While media reports frequently denounced Interior Minister Eli Yishai, as a “Right Wing Extremist”, for approving one stage of the planned housing project—what they did not report was the larger story. Eli Yishai is the head of the Shas party, one of Israel’s largest political parties, which represents the interests of Sefardi and Mizrahi Jews from Muslim countries. And the housing project would have benefited Jerusalem’s sizable population of Jews from Muslim countries.
In the 20th century a vast exodus took place in which as many as a million Jews from Muslim countries fled or otherwise departed, often leaving behind homes and valuables. Some came to America and Europe. Many more came to Israel instead. Today three million Mizrahi Jews live in Israel, indeed the majority of Israeli Jews are not the “immigrants from Brooklyn” derisively referred to by Israel-bashing pundits, but Jews whose families came to Israel from Muslim countries, or who spent many centuries living in Jerusalem under Muslim dominion.
They came from Yemen, Turkey, Libya, Syria, Morocco, Iran, Egypt, Iraq and Algeria. Some were driven out by enraged Muslim mobs. Others had their children stolen and their property seized by the government. Others remained behind “sand curtains”, unable to leave. The ways in which some of these Jews were smuggled out of the country through a virtual “Underground Railroad” is unknown to most. And this is a story that continues today.
Consider the story of one woman who successfully helped smuggle out thousands of Syrian Jews by bribing Syrian government officials. And though she describes the work in terms of the Holocaust, “How do you negotiate the price of human lives? I was breaking up children from their parents. It was like the 1940s – they were desperate to get their children out”, in fact the last family she saved was in 2001.
They left behind life in Muslim countries where they were Dhimmis, legally treated as second class citizens under Islamic law
This is what a million Jews from Muslim countries escaped to begin their lives again in Israel. They left behind life in Muslim countries where they were Dhimmis, legally treated as second class citizens under Islamic law. They thought that they had turned their backs on a state of affairs where Muslims could dictate that synagogues should be built no taller than mosques, where their lives were worth less than a Muslim’s and were paid for with blood money and forced to live in ghettos. That is until Obama decided to be gravely insulted because they had decided to live in a place that he thought they had no right to live.
Some commentators have speculated that Obama’s goal by manufacturing the “insult” scandal, was to force Shas out of the government coalition, thereby disenfranchising the millions of Jews from Muslim countries living in Israel. Apologists for Obama have cloaked this in the guise of some sort of campaign against the “right wing”, but Shas, which has been part of coalitions with the Labor Party, including Yitzchak Rabin, is hardly right wing. It voted for the Oslo Peace Accords. It has been fairly open to all sorts of concessions. But its political leader Eli Yishai drew the line at turning portions of Jerusalem into a Jewish Ghetto, while reserving the remainder of the city for Arab Muslims.
And let us consider for a moment, Eli Yishai. Like so many other children of Jewish refugees from Muslim countries, Yishai was born in Jerusalem. His father, Zion Yishai, however came from Muslim Tunisia. Jews have lived in Tunisia for over 2,500 years. But where they once numbered in the hundreds of thousands, today there are hardly a thousand Jews left. The majority of Tunisian Jews now live in Israel and Europe.
The introduction of Tunisian Jews to Islam began under Idriss I, a direct descendant of Mohammed himself. Idriss I persecuted and massacred the Jews, demanding that they pay Jizya and deliver a certain number of virgins annually to his harem. And thus Idriss I showed himself to be a true greedy and perverted descendant of Mohammed. Several years later Idriss I was fatally poisoned by his Jewish doctor. But despite this coda, as the centuries passed, the discrimination and persecution of the Jews of Tunisia continued.
In the 15th century a Flemish nobleman wrote as follows; “The Jews, on the other hand, have no freedom. They must all pay a heavy ... tax. They wear special clothes, different from those of the Moors. If they did not do so, they would be stoned, and they therefore put a yellow cloth on their heads or necks; their women dare not even wear shoes.”
Tunisian Jews were forced to live in ghettos called “Haras”, subject to Muslim riots and atrocities. One in 1864 was described as follows, “Muslim fanaticism ... unleashed against our brethren on the island of Djerba… synagogues profaned and defiled. The Scrolls ... torn in pieces and burnt ... men injured and trampled ... all the women and girls raped .... My pen refuses to set down the terrifying ... atrocities ... in all [their] horror.”
In 1869, the rabbis and leaders of the community of Tunis appealed desperately to the government in Paris that “in the face of Muslim ferocity, eighteen Jews have fallen to the knives of the fanatical murderers.
Tunisian independence, celebrated by liberals as the end of colonialism, opened the door to a renewed wave of Muslim anti-Jewish violence. Today of the 105,000 Jews that lived in Tunisia in 1948, barely a thousand remain. This brief recitation of history is important because it is a reminder of what so many of the millions of Mizrahi Jews of Israel and their fathers and grandfathers suffered. And those liberals who cynically condemn Eli Yishai as a “right winger” because his party would like to provide housing for Jews in Jerusalem, rather than returning to the Tunisian ghettos are cynically exploiting the real victims of Islamic colonialism.
Obama and those in the EU who are striving to turn Jerusalem into another ghetto with areas where Jews may live and areas where they may not live, are once again inflicting the horrors of Islamic Occupation on the Jews who fled from it. It is of course understandable that Obama would sympathize with Muslims over non-Muslims due to his own extensive Muslim heritage, a fact he himself emphasized in a speech at Al Azhar Islamic University. But where Obama might have chosen to redeem his ancestors’ religion by showing tolerance to the Jewish refugees whom his family’s co-religionists had persecuted for over a thousand years, he instead chose to perpetuate their legacy of oppression by manufacturing a scandal over the “insult”. The insult being that Jewish refugees and the descendants of Jewish refugees might have actually been able to live in their ancient city in homes built on empty land. And as a result Muslim anti-Jewish riots have broken out in Jerusalem, that bear some resemblance to those in Tunisia.
“I think that the Arabs want to control the whole world. That is obvious; after all, it is written in their Koran. Furthermore, you can’t trust them. For instance, my parents were their neighbors in Yemen. When my parents decided to immigrate to Israel, the Arabs tried to rob them of their possessions.” So speaks Avraham Yitzhaki, one of the original residents of the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.
The Shas party meanwhile has promised to use Obama’s attacks in their own campaign commercial and their newspaper answered Barack Hussein Obama even more bluntly in its weekly newspaper, describing Obama as “a Palestinian stone throwing youth in East Jerusalem, and not a strategic leader” and his actions as, “a creative solution coming from an Islamic extremist”. The editorial concluded, “Today it is here, but tomorrow it will be in the U.S. and Europe”