With thanks Michelle, Janet
'The Jewish Nakbah' has come to Facebook. Film-maker Pierre Rehov (pictured) is clocking up friends fast for the page he has just created to commemorate the destruction of the Jewish communities of the Arab world.
Pierre Rehov is the man who made the first film on the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab lands: 'The Silent Exodus' in 2004. 'The Jewish Nakbah' page has links to the film, as well as to arresting images of Jews fleeing the Arab world. As you would expect, Rehov, who fled Algeria with his Jewish family aged nine, has quite a bit of archive material on the subject.
The intention is publically to mark the uprooting of the ancient Jewish communities on a specific day in the calendar. The suggestion came originally from Ada Aharoni, an Egyptian-born professor at Haifa university. Professor Aharoni wishes to persuade Prime Minister Netanyahu to declare an official memorial day in Israel.
Harif, an Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa, held the first Jewish Nakba event in London, this year. Interest and support for the idea on The Jewish Nakbah Facebook page is building such momentum that the Day may well go global next year, and become a regular fixture. If you think it is a good idea to hold such a Day, please add your name to the Friends of the Jewish Nakbah page and sign and circulate any petition that might come your way.
What date should be chosen? The current favourite - and one endorsed by Professor Aharoni - is 15 May, to coincide with Palestinian Nakba Day.
Not everybody is agreed that the Day should be called 'Jewish Nakba Day'. Suggestions on this very blog range from Jewish Refugee Day, Jewish Exodus Day, Jewish Catastrophe, Tragedy or Ethnic Cleansing Day.
Some object to borrowing from the language of our enemies, especially since the Palestinian Nakba really refers not so much to the catastrophic flight of Palestinian Arabs, but to their catastrophic failure to commit genocide on the Jews.
But the expression seems to have caught on. On Youtube there are several publicity videos using the term Jewish Nakba. The ex-Justice minister of Canada and human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler and Israel's deputy foreign minister Danny Ayalon have used it. Leading Israeli columnist Ben Dror Yemini employed the term. So did Lela Gilbert in The Jerusalem Post, Charlie Wolf in Jewish News and Lyn Julius, writing on The Guardian website. And Ada Aharoni used the expression quite liberally herself, until she encountered fierce resistance from some quarters in Israel.
The expression Jewish Nakba does seem to make people sit up and listen simply because it has provocative associations with the Arab Nakba. One pro-Israel activist of Muslim background gave Naqba (or Nakba) his seal of approval:
"From a non Jewish point of view, the name ‘Jewish Naqba’ instantly sparked my interest. I know that a lot of people just don’t know what happened to the Jewish communities all over the Middle East, this would be a great idea, in using the name it will raise eyebrows and cause people to look in to it, it’s something quite specific and not just some sort of generic name. That’s just my opinion."
One man's opinion, but worth taking seriously.