The UK Parliament is for the first time to devote an hour-long debate to Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. The debate has been called by MP Theresa Villiers and will take place on Wednesday 19 June at 16:30 in Westminster Hall.
"This is a neglected aspect of the Israel/Palestine conflict and
this debate is a long-overdue attempt to give this issue equal
prominence with the far more familiar issue of Arab/Palestinian
refugees," says Lyn Julius of Harif, a UK organisation
representing Jews from the MENA.
Some 850,000 – a larger number of Jewish refugees – were driven
out from Arab countries at the same time. The majority found a new
home in Israel, but some tens of thousands were resettled in the
In 1947-48 (and in some cases much earlier) Arab countries
deliberately targeted their Jewish populations. In all Arab
countries, violence, expropriations and expulsions ensured that
Jewish communities, which in many cases had existed for thousands
of years, ceased to exist. Most who left were forcibly deprived of
At the time this injustice was recognised by international actors:
the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recognised on a number
of occasions that the plight of the Jewish refugees fell within
its remit. This is also why UNSC Resolution 242 refers to “a just
settlement of the refugee problem” without specifying the “Arab”
or “Palestinian” refugee problem.
Some countries today, namely the US and Canada, have also
recognised this refugee issue as the injustice it is.
Over 50 percent of the Israeli Jewish population has roots in
Arab and Muslim countries. A peace settlement that ignores their
rights to recognition and redress will not be credible.
It is hoped that as a result of the debate the British government
will take steps to recognise the injustice that was suffered by
more than 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and to
ensure that it recognises this tragedy alongside that of the
Palestinian refugees in its stance on the Middle Eastern peace
There will be limited public access to the debate. It should be recorded on this website.