Mr. Speaker, today memorializes the more than 850,000 Jews who were expelled from Arab countries and Iran. Jewish communities throughout the Middle East, which had thrived for millennia, have long been a persecuted minority. When the State of Israel was founded, many Jews were victims of brutal violence by their Arab and Iranian neighbors and had to flee their homes. We mark this occasion to remember the horrific trauma those Jews experienced so that it is never repeated.
Today, very few of the ancient Jewish communities that dotted the Middle East survive. For centuries they lived largely at peace with their Muslim and Christian neighbors. Baghdad, Iraq was once the home to one of the region's largest Jewish communities.
When the British entered Baghdad during the First World War, a third of the city was Jewish. Today, there is supposedly only five Jewish individuals remaining. This is shameful.
It is astonishing that in a region so rampant with anti-Semitism has so little interaction with the people they hate so much. Many Arabs and Iranians living today have never met a member of the Jewish community; therefore their hatred is based not on their own experiences, but what extremists and hatemongers have taught them. They forget that Jews were a vital part of their history, when Middle East was an incredibly diverse place. Today, it is a region of conflict and radicals, where historic Christian communities are also now endangered.
The story of the expulsion of entire Jewish communities from Arab lands is an important part of modern history that tragically affected the Jewish nation as a whole as well as the demographic composition of the Middle East and North Africa. This is a story must be told.And that's just the way it is.