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Israel to Grant Research Prize for Oriental Jewish History

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel has launched an annual $40,000 prize for research into the history of Jews in Arab lands and Iran.
Gamliel, whose father is from Yemen and whose mother was born in Libya, said the prize will contribute to promoting the history of the Jews in Arab lands that has for too long been pushed to the side of the Zionist narrative.

“The story of the Jewish people has many layers, and the entire Israeli public should be exposed to it,” she said. “Preserving our heritage is our national expertise and the secret of our survival as a people. It is our responsibility to foster an understanding of our complete national heritage – the story of the East [Sephardi Jewry], and the story of the West [Ashkenazi Jewry].”

The prize will be bestowed annually on November 30, the national day of commemoration for the 850,000 Jewish refugees displaced from Iran and Arab countries in the 20th century.

This day was selected because it immediately follows November 29, when the UN adopted the partition plan in 1947 whose repercussions forced many Jews in Arab countries to flee their home countries. 

The Social Equality Ministry will also allocate an additional NIS 100,000 for 150 medals to be bestowed on people and organizations who have furthered an understanding of Jewish heritage in Arab countries and Iran, and worked to ensure that Jews fleeing from Arab lands were recognized as refugees who deserve compensation.

In recent years, the Israeli government has recognized that the legal claims of Jewish refugees from Arab lands have to be included in any compensation package involving the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The value of the property and possessions which they lost when they fled for their lives from Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Iran totals many billions.

While Israel accepted them and helped them rebuild their lives, the surrounding Muslim countries refused to absorb the Arab refugees from Israel and have left them in miserable conditions until today. 

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