Government to unseal documents on forced dispersal of N. Africa immigrants

“There is no reason that material that deals with the history of the state should not be revealed."

March 12, 2018 04:53
1 minute read.
Government to unseal documents on forced dispersal of N. Africa immigrants

Jewish immigrants from Yemen in a tent encampment in 1949 as they are visited by Israeli nurses.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The government intends to unseal historical Jewish Agency documents regarding immigration from North Africa, said Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Sunday.

Shaked, who chairs the Knesset Committee for Archival Materials, made the announcement following an appeal by Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev and Interior Minister Arye Deri about the issue.

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“There is no reason that material that deals with the history of the state should not be revealed. We will go over the material and make recommendations to publish it, so long as there are no sensitive issues pertaining to the security of the state,” Shaked said.

As such, Shaked said that she would hold a meeting in a month to discuss the opening of the documents.

The issue of the absorption of North African immigrants was recently thrust into the spotlight in the wake of a 2017 documentary aired on Reshet last week, titled The Ancestral Sin, which details the Israeli government’s policy in settling Mizrahi Jewish immigrants in the country in the 1950s.

The documentary, which includes testimonies and protocols, aims to “reveal the truth” behind the government’s policy of “population dispersion” – a vision dictated by the leadership of the state during its first two decades of existence.

According to the documentary, the state purposefully pursued “mechanisms of deception and coercion, which they applied to those who were, in their eyes, worthless,” in settling Mizrahi immigrants.

The film’s director, David Deri, shared the personal absorption story of his parents and of countless Mizrahi immigrant’s dispersion to development towns in the periphery and the problems they faced there with regards to employment, housing, and education.

Last week, Regev penned a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to unseal all the classified Jewish Agency documents on the issue, Channel 2 News initially reported.

“Only public exposure of these protocols can bring about healing and correcting historical distortions,” Regev wrote. “Every other decision is a mark of disgrace that will continue to affect society and the state.”

“The documents reveal mechanisms of deceit and coercion that were applied to the immigrants from Morocco and North Africa,” she wrote. “Mechanisms that included the use of collaborators, misrepresentation, intimidation, cheating and shocking manifestations of racism by officials of the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.”

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