One of the most pernicious modern lies about Jews is how well they were treated in the Middle East before the re-establishment of the Jewish nation.

According to some anti-Israel activists, Jews were treated wonderfully by their Arab brethren before they took an opportunity to assert self-determination and build a nation in their indigenous lands.

One of the most damning examples of history that clearly exposes the lie for what it is was the Farhud, which we remember this month.

Following a pro-Nazi coup led by nationalist Rashid Ali al-Kailani and Palestinian leader, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, anti-Jewish riots broke out in Baghdad on June 1, 1941. Before being suppressed by the British military, the pogrom left at least 180 Jews dead, 1,000 injured, and dozens of Jewish homes were destroyed.

According to The World Jewish Congress, “…For two days, a mob in Baghdad went from door to door to Jewish homes – killing, raping, looting. The pogrom…was a shocking turning point for the Iraqi Jewish community. Within a decade, most of them fled the country.

There are three main reasons that anti-Israel activists will want us to forget the Farhud and many other examples of antisemitism in Arab lands:

First, if there was peace before 1948, then Israel is the source of all ill in the Middle East (and so must be destroyed).

Second, some antisemitic groups want to lump Jews/Israelis in with the fashionable anti-white sentiment (and have already exploited the mass demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd for their agendas), but this is also counter-factual because most of Israelis are from the Middle East and even Ashkenazi are genetically separate from Europeans.

And finally, if we are to acknowledge that there was antisemitism within Arab lands before Israel, we have to acknowledge that antisemitism continues – even in schools that New Zealand funds – and that would mean having to hold Arab Palestinians to account.

For too long, the Farhud (and other events) have not been as widely remembered. Lest we forget.