Saturday, November 25, 2006

Finally, a push for Jewish refugees from Arab lands

Why, after more than 55 years, would 40 delegates, representing 20 countries on four continents, launch an International Rights and Redress Campaign on behalf of Jewish refugees from Arab countries? And why has the government of Israel announced new funding for a campaign to register minute details of events that occurred over a half a century ago?

Stan Urman answers the question in Jewish Week:

"Because no Middle East peace can be reached without recognition of, and redress for, the uprooting of centuries-old Jewish communities by Islamic regimes hostile to the State of Israel. (...)

"Notwithstanding the language and intent of Resolution 242, there was no UN recognition of the two refugee populations that emerged as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The statistics provide a damning indictment of the international community: since 1947, there have been 681 resolutions adopted the United Nations General Assembly’s on the Middle East conflict, including 101 resolutions on Palestinian refugees.

"In addition, 13 UN agencies and organizations were mandated or created to provide protection and relief to Palestinian refugees; and over the last 58 years, tens of billions of dollars have been disbursed by the international community to provide services and assistance to Palestinian refugees.

"During that same period, there were no UN resolutions, no support provided by UN agencies, nor any financial assistance forthcoming from the international community to ameliorate the plight of Jewish and other refugees from Arab countries.

"The differential and disproportionate treatment by the international community toward two Middle East refugee populations is a travesty of justice. Under international law, the rights of Jews displaced from Arab countries are at least as compelling as those of Palestinian refugees.

"This issue is a priority now because with memories fading, and elderly people passing on each day, this will be our last, best chance to obtain this important record of Jewish history and the evidence for future claims.

"That is why 20 diaspora Jewish communities and some 56 Jewish organizations will endeavor to register every Jewish family that fled an Arab country; and to document the historical narrative of their displacement and their claims. The objective is to record Jewish history and assert rights. It is not about money, nor about initiating legal proceedings."

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