Israel in Boston Commemorates Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands

The official twitter account for the Consulate General of Israel to New England.

Deputy Consul General Matan Zamir, Israel Bonan, Consul General Yehuda Yaakov
Deputy Consul General Matan Zamir, Israel Bonan, Consul General Yehuda Yaakov

On November 30, Israel and the Jewish world remember the fate of more than 850,000 Jews who were forced out of Arab countries and Iran in the 20th century. The Israeli Consulate commemorated the event this year at Temple Emanuel in Newton. Israel Bonan shared the story of his Exodus from Egypt.

Bonan was born in Cairo, Egypt in the mid 1940s. He grew up and lived in Egypt, the country where his parents were born and where the Jewish community dated back to ancient times. Although both his parents and grandparents were born in Egypt, his great-grandfather was born in Tunisia so he was considered a Tunisian citizen by Egyptian nationality laws at the time.

During the 1948 War of Independence, thousands of Egyptian Jews were put into internment camps, forced from their jobs, and arrested for supposed collaboration with an enemy state, Jewish synagogues, homes, and businesses were bombed; many Jews were killed and wounded. More than 14,000 Jews immigrated to Israel during this time seeking safety. Between 1948 and 1958, more than 35,000 Jews fled Egypt. While much of this immigration was due to systematic oppression, another contribution factor was Zionism and the desire to live in the newly reestablished Jewish homeland in Israel.

In 1967 Israel was unexpectedly arrested for being Jewish. For six days Israel went from prison to prison until he was just thrown out of the country altogether with only the tattered clothes on his back. Many of his friends and relatives were imprisoned for years in Egypt only because they were Jewish. After he was expelled from Egypt, Israel went from Greece to Germany and then Paris where he was welcomed by the Jewish community and eventually reunited with his family about a month later. He and his family were able to immigrate to the U.S., where Israel currently resides.