Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Aharoni seeks PM approval for 'Jewish Nakba' Day
No doubt you've heard of Palestinian Nakba Day? Now let's have a day to mark the uprooting of Jewish communities from Arab countries. Most would agree that it's a great idea, and long overdue - the only problem being: what do we call it? Any suggestions welcome.
The suggestion comes from Ada Aharoni (pictured) in a letter she wrote on the eve of Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) to the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Egyptian-born Mrs Aharoni is a professor at Haifa university and peace campaigner.
"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."
The date Professor Aharoni suggests is 15 May 2012 - to coincide with next year's Palestinian Nakba Day.
Professor Aharoni resolved to write to Mr Netanyahu following a conference on 15 September in Tel Aviv on the displaced Jewish communities from Arab countries. The conference pointed out that half the narrative of the Israeli people had been swept under the rug to-date, instead of being raised in public discourse.
The letter describes a game-changing episode which Professor Aharoni experienced while teaching at a US university: when she told students from Arab lands that more Jews were displaced than Arabs, and that Jewish property from those countries was worth a thousand times more, one Arab student representative said: "You have already paid the price of reconciliation, when your property was confiscated in the Arab countries. Why are you hiding this important information away? It can promote reconciliation between us!"
"A special day would ease the feelings of Jews displaced from Arab countries and who live in Israel," professor Aharoni writes. "I turn to you, Mr. Prime Minister, and the Knesset in Israel, to pronounce on this historic injustice by declaring and maintaining a 'Day of uprooted Jewish communities in Arab countries', not only in response to the Nakba Day of the Palestinians, but a most important tool for Israeli hasbara and means of reducing antisemitism in the world."