Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War had dramatic repercussions on the few thousand Jews still living in Arab countries. With the exception of Syria and Iraq where the Jews were kept as virtual hostages, the vast majority of the remaining Jews of Egypt, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia fled in the aftermath of the war, bringing communities established since Biblical times to the brink of extinction . In almost all Arab countries there were demonstrations and anti-Jewish riots. Some Arab governments actively persecuted their Jews as if they were Israelis living their midst.
“Jews of Arab Countries: the 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."
- The World Islamic Congress meeting in Amman, Jordan, 22 September 1967
This section of the site documents the situation in each Arab country after the War. There are links with certain countries to more detailed accounts.
The defeat of the Arabs by Israel in the war of 1967 led to another frightening reign of terror against the Jews. In 1968, President Bakr made a speech carried live on Iraqi television in which he declared, "We shall strike mercilessly with a fist of steel of those exploiters…of imperialism and Zionism." He even called out to the crowd of thousands," What do you want?" The answer would be a thunderous "Death to the Spies (Jews)! Execution of all the spies without delay!" [more...]
Jewish migration from Lebanon, which accelerated in 1964, reached epidemic proportions after the 1967 war due to fears of impending riots.
“ The Jew first prepares a passport. Afterwards he makes sure to liquidate his affairs and gradually sells his property… Before leaving Jews who are not Lebanese citizens sign a declaration stating that they promise never to return to Lebanon. The Lebanese authorities enter their name on a blacklist and their right to re-enter Lebanon is taken away.
For many years already Jewish merchants have felt the boycott enacted by their neighbours as a hostile reaction to the State of Israel. Under these conditions and in preparation for leaving Lebanon the Jews decided to freeze commercial activities. Given this background, it is easy to explain the wave of bankruptcies flooding Lebanon in recent years. The main cause of this is the withdrawal of Jewish capital from the Lebanese economy.” - Al-Sa’id, Lebanese newspaper
Riots broke out in the wake of Israeli victory in the Six Day War. The Great Synagogue in Tunis was set on fire and the Bokobza Boukha and Kosher Wine Factory destroyed. The community panicked, abandoned their homes and businesses and piled into boats bound for Marseille, France.
“ A sense of almost total despair took hold of the community despite President Bourguiba’s strong condemnation of the riots and government promises to punish the perpetrators and make restitution. In the words of one eyewitness:” It is the unanimous opinion of Jews one talks to that if there was any doubt about the question previously it is quite clear that there is no future for them in Tunisia.” Most fled to France. Within a year , only about 7,000 to 8,000 Jews remained in the country”. - Norman Stillman: The Jews of Arab Lands in Modern Times
The Six-Day War in 1967 led to increased Arab-Jewish tensions worldwide, including Morocco. The Istiqlal (nationalist) party called for an economic boycott against Jewish businesses. By 1971, the Jewish population was down to 35,000; however, most of this wave of middle class emigration went to France and North America rather than Israel.
Following the 1967 Six Day War 57 Qamishli Jews were alleged to have been murdered in a pogrom. Curfews were imposed in Qamlishi and Aleppo. The Jews were confined to their homes for eight months. The community was kept as hostages. [more...]
After the Six-Day War, the Jewish population, now only 7,000 was again subjected to pogroms in which 18 people were killed, and many more injured, sparking a near-total exodus that left fewer than 100 Jews in Libya. When Colonel Qaddafi came to power in 1969, all Jewish property was confiscated and all debts to Jews cancelled. Although emigration was illegal, more than 3,000 Jews succeeded in leaving for Israel.
"I was curious and peeked from the window. It was horrible... horrible... horrible, the picture I saw. They were chanting, ‘kill the Jewish!’ and in my mind I thought there were a million but there was really more like a thousand...[more...] - Doris Keren-Gill's story
"...The authorities arrested nearly all Jewish males between the ages of 17 and 60. Those who held foreign citizenship were taken to Alexandria and thrown on a boat, to be disgorged somewhere in southern Europe. They were the fortunate ones..." - [more] Rami Mangoubi's account of "The Longest Ten Minutes"
"...the authorities came knocking on his door in the afternoon of June 5, 1967. Jews were being detained, he was told, for their own safety and protection. Shabtai and his two brothers were taken to Abu Zaabal prison 65 kilometers outside Cairo and were later transferred to an internment camp at Tourah - the same prison in which he had been treating prisoners for the previous year. The 1967 war ended in six short days. Yet it would take another two years before Shabtai and his brothers were granted their freedom." [more] Exodus ll - Brenda Gazzar - Jerusalem Post
During the first days of the Six-Day war almost all male Jews aged 16 and upwards were interned as ‘Israeli PoWs’ and kept in rudimentary and overcrowded prison conditions, even those who had converted to Christianity or Islam. Those of foreign nationality were deported after a few days. Some Egyptian nationals and stateless Jews were given Spanish passports if they could prove Spanish origin. According to a World Council of Churches report 125 Jews were still interned in November 1967. Some would not be released for three years.
The bread that the prisoners were given was dirty and Khedr talks of finding sand, cigarette butts and nails within. He gave up the aluminum plate and started using the bread as a pillow.[more...] - Marc Khedr’s story
“About a year before we were expelled, we lost everything. They took all our assets and our money and nothing belonged to us any longer except the furniture and the rugs and the cars, although my father had to share the cars with government officials.[more...] - Andre Aciman's story
"The next few minutes of interrogation, if we can call it that, had to do more with using his cane on our backs and continuing his savagery while goading us for being Jews and that they will annihilate us"[more...] - Israel Bonan’s story
Analysis of statement (at top of this page) from The World Islamic Congress meeting in Amman, Jordan, 22 September 1967
The Forgotten Refugees: "In 1945 there were up to one million Jews living in the Middle East and North Africa outside the Palestine Mandate - many living in communities dating back more than three millennia. Today, there are several thousand. Who are these Jews? What precipitated their mass-exodus in the 20th century? Where did they go? And why don't we know their stories?"
JIMENA - a site which advocates and educates about the history and plight of the Jews indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa.
no return - website dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct
Jewish communities who have been 'ethnically cleansed' from Arab countries
in the past fifty years . It documents their current struggle for recognition