Photo Credit: Flash90
MK Shimon Ohayon

On Monday, the Knesset passed the first reading of a new law which would designate November 30th as a national day for the commemoration of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

MK Dr. Shimon Ohayon, the initiator of the law said on its passing,

“For too long the issue has not been properly dealt with, either nationally or internationally.

Thanks to great efforts like this law and the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under Minister Avigdor Liberman, the silence is ending.

The fact that the issue of redress for the Jewish refugees from Arab lands will be raised in the Kerry framework agreement demonstrates that this issue of rights and justice is finally receiving the attention that it deserves. These Jews, numbering around 850,000, left behind assets around double that of those Palestinians who left their homes in Israel before and during the War of Independence, and above all, were not involved in any conflict or any theater of war. These important factors should be front and center of any discussion relating to a future peace agreement.“

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The law places the responsibility for the day of commemoration with the Minister of Pensioners Affairs, the responsibility for the introduction of related activities in the educational curriculum with the Minister of Education and the responsibility for international and diplomatic activities with the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

“Around half of all Jews in the State of Israel are descended from refugees from Arab lands and their exodus and expulsion, from lands they inhabited long before the Islamic conquest and Arab occupation of the Middle East and North Africa must become known to all citizens,” MK Ohayon continued. “Especially when the Arab world is talking about peace and reconciliation, an important first step would be the acceptance of responsibility for what was done to these ancient Jewish communities.”

“This law will ensure that Israelis will remember what took place in this tragic chapter in Jewish history long after many of those who suffered are no longer with us.”

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