The Israeli government on Sunday approved a program to document and preserve the history and heritage of Jewish communities in the Muslim world.
The proposal, sponsored by Social Equity Minister Meirav Cohen and Culture Minister Hili Tropper, would allocate NIS 6.35 million ($1.84 million) for "the national effort to preserve the story and heritage of Jewish communities from Iran and Arab countries, which are a cornerstone in the history of the revival of the Jewish people in its homeland, while giving real expression to the diversity of Israeli society, strengthening the sense of belonging of members and descendants of these communities, and as part of promoting social cohesion in Israel."
The program comes against the backdrop of several recent studies that found that 80% of high-school graduates in Israel believe the history of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews is underrepresented in schools while the history of European Jews makes up an integral part of the curriculum in the country's education system.
The parliamentary teams working on the proposal seek to create a specialized archive for the heritage of Jewish communities from Iran and Arabi countries which will be a center for preservation and research of documentary films on Jewish history in those countries with the hope of prompting further research.
Social Equality Minister Cohen said she was saddened by the absence of the history and culture of these Jewish communities from the public narrative and but expressed hope the program would help push it to the fore.
Culture Minister Trooper called the program "a step on the road to amend" the exclusion of Jewish communities from the Muslim world from the "Jewish-Israeli story."