This chapter deals with the Jewish people and their connection to The Land of Israel, and also shatters erroneous beliefs that have become part of the Arab story and to a large extent of global discourse. The chapter reviews the connection of the Jewish people to The Land of Israel throughout the generations, the changes that came with the Zionist period, and the process that led to the creation of the state. Additionally, the chapter explores the treatment that Jews received in Arab countries and exposes the phenomenon of Jewish refugees from the countries they inhabited.
The connection between Jews and The Land of Israel dates back 3000 years, it is continuous and strong. The Jewish community in the land has been present throughout the generations. Even when exiled, many Jews held on to the land and protected the remains.
Historical accounts from past centuries prove the presence of Jewish settlement in The Land of Israel and its connection with the Jewish diaspora. The hope of returning to their homeland was always present in the hearts of the Jews living in the countries of the diaspora. Jewish culture throughout the generations always expressed always desire of returning to the historical homeland of the Jewish people.
In the mid-19th Century, the Jewish initiative of returning to Zion translated into the purchase of lands, immigration (Aliyah) and settlement. These efforts were met with resistance from the Turkish Effendi who controlled the lands and the inhabitants. As a result, the Ottoman government imposed severe restrictions on Jewish immigration. Following the Balfour Declaration, it seemed that the British would ease the restrictions on the Zionist enterprise; but it became clear soon afterwards that relying on them would bring an end to the hope of establishing a national home in the Land of Israel. Despite the objection of the local government, Jews were determined to overcome the obstacles. They created institutions for this purpose, operated clandestinely to strengthen Jewish settlement and immigration, and even formed a Jewish fighting force for defense and active resistance. As a response to this Jewish revival, the Arabs established a movement that did everything they could to hurt Jews; terror attacks and pogroms took the lives of many.
From time immemorial, Jews in the Arab world never enjoyed peace. Starting with the Muslim occupation, they faced restrictions and humiliation, the purpose of which was to keep them in their inferior status. Jews were only allowed to live in poor and neglected places, their legal rights in comparison to the Arab population were revoked, and they were forced to pay high protection taxes as “shimmy (non-Muslim citizens of an Islamic state). Jews also suffered from anti-Semitic libels and deadly pogroms everywhere they lived. All of these forced Jews to escape the countries where they lived and immigrate to the newly formed State of Israel whenever they managed to do so. In the year 1948, there were 850 thousand Jews living in Arab countries. Today, there are less than ten thousand, most of them in Morocco and Libya. This mass flow of people leaving Arab countries is in fact a vast movement of refugees that was never acknowledged by the world. This has significant consequences on the Arab perception of the opposite movement, the flow of Arabs from The Land of Israel towards Arab countries.