Sunday, May 4, 2008

Jews From Arab Countries in Israel

A recurring refrain in Arab attacks on Israel is that Arabs are being made to pay for Europe's sins against Jews. Israel has a large population of Jews from Arab countries, who could answer such accusations forcefully. Jews did not come from Arab countries to Israel in a calm and ordered manner. "Farhud" is the Arab word for pogrom, and it was a recurring theme in the Middle East of the 1940's, before the founding of the State of Israel. Jewish refugees from Europe were joined by one million Jews forced out of Arab countries between 1948 and 1955. In Egypt, Iraq, Syria and other Arab countries, Jews suffered from social and statutory inequality.I have since coming to New York met a Tunisian Jew who was on a forced labour battalion, a man whose mother wore a yellow star in Morocco, and the son of a man who survived the pogrom in Hebron in 1929. There is no doubt in my mind that such stories could fill a thick book with a picture of the Jerusalem Mufti visiting Auschwitz on the front cover.
Also overlooked by Israel's leadership is the linguistic and cultural familiarity that Israel's Jews from Arab countries have with Muslims and Christians in the region. There are nuances to communication style that are lost in translation between predominantly Ashkenazic negotiators and their Arab counterparts. Jews from Arab countries have much to contribute to diplomacy and governance.
Together, Ashkenazim and Sephardim as well as Jews from the Arab world can represent Israel's cause with far greater effectiveness than is currently the case. Some of Israel's finest intelligence coups involved effective use of the knowledge of Arab Jews. When an Arab spokesman issues a specious statement about European Jews colonising "Palestine", he should get a stinging rebuttal from a Sefardi member of Israel's ethnic rainbow.
Together as one, Israel can with G-d's help advocate for an defend itself much better than it does at this time. At this critical time in its history, Israel needs all of its people, and all of their knowledge
Copyright 2008 by Magdeburger Joe

1 comment:

Findalis said...

1 million Jews had to immigrate to Israel from Arab lands between 1948 and 1955. They were kicked out of their homes.

How about a law of return for them. They should be compensated.