The conflicts within Arab countries this past decade is yet another confirmation that it was right and necessary to establish Israel as a Jewish state. Using the same model for other ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East and North Africa could help create stability and reduce the influx of refugees to Europe.
In 1948 there were around 40,000 Jews living in Syria. What do you think their fate would have been if they had still been living there during the last seven years of the Syrian Civil War?
Around 135,000 Jews lived in Iraq 70 years ago. For many years, now (at least since Saddam Hussein’s genocidal attacks on Kurds in 1988), various ethnic and religious groups have been caught up in a deadly struggle. We can be quite sure that the Iraqi Jews would be among the biggest losers – in the deadliest sense – had they still been living in Iraq.
The racism and religious intolerance that feeds the conflicts in the Arab world is not new to the Jews. They had suffered discrimination as dhimmis under Islam for 1,400 years, and it was the same intolerance that finally drove almost all of them out of the Arab world after 1948. And if the remaining Jews in Arab countries had not found a safe refuge in the Jewish state after 1948, we would probably have to add hundreds of thousands of Jews to the millions of casualties in the internal wars and ethnic cleansings of the Middle East during the past few decades.
To this very day, the Arab world declares its “absolute and categorical refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish State” (Arab League 25 March 2014). The even greater tragedy is that prominent forces in Europe have the same attitude. They strongly promote Arab state number 22 and Muslim state number 57 (in PA the Arab and Muslim identity is enshrined into the Basic Law), but they have problems accepting that there is one Jewish state in the world.
The Palestinians’ European friends never consider what rights Jewish refugees from Arab countries may have. They are, however, putting intense pressure on Israel (including the use of boycott) to allow the descendants of Palestinian refugees from 1948 to “return” by the millions, not to the West Bank or Gaza, but to Israel within the 1949 armistice line. They know full well what effect this policy would have; in fact, it is often the very reason why they are pushing it. “Right of return” would destroy the fundamental Jewish character of Israel.
These same Europeans reject “right of return” for all other refugee groups from the decades after World War II. There is not even pressure from Europe to allow Christian refugees, having fled from Iraq and Syria the last few years, to return to safety in their homeland. They ignore the fact that more Jews became refugees from Arab countries than did Arabs who fled during their war against the Jewish state in 1947-1949. They don’t seem to know that most Jews in Israel have a background from Muslim dominated areas.
What is the message the Islamic world is hearing?
- Muslims can force anyone to flee who refuse to surrender – especially Jews.
- Non-Muslims cannot be allowed to carve out a small area for their protection and independence if this means the displacement of Muslims.
Before 1948, the Jewish minority in the Arab world consisted of 1-2 percent of the population. In size, Israel is less than 0,2 percent of “the Arab homeland” (PLO’s expression). Given that Jews couldn’t live in peace and security in the Arab countries, it is only right that they were given Israel as their own national homeland. And it is theirs to keep.
It is not a mistake that the Jewish people have won their own state where they can be free and govern themselves. The mistake is that other stateless minorities in the Middle East haven’t been given support to their national ambition, especially when they are discriminated, persecuted and driven from where they have lived for generations. The Arab countries might have treated their minorities better had they known that persecution would entitle ethnic and religious minorities their own states within the borders of the persecuting Arab countries.
As long as Europe’s double standard in the way they treat Palestinian refugees continues, the descendants of these same refugees will be denied a chance to move on with their lives and sustain themselves. Moreover, it will allow Arab leaders to persecute and drive away ethnic and religious minorities with impunity and drive millions more refugees towards Europe’s border. One of Europe’s best solutions to the refugee problem would be to force the Arab world to accept Israel as a Jewish state and threaten to support the national independence of other groups who suffer the same violent persecution. The Israel model is the solution.
Friends of Israel should use every opportunity to remind the world of these facts. Our experience in Norway is that understanding for Israel’s cause increases dramatically when people are educated about the Jewish history in the Arab world and how they had to flee after 1948. Add to that how Arabs treat minorities today, and most – exceptions are often Anti-Semites – accept the Jewish people’s need to be able to defend themselves in their own state.