Palestinians are nothing if not parochial. The reality is that while the Palestinians like to talk about their “genocide,” an absurdly ridiculous claim if anyone looks at the population growth of the Palestinians since 1967, they, and the world, prefer to ignore the very real genocidal “nakbas” that many non-Muslims communities have suffered in the Middle East.
Indeed, much noise is made around the world about the “sexy” Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians (the Arab community at the time) and their advocates are extremely vocal. But lost in the debate over what happened or didn’t happen to the Palestinians in their catastrophe are the stories of the tens of millions – yes, tens of millions – of victims of genocide, expulsion and forced assimilation (cultural genocide) from Arab and Turkish imperialism.
My family are Berber Jews on my father’s side and Iraqi Jews on my mother’s. Both were expelled from their lands, and because of this persecution I came to learn about these largely untold stories. Over time I have learned that many other groups were persecuted, en masse, without any restitution or “right of return,” and the global community is (and was) silent. Why the double standards? In the last 150 years, “nakbas” occurred to those indigenous to North Africa, the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean.
The approximate number of victims from genocides one rarely hears about include: The Assyrians (300,000 from 1914-1920); Armenians (1.5 million from 1914-1923); Kurds (50,000-180,000 from 1986-1989); Greeks (450,000-750,000 from 1913-1920); Yazidis (10,000 in 2014 alone, other numbers unknown); and the Sudanese in Darfur (300,000 from 2003-2009).
The victims of expulsion and persecution leading to emigration include: Lebanese Maronites (eight million-14 million Lebanese in the diaspora, and four million in Lebanon); Assyrian Christians (15 million in the diaspora and in Syria); and the Armenians under the Turkish Empire (11 million in the diaspora today).
In Lebanon and Syria, both states deliberately created nationality laws that would bar Christians from returning, ensuring a Muslim Arab majority in these countries.
From North African and Middle Eastern Jewish communities, 850 000 Jews were expelled or forced to flee North Africa and the Middle East. Additionally, one million Copts have left Egypt.
But even where expulsions or emigration did not occur, widespread persecution did.