Wishing all Point of No Return readers a very happy, healthy and peaceful New Year!
It's that time of year again, when this blog looks back on the main events of 2019 - the good, the bad and the ugly. Point of No Return is getting some 66,000 page views a month from visitors across the globe, from the US to Indonesia. It has had 4 million since its humble beginnings in 2005.
The year began as it ended, with talk of the evaluation commissioned by Israel's Social Equality Ministry into Jewish property lost in Arab countries. Minister Gamiel's claim of $250 billion has been downgraded to $150 billion - still a substantial sum. The results of the evaluation will be formally announced imminently. For the first time, British MPs debated the subject of Jewish refugees at Westminster. Commemorative events were held and press articles published on Jewish refugees from Arab countries around the globe on or around 30 November. Israel intends to submit a UN resolution demanding recognition for Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran.
Point of No Return marked the following anniversaries: 70 years since the airlift of Jews from Yemen, 50 years since the Baghdad hangings; 45 years since four Jewish girls were murdered in Syria; 45 years since the death of the Palestinian wartime Mufti; 40 years since the signing of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty; 40 years since the outbreak of the Iranian revolution and 180 years since the forced conversion of the Jews of Mashad.
It was a good year for Fischel Benkhald, Pakistan's only self-identifying Jew, who gained permission to visit Israel; Elan Carr, named US government antisemitism 'tsar' (although his file is ever more burdensome), Albert Memmi, the 98-year old Tunisian-born writer, who was given a Lifetime Achievement Award; Mizrahi spies, put on the map by Matti Friedman and Netflix, Dana Avrish, whose exhibition 'Leaving, never to Return' in Tel Aviv helped raise awareness of Jewish refugees; Jews in the Gulf states, who can now practise openly; Rabbi Pinto, named Dayan of the Moroccan Beth Din, Alexandria's Nebi Daniel synagogue, now completely restored.
It was a bad year for the family of Sarah Halimi, whose killer is not likely to stand trial; for the 1941 Farhud survivors, whose petition to the Israeli courts for compensation was rejected, and for Jewish heritage in Arab countries, whose theft is being legitimised by international law.
Deaths: Singer Maya Casablanca, Writer Lucette Lagnado, Community leader Shalom Tesciuba, Writer Shimon Ballas, Professor Sasson Somekh, Campaigner Raphael Bigio, Mossad agent Abu Nur.
Best articles of the year:
Pilot Nagi Dabby
Yaakov Lozowick on the Yemenite Children
Tales of the Spiderweb building
The failed Kurdish aliya
The tale of the two Menashes
How Chabad saved 1,800 kids from Iran
A Tale of Yemenite love
Must-read by Shmuel Trigano
Must-read by Hen Mazzig
Past end-of-year Reviews: