By Daniel Reichel
On November 30, Israel and Jewish communities all over the world including Italy, remembered the expulsion of the Jews from Arab countries.
Half a century ago, between 850,000 and one million people were forced to leave their homelands – Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Libya and others – to find refuge in Israel, Europe and America.
The emergence of Arab nationalism in the forties stirred violence against the Jewish minorities of the area. The birth of the State of Israel, a symbol of hope for Jews, deepened the anger and increased the violence of the Arab and Islamic world against Jews: confiscations, attacks, pogroms, forced thousands of families to flee their homes.
So as to commemorate these events, in 2014, the Knesset recognized November 30 as the National Day of Jewish Refugees from Arab lands and Iran.
The latest issue of Pagine Ebraiche devoted a special section to their stories. The newspaper features the tales of the Jewish refugees, how they reached Israel and Europe, how their integration in their new realities worked out. An interview with the famous Israeli poet, Erez Biton, gives readers an idea of the difficulties that those families had to face in Israel and how the process of integration of the Mizrachi world is still not finished in the country.
Italy too experienced Jewish immigration from Arab and Islamic countries, especially from Libya and Iran. The Jewish Contemporary Documentation Center of Milan has been documenting all this with an important project with the collection of stories from all these people.
As explained in the special section, their experience can be useful today: understanding how they managed to integrate in the general society and into Italian Jewish communities can be an example for the process of integration of the new immigrants from Africa and Middle East.
By Daniel Reichel