You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

June 5: Egyptian Jews and the Six-Day War

June 4, 2015

Nasser-kicks-Jew-lo-res1The advent of the Six-Day War on this date in 1967 prompted Egypt to round up some six hundred Jewish men, from nearly all the remaining Jewish households in the country, including Grand Rabbi Jacques Nefoussi of Cairo and Grand Rabbi Chaim Douek of Alexandria. Even Jews who had converted to Christianity or Islam were seized, foreign nationals were expelled, and some of the men would remain imprisoned for more than two years. In Tunisia, Israeli victory in the war prompted anti-Jewish riots in which one hundred shops were looted and burned and the main synagogue was burned to the ground. Within a year, the country’s Jewish population had gone from 105,000 to about 9,000. In Syria, Jews were confined to their houses for eight months and not permitted to emigrate. In Iraq, numerous Jews were groundlessly jailed, some for years, “phone lines to Jewish households were cut, bank accounts frozen and trading licences revoked,” and “the State Security Department recruited some 3,000 secret police in civilian clothing to watch Baghdad’s remaining Jews around the clock: one spy for every adult Jew,” writes Marina Benjamin in Last Days in Babylon. In Libya, eighteen Jews were killed in pogroms and 3,000 out of 7,000 succeeded at emigrating illegally. Such persecutions marked the virtual end of Jewish communities that had thrived for centuries. (The cartoon comes from a Lebanese journal, Al-Djarida, May 25, 1967.)

“Jews of Arab Countries: the [World Islamic] Congress is convinced that Jews living in Arab countries do not appreciate the kindness and protection that Muslims have granted them over the centuries. The Congress proclaims that the Jews who live in the Arab states and who have contact with Zionist circles or the state of Israel do not deserve the protection and kindness that Islam grants to non-Muslim citizens living freely in Islamic countries. Islamic governments must treat them as enemy combatants. In the same way, Islamic peoples must individually and collectively boycott them and treat them as mortal enemies.” —World Islamic Congress, Amman, Jordan, September 22, 1967