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Last night I attended the screening of the film ‘The Forgotten Refugees’, courtesy of the Jewish Board of Deputies. Previously I had seen the statistics, but never heard the stories. Powerful!

In 1945 there were approximately 850,000 Jews living in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. Jews and Jewish communities have existed in the region for 2,500 years. Today, less than 7,000 Jews remain.

When we speak about the Middle East, and when we mention the word “refugees”, many think only about Palestinian refugees.

Jews displaced from Arab countries were also refugees in the Middle East. Under Islamic rule, Jews had long been treated as second-class citizens or dhimmis. Many Arab regimes denied human rights to Jews, and after 1947, expropriated their property and stripped them of their citizenship. Jews were often victims of murder, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, and expulsion. Upon the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, as the situation worsened, Jews began to flee Arab countries to find safety in Israel and elsewhere.

Entire Jewish communities ceased to exist after Jewish assets, including synagogues, schools, community centres, hospitals, and even cemeteries, were seized.

The result of this persecution was that over 52% of Israel’s population became composed of Jews who were forced to flee their homes in Arab countries and Iran. Every Arab-Israeli war (1948; 1956; 1967; 1973) resulted in more Jews being uprooted from the countries in which they and their families had lived for centuries.

No compensation for Jewish losses has ever been received, nor acknowledgement of their persecution ever been forthcoming.

Source: NSW Jewish Board of Deputies 2017

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