In the plethora of articles published on 30 November, Dr Edy Cohen’s piece for YNet News stands out for pointing out that for years advocates for Jewish refugees from Arab countries have been struggling alone and without funding. It is only in the last year that they have received official backing from the Israeli government.
(Left)Young Jewess. (Above) Jewish girl from Beirut: (British library, Fuad Debbas collection)The photos come from the Bonfils collection(with thanks: Eliyahu)
Most of you will be surprised by this, but we Jews have a Nakba too, and it’s a major
Nakba. It’s a Nakba which is marked on November 30, when we commemorate
the expulsion and uprooting of about one million Jews during the 20th
century from their homeland in the Arab and Muslim world. Thousands of
years of Jewish presence in those countries, even before the era of
Islam, had come to an end.
Unfortunately, our Nakba is private, as it has no international or
even national support, it has no Israeli and foreign organizations which
recognize it and work to raise Israeli and international awareness of
its existence. It has no organizations to support it, write about it,
interview us, photograph us, write scientific articles about us, the
refugees who came from Arab countries.
700,000 Jews fled from Arab countries by the mid 1960s, most of them
immigrating to Israel. The property they left behind is estimated at
billions of dollars, but the disintegration process most of these
countries are going through doesn’t leave Mizrahi Jews much hope for
We have no funding and budgets like the Europeans and Americans and
other Arab states funnel to the refugees of the Palestinian Nakba, we
have no cultural institutions to give us the stage at the Tel Aviv
Cinematheque or anywhere else, and above all – we have no media outlets
to report about our activity and the suffering we experienced.
In our Nakba, we are alone. We have not only lost our property, which
was left behind in Arab countries and is estimated at hundreds of
billions of dollars today, but our rich culture and heritage as well.
The culture and heritage of more than 50 percent of the State of
Israel’s Jewish residents.
Panel from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs exhibition conceived by Ashley Perry and Akiva Tor. If you have a suitable UK venue for this travelling exhibiton please contact [email protected]