According to Israel Hayom, the deputy foreign minister of Israel, Danny Ayalon, has submitted a proposal to the Israeli Tourism minister for a memorial day - Jewish Refugee Day - to be declared near Shavuot - the date of the 1941 Farhud in which 137 Iraqi Jews were murdered. Dror Eykar of Israel Hayom endorses the idea, although his suggestion that schools teach the discredited From time immemorial by Joan Peters may be problematic. (With thanks: Daled Amos, Lily)
The way Palestinians are classified in terms of their refugee status holds both political and financial significance. Most of UNRWA's budget comes from the U.S., and so a shift in the way the U.S. Congress considers Palestinians can affect UNRWA's budget.
Congress is now asking the U.N. for a report detailing how many refugees aided by UNRWA were actually displaced during the War of Independence, and how many have been granted refugee status through "inheritance."
Congress' request comes after significant lobbying by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Yisrael Beytenu). Ayalon has also been promoting a new memorial day on the Jewish calendar - Jewish Refugee Day, during which students will learn about the 850,000 Jewish refugees who fled from their native Arab countries since the establishment of the state.
Ayalon has already submitted a request on the matter to Tourism Minister Stas Misezhnikov (Yisrael Beytenu), who heads the Knesset's symbols and rituals committee. Ayalon suggested the new memorial day be set near Shavuot, on the day of the 1941 Farhud pogrom, during which 137 Iraqi Jews were murdered. Ayalon said introducing the new memorial day would correct a historical injustice by finally recognizing the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees and victims who were persecuted and forced to leave their homes in Arabs countries.
Dror Eykar comments in his Israel Hayom blog:
The U.S. Congress is seeking clarifications over why it is that only Palestinian refugees are able to pass the "refugee" status down from generation to generation, while every other refugee in the world cannot.
A lot has already been written about the U.N. body established specifically to assist Palestinian refugees – the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, or UNRWA. It has become a professional organization, that provides many employees with a steady living, but it does very little to resolve the refugee status of the Palestinians. The bulk of UNRWA's budget comes from the U.S.
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.
On this day, our schools should teach Joan Peter's book "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine" (on the demographics of the Arab population of Palestine and of the Jewish population of the Arab world before and after the establishment of the State of Israel). Peters found that only when it came to Palestinians did the U.N. alter its classification of refugees to apply to people who lived in the territory for only two years prior the establishment of Israel. Why did the criteria need to be changed? Because many of the refugees arrived in the area on the heels of the Zionist enterprise and the British mandate in search of work. Somebody should tell Israel's African infiltrator population – they have been here for more than two years, and they, too, can demand a right of return to Israel.