ANT 325L Chapter Notes - Chapter JSTOR: Palestinian Refugees, Option Style, Yemenite Jews
Course CodeANT 325L
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The Politics of Defining Jews from Arab Countries
• The U.S. and Israel are making a better effort to recognize Jews from Arab countries as
• This article will study how historical and political conditions allowed the “refugee” label
that has been debated within Zionist context and how human agency plays a role in
making the refugee a socially and politically acceptable category.
• There’s been a resurgence in the importance of the refugee issue in contact of the Israeli-
◦ Refugee issue now pertains to compensation for the refugees displaced from
• The word “refugee” has changed in meaning within Zionist contexts
◦ Label used to be shunned but now it’s desired because it serves to their interests
• More than 850,000 Jews from Arab have emigrated, 600,000 to Israel
◦ Discriminatory laws and violent outbreaks
◦ Economic opportunities
◦ Arab nationalism
• Iraqi jews were stripped of their nationality and left the country. They arrived in Palestine
in larger numbers than allowed. The Zionists sympathized but only granted immigration
certificates because european immigration have been blocked— not because the Iraqi
jews were desirable.
• For Yemeni Jews, the Zionists were reluctant to grant visas unless the European option
had been exhausted. They were only likely to get visas because they were regarded as
natural manual laborers.
◦ The actual immigration was awful and 850 Jews died in the process.
• In 1951, 180,000 Jews tried to immigrate and 200,000 ended up living in unsanitary,
overcrowded and demoralizing conditions. Many Mizrahi Jews experienced this and it
began a history of their persecution in Israel.
• Holocaust survivors went through much of the same bad shit but the worst is identified
with what the Mizrahi went through.
◦ Explains why the Mizrahi reject the left political establishment and supports the
The Emergence of the Refugee Question
• Acceptance of the idea of Jewish refugees from Arab countries occurred in two stages
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