Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

This subject seems to me to gaining more and more recognition as the subject is debated openly in many forums including surprise, surprise, the BBC!!

An interesting report on the subject has written by The Hon. Irwin Cotler, David Matas, and
Stanley A. Urman,

In the introduction it is stated that when the issue of refugees is raised within the context of the Middle East, people invariably refer to Palestinian refugees, virtually never to Jews displaced from Arab countries.

In reality, two major population movements occurred as a result of over a half century of turmoil
in the Middle East. Securing rights for these former Jewish refugees has never been adequately
addressed by the international community. For any peace process to be credible and enduring, it
must address the rights of all Middle East refugees, including Jewish and other minority
populations that were displaced from Arab countries.

Historically, Jews and Jewish communities have existed in the Middle East, North Africa and the
Gulf region for more than 2,500 years. Jews in substantial numbers resided in what are to-day
Arab countries over 1,000 years before the advent of Islam. Following the Moslem conquest of
the region, for centuries, while relegated to second-class status, Jews were nonetheless
permitted limited religious, educational, professional, and business opportunities.
It is important to note that the treatment of Jews by Arab leaders and Islamic populations
varied greatly from country to country. By way of example, in some countries, Jews were
forbidden to leave (e.g. Syria); in others, many Jews were expelled (e.g. Egypt) or displaced en
masse (e.g. Iraq); while other Jewish communities lived in relative peace under the protection
of Muslim rulers (e.g. Tunisia, Morocco).

When Arab countries gained independence, followed by the rise in Arab nationalism, state sanctioned measures, coupled often with violence and repression, made remaining in the land
of their birth an untenable option for Jews.

In 1948, the status of Jews in Arab countries worsened dramatically as many Arab countries
declared war, or backed the war against the newly founded State of Israel. Jews were either
uprooted from their countries of longtime residence or became subjugated, political hostages of
the Arab-Israeli conflict. In virtually all cases, as Jews left the country, individual and communal
properties were confiscated without compensation.

Since 1948, over 850,000 Jews have left their birthplaces and their homes in some 10 Arab
countries. To-day, fewer than 7,000 Jews remain in these same countries.The fact that Jews displaced from Arab countries were indeed bone fide refugees, under international law, is beyond question.

• On two separate occasions the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
ruled that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were indeed ‘bona fide’ refugees who “fall
under the mandate of my (UNHCR) office”.High Commissioner for Refugees, Document No. 7/2/3/Libya, July 6, 1967.

• In all relevant international bilateral or multilateral agreements, (i.e., UN Resolution 242,
The Road Map, The Madrid Conference, etc.), the reference to “refugees” is generic,
allowing for the recognition and inclusion of all Middle East refugees - Jews, Christians,
and other minorities.

More information can be obtained from http://www.justiceforjews.com/

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