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Opinion The ignorance surrounding the history of Jewish immigrants to Arab lands - a national omission Israel today


About a million Jews were forced to leave their homelands after campaigns of intimidation and violence • These magnificent communities grew a rich culture and heritage, but their stories are almost completely absent in Israel • A plan to establish a museum has existed for years - will the new government lift the glove? • Special for the day of the expulsion of the Jews from Arab countries and Iran

Ask an average Israeli what Farhud is, what the term "dimi" means, under what circumstances did Egyptian Jews arrive in Israel, or when did Jews flee from Algeria - and most likely you will encounter looks of embarrassment and confusion.

While the history of the Jews in the countries of Christian Europe is very present in the Israeli national consciousness ("Habent de jeuish peeple safard inf?"), the history of the Jews in the Islamic countries is almost completely absent from it.

This is a real national failure.

First and foremost because about half of the country's population originates from Iraq and Morocco, Libya and Yemen, Syria and Egypt.

Magnificent communities, which preceded Islam by more than a thousand years and grew a rich culture and heritage, completely disappeared from the landscape, leaving behind a vast space that is now free of Jews.

Apart from the well-known clichés and chizabats - they were all right-hand men of the King of Morocco, of course - the State of Israel does not do enough for its citizens to know where they came from and where they are going.

A rich heritage.

Yemenite Jews, 1910, photo: Getty Images

Museum now

This ignorance allows anti-Israel propaganda to flourish and present Israel as a "colonial" and "imperialist" country, which has no place in the Middle East.

Relations between Jews and Muslims were good, it is claimed, and it was Zionism that destroyed their relationship.

And if everything was so fine, the question arises as to why a separate state is even required for Jews, certainly for those who came here from Arab countries.

But the truth is that Jews lived for hundreds of years as a legally and socially discriminated minority under the rule of Islam.

In the middle of the 20th century, when Arab countries began to gain independence, they did not see their Jewish residents as citizens with equal rights, and threw them out.

Campaigns of intimidation and harassment, dismissals and economic decrees, and sometimes also actual violence, led almost a million Jews to leave their homelands.

For them, Zionism was not the problem but the solution, and the State of Israel was needed for them just as it was needed for the Ashkenazi Jews.

Sometimes it seems that our politicians are only willing to engage in what has immediate political gain.

Members of Knesset will be happy to deal with the discrimination against the Jews of Arab countries by the establishment in Israel, if it can be blamed on a rival political party - but if there is "only" a contribution to national consciousness and the knowledge of Jewish history, they disappear and disappear.

A good example of this lack of action is the initiative to establish in Jerusalem a museum of the history of the Jews in Arab countries, a plan that has existed for years and was even promised a central location in the capital.

The only problem is that no political or public entity exerts its weight to make such a museum come to fruition.

Maybe it will be the new government that decides to take up the gauntlet.

The writer is a researcher of the history of Jews in Islamic countries

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Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2022-11-29

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