Thursday, November 29, 2012
Cotler slams Arab states for double aggression
As the UN General Assembly votes to approve an upgrade in the Palestinians' status, ex-Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler, writing in Haaretz, slams the false narrative that claims that the Palestinian Arabs were the only refugees in 1948. Arab states must acknowledge their responsibility in the 'double aggression' of launching a war against Israel, and committing human rights violations against their Jewish nationals:
"How do we rectify this historical – and ongoing – injustice?
"First, it must be appreciated that while justice has long been delayed, it must no longer be denied. The time has come – indeed it has long past – to restore the plight and truth of this forgotten – and forced – exodus of Jewish refugees to the Middle East peace and justice narrative. Indeed, the UN should take the lead in establishing a center of documentation and research to tell the 850,000 untold stories of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
"Second, remedies for victim refugee groups – including rights of remembrance, truth, justice and redress, as mandated under human rights and humanitarian law – must now be invoked for Jews displaced from Arab countries.
"Third, in the manner of duties and responsibilities, each of the Arab countries – and the League of Arab States – must acknowledge their role and responsibility in their double aggression of launching a war against Israel and their human rights violations against their respective Jewish nationals. The culture of impunity must end.
"Fourth, on the international level, the UN General Assembly – in the interests of justice and equality before the law – should include reference to Jewish refugees as well as Palestinian refugees in its annual resolutions; the UN Human Rights Council should address, as it has yet to do, the issue of Jewish as well as Palestinian refugees; UN agencies should also address compensatory efforts for Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
"Fifth, jurisdiction over Palestinian refugees should be transferred from UNRWA to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. There was no justification then – and still less today – for the establishment of a separate body to deal only with Palestinian refugees, particularly when that body has been itself compromised by its revisionist teaching of the Middle East peace and justice narrative.
"Sixth, any bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations – and any and all discussions on the Middle East by the Quartet or others – which one hopes will presage a just and lasting peace – must include Jewish refugees as well as Palestinian refugees in an inclusive joinder of discussion.
"Significantly, some Governments have made welcome progress on this question, such as the U.S. Congress in recently adopting legislation recognizing the plight of Jewish refugees and requiring that the issue be raised in any and all talks on Middle East peace. Democratic legislatures around the world should hold hearings on the issue to ensure public awareness and action, to allow for victims’ testimony, and to right the historical record – an effort with which I am engaged in the Canadian Parliament.
"The exclusion and denial of rights and redress to Jewish refugees from Arab countries continues to prejudice authentic negotiations between the parties and a just and lasting peace between them. Let there be no mistake about it: Where there is no remembrance, there is no truth; where there is no truth, there will be no justice; where there is no justice, there will be no reconciliation; and where there is no reconciliation, there will be no peace – which we all seek."
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