They were around 800,000. In 1948 they lost their homes and belongings. Many of them were beaten and humiliated. They were forced to look for a new land. Their only sin was that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I am talking, of course, about the Jewish refugees that were forced to leave Arab countries following the 1948 war.
So often we speak about the Palestinian refugees. While the issue of 700,000 Palestinian refugees is being mentioned all too often the case of the 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries is largely forgotten. It is not too late to amend this historic mistake.
This week I met Professor Isaac Cohen in my office. Professor Cohen's family was forced to leave Egypt immediately following the 1948 war. His father was arrested and ill-treated and all the family belongings were expropriated.
Professor Cohen gave me with a letter. In his letter, he wrote: "Personally, the issue of compensation, though justifiable, is not my concern. The fact is that the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is largely unknown to the general public while that of the Arab Palestinian refugees is known, and subverted, and as a result Israel is demonized by even friends of Israel".
I am going to forward the letter to the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister. The former Deputy Minister started an initiative that was to commemorate and record the tragedy of the Jewish Refugees from Arab countries.
I believe it is high time we start to amend this historic mistake following what we learned from our ancestors: "If not now when? If not I, who?".
Shabbat Shalom for one and all,