
Arab States, and an overwhelming majority of
them arrived in Israel, having left behind consid-
erable property and their share of the legal
rights of those countries. They abandoned their
portion of the national wealth of the Arab States
— of the oil, water and land resources — and
they relinquished their share of sovereignty.
There is no Arab State (with the possible ex-
ception of Lebanon) which has not heaped perse-
cution, pogroms, humiliation and discrimination
on the Jews. Therefore, all the Arab countries
together are responsible for the condition of
Jews in the Arab countries, as well as for their
refugee status. Together, they invaded Is'Pael's
territory in 1948, maintaining then at the Secu-
rity Council that "Palestine was a member of
the Arab League, that the Arab League was a
regional organization and that they were, there- .
fore, authorized to implement Section 52 of the
UN Charter — a section whose implementation
requires UN permission — without UN permis-
sion. Naturally, they acted without permission.
Thus, two groups of refugees came into being in
the Middle East: those belonging to the Arab na-
tion, and those belonging to the Jewish natio'
Any definition or status accorded to 6
body must be accorded to the other, as well.
the Palestinians are refugees, the Jews who
came to Israel from the Arab States are refugees
no less. If the Arabs possess legitimate rights,
the Jews also possess legitimate rights.

If only the members of the Knesset hear these truths; if only Jewish readers of Jewish newspa-
pers pay any attention to them, then the animosities mount rather than decline and there will be
little hope of respite from a conflict that needs speedy resolution. But the truth needs to be told and
must be on the record.
Jewish spokesmen and their public relations forces are constantly put to the test. Truth has been
distorted and needs recapitulation. Perhaps there is greater realism in the in camera sessions of
diplomats who treat the issues in secrecy. Since there is no chance of enforcing the Wilsonian princi-
ple of "open covenants openly arrived at," the one hope that remains is that statesmen will be moti-
vated only by peace and will treat demands for concessions by parties in the Middle East conflict with
great caution. If they deviate from such approaches, they are not immune from pressures. That's
where vigilance becomes a vital instrument for a people's defenders.

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