Tensions between Arabs and Jews started long before the creation of the modern State of Israel.
Jews who immigrated to the land of Israel in the late 19th century were often met with violence and with intense Arab opposition to Jews living in their homeland. One particularly violent episode was the Hebron Massacre of August 23-24, 1929, in which 67 Jews were murdered and hundreds more wounded.
Other violent episodes between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East prior to the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 include:
- The institution of Dhimmi laws throughout countries in the Arab world that stated that Jews were a protected second class under Muslim rule only if they adhered to numerous laws such as: paying a yearly poll tax; being forbidden to, among other restrictions, erect a synagogue taller than a Mosque; to bear arms, to give evidence in court against a Muslim; or to pray or mourn in a loud voice.
- The Damascus Blood Libel Affair of 1840, which wrongly accused the Jewish community of being responsible for the disappearance and murder of a Muslim monk and his servant, resulted in the death of two Jews, false confessions, forced conversion, and the capture of 63 Jewish children to extort the purported whereabouts of the victims’ blood.
- Amid the Holocaust in 1941, Adolf Hitler met with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, to spread the Nazis’ plan to wipe out Jews from the Arab world and declare the illegality of creating a Jewish homeland in the British Mandate of Palestine.
- The 1941 Farhud was a violent pogrom led by nationalist Iraqis who saw the Jewish community as British or Zionist sympathizers. During the two days of the Farhud, rioters killed approximately 180 Jews, injured 600 others, raped countless women, and looted 1,500 stores and homes. According to community leaders, 15 percent of the Jewish community in Iraq suffered directly from the pogrom.
Following the founding of the modern State of Israel in 1948, Jews were ethnically cleansed from Arab countries, resulting in 820,000 Jewish refugees who largely settled in Israel. Those Arab governments confiscated the possessions of their Jewish citizens and have never provided compensation.