Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Arab League Draft Law regarding Jews in Arab Countries


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As reported in a 1948 New York Times article by Mallory Browne, Jews in Arab countries faced great perils when Israel became a state. Arab League countries contemplated discriminatory laws against their own Jewish citizens reminiscent of the Nazi Nuremberg laws. On Jan. 19. 1948, the World Jewish Congress submitted a memorandum on the whole problem to the Economic and Social Council, asking for urgent action during the spring session of the Council.

Three years after the Holocaust had wiped out European Jews,  Arab countries seemed to be threatening to wipe out Asian and North African Jews. Apparently, the report was "debated," but no no decisions were taken.

Below are excerpts from the draft law, provided by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC). The law itself was apparently not adopted by the Arab League or by Muslim countries in that form; however, many Arab countries did adopt draconic  discriminatory measures against their Jewish citizens, as well as ensuring that anti-Semitic sentiment and actions became unbearable. Jews were forced to flee to other countries either at the time the state of Israel was created, or in the subsequent decades. Of a population of about 900,000, only tiny and scattered communities remain. In Egypt, there are a few hundred Jews at most. In Afghanistan there is one Jew. In Morocco, a few thousand.

Ami Isseroff


The introduction above is copyright 2007 by Ami Isseroff. The document below is provided under the doctrine of fair use for educational purposes. It may be subject to copyright restrictions when published in a for-profit venture. Please cite the sources.

Text of the Law Drafted by the Political Committee of the Arab League


In 1947, the Political Committee of the Arab League (League of Arab States) drafted a law which was to govern the legal status of Jewish residents in all Arab League countries. This law had already been approved by Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Iraq, provided that, “beginning with a specified date, all Jews – with the exception of citizens of non-Arab countries – were to be considered members of the Jewish ‘minority state of Palestine,’ and that their bank account be frozen and used to finance resistance to ‘Zionist ambitions in Palestine.’ Jews believed to be active Zionists would be interned as political prisoners and their assets confiscated. Only Jews who accept active service in Arab armies or place themselves at the disposal of these armies would be considered ‘Arabs.’” 1

Excerpts of Direct Quotes of the Law drafted by the Political Committee of the Arab League

“All Jewish citizens…will be considered as members of the Jewish minority of the State of Palestine and will have to register [“within 7 days”] with the authorities of the region wherein they reside, giving their names, the exact number of members in their families, their addresses, the names of their banks and the amounts of their deposits in these banks…”2

“Bank accounts of Jews will be frozen. These funds will be utilized in part or in full to finance the movement of resistance to Zionist ambitions in Palestine.”3

“Only Jews who are subjects of foreign countries will be considered ‘neutrals.’ These will be compelled either to return to their countries, with a minimum of delay, or be considered Arabs and obliged to accept active service in the Arab army.”4

“Every Jew whose activities reveal that he is an active Zionist will be considered as a political prisoner and will be interned in places specifically designated for that purpose by police authorities or by the Government. His financial resources, instead of being frozen, will be confiscated.”5

“Any Jew who will be able to prove that his activities are anti-Zionist will be free to act as he likes, provided that he declares his readiness to join the Arab armies.”6

“The foregoing…does not mean that those Jews will not be submitted to paragraphs 1 and 2 of this law.”7

1 Memorandum Submitted to the U.N. Economic and Social Council by the World Jewish Congress. (Jan. 19, 1948) Section I. (2) a. June 2, 1948. [ZIIC - This reference is in the document prepared by JJAC and is probably incorrect]

2 Text of the Law drafted by the Political Committee of the Arab League. Paragraph 1.

3 ibid. Paragraph 2.

4 ibid. Paragraph 3.

5 ibid. Paragraph 5.

6 ibid. Paragraph 6.

7 ibid. Paragraph 7. (Paragraph 1 & 2 indicate all Jews must register and disclose personal and banking information and

that bank accounts will be frozen and utilized for anti-Zionist resistance.)

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