Sunday, December 18, 2005

Time for the Mizrahim to bear witness

After decades of being ignored by the world, the Mizrachi are coming forward to tell their story, writes Abraham H Miller, emeritus professor of political Science at the university of Cincinnati.

"There have been more than a hundred resolutions passed in the United Nations on behalf of the Palestinian refugees. The UN is yet to pass a single resolution on behalf of the Mizrachi. It is doubtful such a resolution will ever be passed. It is immaterial. The telling of the story itself is what is important.

"The story of the Mizrachi is the story of the triumph of the human spirit. It is a story whose poignant narrative is important to anyone who wants to understand the essence of the Middle East conflict. The tragedy of Palestinians languishing generation after generation in refugee camps stands in contrast to the tragedy of the Mizrachi who passed through poverty and squalor as a way-station to a productive and vital life with precious little outside assistance.

"The human need to be able to stand in witness to the obscenity of oppression is vital to the reacquisition of a people's spirit and their culture. There is the story of an old Jewish woman in a Nazi death camp imploring a younger woman to survive if for no other reason than to bear public witness to what they experienced.

"The Mizrachi are now bearing witness, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, Public Broadcasting Station KQED is airing the "Forgotten Refugees," a documentary recounting their tragedy and triumph. In a larger sense, however, the Mizrachi's story is the story of all people that have managed to transform themselves from victims to survivors.

"It is a story of people who despite oppression, humiliation, imprisonment, murder and expulsion looked to the future and did not wallow in the past or create a cult obsessed with vengeance and death. And that is why the Mizrachi succeeded in successfully rebuilding their lives in a single generation while the Palestinians continue to lose generation after generation to a cycle of violence."


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