As we observe World Refugee Day this month, Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prossor, looks back at the over 850,000 Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries following the founding of Israel and whose stories are virtually unknown.
This month the United Nations marks World Refugee Day, a star-studded, multimedia campaign to raise awareness about the plight of refugees. Celebrities like Angelina Jolie have cut video spots that will be broadcast on television and spread on social media. Millions will participate in events spanning five continents, from concerts in London to a film festival in Beirut to a bike race in Ecuador. Yet mention of one group of refugees will be noticeably absent from any of these activities: the 850,000 Jews expelled from Arab countries during the past six decades. Their history remains one of the 20th century's greatest untold stories.
At the end of World War II, 850,000 Jews lived in Arab countries. Just 8,500 remain today. Their departure was no accident. After Arab leaders failed to annihilate Israel militarily in 1948, they launched a war of terror, incitement, and expulsion to decimate their own ancient Jewish communities.
In Iraq Jewish businessman Shafiq Adas, then the country's wealthiest citizen, was immediately arrested on trumped-up charges and publicly lynched. This was followed by bombings targeting Jewish institutions, arbitrary arrests of Jewish leaders, and massive government seizures of property. Within years virtually all of Iraq's 2,500-year-old Jewish community had fled, emptying the country of many of its greatest artists, musicians, and businessmen.
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