On Sunday, November 30, Israel will commemorate the 850,000 Jews driven from their homes in neighboring Arab countries on the occasion of the Jewish state’s rebirth.
While the international community has numerous days and events marking the flight of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from the land during Israel’s War of Independence (there is even an official UN commemoration), the Jewish side of the equation is all but ignored.
For thousands of years Jews had been living in what are today Arab countries, with many of their communities dating back much earlier than the Arab Muslim conquest of the region.
Some 70 years ago, with the rise of Arab nationalism and a growing struggle for control of what the British called “Palestine,” the newly-created Arab regimes began a campaign of intimidation and oppression against their own Jewish citizens.
Local Jews in Arab countries had their property expropriated, their citizenship stripped, and a great many were imprisoned, tortured and murdered.
One regional Jewish community in particular, that centered in and around Baghdad, was over 2,500-years-old. Originally based in Babylon, this community had given birth to the Babylonian Talmud and had long been a leading Jewish cultural center.
But with the rebirth of Israel as a nation-state, the Iraqi government at the time attacked and dispossessed the local Jews, driving nearly the entire community to emigrate to the new Jewish state and elsewhere.
PHOTO: Aharon Aboudi grew up in Iraq, before his family was evicted and forced to build a new life in Israel.
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