It is difficult to mention relations between Arab-Muslim countries and Jewish populations without mentioning the harsh reality of the systematic expulsions of Jews when Arab nationalists and socialists came to power in Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria. All of them have expelled Jews.
Tunisia in Bourguiba expels Jews who have been present for centuries
Recall that the synagogue of the Ghriba in Djerba testifies to the presence of Jewish communities for centuries or even two millennia, since the presence of Jews would be concomitant with the arrival of the Penicians in the region and the founding of Carthage by Queen Didon-Elyssa. The Jews of Tunisia are there, long before the Arabs of the Muslim conquest. The Jewish cemetery in Gammarth also testifies to this very old presence. And this community has developed its culinary art, its medicine, its eurdition that radiated making the Ghriba a place of pilgrimage.
But when Mendès-France granted autonomy in 1954 under pressure from local nationalists, the 150,000 Jews were worried and they were right. During independence, on 20 March 1956, Habib Bourguiba and his Neo-Destour party undertook the liquidation of the Jewish community of Tunisia. It should not be forgotten that France, who arrived in 1881, had freed the Jews from their status as dhimmis, subject to an additional tax called djizia, imposed since the Muslim conquest in the 8th century.
At independence, the Bey Sidi Lamine retained his throne, but soon Bourguiba moved him away from power. It should be noted that few Tunisian Jews made the alya in 1948 and the following years, on the occasion of the creation of Israel. The liquidation of the Jews and their order to submit or leave are indirectly obtained by the new constitution, when Bourguiba proclaimed the Republic against the old monarchy: Tunisia is a republic whose Islam is religion and Arabic its language. Jews are, of course, not Muslims, and many do not speak the classical Arabic, which was becoming de facto the official language that the republican administration imposes. In these circumstances, the Jews of Tunisia, feel rejected by the national community. They decided to leave Tunisia en masse for France. There are only a small community left today. And there are no signs that they are deceiving. In 1958, the old Jewish quarters of Tunis were razed, including cemetery and synagogue, for reasons of urban renewal.
Egypt from Nasser expels foreigners: settlers and old Jewish communities
In the explosive context of the Suez Canal case, Nasser will attack all “colonial” communities, without distinguishing the old ones from the old. Again, Colonel Nasser came to power as an Arab nationalist, ending the old Egyptian monarchy. The coup d'état of 23 July 1952 dismissed King Farouk. This reversal is accompanied very quickly by anti-foreigner measures.
The ruse will be to constantly create the conditions for a voluntary departure, a flight from Egypt, even if there is no administrative measure to formalize the persecution of foreigners. The arbitrariness of surveillance, threats, internment or sequestering property compels foreigners to renounce living in the country. The ban on working, permanent police pressure will be exerted against its populations: intimidation, humiliations, abuses, etc.
Everything is being done to bring about the departure of 60,000 Jews from Egypt, whose sequestering of societies that deprive of activity and income. These manoeuvres are aimed at the expulsion of the Jewish community from Egypt. It will be achieved through emigration to European countries mainly. Some 40,000 Jews abandoned Egypt from November 1956. Again, some of these Egyptian Jews, the Karaites had been present since the 8th century. This community will grow in the mid-drought exodus of Jews from Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Turkey and Jews during the Holocaust
There is an official version according to which the Ottoman Empire welcomed some of the Jews expelled from Spain. It is estimated that there were about 75,000 Jews in Turkey in 1935. Here, too, the Turkish Republic succeeds the disintegration of the Empire, which does not survive World War I and the hostile manoeuvres of Westerners, including the famous destabilization work of Lawrence of Arabia. Losing from its territory, Turkey was to receive hundreds of thousands of refugees from lost territories in the Balkans and the Caucasus. At the same time, the Turkish Republic was driving out the Greeks of Anatolia, who had also lived there for millennia, not to mention the genocides against Armenians and Assyrians. The Christians of Anatolia had to leave Turkey. This Great Catastrophe against non-Muslim populations, in the wake of the Greek defeat of Sakarya in September 1921, led to the expulsion of nearly 1.5 million Christians to 500,000 Muslims from Macedonia and the lost Balkans. It is estimated that 20 per cent of non-Muslims before the First World War in Turkey. At the end of this expulsion process, they will be only 2%. It is a question of turquating Turkey and purifying it of ethnic groups and religions incompatible with the Turkish model. Let us not forget the Kurds as well.
Kemal Ataturk’s policy of excluding foreigners from most state-controlled occupations. For example, Jews leave Turkey for lack of work. This is the professional ban. Freedom of movement will also be impeded. Jewish organizations were discredited and banned in the 1930s. Minorities have no right. With the nationalist shift based on language more than on the religion that the Republic stands for a progressive and secular power that seduces modernists in the West, the pressure is exerted by the obligation of turquity. This is the time for forced assimilation. The fear of aggression is there in the 1930s. While Jews were seduced by Kemalism, which they believed would be respectful of differences, they found that the Republic was nationalist, against them. The slander expressed in the German press at the time was relayed in Turkey and the Jews were afraid. They emigrate. Of the 150,000 present at the end of the First War, only half remain in 1935, and anti-Semitism is developing: caricatures, texts, press soaps, etc. The turmoil is real.
Letters of threats are disseminated, physical attacks are carried out, trades are boycotted. The Turks drive Jews out of their homes. A pogrom is taking place in Kirklareli: attacking shops, looting, violence. These Jews then left the area for Istanbul. Turkey also organized labour camps in the 1940s by enlisted non-Muslims aged 25 to 45, who had been sent to Anatolia to work in quarries. These minorities are being imposed on their heritage with a view to impoverishing them. Under these pressures, Jews abandoned like the Greeks, a land where they had been present for two millennia.
Jews in Algeria driven out by FLN
Finally, the war of independence in Algeria also led to the expulsion of Jews. The 140,000 Jews of Algeria whose ancestors were naturalized French by the Crémieux decree of 1870 led to their departure with the other French, while the Jews of Algeria were not there since the colonization, but for many before, the oldest, even before the arrival of the Romans. Having become French, he must leave Algeria as part of the vast decolonization desired by the socialist FNL regime.
These four cases show that contemporary Arab-Muslim regimes have been largely anti-Semitic and in favour of the expulsion of Jews from their territories. Yet these regimes all have in common being progressive, nationalistic, and largely influenced by European socialism. Some are even distant from religion, yet they make the whole: ethnicity, language, and religion a triptych justifying the exclusion of Jews from their country. At the same time, the European left welcomes the overthrow of the old decadent monarchies, in Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey, with modern, secular leaders, will we be told. But under their control, Jews no longer belonged. Amazing encounters between European modernity and the new Arab-Muslim nationalist regimes, Nazism being, moreover, only an expression of the same modernity, also anti-Semitic, with its language, its ethnic group, its state, its national enterprises, etc. Wouldn’t Nazism be fundamentally on the left, despite the great manipulations of history by a few?