Jewish refugees arriving from Arab countries in Israel by ship
A conference advocating the demise of Israel through the return of Palestinian refugees may take place in Tel Aviv at the end of September. An equivalent conference about Jewish refugees could never happen in Baghdad, reflects Lyn Julius in The Times of Israel.
From the Eretz Israel Museum the conference may still be moved to another, albeit less symbolic venue. If the event takes place, the organisers reap the publicity.
If it is cancelled, the organisers will have pulled off a stunt to draw attention to their cause and make Israel look bad. They will milk an outright cancellation for all its worth as an assault on freedom of speech unworthy of a democracy.
It’s a win-win situation. If the speakers coming from abroad are deemed personae non gratae and banned from entering the country at Ben Gurion airport, Zochrot will relish the attention. The media will have a field day condemning the fascist, apartheid Zionists. ‘Silly NGOs’ on the fringes of public opinion can yet wreak a great deal of havoc.
Israeli institutions would be well advised to learn from this episode and do their homework next time a ‘silly NGO’ seeks permission to hire out their premises, albeit for private events. Meanwhile, the question remains as to how so many well-meaning churches and international NGOs have been hoodwinked into supporting an event advocating the destruction of a UN member state. Zochrot acknowledges funding from, among others, Misereor,Christian Aid, Finn Church Aid, Broederlijk Delen, AFSC, Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Mennonite Central Committee, Trocaire, St. Het Solidariteitsfonds, Oxfam GB and private donors*.
While wringing their hands about depopulated Sheikh Munis, these bodies and Zochrot remain ignorant, silent and unmoved by another, forgotten tragedy: the cleansing of scores of Arab cities of their substantial Jewish populations simply for being Jews. There are almost no Jews living in Baghdad, Cairo, Alexandria, Tripoli, Rabat, Damascus and Tunis today. Most exchanged places with the Palestinian refugees.
Imagine for a moment if a Zochrot-style conference were held in Baghdad, where Jews, who numbered 80,000, were once the largest single ethnic group.
On second thoughts, don’t. It would not be a pretty sight: the Jews would be run out of the city and would be lucky to escape with their lives.
*Update: NGO Monitor has published a report on the funding of the Zochrot conference. It reveals that both Oxfam and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation have denied sponsoring the conference.
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