Friday, June 28, 2013

Refugee memorial day to be 17 February

 Point of No Return exclusive (with thanks: Levana)

 MK Simon Ohayon

 The proposed annual commmemorative day marking the tragedy of Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries will now be 17 February, Member of Knesset Shimon Ohayon has announced.

That day corresponds to the date in 1948 the Arab League  decided on a coordinated policy to persecute Jews living in Arab countries.

The original date chosen for the memorial date was 30 November, the day after the 29 November 1947 UN Partition Plan was rejected by Arab states. The decision to change to 17 February is to de-couple the tragedy of Jews in Arab Countries from the establishment of Israel.

Explaining the reason for the change, Dr Ohayon noted that the creation of Israel was a day of great happiness for the  Jewish people. Moreover, the decisions taken by the Arab League caused a tragedy for all Jews in Arab countries irrespective of where in the world they fled, not just those who immigrated to Israel.

Moroccan-born Dr Ohayon, MK for the Yisrael Beytenu party, tabled a Knesset bill proposing the memorial day for Jewish Refugees from Arab countries in May.  Lobbying for the bill to be passed will begin in earnest after the High Holydays at the end of September, or in October.

The Knesset plenary will debate the bill under the aegis of the Committee for Culture and Sports. (The minister responsible is Limor Livnat).  Ex-foreign minister Danny Ayalon laid the groundwork for the bill, then under the aegis of the Committee for Coins and Ceremonies.

The Jewish refugees campaign has the backing of senior Likud government minister Silvan Shalom, who was born in Tunisia.    


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