Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A word in your ear, Mr President

Two days ago, Maurice Shohet was at the White House together with 14 other Jews from different countries, where they met President Bush. Maurice raised the issue of the rights of Jews from Arab Countries. He mentioned that they were all absorbed in Israel and the western countries where they chose to live after they left their countries of origin during the last 60 years, while the Arab countries were only interested in perpetuating the miserable situation of the Palestinian refugees for political reasons. He said that the number of Jews who left Arab countries was higher than the number of Palestinian refugees.

Maurice requested that the President remember the right of the Jews from Arab countries to compensation, whenever the issue of the rights of Palestinian refugees is raised in the international arena, especially following the recent Arab-Israeli Annapolis conference held on November 27.

At the meeting were two Jews from Iran, Maurice from Iraq, one from Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Cuba, Afghanistan, Syria, two from Russia, the parents of Daniel Pearl, two Holocaust survivors.

At a Hanukka party at the White House in the evening, the White House Chief of Staff (Joshua) Bolton told Maurice, "you caught the President's attention".

Update: This JTA News report on the event mentions that Yuli Edelstein, MK, the only Israeli present, witnessed Maurice Shohet bringing up the subject of Jewish refugees with President Bush.

Edelstein's account of Shohet's conversation with Bush on Makor (Hebrew) (With thanks: Ivy): When Shohet asked the President to consider the parallels between Jewish and Arab refugees, Bush was said to have replied:"I never thought of it like that!" Edelstein then ponders whether Olmert and Sharon had ever broached the topic of Jewish refugees with Bush - such a simple thing to do.


Update: This Boston Globe report on the White House party reveals that Ruth Pearl, mother of Daniel Pearl, was born in Baghdad and forced to leave aged 15.

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