Rachel Shabi morally absolves the perpetrators who ethnically cleansed Jews from Arab lands

The blog Point of No Return, dedicated to the memory of Jewish refugees from Arab lands, aptly states:

In just 50 years, almost a million Jews, whose communities stretch back up to 3,000 years, have been ‘ethnically cleansed’ from 10 Arab countries. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Unlike Palestinian refugees, they fled not war, but systematic persecution. Seen in this light, Israel, which absorbed most of these Jewish refugees, is the legitimate expression of the self-determination of an oppressed indigenous, Middle Eastern people.

NYT Headline, May 16, 1948

Yes, in a mere fifty years roughly one million Jews were expelled from Arab lands for the sole crime of sharing the religious identity of the resurrected Jewish state.  Thousands of communities were wiped out of existence, as well as the world’s collective imagination – those for whom nobody (and no UN agency) will speak.

And, in less than fifty words ‘Comment is Free’ contributor Rachel Shabi morally absolved Arab rulers who initiated the ethnic cleansing of Jews of the guilt typically assigned to those who commit such reprehensible acts.

Shabi’s latest CiF essay, “Equality must be the legacy of the Arab Spring“, included this moral obfuscation:

 the main reason Arab countries were all but emptied of Jewish communities during the 1940s and 1950s [was that] the ideologies of Zionism and Arab nationalism…yanked at opposing ends of hyphenated Arab-Jewish identities and forced them to fall apart. 

It’s vitally important that you read, and re-read, this passage to fully appreciate the art of Shabi’s moral inversion. 

In a remarkably thrifty polemic apologia for antisemtism, Rachel Shabi distributes guilt for the expulsion of one million innocent Jews evenly between two abstractions: Jewish and Arab “nationalism”.

However, it is simply undeniable that Jews were expelled from their homes by quite particular Arab rulers – those who cynically exploited prevailing antisemitic mores to justify freezing Jews’ bank accounts, confiscating their assets and expropriating their property, revoking their national citizenship, and inciting murderous riots.

It is not an overstatement to compare such measures which stripped Jews of their citizenship to the Reich Citizenship Law of 1935 (Nuremberg laws), and Arabs’ theft of Jewish assets (estimated to be valued at over $100 billion) are similarly analogous to Nazi measures against Jews initiated in the late 1930s.

Further, as Bataween, of  the blog Point of No Return, observed:

From 1949 to 2009, General Assembly resolutions focused much greater attention on the issue of Palestinian refugees – some 20 percent – than on any other Middle East issue. There were never any General Assembly resolutions that specifically addressed the issue of Jewish refugees, nor any resolutions on other topics that even mention Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

As a definitive report, co-authored by Irwin Cotler, concluded about the issue of Jewish refugees, their expulsion was part of an intentional and coordinated effort by Arab rulers:

These massive human rights violations were not events that occurred coincidently or haphazardly; nor were they the result only of state-sanctioned patterns of repression in each of the Arab countries, though this would be bad enough; rather, as the evidence discloses, they were the result of an international criminal conspiracy by the League of Arab States to target and persecute the Jewish populations in their respective countries.

Shabi’s attempt to blame Zionism for this massive crime employs the same moral logic of those who blamed the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII on the military acts of the Empire of Japan.  

Just as Japanese Americans bore absolutely no responsibility for the acts of Japan, Jews in Arab lands could not conceivably be blamed for the creation of Israel – even to those sympathetic towards the Arabs’ fanatical intolerance towards Israel’s existence.

Scholar Manfred Gerstenfeld’s latest book, The Abuse of Holocaust Memory addresses, among other dynamics, the “denial of the Holocaust…the distortion of its memory, justification, deflection, and whitewashing.” 

Similarly, Rachel Shabi’s attempt to deflect moral responsibility for the Jews’ expulsion away from the Arab perpetrators (and blurring the clear causation) is a similarly reprehensible abuse of the memory of the nearly one million Jews, and their descendants, who suffered immeasurably due to an intentional and systemic act of ethnic cleansing.


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