|Jewish Refugees from Jaffa, 1948|
As Palestinians mark 'Nakba Day,' history shows Jews were dispossessed of all their assets too after escaping Arab countries between 1944-1964
By Tani Goldstein
The Palestinian people are marking their annual "Nakba Day" on Sunday, commemorating the escape and expulsion of the Palestinians from the State of Israel upon its establishment.
In addition to the uprooting, the Palestinians are protesting against the nationalization and robbery of the property they left behind, while they have been living in poverty in refugee camps.
But there are two sides to every coin.
Between the years 1944 and 1964, some 700,000 Jews moved in the opposite direction, from Arab countries to Israel – and they too were dispossessed of nearly their entire property.
'Better life than in Eastern Europe'Jews have been living in the Middle East since the Babylonian captivity and in North Africa since the Roman era. During the Arab occupation, the majority of world Jews lived in this area.
Since then, the center of the Jewish world moved the Eastern Europe due to immigration, and Jews' conversion to Islam in Arab countries and to Christianity in Europe. In 1940, there were some 16 million Jews in the world, and only 5% of them – 800,000 – lived in Arab countries, mostly in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq and Egypt.
The Jews' situation in Arab countries varied as times changed and depending on the countries they lived in: In some places they integrated into society and were even part of the upper class, in other places they were subject to restrictions, and from time to time they suffered from riots and persecution.
In general, the Muslims treated the Jews much better than in Europe and their economic situation was excellent.
"The average Jew lived much better than the average Muslims, and in fact – much better than the Jews in Eastern Europe" says Yaakov Hajaj, director of the Institute for the Research and Study of Libyan Jewry.
"They could work in whatever they wanted to. Most of them worked in certain fields, some of which were basically under their control: As tailors, shoemakers, goldsmiths, imprinters, spice merchants, grocery store owners, peddlers and even international traders."
"Most Jews and Christians worked in industries that the Muslims banned themselves from working in," says Dr. Zvi Yehuda, director of the Research Institute of Babylonian Jewry.
"The Muslims were strict about not engaging in loan with interest, which included any dealing with silver and gold, and most goldsmiths were Jews. Most seamstresses were Jewish, and so were most tailors later on. As opposed to Europe, the Muslims did not hate the Jews because they dealt with money, and even admired them for that. Goldstein's article continues here..............
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