Saturday, November 14, 2015

Israel will mark refugee heritage with much fanfare

Social equality minister Gila Gamliel

The heritage of the Jews who fled Arab and Muslim lands will be celebrated with much fanfare on Nov. 30 at the Malha Arena in Jerusalem. This is the first time such a large, state-sponsored event is held in memory of those Jews. Social equality minister Gila Gamliel, whose parents came from Libya and Yemen, will then fly out to a special event at the UN in New York on 1 December. Israel Hayom reports: (With thanks: Levana)

The London Premiere of 'Arab Movie', with director Eyal Sagui Bisawi, will be screened on Sunday 29 November at 1 pm as part of Harif's programme of events.

Last year, then-Regional Cooperation Minister and current Interior Minister Silvan Shalom spearheaded a campaign to increase awareness on this issue and introduced a special bill to that effect. The measure passed, setting Nov. 30 as a special day dedicated to the theme, "The Exit and Deportation of Jews from Arab Lands and Iran." Under its provisions, the Knesset must hold special meetings on that date. The first such meeting was held last year.

The event in Jerusalem is a brainchild of Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel. A 10-member musical ensemble will honor the Jews who lived in 10 different regions for about 3,000 years until their forced departure, which began in the late 1930s, against the backdrop of the Jewish struggle for independence. The event will include artifacts and audiovisual displays honoring the communities, some of which could be traced to the Babylonian Exile following the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. Many of the Jews left behind their property and effects. It is estimated that some 50% of their descendants live in Israel.

Gamliel said the event would be open to the public. "I believe it is extremely important to honor the memory of the Jews who were forced out of Arab lands and from Iran, as well as raising public awareness on this issue," she told Israel Hayom. "The departure and expulsion of Jews, whose property was looted and their assets nationalized, has been sidelined in our collective memory," she continued. 

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