Who are the Jews from Arab countries? What were relations with Muslims like? What made Jews leave countries where they had been settled for thousands of years? And what lessons can we learn from the mass exodus of minorities from the Middle East?
This neglected piece of history, as ancient as the Bible, and as modern as today’s news, is urgently relevant today, as minorities continue to face discrimination, persecution, ethnic cleansing and even genocide in parts of the Middle East.
Jews lived continuously in the Middle East and North Africa for almost 3,000 years, long predating the rise of Islam. Yet, as Lyn Julius
explains in her new book Uprooted: How 3000 Years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab World Vanished Overnight
(Vallentine Mitchell, 2018), their indigenous communities throughout the region almost totally disappeared as more than 99 percent of the Jewish population fled. Those with foreign passports and connections generally left for Europe, Australia, or the Americas. The rest - including a minority of ideological Zionists - went to Israel. Today over 50 percent of Israel's Jews are “Mizrahim”, refugees from Arab and Muslim countries, or their descendants.
This same process is now repeating in Christian and other minority communities across the Middle East.
Renee Garfinkel is a psychologist, writer, and Middle East commentator for the nationally syndicated TV program, The Armstrong Williams Show. Write her at email@example.com or tweet @embracingwisdom