The Israel Ambassador Mark Regev (second from left) with members of the Harif team at yesterday's London event to remember 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
Mark Regev, Israel Ambassador to the UK, made a plea for compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab countries to be included in any peace deal between Israel and Arab states. A reconciliation for peace between Jews and Arabs had to be based on truth, he said. He urged people who had gone through the experience of displacement to document their history.
Mr Regev was speaking to a packed house at a concert on 2 December featuring the Israeli oudist and percussionist Yinon Muallem and his band. Pointing out a chart in the concert brochure showing the extent of displacement of Jews from Arab countries, Mr Regev referred to his own wife Vered, the daughter of Jewish refugees from Aleppo in Syria.
Shirley Smart, cellist and Vasilis Sarikis, percussionist, accompany Yinon Muallem in the centre.
" As we remember their plight, we acknowledge Israel not just a safe haven...but also as a land abundant in promise,' the Ambassador wrote in the concert brochure.
Lyn Julius of Harif said that the mass departure of the Jews had left a gaping hole in the musical culture of Arab states. "Iraq's loss is Israel's gain,"she said. The evening was a celebration of Israel's thriving Middle Eastern musical scene.
Yinon Muallem, whose Iraq-born father David is an eminent musicologist, typifies this vibrant culture. Although influenced by his father as well as contemporary jazz and rock, he also brought to his music Turkish, Sufi, gypsy, klezmer and Jewish themes. Muallem flew in to London from Turkey, where he now lives, for his UK musical debut.
The concert (most of which was livestreamed) was hosted by JW3 and arranged by Harif in collaboration with the Jewish Music Institute and the Israel Embassy.