Jewish Refugees from Muslim Lands

 

It has been estimated that as many as 1,000,000 Jews lived in Muslim countries prior to the establishment of the State of Israel with some of the Jewish communities having existed for as long as 2,600 years. Today only a few thousand Jews remain.

For centuries there were tensions between Jews and their Muslim overlords. Though the rise of the State of Israel was a watershed event, even before, there were riots and pogroms leading to murder, rape, torture, and plundering of property. After Israel was established, oppression, persecution, and forced expulsions became all too common. In the resulting mass exodus, some 500,000 Jews found refuge in Israel. Neither for those who went to Israel nor for those who sought refuge elsewhere has there been redress for the wrongs committed against them and their families.

If unfamiliar with this story, you are encouraged to view the documentary, Forgotten Refugees and to listen to the podcasts of “The Forgotten Exodus.” 


Forgotten Refugees – 2005 documentary film from The David Project. The film recounts the history of Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa and their destruction in the face of persecution following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

The Forgotten Exodus – 2022 podcast series from the American Jewish Committee about the Mizrahi and Sephardi Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.


Jewish Refugees from Muslim Lands, 1947–1972. Martin Gilbert, In Ishmael’s House


Population estimates are based primarily on the table in the Wikipedia article on the “Jewish exodus from the Muslim world” [data as of April 2023]

Country or Territory1948 Jewish Poplulation1972 Jewish PopulationRecent Estimates
Morocco250,000–265,00031,0002,500–2,700 (2006)2,100 (2019)
Algeria140,0001,000≈0<50 (2014)
Tunisia50,000–105,0008,000900–1,000 (2008)1,000 (2019)
Libya35,000–38,0005000 (2014)
North Africa -
Total
475,000–548,000≈40,0003,400–3,7003,550
Iraq135,000–140,0005005 (2013)5-7 (2014)
Egypt75,000–80,000500100 (2006)100 (2019)
Yemen and Aden53,000–63,000500320 (2008)90 (2014)-50 (2016)
Syria15,000–30,0004,000100 (2006)17 (2014)-100 (2019)
Lebanon5,000[76]–20,0002,00020–40 (2006)100 (2012)
Bahrain550–60050 (2008)36 (2007)
Sudan350≈0≈0
North Africa &
Arab Countries -
Total
758,350–881,350<45,800<3,795-4,345<3,802-3,762
Afghanistan50005002 (2001)0 (2021)
BangladeshUnknown175–3,500 (2009)75-100 (2012)
Iran65,232 (1956)62,258 (1976) - 80,0009,252 (2006)8,300 (2019)
Pakistan2,000–2,500250200 (2009)>900 (2017)
Turkey80,00030,00017,800 (2006)14,800 (2019)
Non-Arab Muslim
Countries - Total
202,000–282,500110,75032,100≈24,000

Another population estimate, this one based on the table in the Jewish Virtual Library fact sheet on Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

194819581968197820112018
Algeria140,000130,0001,5001,000<50<50
Egypt75,00015,0001,000400100100
Iraq135,0006,0002,5003507<10
Lebanon5,0006,0003,000400<100
Libya38,0003,7501004000
Morocco265,000200,00050,00018,0004,0002,150
Syria30,0005,0004,0004,500100100
Tunisia105,00080,00010,0007,0001,5001,050
Yemen/Aden63,0004,300500500250<50
Total851,000469,06069,60031,790~6,2003,330

Resources

Websites

Organizations

Documents

Law Related Articles and Reports

General Historical Background

Selected Books and Articles on the Exodus

Film and Video