There Were Once Jews Here: The ’67 Flight of Egyptian Jewry

hero image
Baghdadi Jews
12 Jun 2017

We have been hearing a lot about the war waged by multiple Arab countries against Israel 50 years ago. But there was another war waged by some of those same countries that same week that we have heard pretty much nothing about: a war against the Jews.

Even in June 1967, after two decades of threats, expulsions, and pointed hostility by Arab leaders toward their own Jewish populations, there were still some doughty Jews left in the Arab world.

Admittedly, not too many.

By the mid to late 1960s, the vast majority of Arab Jews, who once numbered 800,000, were gone from their ancestral lands. It had taken only two decades for the Arab world—a fairly congenial home for Jews for hundreds of years or more—to rid themselves of most of their Jewish populations. Some countries, such as Algeria, had seen Jews leave en masse after the country became independent from France in 1962 and there were few who remained.

But some Jewish stragglers had held on. Either out of a sense of principle that the Middle East was their home, or because they lacked the wherewithal to leave, or they thought they could tough it out, or God knows why. There they were, clustered in small communities from Cairo to Tunis.

That week in June—which sparked terrifying anti-Jewish riots, shop burnings, mass incarcerations, and even murders—would change that, eliminating any last lingering illusions these Jews may have held that they could stay put…

Read the full story on Tablet.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.