(Sunday, July 14, 2013) – Today, the Ministerial Committee on Legislation endorsed a law to hold an official date in the Israeli national calendar to commemorate the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. The law, authored by Member of Knesset Dr. Shimon Ohayon (Yisrael Beytenu), will state that February 17th is to become a day of national commemoration for the over 850,000 Jews who were forced out or who fled their homes in Arab countries during the middle of the last century.
February 17th was chosen because it was the date in 1948 when the Arab League approved a law for its member states placing severe sanctions against their Jewish populations.
Accordingly, MK Ohayon sent an official letter today to Secretary General of the Arab League Dr. Nabil El Araby calling on his organization to “accept historic accountability for the humiliation, the suffering, and the losses incurred by innocent Jewish victims of the Arab world’s declared war against the State of Israel.”
“As a matter of law and equity, the Arab League must assume full responsibility for ensuring rights and redress for Jewish refugees, the direct result of their collusionary actions,” MK Ohayon wrote in a letter also sent to the Arab League’s Human Rights Department.
“There are historic processes taking place in the Arab world currently with more and more people pushing for their rights, this is an opportune time for the Arab League and its member states to admit to the historic injustice meted out to their Jewish populations,” MK Ohayon said. “This is an important element of any future peace and reconciliation between Jews and Arab in the Middle East.”
The law and the letter are part of a concerted campaign to have the rights of the Jews who were forced out of Arab countries in the twentieth century recognized in Israel, the Arab world and the international community.
The day of commemoration for the Jewish refugees was accepted and endorsed by the representative organizations of Jews from Arab countries in Israel and international organizations like Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) and the World Jewish Congress, who will push the day of commemoration in Jewish communities around the world.
The following is the letter sent by MK Dr. Ohayon to Arab League Secretary General Dr. Nabil El Araby
Jerusalem, 14th July 2013
His Excellency Dr. Nabil El Araby
Secretary General League of Arab States
Secretary General, For over 2,500 years, Jews in substantial numbers resided in the Middle East and North Africa, predating Islam and the Arab conquest and subsequent occupation of much of these areas. During the twentieth century, roughly 99% of all Jews, almost a million men, women and children, were uprooted from their ancient Jewish communities in ten Arab countries – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Aden. The repression against Jews in so many Arab countries was not independent phenomenon but rather the result of collusion by the League of Arab States to target and persecute their Jewish populations. This is evidenced from: (a) reports of multilateral meetings of the Arab League; (b) ominous and violent threats made against Jews by delegates of Arab countries at the U.N.; and c) legislation and discriminatory decrees, enacted by numerous Arab governments, that violated the fundamental rights and freedoms of Jews in Arab countries.
In 1947, the Political Committee of the League of Arab States approved the Text of Law which provided that “…all Jews were to be considered members of the Jewish ‘minority state of Palestine,’” their bank accounts would be frozen, assets confiscated and many would be interned as political prisoners. These discriminatory actions made the lives of Jews in Arab countries simply untenable. Jews were uprooted from their countries of birth and in virtually all cases, as they fled or were expelled, individual and communal properties were seized and/or confiscated without any compensation provided by Arab governments.
The League of Arab States should acknowledge its role and responsibility in the drafting and endorsement of the Text of Law, colluding to inflict human rights violations against its Jewish nationals and residents, and the consequent displacement of Jewish refugees.
The Arab League must accept historic accountability for the humiliation, the suffering, and the losses incurred by innocent Jewish victims of the Arab world’s declared war against the State of Israel. As a matter of law and equity, the Arab League must assume full responsibility for ensuring rights and redress for Jewish refugees, the direct result of their collusionary actions. Sincerely, Dr. Shimon Ohayon, MK