Thursday, March 04, 2010

Israel's 'crime' : failing to use Jewish refugees

Israel committed the mistake, nay, the crime, of failing to use the Jewish refugees from Arab countries in putting its case.

Addressing a London audience yesterday at the launch of the English edition of book The Dove Flyer, Eli Amir, the distinguished Baghdad-born writer, did not mince his words. " Why did Israel not use us 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries? There were more of us and we lost more than the 650,000 Palestinian refugees."

Amir commended the passing of the Knesset law last week safeguarding the rights of Jewish refugees but implied it might have come too late. " With their Nakba narrative, the Palestinians have won," he said.

Amir urged people to read his novel The Dove Flyer (Mafriah hayonim). When the last Jew disappeared from Iraq, and its Jewish history had been erased, Amir's account of the anti-Jewish atmosphere in Iraq between 1948 and 1951, when 90 percent of the Jewish population was airlifted out to Israel would be the only enduring testament to the presence and persecution of Jews in Iraq." Iraq was the only country to hang Jews because they were Zionsts", he exclaimed. (He might have added that Iraq was the only country to hang Jews in 1969 because they were Jews.)

Amir missed places in Iraq, but he did not miss being 'under the yoke of the Muslims'. He relished Israel as a free and independent state. "We must do everything in our power to maintain it," he said. He himself was a living example that any citizen of Israel, regardless of origin, could 'make it' if he worked hard enough.

Review of The Dove Flyer

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