Why does Holocaust Remembrance Day ignore Middle Eastern Jews?

A street of the Jewish area in Tunisia, 1880 (adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images)

TEL AVIV (JTA) – One evening as a child in Petach Tikvah, I was in my room listening to the Iraqi Jewish singer Salima Mourad when a siren pierced the air. I rose from my bed and stood in silence.

The siren marked the start of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. I was trying hard to think of all those who died in the Holocaust as the loud memorial siren drowned out the Arabic music. I was trying to force myself to feel the pain that my own people, the Jewish people, had endured.

Then the siren stopped. Salima continued singing in Arabic: “My body has become emaciated, my soul has melted and my bones are showing.”

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