Saturday, 19 January 2013

After WWII a wave of east european DP's immigrated to Israel concurrent with the sephardi flight from arab countries (Sepharadim part 4)

Concurrent with the destitution of, and ethnic cleansing of sepharadim/arab jews from arab lands (Jews had lived in those countries long before arabs had appeared, at least since the time of destruction of the first Jewish Temple, as far back the 6th century BCE) after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, there was also a large and steady immigration of Displaced Persons who were Holocaust survivors.

After Britain had promulgated the White Paper of 1939 immigration had come to a virtual halt for nine years. The White Paper limited immigration to a maximum of 75,000 before the creation of an arab state over all of Israel. As Israel was closed to jews and no other country would take jews in any numbers, Britain sealed the fate of jewish communities in nazi occupied europe.

The British government used its diplomatic power, its embassies and secret services along with its naval might to prevent jews escaping european countries. Boats preparing to leave for Israel were sabotaged. When the germans offered to release a million jews in 1944, a British diplomat (believed to be Anthony Eden) said, "What would I do with one million Jews?

Britain was complicit in the murder of the jewish people in europe, and had abrogated the Mandate given to it by the League of Nations to create a jewish state. Britain had also been condemned by the Permanent Mandates Commission as being in non compliance with the Mandate so its rule over the land of Israel could henceforth be construed as illegal. But Britain would not go without a fight, and jews who survived the Holocaust would need to wait until Britain left Israel in order to immigrate to Israel.

Golda Meir pps 212-

Perhaps I will be forgiven for citing a few in order to illustrate the scope of the problems we faced. By 1949, 25,000 European Jews had come to Israel from the camps on Cyprus and 75,000 from the DP camps of Germany and Austria. Of the 80,000 Jews living in Turkey at the beginning of 1948, 33,000 were in Israel by the end of 1950........

Each of these migrations, of these mass responses to the establishment of the State of Israel, had its own special history, and each was different. But certainly the airlift of the Jews of Yemen from south-west Arabia to the Jewish state was the most remarkable migration of all. No one knows exactly when the Jews first came to Yemen. It may have been in the days of King Solomon, or perhaps there were Jews who crossed the mountains of Arabia with the Roman troops that fought there at the beginning of the Christian era. At any rate, Jews had lived in Moslem Yemen for many centuries, cut off from the rest of the Jewish world, persecuted, deprived of political rights and impoverished, but always loyal to their faith and to the Bible, which served as their only source of knowledge and learning for hundreds of years. They survived as serfs, as the property of the ruler of Yemen, forbiddenn to work in trades that were open to others, or even to walk on the same side of the street as Moslems. In that backward, bigoted and poverty-stricken country, the Jews were the poorest and lowest of citizens; but unlike the rest of the population, they were literate. In their synagogues and schools, they taught their male children to read and write Hebrew, and I remember that one of my first impressions of the Yemenite Jews was that they were able to read upside down. Because books were so rare, the children, who sat in a circle in the mud-baked huts that served as schools in the Jewish quarters of Yemen, had to learn to read the Bible from every possible angle.

How did they keep themselves alive? They became master craftsmen, silversmiths, jewellers, weavers and carpenters.

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