Saturday, July 18, 2009

Millionaire Dhimmis

My family (wife, two kids and yours truly) are very fortunate where living space is concerned. We own a 150 sq mt house, plus a 50 sq mt yard. That's 50 sq mt of housing per head. Most other people in my country have to make do with much smaller houses, and many don't own any real estate at all. In Barcelona, where my wife comes from, property ownership averages less than 30 sq mt per capita, and I believe the same is true for Paris, Rome and other crowded European capitals.

You would expect us to also compare very favorably with, for instance, the Jews who emigrated from Arab lands. By now you must be familiar with the Zionist version of their story: they didn't emigrate with the encouragement and support of Israel, but were instead expelled; and they never enjoyed comfortable lives in Arab countries, but had been subjected to dhimmi status all along. Now second-class citizens are never allowed to economically thrive, so that Arab Jews must have lived, on average, in abject poverty.

Well; this is one more issue in which Zionists claim one thing and its exact opposite with a straight face. According to their new narrative re the Jewish "refugees" from Morocco, Iraq and other Arab countries, these emigrants left massive wealth behind:

About 850,000 Jews fled Arab countries after Israel's founding in 1948, leaving behind assets valued today at more than $300 billion, said Heskel M. Haddad.

He added that the New York-based organization has decades-old property deeds of Jews from Arab countries on a total area of 100,000 - which is five times the size of the State of Israel.

These figures mean that, on average, Sephardi Jews owned 118,000 sq mt of real estate, and were worth $353,000 each. A typical five-member family, thus, owned property equivalent to over fifty urban blocks measuring 100 meters on each side, and their net worth was more than 1.75 million dollars.

So what gives? Were they despised dhimmis or millionaires? Or is this just one more instance of Zionists wanting to have it both ways?

h/t: andrew r, for helping me correct my calculations.


andrew r said...

This sounds a lot like the old 'fled to stay out of the way of the Arab armies' doesn't it.

Could be their net worth was adjusted for inflation. Using the calculator at inflation data and picking jan. 1949, it is ~ $45,000.

Also, 100 million sq m / 850000 people is 117.6 m / person. Did you do the math differently?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Let's see.

A kilometer is 1,000 meters.

A square kilometer is a kilometer times a kilometer:

1 sq km = 1 km x 1 km = 1,000 mt x 1,000 mt = 1,000,000 sq mt

So that:

100,000 sq km = 100,000 x 1,000,000 sq mt = 100,000,000,000 sq mt = 100,000 million sq mt (NOT 100 million!)

Dividing it by 850,000 yields:

100,000,000,000/850,000 = 116,547 sq mt per capita!

I was wrong, but in the opposite direction that you suggested!

It means each Sephardi Jew owned more than 100 urban blocks 100 meters long on each side!

That makes the Zionist estimate even more ridiculous!

Ernie Halfdram, am I getting it straight?

Anonymous said...

The exact measure of their wealth is irrelevant since the Arab countries will never compensate these Jews for even 1% of the lost wealth.

Many of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries were indeed poor. But many were successful businessmen and doctors.

andrew r said...

How is any Arab country supposed to compensate any one when, thanks to the policies of empire, they're either

a) perpetual warzones (Iraq, Lebanon)
b) occasionally warred on (Libya, Syria)
c) threatened with war (Syria again)
d) assets of empire (Egypt, Jordan, Saudia, Gulf kingdoms)

Let's get our priorities straight here. The USA owes Iraq more reparations than it will ever pay back. And none of the countries that confiscated Jewish property have been pressured by their northern paymasters. Any justice for Middle eastern Jews is one casualty of empire's callousness.

andrew r said...

Off topic, I'm getting uneasy at the number of people arriving from eaazi. It's one of those places that co-opts anti-Zionism for kooky conspiracies and views of history.

Ernie Halfdram said...

According to the Windows Calculator, I reckon Andrew's numerator is indeed off by a factor of 1000, but otherwise his arithmetic is right, i.e. 117,647 m2 per capita. Assuming, that is, that the denominator (850,000 displaced Jews) and the numerator (100,000 km2) are correct. But I think you've made your point, and a good one, too.

Ernie Halfdram said...

BTW, Andrew, the inflation is explicit in '...valued today at...' and my calculation on that basis agrees with Ibrahim's, rounded to the nearest $1000.

Since we don't know where where all those thousands of square km of land were, though, I don't know how you can conclude, Ibrahim, that it is equivalent to any number of specifically urban blocks. An undeveloped hectare of Manhattan or BA has a much higher exchange value than a hectare of desert in Iraq. I don't know about BA, but in NY, the typical block is about 80x300m, and most places I know, urban blocks are not uniform at all.

andrew r said...

I'm mixed up. Thought it was more like

1 sq km = 1 km * 1km = 1,000 mt * 1,000 mt = 1M meters = 1,000 sq mt

100,000 sq km * (1,000 sq mt / 1 sq km) = 100M sq mt

100M sq mt / 850,000 ~ 117.6 sq mt

Didn't notice the 'valued today' bit.

Gert said...

There is very strong evidence that most of the Arab Jewish 'refugees' weren't refugees at all but more simply just Zionists, as this highly interesting text suggests:
Arab Jews, Palestinian Refugees and Israel's Folly Politics.

And I struggle with the 850,000 (some claim 950,000) numbers too. If for simplicity's sake we pool together the Palestinian refugees from 1948 and 1967 together to make roughly 1 million, by today due to natural reproduction their number totals about 4.25 million.

For there to have been near a million 'Arab Jewish refugees', assuming roughly similar birth and mortality rates, we'd have to accept that most modern Israeli Jews are descendants of these 'Arab Jewish refugees' and that sounds absurd.

Anyone feel free to point to flaws in my (admittedly simple) reasoning...

Gert said...

This article, by the same author, sheds some light on the Iraqi Jewish assets:
The Truth About Jewish Assets In Iraq

Ernie Halfdram said...

Sorry, Andrew, you've lost me. I don't know how you get to '1M meters = 1,000 sq mt' or '(1,000 sq mt / 1 sq km)'. It's hard to believe we're actually arguing about arithmetic, but the way Ibrahim set out the equation in his initial reply to you makes sense to me:
so 1km2=1000m x 1000m = 1,000,000m2
so 100,000 km2 = 100,000x1,000,000m2 = 100,000,000,000m2

Gert said...


Better put:

100,000 km^2 = 100,000 x (1,000 m)^2 = 100,000 x 1,000,000 m^2 = 100,000,000,000 m^2

Ernie Halfdram said...

UNRWA reckons there were 4,671,811 registered refugees at 30 June 2008 and I don't know how many others aren't registered with UNRWA.

According to the most recent 'Statistical abstract of Israel' (, 1,280,000 Israelis originate from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Lebanon,
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, or Egypt. That is, they were born in those countries or their fathers were born there.

It may be plausible to assume that birth and mortality rates among the two populations resembled each other, but that's not equivalent to evidence. I think your unstated assumption that yerida among the Mizrahim has been negligible is also plausible. What does seem decidedly implausible is, as you say, that the Mizrahi population would have grown by only 50.6% from a baseline of 850,000 while the overall population of Israel grew about fivefold over the same period by 'natural increase' alone. So on the face of it, I think you're right to be skeptical about the number of Mizrahi olim around 1950.

Ernie Halfdram said...

Yes, very elegantly expressed, Gert.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

"I'm getting uneasy at the number of people arriving from eaazi."

Just relax and enjoy.

I once wrote a post explaining why one shouldn't get uneasy at the possible misuse of one's writings. It's here. Unfortunately it's in Spanish, but you'll get the gist of it with an online translator.

Ernie Halfdram said...

BTW, what's eeazi?

andrew r said...

ohhh man! Nevermind. I know where I went wrong. I know this is sad but if you ever need to solve a system of linear equations, I'm the goto guy.

ibrahim: I think you said Nazis use a guilt-by-association logic with Jews just as Zionists do with NF.

ernie: eaazi = ethnic ashkenazim against zionism.

Gert said...


If the figure of 1,280,000 Arab Jews is anything to go by, then the 850,000 (or 950,000) number must be a flight of fantasy: at 950,000 'Arab Jewish refugees' (from around say 1950) Israel would by now be 2 - 3 million Jews stronger than it actually is.

Considering Israel wanted to use them to block having to compensate the Palestinians there certainly is cui bono for inflating the number.

Tarig Musa said...

Gert and Ernie, you cant assume similar birth rates, Arabs tend to reproduce like bunnies (I know I am one - think its got something to do with the heat). generally speaking arab households have twice as many members than jewish ones (except for those that the IDF has halved). the real question that you should be asking is whether or not these arab jews were refugees or not? the peace that the jewish comunity of morroco for instance enjoys would lead you to logically assume that they weren't, but the articles posted by you Gert leave no doubt. the fact of the matter is, israeli children are taught that arab jews immigrated to israel in support of zionism, why change that stance now? the only reason is to wriggle a way out of granting palestinian refugees with their right to either return to THEIR homes, or be given sufficient compensation to make up for 60+ years of living in limbo!! any talk otherwise by people like anon is irrelevant considering arab jews themselves refuse to let others refer to them as refugees!

Ernie Halfdram said...

Tarig, first of all, the issue Ibrahim has raised about the number of Arab Jews migrating to Israel is no less real than the one you raise about their status. It seems to me that Shenhav has already answered that, ‘Arab Jews arrived to Israel under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some arrived of their own free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression.’

My understanding is that birth rates are lower in societies that systematically educate girls. In any case, crude birth rates are not actually the issue. The issue is ‘natural growth’ – the difference between births and deaths. The Arab Jews who immigrated at that time were Arabs themselves. Shenhav’s articles are very informative, but don’t address either birth rates or education of girls among that population. I should read his book someday. Maybe it’s in there. It may or may not be the case that birth rates among the olim from Arab countries resembled those of the Palestinian refugees. I think it is probable that they enjoyed better health facilities and lower death rates than the Palestinian refugees in the camps at that time. Furthermore, natural growth of Jews in Israel – not disaggregated by ‘origin’ - from 1948 to 2007 was 418%. While this is much lower than the 757% growth in the ‘Moslem’ population 1955-2007, it is still more than eight times the rate of population growth the Arab Jews would have experienced if the number of original immigrants was 850,000.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

they didn't emigrate with the encouragement and support of Israel, but were instead expelled; and they never enjoyed comfortable lives in Arab countries, but had been subjected to dhimmi status all along.

Are there abundant examples of people saying these things?

andrew r said...

If you want to see the experience of Mizrahim and Sephardim co-opted for the usual propaganda, check these out.

(this also answers Yitzchak's question)

Yitzchak Goodman said...

this also answers Yitzchak's question

I don't think so. I didn't feel like looking at a 10-minute video, but I looked at the other two links. Does any "Zionist" worth responding to make claims about Mizrachi Jews that can be refuted merely by pointing out that some of them had wealth or that Israel mounted operations like Magic Carpet? "Zionists" stand accused of "wanting to have it both ways" as if a population with some wealth can't suddenly find itself with a mob baying for its blood and a government not so inclined to protect it.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

"Are there abundant examples of people saying these things?"

They're things commonly heard from Zionists in I/P discussions. Unfortunately I don't keep a record of them being said.

It is true, however, that many supporters of Israel don't feel represented by what other staunch defenders of the country argue. Your particular strand of Zionism may have views on the Mizrachi emigration to Israel different from those reported here.

That said, I did provide a link to the statement that Mizrachi Jews owned real estate equivalent to five times Israel's area. I contend that this claim is incompatible with allegations of a second-class-citizen status, and I think it's a reasonable argument.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

I contend that this claim is incompatible with allegations of a second-class-citizen status, and I think it's a reasonable argument.

Vaguely, but not precisely. There were certainly fabulously wealthy Iraqi Jews. Are you trying to say that proves that Iraqi Jews weren't persecuted? Shafiq Ades was fabulously wealthy and his death was a horrible injustice. Did I just "say one thing and its exact opposite with a straight face"?

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

The context is usually as follows: anti-Zionists state that Arab-Jew relations were generally good and only began to sour after Israel was created. Zionists claim that that's a myth, and that Jews had been 2nd-class citizens all along.

But simultaneously, Zionists claim that Mizrachi Jews owned assets worth $ 300 bn (more than Israel's GDP) and real estate totalling five times Israel's area. That's over 10 hectares per head (if all the US's land area were equitably distributed among the whole population, each citizen would get 3 hectares). Such wealth can't be accounted for by a few "fabulously rich" Iraqis (which Mr. Ades was not; he had a car dealership), and must necessarily have meant that the average Jew was economically very well-to-do, a status incompatible with 2nd-class citizenship.

If you don't feel represented by the opinions I ascribed to Zionists in the paragraphs above, then I'm not accusing you of saying contradictory things with a straight face.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...


See here for Dershowitz describing the Jews' status in the Arab world, and tell me if the description fits a minority that owned vast wealth and real estate.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

which Mr. Ades was not; he had a car dealership

According to Itamar Levin in Locked Doors, he was "the wealthiest member of the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce on the eve of World War II." Is that "compatible" or "incompatible" with a narrative that holds that Iraqi Jews were mistreated? I'm trying to understand your approach to these matters. Forget the "five times" claim for a moment, and let us just say that Iraqi Jews and others left behind substantial wealth. Now what? Dershowitz is now entitled to quote Morris about outbreaks of mob violence and the custom of throwing rocks? Or not?

Gert said...


"Is that "compatible" or "incompatible" with a narrative that holds that Iraqi Jews were mistreated?"

I think on the whole it is incompatible. Mistreatment of a minority by a majority, leading to discrimination against the former, is not conducive for the former to thrive in any way, shape or form. There may always be individual exceptions of course but on the whole a discriminatory approach is unlikely to lead to a minority thriving economically or otherwise.

If Arab Jews did indeed prove to be rather wealthy (very broadly speaking) then that's strong evidence against systematic ill-treatment.

You want to have your cake and eat it too...

Ernie Halfdram said...

There are many wealthy Blacks in the US and one has even ascended to the throne, but it would be preposterous to suggest that Blacks are not systematically oppressed in the US. Even Prof Henry Louis Gates, Jr. may be coming around to this view now. There are even some Palestinians who prosper under occupation, but we’d hardly conclude that that was evidence against systematic ill-treatment.

In any case, all this misses Ibrahim’s original point, which was that claims about the wealth left behind by emigrating Iraqi Jews are incompatible with claims about their numbers, and your original point, Gert, that the number of Israeli Jews ‘originating’ from Arab countries is incompatible with an influx of 850,000, much less 950,000 in the early Fifties.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

According to the most recent 'Statistical abstract of Israel' (, 1,280,000 Israelis originate from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Syria, Lebanon,
Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, or Egypt. That is, they were born in those countries or their fathers were born there.

So Israelis with Mizrachi mothers and Ashkenazi fathers are excluded?
I am having trouble using the URL given above.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Forget the "five times" claim for a moment, and let us just say that Iraqi Jews and others left behind substantial wealth. Now what?

I can't forget the "five times" claim because this is precisely what this post is about. Although you're right that certain Jews, especially in Egypt, were exceptionally wealthy, average wealth is habitually used to gauge a community's welfare. Michael Jackson may have been much wealthier than you, but the average black is considerably less wealthier than the average white.

That's why I calculated the average and found that Mizrachi Jews had a mean wealth unheard of not only in the Arab world, but also in the most developed countries.

That is clearly incompatible with the state of oppression described by Dershowitz et al. At least one of the claims ("five times" and "dhimmitude") is wrong. My personal estimate is that both are wrong.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

That's "less WEALTHY."

Ernie Halfdram said...

I'm not the guy who defines concepts for the ICBS. But this is what the explanatory note says: 'Continent/country of origin for persons born abroad - continent/country of birth; for
persons born in Israel - father’s
continent/country of birth.'

Try this URL:

Yitzchak Goodman said...

Continent/country of origin for persons born abroad - continent/country of birth; for
persons born in Israel - father’s
continent/country of birth.

So someone with Mizrachi grandparents but Israeli-born parents would not be included? If one is going to use a figure such as this to test claims about how many Mizrachi Jews came to Israel in the early 1950's, isn't it important to be determine how the category is defined?

Ernie Halfdram said...

Curiously, Thelonius, you have a point. The grandchildren of those Arab olim would doubtless be quite numerous by now. Still, if there were really 850,000 of them and they propagated at the same rate as the rest of the Jewish population, they would now number over 3.5 million. Now the total Jewish population in 2007 was 5.4 million. That would mean they now comprise over 65% of Israel’s Jewish population. And I think we know that that isn’t the case.

I would say it’s much more than important to know how categories are defined – it’s essential. And beyond than that, the definition you find in a glossary doesn’t necessarily reflect the concept as actually collected. You’d have to know what questions were asked, what instructions interviewers were given, how rigorously they implemented those instructions, etc. But you don’t want to get me started on metadata.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

I can't forget the "five times" claim because this is precisely what this post is about.

I got accused by Gert of wanting to have my cake and eat it too (I'm on a diet actually) even without the "five times" claim.

Yitzchak Goodman said...

I would say it’s much more than important to know how categories are defined – it’s essential.

So something very instructive happened here with that 1,280,000 number? It got used uncritically?

El Profe said...

You CAN be a rich minority (in average rates) and still be persecuted. I'm pretty sure that Jews in the Middle Ages fit that bill, too: most were either merchants, artisans, or money-lenders, since they could not work the land. And that would make them averagely richer than the Christian population of medieval Europe. And yet, they were persecuted: they had a measure of protection from the noble or king (since the richest Jews loaned the ruler money), and faced hostility from the priests and their followers. And, when the ruler was too much in debt, he just confiscated the Jews and kicked them out of the area.

I am NOT saying that the same necessarily applied to Mizrachim. For starters, they could own land, as Ibrahim has clearly shown. And yet, that is no clear proof of lack of persecution, I'm sorry.

I have always considered that the second-class citizens argument dealt with Jews (and Christians) being dhimmis in Muslim countries. The dhimmi system offered Christian and Jews a limited set of freedoms. They had to pay special taxes just for being non-Muslims, and faced several prohibitions and legal limitations. That in itself means non-Muslims, in countries where the dhimmi system was established, WERE second-class citizens. That does not mean they could not succeed economically, though, the same way some Jews in medieval Western Europe became rich bankers despite legal limitations imposed on Jews.

Of course, we can argue whether dhimmi status MEANT persecution (not necessarily), and about how the average Mohammed reacted to an inferior dhimmi being richer than he was. I don't know enough to reach a conclusion, and I'm not as rash as Ibrahim to jump to one, either.

Let's talk.

El Profe said...

By the way, Ibrahim, your math is not entirely right.

An urban block in Argentina is 100m x 100m = 10,000 m2. If each Jew owned 116,500m2, each owned a space little more than 10 blocks large, not a hundred.

I know. That still sounds like a lot (although 10 times less is a big difference). However, it is most likely that they owned rural fields rather than whole city blocks (and the price of rural property is cheaper than that of urban m2). Of course, that is a generalization of my part, but we're using averages, and averages ARE generalizations.

Without counting their houses (so I'm giving you extra m2 of urban space here), each Jew owned a parcel of land the size of a little more than 10 blocks. One hectare is the equivalent of 10,000m2, so each Jew owed a little more a hectare's worth of tillable land (we're assuming these Jews were rich and therefore it was useful agricultural land).

Now, one hectare is not a large field. In Argentina, they would be lucky to be even considered among the "small producers".

So, it doesn't seem they were THAT rich. I don't think that is really important to whether they were persecuted or not, but it seemed to be a big deal in your own argument.

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

I did make a mistake in a comment, but I got it right in the post, where I say that an average 5-member family owned 50 hectares.

Average wealth is a good indicator of a community's status. Persecuted minorities are not allowed to be extremely rich, because they are heavily taxed.

El Profe said...

And I'm telling you, you made another mistake. You have an extra zero. It´s 5 hectares. Check my math in the previous post.
Besides that, you assumed it was urban land, when it's most likely to be farm land. There's a huge difference in price there.