Sunday, January 01, 2017

The Year 2016 in Review


With the population of Jews in Arab countries closer than ever to extinction, this blog is fated to tell a story  of inexorable decline. The rescue of Jews from Yemen was, however, one of the good news stories of the year. The last 19 Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel from Yemen were airlifted in secrecy by the Jewish agency. Some 50 Jews remain in the wartorn country.

Elsewhere in the Arab world, the number of Jews in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Lebanon is estimated to be under 15. The only countries with a semblance of Jewish communal life are Morocco and Tunisia. Turkey saw a notable decline it Jewish population. They are threatened both by official government antisemitism and jihadist terrorism.

On the plus side, the Biton committee delivered its report to the Netanyahu government, with its recommendations for greater emphasis on Mizrahi history and heritage in Israeli schools. As Jewish organisations and the Israeli government commemorated the third Memorial Day for Jewish refugees on 30 November 2016, the issue seemed to have become such a hot topic that two female Mizrahi ministers were fighting over who should drive the campaign forward.

 Internationally, the year ended on a depressing note, as John Kerry, US Secretary of State, made his controversial speech which mentioned the Nakba of Palestinian refugees without mentioning Jewish refugees. The Obama administration seems to have gone backwards on this core issue. Who now remembers that in  2014, lead US envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk gave reassurances to US Jewish leaders that compensation for Jewish refugees would be written into a peace treaty between Israel and theArabs?

We hope that the Jewish refugee issue will be back on the agenda when the next US administration takes over.

Wishing all Point of No Return readers a happy 2017!