Jews from Arab countries have reacted to controversial moves by the Israel education minister to introduce the notion of the Palestinian nakba (catastrophe of their flight) into the school curriculum by demanding that the nakba of the Jews forced out of Arab countries be taught as well.
Professor Ada Aharoni of the World Congress of Jews from Egypt wrote to both the Israeli minister of education and the Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert. She has been quoted in the Israeli press as saying that the nakba suffered by the Jews from Arab countries was no less than that of the Palestinians.
"It is important to emphasise that there were in fact two nakbas", she wrote to Yuli Tamir, the education minister. "You must teach the nakba of the Jewish refugees as well as that of the Palestinians in Arab and Jewish schools in Israel.
"In addition to the textbook referring to the nakba of the Palestinians you will have to print another book which will teach about the nakbas and the great suffering of Jews from Arab states coerced into emigrating and leaving all their assets behind.
"In the name of every citizen of Israel we demand a new textbook - up-to-date, correct and egalitarian."
Professor Aharoni suggests that a Memorial Nakba Day of the Jews from Arab countries would commemorate the expulsion and emigration and the loss of all their private and communal property of near a million Jews from Arab countries. Ancient and prosperous Jewish communities, some more than 2000 years old, like that of Egypt, have been completely destroyed. Out of 100,000 Jews in Egypt in 1948, today, only thirty Jews are left.
The Nakba Day of Jews from Arab countries should be commemorated before the Nakba Day of the Palestinians: "to make them realize that in every war both sides suffer, and not only one side, would make them more conciliatory, " Professor Aharoni says. A suitable date might be May 10, 2008. It should be organized by the Government of Israel, in collaboration with relevant organizations in Israel and abroad.