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Jewish refugees

Jews lived in what are now Arab states since the Babylonian destruction of the first Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, in 586 B.C.E. Middle Eastern and North African Jewish communities, came to an end in the 1940s and early 1950s when most Arab governments forced hundreds of thousands of Jews to flee after the creation of the State of Israel and the following war between Israel and the Arab states where about 726 000 Palestinian refugees were created whose property and lands were confiscated by Israel.

Except for intermittent periods when Jews in Arab lands were able to contribute to their countries of residence, Jews, along with Christians and Zoroastrians, had the legal status of Dhimmis: second-class citizens who received some measure of protection in exchange for subordination to their Muslim rulers. Jews were required to live in segregated quarters, wear distinctive clothing, and either embrace Islam or pay the jizya, a protection tax. The Jewish and Christian communities constituted semi-autonomous entities under their own religious laws and leaders, who carried the responsibiliy for the community towards the Muslim rulers.

Points to add: periodical pogroms, particularly the pro-Nazi rule in Iraq in the early 1940s, details of which measures caused the flight and how did it happen, measures taken from Israel to save the refugees (Yemen?)

In 1945 there were nearly 900,000 Jews living in communities throughout the Arab world. Today, there are fewer than 8,000. In some Arab states, such as Libya, the Jewish community no longer exists; in others, only a few hundred Jews remain.

Of the nearly 900,000 Jewish refugees, approximately 600,000 were absorbed by Israel, where today almost half of Israel's Jewish citizens are the original refugees and their descendants. The remainder went to Europe and the Americas. These refugees were forced to abandon virtually all of their property, especially as they fled from the most hostile countries: Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Libya. While Israel absorbed any Jewish refugee desiring to become an Israeli citizen, the Arab (Palestinian) refugees were not permitted to become citizens of the neighboring Arab countries, with the exception of Jordan.

See also: Israel



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