Discrediting Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries,
Official Arab "Invitation" for Jews to return
A strange and unlikely invitation was extended through the Palestine Liberation
Organization (PLO) in 1975. Farouk Kaddoumi, then the PLO political department
head, declared that all the Jews who had fled from Arab states since 1948
were welcome "to return and exercise their full rights."
One day later an Iraqi broadcast from Radio Baghdad echoed the PLO offer
to "retum," particularly to the 140,000 Iraq-born Jews who are now in Israel.
The Iraqi government underscored its invitation two weeks afterward, with
paid advertisements in selected newspapers around the world. Readers of
the New York Times, the Toronto Star, or Le Monde
would have found the ad difficult to overlook; in half-inch boldface letters,
"Iraqi Jews" were "invited to return to Iraq." The invitation excluded
Jews who were Zionists, because "the latter is... racist... directed against
The day after the ad appeared, the New York Times reported that
the Arab offer "was scoffed at" by the Jews "as a propaganda move." The
Star expressed disdain for the ad's "ostensibly generous invitation."
In its editorial, entitled "Iraq's Phony Invitation," the
that "the militantly anti-Israel" dictatorship "knows that the vast majority
of Jews... support Israel and are therefore Zionist in sympathy." According
to the Toronto paper, the "real purpose" of the ad was to emphasize the
"Zionism-is-racism" United Nations resolution and "to deny the validity
of Israel's existence." The editorial concluded that "Iraq's 'come-home'...
hypocritical gesture... won't fool any Jews in Canada, and it shouldn't
mislead any other Canadians...."
The Arab invitations* were not simply a sales device to convince Israeli
sympathizers that Zionism is guilty of the evils alleged by the Arabs and
by the Arab-inspired United Nations resolutions. Most knew little or nothing
about even the existence of such a Jewish community. Neither were the invitations
designed to fool the Jews. The PLO's Kaddourni has never pretended to hospitality
toward them. In fact, almost simultaneously with his invitation, Kaddoumi
had told Newsweek, "This Zionist ghetto of Israel must be destroyed."
These invitations were orchestrated for quite a different purpose. They
were in all probability an attempt to offset little-known facts that were
gradually emerging-facts with the potential to discredit one of the central
themes relating to the "right" of the Palestinian refugees to "return."
1) The vast majority of Palestinian refugees left of their own free
will, (see Palestinian
Refugees, invited to leave in 1948)
2) The vast majority of Jews left fleeing
3) The Palestinian Refugees were on the
whole stateless, citizenshipless, migrant workers who regularly roamed
throughout the Middle East - not based in what is now the state of Israel
4) The Oriental Jews were forced to flee
their homes where they had lived, sometimes for thousands of years.
Thus it is the Jews, NOT the Palestinians
who are the true refugees.
[* Among others, Libya in 1970 and 1973, Sudan in 1975 (although the
number of former Sudanese Jews now in Israel is "minute"), and Egypt in
1. November 24, 1975, Beirut.
2. Revolutionary Command, Radio Baghdad, November 25,
3. New York Times, Le Monde, Toronto Star, December 11,
4. New York Times, December 11, 1975. The Iraqi Minister
of Justice in 1941 stated that "Judaism"-not Zionism-was "a threat to mankind."
He did not attempt disguise the Iraqis' anti-Jewish sentiments, which exploded
that year into an old-fashioned Cossack-style pogrom, long before Israel's
statehood. Further, the killing of the Jewish Dutch citizen, whom the Iraqis
hanged as a "Zionist spy" the same year they extended their "welcome,"
gave lie to Iraq's extensive promises of "full rights" to its Jews. See
Sylvia Haim, "Arabic Anti-Semitic Literature," in Jewish Social Studies,
vol. 17 (1955), pp. 307-12.
5. Toronto Star, February 3, 1976.
6.Libya's Major Abdul-Huni, Council Commanding the Revolution,
to ex-Libyan Jewish refugees then in Italy, May 29, 1970. Libyan leader
Qadaffy invited former Libyan Jews living in Israel to return, November
24, 1973; see Chapter 7. Also, Sudanese President Numeiry, in a speech
at a rally celebrating Independence Day, E-Damar, January 1, 1975. Also
Egyptian President Sadat to Jews who fled or were expelled since 1948,
filing the caveat that Egyptians "are against the racial policies of the
Zionists." The invitation and its qualification occurred in September 1977,
interestingly, just weeks before President Sadat's Jerusalem peace pilgrimage.
See Chicago Daily News, September 10-11; also see The Oregonian (Portland),
July 18, 1977.
7. Newsweek, November 17, 1975, interview; also see Chicago
Daily News: - December 30, 1975; see also Newsweek, March 14, 1977.
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