This article from the Guardian contains what (I think is) a whopper: that "Detroit is the largest Iraqi City outside of Iraq." I couldn't find exact statistics, but I am fairly certain that Ramat Gan, Israel (where my Iraqi-Jewish wife is from) has many more Iraqis than does Detroit. The vast majority of the 100,000 plus Jews expelled from Iraq between 1949 and 1951 settled in Ramat Gan (a suburb of Tel Aviv), and the town is still sufficiently Iraqi that when I tell Israelis that my wife is Iraqi they ask, "so, she's from Ramat Gan?" The Jews of Iraq had substantial wealth, were well-integrated in Iraqi society before their expulsion, and their presence in Iraq dated back 2,500 years, when "Iraq" was still "Babylonia," giving the Jews a stronger claim to Iraqi identity than the Arab "newcomers."
(UPDATE: This link, sent by a reader, states that the entire Detroit area contains approximately 60,000 Iraqis, clearly far fewer Iraqis than are present in the Tel Aviv metropolitan area).
I mention this because of the consistent blindness of the news media and punditocracy, especially left-wing sources like the Guardian, to the fact that Israel's War of Independence created two groups of refugees, one Jewish, one Arab, of approximately the same size. The Jewish refugees were forced out by their governments in many Arab countries simply because they were Jews, and this was a politically expedient response to local anger about the establishment of Israel. The Arab refugees were forced out, orin many cases fled voluntarily, because their community was engaged in a war of annihilation against the emerging Jewish state. The Middle Eastern Jewish refugees were resettled by an Israel dominated by Ashkenazim, who had a different linguistic and cultural background, at great economic sacrifice to both the Ashkenazim and the Middle Eastern Jews, who were almost as numerous as the Jews already in Israel. The Arab refugees, who mostly fled only a few miles and were linguistically and culturally largely indistinguishable from their Arab neighbors, were herded by Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt into refugee camps, and forced to remain there to serve as political tools to use against Israel. The Jewish refugees received a bit of charity from the world Jewish community, and were otherwise left to their own devices (my wife's late mother went from living in a mansion in Iraq to living in a tent for several years in Israel). The Arab refugees have been the world's greatest welfare recipients, absorbing more aid per capita than any other population group in the world (funny how the libertarians who claim to be pro-Palestinian only because Israel relies too much on American taxpayer aid never seem to notice that the U.S. is and has been by far the largest contributor to UNRWA; at least with regard to Israel the U.S. is giving money to a friendly government and population!).
The mistreatment of Jews by their Arab homelands continues to reverberate in Israeli politics: Jews of Middle Eastern origin tend to be much more hawkish, and less trusting of Arab intentions, than are Jews of European background.
Next time someone talks about their sympathy with "refugees" from the Arab-Israeli conflict, ask them which refugees they are referring to, Jews or Arabs.
Related Posts (on one page):
- Interesting Article on "The Sudden End of Iraqi Jewry":
- "Biggest Iraqi City" Outside Iraq: