BY ARON YOUNGERWOOD
Over the last 50 years, the press and Arab world has been fixated on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as if this was the only problem in the Middle East. Today, when we hear the words “trouble in the Middle East,” we automatically think of Israel. Indeed, the Jewish state is blamed for causing instability in the Middle East, of being behind the September 11th World Trade Center attack and of hindering U.S. war efforts against Iraq and the Taliban, among other things. The French Ambassador to England, Daniel Bernhard, was overheard by a journalist at a recent London party calling the Jewish state “that shitty little country Israel,” and adding, “[W]hy should we be in danger of World War III because of these people.” (Bernhard first said he did not remember making the remark and now says his comments were misunderstood or distorted.) You see, it’s all Israel’s fault. Without Israel, the world would be at peace — or so some people would have us believe.
Last year a Jewish boy was brutally stabbed by a Muslim fanatic on a bus in North London, whilst members of the French Jewish community saw their synagogues being firebombed in Paris by Islamic groups. A month ago, a Muslim cleric in east London was charged with “soliciting to murder” after distributing videos calling on his followers to attack Jews.
Two weeks ago another video appeared, showing the gruesome murder in Pakistan of American journalist Daniel Pearl. He is shown being forced to kneel and confess that he and his parents are Jewish. His throat is then cut. Over his writhing body, a voice warns: “Other Americans and Jews should be ready to face a fate like Daniel Pearl.”
These are just a handful of a wave of anti-Jewish incidents that have gone around the world in recent months. But they are nothing new. The fact of the matter is, the Arab world has only ever wanted to discuss Israel, to demonize it, in order to provide them with a convenient scapegoat to conceal something far more disturbing — the gradual ethnic cleansing of Jews, Christians and Bahai, throughout the Arab countries, as well as in the Palestinian-controlled territories.
In 1948, three-years after the Holocaust, and before the birth of modern-day Israel, Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League publicly stated on May 15: “There will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre [against the Jews] which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.”
In 2001, according to English and Israeli news sources, Palestinian Authority television broadcast a sermon repeating their call to all Muslims: “All weapons must be aimed at the Jews, at the enemies of Allah … whom the Koran describes as monkeys and pigs … we bless all those who educate their children to Jihad and to Martyrdom, Blessings to he who shot a bullet into the head of a Jew.”
What has happened to all the Jews, Christians and Bahai in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Saudi Arabia?
Iraq had 150,000 Jews in 1948, today it has fewer than 100. The Iraqi Jewish community has suffered horrible persecution. Since June 1941, when the Mufti-inspired, pro-Nazi coup of Rashid Ali inspired armed Iraqi mobs, with the help of the police, to murder and injure hundreds of Jews, matters have gone from bad to worse. Over the last few decades, persecution continued, all Jews were forced to carry yellow identity cards, Jewish property was expropriated; Jewish bank accounts were frozen; Jews were dismissed from public posts; businesses were shut. Scores were jailed. In 1968, 11 Jews were sentenced to death in staged trials and hung in the public squares of Baghdad, while others died of torture. On January 27, 1969, Baghdad Radio called on Iraqis to “come and enjoy the feast.” Some 500,000 men, women and children paraded and danced past the scaffolds where the bodies of the hanged Jews swung; the mob rhythmically chanted “Death to Israel” and “Death to all traitors.”
Today, those few Jews remaining in Iraq (those who have not been murdered or who have not escaped to Israel) are now too old to leave. Despite this, Saddam Hussein still warns the population of the “the Jewish threat.”
Syria and Egypt used to have Jewish populations of 30,000 and 75,000 respectively, now they both have fewer than 200. Similar tragedies have befallen the Jews. Suffice it to say that Syria and Egypt’s attitude towards Jews was reflected in its sheltering of Nazi war criminals and employing them in government positions.
Similarly, in Libya, which once had 38,000 Jews, today has none. Throughout the last few decades, as with Iraq, the Jewish population was quietly murdered, subjected to persecution or encouraged to leave before it was too late.
Other Arab countries have already expelled their Jewish populations wholesale. Over 800,000 Jews from Yemen, Iran, North Africa and elsewhere were forced to leave their homes and flee to Israel.
With regard to Christians and Bahai, the situation is not much better. In Saudi Arabia and Iran, for examples, individuals are punished for displaying crosses, jailed for praying in public and, in some cases, punished by death for not complying with the religious tenants. In Sudan, abundant reports by international human rights organizations have documented the slave trade there.
Nor is the situation for Christians in Palestinian-controlled parts of the West Bank much better, despite appeals from Israel. Few Christians remain in the West Bank. Those who can emigrate, and there will soon be virtually no Christians in the Palestinian Authority controlled areas. The Palestinian Authority is trying to conceal the fact of massive Christian emigration from areas under its control.
One lesson the world has learned is not to appease mass murderers. The people who say that America should abandon Israel or that Israel should withdraw to their pre-1967 borders are precisely like the people who said back in the 1930s that if we just let Hitler have Czechoslovakia, he’ll be satisfied. Looking back at history, it doesn’t take very much to understand that the Arab world and Islamic terrorists want much more than this — namely the destruction of Israel and the annihilation of the Jewish people.
It is time we recognized this and spoke out.