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May 29, 2014 - Image 73

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-05-29

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delegates who are Arab than there
are female delegates.
In contrast, she said, Arab refu-
gees who left Israel still are not full
citizens and they live in restricted
areas, often in refugee camps where
four generations are supported by
the United Nations Relief and Work
Agency (UNRWA).
"Yet, they blame Israel for the
situation; said Livermore, who
added that Israel helps them with
work, utilities, education and medi-
cal needs.

A Refugee's Story

Sylvie Jami Salei is a descendant
of Spanish Jews who were expelled
from Spain in 1492. She recalls a
happy childhood in Tunis, with
cooperation between Jews and
Arabs. Her family was financially
secure, with a second house by the
beach, and Jews were respected.
She said Tunis wasn't a French or
Arab city, but was considered a
Jewish city.
"It was an amazing life said
Salei, who studied French, Arabic
and Hebrew in school, and also
spoke Italian.
But in 1965, at age 17, she and
her family fled to Paris because of
anti-Semitism. Her neighbors in
Tunis hinted they might have to kill
them soon, and two days later they
had left the country.
"We closed our door and left
everything behind but $10 in our
pockets:' she recalled. "They were
stripping everything at the airport:"
Hearing that the situation was
not easy for North African Jews in
Israel, her family waited to hear
more from friends and family.
Meanwhile, they lived frugally in
Paris.
Salei visited Israel in 1970 and met
her husband there. They went to the
United States in 1973, and she has
never been back to Tunisia again.
The women's talks and the slides
they showed evoked a personal
response from attendee David Meir
of West Bloomfield.
"I was 3 years old when my
family left Baghdad:' he said. "We
lived in those refugee tents in Israel
before we were upgraded to a one-
room wood shack where we lived
with eight in one room:'
He left the participants with this
question: "Why was no one fight-
ing for the rights and compensa-
tion of Jewish refugees from 1948?
Why?" ❑

The program was sponsored by
StandWithUs-Michigan, the JN and
Hadassah.

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