Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Canadians behind the US Jewish refugees bill

Former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler

The Ottawa Citizen has just discovered that the main movers and shakers behind the new bill on Jewish refugees introduced last week in the US Congress are all Canadians. They also happen to be Ashkenazi - bless them!: (With thanks Joseph, Levana, Michelle)

UNITED NATIONS — Research by former justice minister Irwin Cotler and other Canadians is at the centre of a U.S. bill telling the American president to advance the cause of hundreds of thousands of Jews who were driven from Arab and Muslim lands after Israel’s creation.

The bipartisan draft legislation in the House of Representatives says the plight of Palestinian refugees has received “considerable attention” worldwide, and so it would be “inappropriate and unjust” if the United States didn’t also recognize equal rights for the Jewish refugees. The bill also recognizes that Christians and other minorities were displaced from North African, Middle Eastern and Persian Gulf countries, as well.

“It’s an important step forward; it is a very good bill,” Cotler told the Citizen. “It sets forth what the U.S. should be doing in bilateral negotiations, multilateral negotiations, various initiatives in the peace process and the justice agenda.”

Arab leaders have long demanded a “right of return” for descendants of 600,000 Palestinians whose homes were situated in what became Israel. But the bill says some 850,000 Jews living throughout the Arab world and Iran were similarly turned into refugees following the 1948 emergence of the Jewish state.

The bill’s findings mirror those of the report “Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: the Case for Rights and Redress” by Cotler, currently Liberal critic for justice and human rights, David Matas, a Winnipeg-based refugee lawyer, and Stan Urman, Canadian executive director of New York-based Justice for Jews from Arab countries.

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