Monday, June 25, 2012

A New Day On The Jewish Calendar: Jewish Refugee Day!

Dror Eydar writes about a topic that is in the news again: Who is a refugee?. Eydar writes about a new development:
A key achievement can be credited to Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon. He is promoting a new memorial day on the Jewish calendar – Jewish refugee day. On this day, we will remember the 850,000 Jewish refugees who were forced to flee from Arab states. This would not just be a symbolic act; in our blood-soaked region, remembrance carries a political and diplomatic meaning. The Palestinians are speaking about refugees at length? Then we will too. While our refugees have assimilated into society, the Palestinian refuges have always been, and still remain, no more than a propaganda tool for their leaders.
The actual idea for the day comes from Ada Aharoni, a professor at Haifa university. Aharoni suggested the idea of Jewish Refugee Day to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu in a letter:

"A special day to mark 'the uprooting of Jews from Arab countries' can not only spread the word in Israel and abroad, but also leverage the subject to promote understanding and reconciliation between two peoples, and repel the worldwide wave of antisemitism", she writes. "It also might lead researchers, sociologists, historians, media people and educators to research and disseminate information on the displacement of Jews from Arab countries in order to register it as an integral part of the general Jewish heritage and an important, but so far neglected, aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict."
Professor Aharoni suggests May 15, to coincide with Palestinian Nakba Day.

The idea for Jewish Refugee Day has also received a push from Pierre Rehov, who made the first film on the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab lands: 'The Silent Exodus' in 2004.

Rehov has Facebook page: 'The Jewish Nakbah'  with a goal to publicly mark the uprooting of the ancient Jewish communities 

The blog Point of No Return, which provides information and links about the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees, writes about the increased interest and support for Jewish Refugee Day:
Harif, an Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, held the first Jewish Nakba event in London, this year. Interest and support for the idea on The Jewish Nakbah Facebook page is building such momentum that the Day may well go global next year, and become a regular fixture. If you think it is a good idea to hold such a Day, please add your name to the Friends of the Jewish Nakbah page and sign and circulate any petition that might come your way.
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