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Jewish refugees: Map

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In the course of history, Jewish populations have been expelled or ostracised by various local authorities and have sought asylum from antisemitism numerous times. The articles History of antisemitism and Timeline of antisemitism contain more detailed chronology of anti-Jewish hostilities, while Jewish history and Timeline of Jewish history outline the broader picture.

After its establishment in 1948, the State of Israelmarker adopted the 1950 Law of Return making Israel a home not only for the inhabitants of the State, but also for all members of the Jewish people everywhere. This law also made Israel an ideal destination for voluntary Jewish immigration.

UN recognition of Refugee status

The status of refugee is defined by the 1951 UN convention, except for Palestinian refugees defined by the 1949 UNRWA convention. Since their creation, neither convention has recognized the status of refugee to Jewish displaced persons.

Partial list of events that prompted major streams of Jewish refugees

722 BCE: The Assyrians led by Shalmaneser conquered the (Northern) Kingdom of Israel and sent the Israelites into captivity at Khorasan. Ten of twelve Tribes of Israel are lost.


597 BCE: The Babylonian captivity. In 537 BCE the Persians, who conquered Babylonmarker two years earlier, allowed Jews to return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Templemarker.


70: The defeat of the Great Jewish Revolt. Masses of Jews were sold to slavery across the Roman Empire, many fled.


135: The Roman defeated Bar Kokhba's revolt. Emperor Hadrian expelled hundreds of thousands Jews from Judeamarker, wiped the name off the maps, replaced it with Syria Palaestina, forbade Jews to set foot in Jerusalem.


7th century: Muhammad expelled Jewish tribes Banu Qaynuqa and Banu Nadir from Medinamarker, which was founded as a Jewish city. The Banu Qurayza tribe was slaughtered and the Jewish settlement of Khaybar was ransacked.


1095 - mid-13th century: The waves of Crusades destroyed hundreds of Jewish communities in Europe and in the Middle East, including Jerusalemmarker.


Mid-12th century: The invasion of Almohades brought to end the Golden age of Jewish culture in Spain. Among other refugees was Maimonides, who fled to Moroccomarker, then Egyptmarker, then Eretz Israel.


12th-14th centuries: Francemarker. The practice of expelling the Jews accompanied by confiscation of their property, followed by temporary readmissions for ransom, was used to enrich the crown: expulsions from Parismarker by Philip Augustus in 1182, from France by Louis IX in 1254, by Charles IV in 1322, by Charles V in 1359, by Charles VI in 1394.


1290: King Edward I of England issues the Edict of Expulsion for all Jews from Englandmarker. The policy was reversed after 350 years in 1655 by Oliver Cromwell.


1348: European Jews were blamed for poisoning wells during the Black Death. Many of those who survived the epidemic and pogroms were either expelled or fled.


1492: Ferdinand II and Isabella issued the Alhambra decree, General Edict on the Expulsion of the Jews from Spainmarker (approx. 200,000), from Sicily (1493, approx. 37,000), from Portugalmarker (1496) from Calabria Italymarker 1554.


1654: The fall of the Dutch colony of Recifemarker in Brazilmarker to the Portuguesemarker prompted the first group of Jews to flee to North America.


1648-1654: Ukrainian Cossacks and peasants led by Bohdan Khmelnytsky destroyed hundreds of Jewish communities and committed mass atrocities. Ukraine was annexed by the Russian Empiremarker, where officially no Jews were allowed.


1744-1790s: The reforms of Frederick II, Joseph II and Maria Theresa sent masses of impoverished Germanmarker and Austrianmarker Jews east. See also: Schutzjude.


1881-1884, 1903-1906, 1914-1921: Repeated waves of pogroms swept Russiamarker, propelling mass Jewish emigration (more than 2 million Russian Jews emigrated in the period 1881-1920). During World War I, some 250,000 Jews were transferred from western Russia. See also Pale of Settlement, May Laws, Russian Civil War.


1935-1945: The German Nazi persecution culminated in the Holocaust of the European Jewry. The British Mandate of Palestine prohibited Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel. The Bermuda Conference, Evian Conference and other attempts failed to resolve the problem of Jewish refugees, a fact widely used in Nazi propaganda (see also S.S. St. Louis). Many German and Austrian jewish refugees from Nazism emigrated to Britain and many fought for Britain in the second World War.


1948-1958: The Jewish exodus from Arab lands. The combined population of Jewish communities in the Greater Middle East (excluding Israel) was reduced from about 900,000 in 1948 to less than 8,000 today. Some of these communities were more than 2,500 years old. Israel absorbed approximately 600,000 of these refugees, many of whom were temporarily settled in tent cities called Ma'abarot. They were eventually absorbed into Israeli society, and the last Maabarah was dismantled in 1958. The Jewish refugees had no assistance from the UNRWA. See also Farhud.


1960s-1989: State-sponsored persecution in the Soviet Unionmarker prompted more than 1 million Soviet Jews to emigrate to Israel, 250,000 to the United States with "refugee" status, and 100,000 to Germany. Due to the 1968 Polish political crisis thousands of Jews were forced by the communist authorities to leave Poland. See also rootless cosmopolitan, Doctors' plot, Jackson-Vanik amendment, refusenik, Zionology, Pamyat.


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