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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Jewish refugees’

‘I am Refugee’: Israel Launches Int’l Campaign on Expulsion of Jews from Arab Lands

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

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.

Knesset Event Spotlights plight of Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The Knesset conference on Compensation for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries, hosted by MK Nissim Zeev (Shas), raised the profile of his cause and will lead to the creation of a Knesset caucus.

Speaker Reuven Rivlin, Vice Prime Minister Benny Begin, Israeli MKs, foreign leaders, and diaspora groups of Arab-country origins filled the Knesset’s Jerusalem Hall for a few hours to discuss their views and exchange ideas.

Speaker Rivlin said that a peace treaty with any of our neighbors will be impossible without the compensation of the Jews expelled during the Jewish-Arab wars. He said that the theft of Jewish money, property, and belongings can’t be tolerated and must be resolved in any signed agreement.

Vice Prime Minister Begin (Likud) used the occasion to slam Fatah. MK Lia Shemtov (Yisrael Beitenu -Y.B.) echoed Rivlin’s sentiments, saying there can be no peace with our neighbors without compensation for the Jewish refugees, adding that the compensation must be full and 100%.

MK Orly Levi-Abekasis (Y.B.) said that it is a humanitarian need to compensate Jewish refugees. She stressed that even in countries where Jews weren’t killed, all of their property was left behind. She added that many Jews died on the way to Israel and asked: ‘who will compensate their families?’ She charged that the plight of the Jewish refugees is never discussed and they currently have no rights. She concluded that justice requires us to compensate Jewish refugees for everything that was left behind.

MK Einat Wilf (Independence) said there are only 30,000 Arab refugees from the Jewish-Arab war, not 5 million, as the United Nations’ UNRWA claims. She said a baby born in Gaza is not a refugee. She stated the world only knows half of the story, noting there are Jewish refugees, not just Arab refugees, and stressing that any settlement must include compensation for both sides. She said there is an ethnic cleansing of Christian cities in Muslim countries because the Jewish cities were already cleansed sixty years ago. She concluded that any compensation must go both ways because there were victims on both sides of the Jewish-Arab war.

Vice-Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Fiorello Provera, Italy’s outgoing Interior Minister, and a Swedish parliament member were among the European dignitaries who spoke and supported the initiative.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/knesset/knesset-corner/knesset-event-spotlights-plight-of-jewish-refugees-from-arab-countries/2012/02/22/

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