Israel intends to unseal controversial documents detailing the discriminatory treatment suffered by Jewish immigrants from North Africa and the Middle East in the early decades of the state’s establishment.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Sunday that she intends to make the controversial archive files accessible to the public following pressure from fellow politicians, Haaretz reports. “There is no reason that material that deals with the history of the state should not be revealed,” said Shaked, who is on the Knesset committee for archive materials. “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.”
The news comes in the wake of the ‘The Ancestral Sin’ documentary airing on Israeli television, which revealed the racist attitudes of Israeli officials from the 1950s towards immigrant Mizrahi Jews (who come from North Africa and the Middle East), and Sephardic Jews (who originated from the Iberian Peninsula in Europe), during the chaotic first years of the Jewish state. It was at this time Jewish immigrants were brought into the country to increase the population.
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Using testimonies and historical documents, the documentary reveals the state engaged in “population dispersal” and “mechanisms of deception and coercion, which they applied to those who were, in their eyes, worthless.”
The documentary was produced by David Deri, whose parents experienced the negative treatment when they arrived in Israel from Morocco. The state of Israel reportedly dispersed the non-European Jews to remote areas of the country and didn’t give them the same housing, education and employment opportunities, Jerusalem Post reports.
Sport and Culture Minister Miri Regev wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to unseal all the classified Jewish Agency documents related the the issue. She described the documents as revealing “mechanisms of deceit and coercion” which included using collaborators, misrepresentation and intimidation.
“Only public exposure of these protocols can bring about healing and correcting historical distortions,” she said.