During her November whirlwind tour of the UK, Levana Zamir, head of the Coalition of organisations of Jews from Arab countries in Israel, was interviewed by Sandy Rashty for the Jewish Chronicle. Mrs Zamir used the occasion to reiterate her support for an International Fund to compensate Jewish and Arab refugees as a tool for peace.
An Egyptian-born Jewish activist has called for greater recognition of Jews from Arab countries, saying that compensation for those forced to flee their homes could help bring peace to the region.
Levana Zamir with her family on their recent visit to Egypt
Levana Zamir, who fled her home in Cairo in 1948 aged 10, is now working with Israeli authorities to increase international awareness of the issue.
“I have been working on this for 20 years, going to the Knesset and asking for recognition,” she said.
“And it’s not only me; we are all working together — the Iraqi Jews, the Syrian Jews, the Libyan and Yemenite. Now that we have recognition of [our story] in Israel and all over the world, now we want an international fund to be established for Arab and Jewish refugees.”
She added at first, the government of Israel did not want them to feel like refugees: “They did not want us to ask them for compensation. Even when Egypt and Israel had a peace agreement, Israel did not ask Egypt for our money. It says a lot.”
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Video clip of Levana's talk to students at UCL
Levana Zamir's interview on BBC Arabic
Levana Zamir's visit to Egypt