Sunday, April 25, 2021

  • Sunday, April 25, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon
UNSCOP committee meeting at the Jerusalem YMCA

Here is testimony from Eliahu Eliachar, the founder of the World Sephardi Foundation and a co-founder and vice president of the World Sephardi Federation, speaking before the UN Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP), held at the YMCA in Jerusalem, July 15, 1947. 

It is a good summary of the situation of Jews in Arab countries at the time.

Notably, Eliachar was a peacenik, wanting dialogue with Palestinians and a Palestinian state in the West Bank in the 1970s. He was also deputy mayor of Jerusalem

The meeting was held in private, as Eliachar explains, so as not to endanger the Jews in Arab countries further.

Mr. ELIACHAR: Mr. Chairman and honourable Members of the Committee:

We thank you for granting us this hearing in camera. Not that we have anything to say that we would not like everybody to know, but for fear that this may endanger the position of our brethren in the Arab countries, as we shall explain further.

The Sepharadi and the Oriental Jews are an integral part of the Jewish People. The differences are those created by different environments, habits and the use of slightly different Prayer Books and rituals,

“Sepharadi” means a descendant of Jews from Spain and Portugal, as against Ashkenazi, a descendant from Jews of Germany and Central Europe. The denomination Sepharadi includes all Jews using the same Prayer Books and following the same rituals; therefore it includes all Jews of the Oriental and Middle Eastern countries.

In Palestine, with the revival of Hebrew, these differences are gradually disappearing and one nation, with one religion and the same ideals and aspirations is growing.

As you have been told already, gentlemen, Jews resided in Palestine without interruption ever since the dispersion by the Romans. The most ancient community is that of the Oriental Jews who never left Palestine or the Middle Eastern countries, and they were followed by the Spanish Jews returning here after the expulsion from Spain in 1492. Our Community, which we have the honour to represent today, was organised and has continued to exist since 1276, without interruption. We number, in Jerusalem, over 50,000 Jews of the Oriental Communities. Our number exceeds 160,000, or probably more than one-quarter of the entire Jewish Yishuv. Jerusalem has always had a majority of Jews. We would like to stress this point. Before the British and allied occupation of the Middle East, this entire area was under Turkish rule and domination. It appears that this point has not been made clear to you. We want to insist on this point; that this was a territory, together with all the other Middle Eastern countries which are now called Arab countries, Arab independent states, which for hundreds of years was under Turkish domination, and there were no so-called independent states before the occupation of the Middle East by the British and their Allies sometime in 1916 and afterwards. Jew and Arab alike were subjected to the iron fist of the Turk. None had any advantage over the other, except the advantages granted by Moslem law to Moslems over the infidels. Jews of Turkish nationality were allowed to move about freely, to settle anywhere they liked, to buy land wherever they pleased. Immigration from outside the Turkish Empire was regulated, but illegal immigration was flourishing. The only difference with present times was that no immigrant was expelled once he had entered Palestine and no British fleet or Turkish fleet took them to British concentration camps in Cyprus, with all the ensuing misery and suffering.

Arab-Jewish relations were good in the social and economic fields. They traded freely together, they met socially, and Jewish schools were attended by the upper classes of the Arabs. I have myself studied with many of the present day Arab leaders in Palestine and abroad, and many are still my best friends. We were comrades in arms during the first war, and better friends it is difficult to find.

The Turks did not tolerate any disorder. Allow us, gentlemen, to stress this point with all our might. No disorder prevailed for centuries in this country. What is the cause? We leave it to you to consider. A special system granted foreign protection to certain Christians, Jews, and even Moslems. Without both these preventives, the Arab masses, who are generally of a peaceful character, are, due to their illiteracy and fanaticism, easily aroused to bloodshed.

Arab nationalism was non-existent, or at least dormant before the occupation of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration was accepted tacitly by the Arabs of Palestine. Only outside intriguers aroused opposition. The word of King Hussein and that of his son, Emir Feisal, was taken by the Arab world and the Arabs of Palestine at the time as the final law and the final word of law. But gradually opposition was organised by the Christian-Moslem Association founded for this specific purpose in Palestine. The masses of the Arabs were inflated on religious grounds, which resulted in the terrible massacres of Jaffa, Hebron, Jerusalem, Safad, Mosca and so forth. These massacres were perpetrated by the Arabs against their erstwhile friends, neighbours, partners. The Community of Hebron, the most ancient Jewish settlement in Palestine, was thus destroyed and evacuated. It remains so until today. A town, a whole Jewish community in Jerusalem, which had existed for over eight or nine centuries without interruption, has been wiped out under British rule. [This refers to the Jewish community in Silwan/Kfar HaShiloach - EoZ.]Such a destruction could not have happened to the Jews under the Turks, particularly since the Government was aware that the Arab masses were being incited and encouraged by their leaders to believe that the Government supported these deeds. “Al Dole Maana” was the password in those days.

Many Arabs condemned these murders. Many have resumed their friendly relations with the Jews, but the fact remains that no longer can Jews inter-mingle freely in Arab towns and villages, even if they be of the Oriental Communities and of the oldest inhabitants.

On the strength of our experience of generations past and of recent events, we cannot visualize our dependence on an Arab State. Our bare lives will be in danger, and the fate of the Hebron Community may be ours too.

Without going into the causes which have brought the change of attitude, we cannot but deplore that present day Arab leadership is most extremist and most outspoken as to their intentions. No Jew can depend on the Mufti’s goodwill or that of his lieutenants. Using his religious position and prestige, he has been calling for massacres of the Jews ever since he fled to Germany.

May I quote to you a few words from Mr. Crum’s book* on this subject. 

 “In 1941, the Mufti fled to Germany for refuge. He immediately set to work with all his influence to agitate against ghettoization of the Jews and for a final solution: extermination. The result was the third stage of Nazi Policy, the planned destruction of the Jewish race… Instead, he said, they should be sent to a place in which they would be ‘under stringent control as, for instance, Poland’. The Mufti’s protest was successful. No children’s transport left Bulgaria after July, 1943.

A few weeks later he dispatched a similar letter to the Foreign Minister of Rumania, concerning eighteen hundred Jewish children. This time he again suggested Poland, pointing out that they would be under what he called ‘active supervision’, a euphemism for the gas chambers…

This ‘common enemy’, of course, was Britain. He went on to say, ‘But most of all they have definitely solved the Jewish problem.’”

We therefore proclaim before the great nations of the world that no Jew in Palestine of sound mind will ever accept being in a minority any longer in Palestine,

The Arabs of Palestine are not organised democratically. Their present-day leaders have never been elected. Self-appointed, they have destroyed and continue to destroy any opposition by gun and dagger. Recent murders are an indication of what may be the fate of the Arab opposition unless the authorities put an end to it.

I would like very much to quote from a little booklet I have here, published by one of the leaders of the opposition, who was murdered in Baghdad, Fakhri Nashashibi. It may take some time, but I would not like to have you escape from hearing this, so that you may realize our position. I have the booklet here and I will present it to the Committee. In the memorandum which Fakhri Nashashibi presented to the High Commissioner, he declares that the Mufti does not represent the Arabs of Palestine. “It will not be an exaggeration if I state that the leaders who oppose Haj Amin el Husseini and his destructive ideology represent seventy-five per cent of Arabs with special interests in Palestine, and those supporting them and their views exceed half of the Arabs of Palestine. In order to eliminate all opposition within the Arab Community, Haj Amin destroyed them. During 1937-1938, a hundred Arab leaders and heads of families were murdered under his direction. Those who remained alive fled the country. The numbers of heads of families, tribal chiefs and leaders who were destroyed or left the country reached 150.” He names here the best, the flower of the youth of the Arabs of Palestine, who were killed. I shall read only a very few names: Hassan Sidki Dajani, members of the R’sheyid Family, Farid El-Hamdallah, Abdel Salam e-Barkawi, Haj Khalil Taha, Haj El-Huneidi, Haj Ali El-Karzoun, Nasr Ed-Din, Vice-Mayor of Hebron. This is what he contends at the time was called a democratic imposition of the views of the present day leaders of the Arabs.

This, coupled with the statements by Crum, gives you a correct view of our reasons for objecting to any minority regime in Palestine.

We have not touched upon the Jewish case as a whole. This has been submitted to you by the Jewish Agency, of which we form part and parcel. We summarized our position in Palestine before the British occupation:

About one million Jews reside in the various Arab or countries. Their position is one that requires all your attention. Their case has been linked to the Palestine problem by the force of events and of the acts of their rulers.

Whilst we deplore the fact that you have not as yet visited the D.P. camps in Europe, which would have enlightened our problem more than any reports and speeches — too many speeches have been given to you, too many reports have been submitted to you — nothing, absolutely nothing will convince you of the imminence of the danger unless you have seen, as I have, one miserable day last year, a glimpse of what is happening in the D.P. camps in Europe. To come to Palestine, to discuss the Palestine problem, to approach it through books, through reports and speeches will have only tired you, will have only made you probably so tired that you will not be able to digest the real issue of the problem. The real issue of the problem, Gentlemen, is in the D.P. Camps. I have had a glimpse of it. And, Gentlemen, Members of the greatest nations representing the entire united world, you cannot talk about, you cannot understand the Palestine problem until you devote a few more days of your time — all the trash that has been going on in Palestine, submitting to you words and words will have disappeared and you will see the problem as it is. What is Palestine? What is Zionism? What does it mean? Thousands and thousands are looking to you to settle their means of life, to give a verdict, to approach the problem from the real point of view. Gentlemen, do not rely on any speeches. Do not rely on any report reading. You cannot possibly have had the time even to read the hundreds of pages which were submitted to you. We cannot believe that you can digest them all. You can digest the whole problem in twenty-four hours, in one single day, by passing through any concentration camp in Europe. I have had the unpleasant position of being there. I myself have never had to suffer. I was born a free man in Palestine. For over six hundred years, my family has resided here. All the time we realized one thing; that the Jewish problem, even as a Jew could see it — whether he lives in Washington, London, the Argentine, Palestine, or anywhere else — is totally different from what you will see for yourselves in one day in the D.P. Camps.

There is another thing which you have to see if you want to appreciate the problem that is facing you, that is demanding a solution. These are the ghettoes of the Arab States, of those independent, sovereign, democratic Members of the United Nations. The ghettoes in these Arab States, in the Yemen, in Iraq, in Damascus — if you will visit any of them, all the reports, all our speeches, all our proofs as to whether such and such a prophet was born on such and such a day, all that will have vanished and you will face the problem of humanity in the raw demanding a solution.

It is through you that we are in duty bound to sound the alarm, and call upon the human conscience of the world to take stock before it is too late. What has happened under the Nazi regime in the West may happen under the rule of certain Governments, Members of the United Nations Organization. Many hundreds of thousands of Jews look up to you, Honourable Gentlemen, to prevent a repetition of massacres such as those in Baghdad under Rashid Ali, when hundreds were killed, or in Tripolitania under the British flag of occupation, where 120 men, women and children were brutally butchered. It is an open secret that the Arab League and the Arab Government consider the Jews in their realms as hostages for the Palestine problem. They have declared this openly. If you require any evidence, we have the evidence with us. We do not want to take too much of your time, but if you want any evidence on these statements made by the Arab League, made by various governments, made by Dr. Jamali, the Foreign Minister of Iraq, we are ready to give them. Jew-hatred and Jew-baiting is growing daily in almost all Arab countries. What has happened once in Baghdad, Tripolitania, Urfa, the boundary of Syria and Turkey where a whole family was massacred overnight, in Egypt, what happened on 2nd November, 1945, Balfour Declaration Day, may happen again with increased violence.

So-called democratic countries, members of the United Nations, sitting with you are indulging in racial discrimination bearing the seeds of unrest, maltreatment and eventual massacres.

Gradually and methodically the Jews in Iraq, in Syria, in Lebanon, in Egypt, are being subjected to a special treatment which is enforced administratively but cannot be traced in legal documentation.

Threats to individuals are a daily occurrence.

A strait-jacket is tightening on Jews there in their economic life. Any Jewish-Hebrew culture is objected to. Any connection with Jewish Palestine is discouraged. Obstacles and difficulties are placed in the way of all Jews desirous to visit Palestine for any reason. Passports are marked “Not valid for Palestine”. All Iraqian Jews are held prisoners and may seldom leave Iraq and only against heavy cash deposits. Jews of all nationalities — American, British or any other — cannot cross Iraq even in transit and no transit visas are granted to Jews by any State Members of the Arab League except under great pressure. Recently all transit of goods to Iraq via Palestine has been officially prohibited, so as to tighten the boycott against Palestine Jews.

Racial economic boycott, supposed to be condemned by the Atlantic Charter, is openly declared and enforced by all Arab States against Jewish Palestine. Notices to this effect can be seen exhibited at certain customs stations. It is a continual cause of amazement that this continues to be tolerated to this day by the Mandatory who is supposed to protect our interests, and by the United Nations, who have accepted the Four Freedoms.

Heavy penalties are imposed upon Jews trying to leave Syria for Palestine, and should anyone succeed in escaping, his relatives left behind are persecuted and imprisoned. That these anti-Jewish campaigns have reached alarming proportions is evidenced by the recent broadcasts of Premier Nokrashy of Egypt and Dr. Recep Peker, Premier of Turkey, appealing to their peoples for moderation. We have referred to Iraq, Syria and Egypt . Conditions in the Yemen, Afghanistan, Tripolitania and elsewhere are incomparably worse. In Afghanistan there is terror.

Mr. Chairman, at this point I want to make a special appeal to one of the members of the Committee. Over 280 refugees from Afghanistan are living in India. They have run away for their skins and lives. They are not permitted to remain in India for longer than six months at a time. Thanks to all sorts of intervention, India granted them an extra six months. These six months are nearly over. May we appeal to the Indian representative that to this small case of 280 Jews, human beings — if you tickle them, they laugh, if you prick them, they cry — who are sitting there in India waiting for a decision as to where to go. In India they cannot remain; to Afghanistan they will not return because if they return to Afghanistan they will be murdered. To Palestine they cannot come. We do not know where to send our brethren from Afghanistan. May I appeal to you, Sir Abdur Rahman, to appeal to your Government to be lenient, to retain them there and not force them to go hack to their territory, to their own country of origin where their lives are endangered, until such time as we may have an opportunity to find a refuge for them, in the only place and the only country in the world which is ready, as far as their co-religionists are concerned, to receive them.

About Yemen I am not going to speak. This is something from the Middle Ages. I advise the members of this Committee only to note the Arab-Christian writer’s book, Amin El Rihani. If you read only a few pages of that book, I do not think that any man who believes that he was born a man can stand and tolerate, in the twentieth century, such treatment of man by man.

Conditions in Morocco, Algeria and Tunis are now deteriorating due to anti-French feelings growing high, and as usual the Jew is the first to suffer. In many countries, such as Egypt, xenophobia is the basis of all these events and moods, but the Jews — the usual scapegoats — with no power to back them, will have to pay for the lot.

Religious Fanaticism, coupled with national chauvinism and mass ignorance, are fraught with dangers, particularly since an anti-Jewish campaign is kept ablaze everywhere under anti-Zionist pretences.

If the Jewish communities in all the countries referred to cannot come forward and make their own statements to you, if those communities denounce all our evidence, we rely on your judgment to realize that they cannot do otherwise. It is sufficient to read Crum’s statement about the evidence given by the Damascan Jews before the Anglo-American Committee. They were granted twenty-five minutes. They spoke for forty-five seconds. That was enough.

We are entitled to speak for them because of our direct connection and kinship as well as our relative security. Furthermore, the presence of His Eminence, the Chief Rabbi — the recognized highest religious authority of Sepharadi Jewry throughout the world, as his title FIRST IN ZION denotes — may suffice to bear evidence of our grave forebodings. Our numbers in Palestine are gradually and regularly increasing by immigration from those countries in the face of all obstacles, dangers and risks for the immigrants themselves and for their relatives and friends remaining behind. Suffice it to note that the Community of. Damascus, which numbered about 20,000 before the First World War, now numbers not more than 2,000 souls, most of them having reached Palestine.

Another illustration is the ‘illegal boat’, among so many illegal boats, named after our great Zionist of 700 years ago from Spain, the famous recognized writer-poet and philosopher of the Arab world as well as the Jewish world, Yehouda Halavi. That boat carried 350 passengers from North Africa, from Tripolitania and Tunisian soil. There are no persecutions yet in North Africa, but if 350 souls, 350 men dare risk and venture all the difficulties entailed to sail, packed in those small boats and leave that country when they know they will be intercepted by the strongest fleet in Europe and they will be sent to concentration camps in Cyprus, when they know that in Cyprus they will not know how long they will remain there, you cannot find in any country 350 men, of any religion, ready to leave and embark upon such a dreadful adventure unless they fear that their lives and skin are in danger. This is not propaganda. You have to see them to realize that it is not propaganda paid by the Jewish agency or anyone else. If people dare risk sailing in an unseaworthy ship, crowded as they are, and finishing in Cyprus, it is because they are afraid that what happened in Tripolitania will happen to them tomorrow. And they are ready to leave anywhere, naked, leaving everything behind, provided their brethren sympathize here, where they can live as men, as other men under the sun-,

Having been born in Oriental countries, knowing their customs and languages, their mode of life and their ethics, the Sepharadim are called upon to play a greater role in the establishment of harmony and peace throughout the Eastern countries, provided the United Nations Organization is strong enough to impose upon all their members to enforce the tenets .of real and true democracy, the tenets of the Atlantic Charter and the practice of the Four Freedoms.

Most of the Arab countries, with the exception of Egypt, are underpopulated. No Arab country is in a position alone to put to good use the extensive areas allocated to them so very generously by the victors of the First World War.

It is high time that the wrongs done to Judaism in the West be somewhat repaired by the assistance required to establish a haven of refuge for them in their national and historical cradle. The more so, before more and irreparable wrong is done to the Jews of the East by the Arab rulers.

For these and many more reasons given to you by the official spokesmen of the Jewish people, it is imperative that the gates of Palestine be thrown open to receive not only those who escaped the Hitlerite crematoria, but for those in imminent danger for their lives in certain countries of the Middle East. Oriental Jewish Immigration into Palestine will not alter the number of Jews in the Middle East. To believe Fadil Jamali, the present Foreign Minister of Iraq, any satisfactory solution in Palestine will he revenged upon the Jews in the Arab countries. We shall produce evidence to you on this if it is required.

Our present position in Palestine is degrading. From free citizens we were turned — I am speaking of the Jewish population of this country — into second-rate citizens by the White Paper of 1939, and this, against all provisions of the Mandate and contrary to our own status under Turkish law. There are closed zones established by the Mandatory; these were open to us before the British occupation. Such is Transjordan, such are other zones in Palestine itself, details of which were given to you by our official spokesmen

Against such discriminations we protest. Against discrimination in taxation we protest. We are not rich. Someone in this Committee mentioned that we are rich. We are not rich. This is a fallacy. May I venture to invite you to visit some of our quarters a few hundred yards from Kadimah, your present residence.: May I invite you to visit these quarters to give you an idea of our street urchins, our slums, our overcrowded families, which are a flat denial of the myth of our riches.

Summarising the picture, we now see with grave apprehension that with the tacit consent of the Governments that could prevent it, men such as the Mufti in Cairo, Yunis El Bahri in Transjordan, Raschid Ali in Baghdad, Anton Saade in the Lebanon, Kawkaji in Syria, Drause in Damascus re helping to shape the future. Does it surprise you if we are worried?

We therefore appeal to you for an equitable solution on the lines claimed by our official spokesmen.

As the indigenous population of Palestine, we demand the restitution of our rights, the abolition of the White Paper of 1939 and all it stands for and the opening of the gates to all Jews in need of a home, whether from East or West. Not wanted anywhere — undesirables everywhere — this germ of restlessness and despair is eating us up root and branch.

To impose upon Palestine a permanent Jewish minority is to add insult to injury. Knowing what we have to expect under Arab rule, we cannot declare to you that, one and all, we shall be faced with Samson’s desperation.

The courageous establishment of a haven of refuge for the most persecuted people since man was created may bring peace to this country, to the Middle East and to the world, in collaboration with all our Semite and Arab brethren.

Honourable members of this Committee, representatives of great nations, millions upon millions are awaiting your verdict; for the sake of humanity, do not let us despair of humanity.
Mr. Eliachar does not distinguish between Sephardi and Ashkenazic Jews - and refers to them all when calling Jews "the indigenous population of Palestine." 

EoZ Book:"Protocols: Exposing Modern Antisemitism"


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

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