"The Palestinian refugee problem must be solved, and it can be solved, as we ourselves proved in a similar situation. Tiny Israel successfully absorbed tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in Arab countries. Therefore, justice and logic demand that the Palestinian refugee problem be solved outside Israel's borders. On this point, there is a broad national consensus. I believe that with goodwill and international investment, this humanitarian problem can be permanently resolved."
Hallelujah. He said it.
In his much-anticipated foreign policy speech at Bar-Ilan university yesterday evening, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister in a speech covered by the world's media to mention 'tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in Arab countries.'
Netanyahu's statement gives a huge boost to the campaign for Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. This week JJAC representatives meet in Rome: a hearing at the Italian Parliament on Jewish refugees has been scheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday).
But the western media largely ignored Netanyahu's historic mention of Jewish refugees as they focused on his concept of a 'demilitarised ' Palestinian state and his insistence on Arab recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. For instance, Jewish refugees were absent from the BBC News website.
We can only hope that Netanyahu's statement about Jewish refugees will be reiterated over and over again, so that the parameters of discussion are shifted to give a picture of the Arab-Israeli conflict free of distortion and omission. We also hope that future speeches will contain not just a passing reference to Jewish refugees from Arab countries to illustrate a point about Palestinian refugees, but a ringing policy statement of the need for justice for 850,000 Jewish refugees, who have hitherto been denied not only recognition, but compensation.