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July 28, 2014 / 1 Av, 5774
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‘I am Refugee’: Israel Launches Int’l Campaign on Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands

In the course of the operation "Magic Carpet" (1949-1950), the entire community of Yemenite Jews (called Teimanim, about 49,000) immigrated to Israel on "the wings of eagles."

In the course of the operation "Magic Carpet" (1949-1950), the entire community of Yemenite Jews (called Teimanim, about 49,000) immigrated to Israel on "the wings of eagles."

Before 1948, there were close to one million Jews living in the Arab world, while today only a few thousand still remain. During the four years following the establishment of the state of Israel, violent anti-Semitic riots broke out across the Middle East and restrictive government measures were put in place, which forced ancient Jewish communities, some thousands of years old, to dissolve. Driven from their homes and properties, 856,000 Jews were expelled from Arab countries and Iran, fleeing mostly to Israel but also to the United States, Europe, Canada, and elsewhere.

The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has launched a new campaign to mark this tragedy in cooperation with the World Jewish Congress and the Ministry of Pensioner Affairs. Called ‘I Am a Refugee,’ the international campaign seeks to bring the forgotten and often overlooked stories of Jewish refugees from Arab countries to both Israel and the international community.

The campaign, led by Deputy Foreign Minister, Daniel Ayalon, whose own father’s family was forced to flee Algeria, aims to highlight the injustices that were done to the Jewish refugees, via Facebook and online sources. “The time has come to correct an ongoing historical injustice that has affected half of the population of Israel,” said Deputy FM Ayalon on the MFA website.

Jews living in Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Iraq, Iran, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and Syria lost their legal status, properties and homes, which in many cases were seized by the government.  On the I Am a Refugee Facebook campaign page, personal stories, photos, video documentaries, and documents have been uploaded of Jewish life and escape from these different Middle Eastern countries.  In one pre-World War II photo, a class of Jewish youngsters can be seen in a Benghazi synagogue, while another photo depicts a Jewish wedding in Aleppo, Syria in 1914. In others, Iraqi and Kurdish Jewish refugees are seen arriving to Israel in the 1950s, while other photos show life in the Israeli transit camps that absorbed these refugees.  An uploaded video documentary tells the story of a Jewish family’s exodus from Egypt.

According to MFA website, the personal stories that appear on the Facebook page will be presented at a conference in New York when the United National General Assembly convenes at the end of September.

Ayalon has asked Jewish refugees and their families to take an active part of this campaign via Facebook, to “tell the world your personal story, which is an inseparable part of the Jewish people and the story of the re-establishment of the State of Israel.”

This past June, the United Nations marked World Refugee Day, where only one group of refugees—the Jewish refugees from Arab countries– was noticeably absent, according to a recent Huffington Post article written by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Proser. “The historic Jewish presence in the Arab World must be recognized. The grave injustices inflicted upon them must be acknowledged,” Prosor wrote in response to the UN oversight.

The I Am a Refugee campaign aims to open the way to international acknowledgement and recognition of the Jewish refugee issue. This coming Monday, an international conference of jurists and experts on the refugee matter will be held in Jerusalem, to continue to advance this campaign.

About the Author: Anav Silverman is a regular contributor to Tazpit News Agency.


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9 Responses to “‘I am Refugee’: Israel Launches Int’l Campaign on Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands”

  1. On two occasions, in 1957 and again in 1967, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) determined that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were legally refugees who fell within the mandate of the UNHCR.

    In the first instance, referring to Jews displaced from Egypt, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Auguste Lindt, in his Report to the UNREF Executive Committee’s Fourth Session (Geneva 29 January to 4 February, 1957) announced that: “Another emergency problem is now arising: that of refugees from Egypt. There is no doubt in my mind that those refugees from Egypt who are not able, or not willing to avail themselves of the protection of the Government of their nationality fall under the mandate of my office.”.

    The second reference to Jews from Arab countries as refugees was discovered in a July 6, 1967 letter from Dr. E. Jahn, of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees which confirms: “I refer to our recent discussion concerning Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries in consequence of recent events. I am now able to inform you that such persons may be considered prima facie within the mandate of this Office.”.

    Therefore, under international law, Jews displaced from these Arab countries were indeed bona fide refugees, subject to the full protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

    See more
    http://www.jpost.com/opinion/op-edcontributors/article.aspx?id=283829

  2. There should be recipricacy. For every Jew expelled from Arab countries there should be a Palistinian cast out of Israel and settlement land returned to those Jews who gave the land value in the first place.

  3. The problems are the media will not cover this at all and (this is kind of a "back handed" problem) all these Jews were fully absorbed into Israeli society.

  4. Exodus of the Chosen people of God is real! God will not forsake them! He will help them when His Help is not expected!

  5. Chaiya Eitan says:

    If we're going back into history, let's not forget what happened to Yemenite babies: a baby was declared ill and taken to the.
    hospital despite parental assertion that the child was.
    healthy. The ostensibly ill baby was then taken to one of.
    several institutions around the country, such as Wizo, an.
    international women’s organization with recovery centers.
    in Safad, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The parents were.
    then told their babies had died. // If family members from the Holocaust can be reunited, something must be done to reunite these children with their families!

  6. Chaiya Eitan says:

    If we're going back into history, let's not forget what happened to Yemenite babies: a baby was declared ill and taken to the.
    hospital despite parental assertion that the child was.
    healthy. The ostensibly ill baby was then taken to one of.
    several institutions around the country, such as Wizo, an.
    international women’s organization with recovery centers.
    in Safad, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The parents were.
    then told their babies had died. // If family members from the Holocaust can be reunited, something must be done to reunite these children with their families!

  7. Avery Morrow says:

    Is this website allergic to links? https://www.facebook.com/imarefugee

  8. Ethan Perks says:

    The world didn't care then, and won't care now. Israel can never match the Arabs and other anti-semites in purchasing false concern. Where prey tell, are the protest flotillas for Syria. More Syrians have died in 14 months than have Palestinians in 40+ years. But since the enemy aren't Jews, now one really cares!

  9. Ethan Perks says:

    Your drinking the coolaid!

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