Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jewish refugees resolution passes committee stage

Great news from Congress:
The House of Representatives Foreign Affairs committee has finally passed House Resolution no. 185. The resolution, which requires any official reference to Palestinian refugees to be matched by a mention of Jewish and other refugees, was passed unanimously. The next step is for the full House to vote the bill into law.

Here is the full text of the US Congress press release issued today: (with thanks: Doug)

"WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan group of lawmakers today welcomed the approval by the House Foreign Affairs committee of a bi-partisan Congressional Resolution (H.Res.185), which recognizes the plight of hundreds of thousands Jewish refugees who were displaced from countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf. The resolution was introduced by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ). It was adopted by unanimous consent.

“Today, the House Foreign Affairs Committee recognized the suffering and terrible injustices visited upon Jewish refugees in the Middle East,” said Rep. Nadler. “It is simply not right to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees without recognizing the rights of Jewish refugees, who, in fact, outnumbered their Palestinian counterparts. The forced exile of Jewish refugees from Arab lands must not be omitted from public dialogue on the peace process. By any definition, these displaced Jews are refugees, and we should recognize them as such. Seeking justice for those who suffered is a critical component of enduring peace.”

"In past Congresses, I have sponsored similar resolutions urging greater recognition of the plight of these refugees, and emphasizing that any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement can only be credible and enduring if it does justice for the rights of all refugees in the Middle East,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. “In particular, it is imperative that we recognize the history and plight of history’s forgotten refugees, along with the circumstances surrounding their departure. Failure to do so only serves to perpetuate their suffering."

“The plight and injustices of Jewish, and other displaced, refugees in the greater Middle Eastern region must be recognized by the United Nations and dealt with in a fair and balanced manner,” said Congressman Joseph Crowley. “This recognition will fulfill a very necessary step in the effort to establish lasting peace and stability in a critically important and historic part of the world.”

“This important resolution urges the international community to treat all refugees in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf equally,” said Congressman Ferguson. “All religions – including Judaism and Christianity – must be treated equally and fairly in any credible Middle East peace agreement.”

"Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, the status of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries changed dramatically. When virtually all of Israel’s neighbors declared or supported war on the Jewish state, approximately 850,000 refugees were forcibly expelled from their homes. Others became political hostages. In virtually all cases, individual and communal properties were seized and/or confiscated by governments without any compensation provided."

"The Nadler Resolution urges the President to ensure that when the issue of Middle East refugees is discussed in international forums, any reference to Palestinian refugees be matched by a similarly explicit reference to Jewish and other refugee populations. "

JJAC press release

JTA article

Debka article

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