At event where thousands commemorate the Jews expelled from Arab countries, Minister Gila Gamliel announces that now every Israeli child will learn about the 800,000 Jews who were forced to flee or were banished from Middle Eastern & North African Muslim countries, just as they learn about Europe.
By Mati Tuchfeld
Thousands of people attended Israel’s first official commemoration event for Jews expelled from Arab countries and Iran, held in Jerusalem on Monday.
Social Equity Minister Gila Gamliel spearheaded the initiative, calling the event “Longing for Home.”
The ceremony began with a moment of silence for Jews killed in pogroms in Arab countries and Iran. Afterward, emigrants from those countries told their stories, and performers took the stage.
Among the performers were singer Kobi Oz, who is of Tunisian heritage; actress and singer Liraz Charhi, of Iranian descent; musician Gilad Segev, of Syrian descent; musician Haim Oliel, of Moroccan heritage; musician Yair Dalal, of Iraqi descent; singer Dikla, of Egyptian heritage; singer Rita Shalhoun, of Lebanese descent; and actor-singer Guy Zu-Aretz, whose family is from Libya. The entertainment came to a close with a performance from the Piyut Ensemble, a group of musicians from diverse backgrounds.
Gamliel said the ceremony corrected a historical injustice — the lack of acknowledgment of the sufferings of the more than 800,000 Jews who were forced to flee or were expelled from Middle Eastern and North African countries in the 20th century.
“We will work to introduce Jewish heritage from Arab countries and Iran to the Israeli education system,” she said.
“This way, every child in Israel will know about the pogroms and persecution faced by Jews in Middle Eastern countries, just as they know about the persecution in Europe.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a video greeting at the event, promising to create a prize for the research of Jewish heritage in Arab countries and Iran.
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