WJC welcomes Congressional initiative on Jewish refugees from Arab countries

06 August 2012
The World Jewish Congress has applauded the introduction of bipartisan legislation in the United States by six US Congress members to ensure recognition of the plight of 850,000 Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries since Israel's War of Independence in 1948.

Among other actions, the bill would require the US president and members of the administration to raise this issue with all relevant international organizations and other parties in discussions of the Middle East and to report to Congress that they have done so. The legislation specifically calls on the Obama administration to pair any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees with a similar reference to Jewish or other refugee populations.

“The suffering and terrible injustices visited upon Jewish refugees in the Middle East needs to be acknowledged,” said Congressman Jerrod Nadler, the lead sponsor of the measure. “It is simply wrong to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees without recognizing the rights of nearly one million Jewish refugees who suffered terrible outrages at the hands of their former compatriots.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement: “Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab countries and Iran endured unimaginable hardships. Their plight has been ignored by the United Nations, other international bodies and many responsible nations. Any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement can only be credible and enduring if it resolves all issues related to the rights of all refugees in the Arab world and Iran, including Jews, Christians and others.”

Evelyn Sommer (pictured), chairwoman of the World Jewish Congress - North America, welcomed the move by the Congressmen: “For a long time, the plight of the Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries has been ignored by the international community. Since 1948, in many countries across the Middle East and North Africa, Jews were persecuted, their property stolen, and ancient Jewish synagogues and cemeteries were destroyed. Banished and impoverished, most of these Jewish refugees came to Israel where they were welcomed with open arms, became citizens, and today thrive in the Jewish state.”

Sommer added: "Yet, the injustices done to these Jewish communities that existed for many hundreds of years and that were brutally uprooted have not been recognized or addressed. There are no United Nations resolutions to be found acknowledging this fact. We praise Representatives Nadler, Ros-Lehtinen, Berman, Poe, Crowley, and Turner for introducing this initiative in the House to help raise awareness of this history of intolerance and to demand an honest reckoning of this repression. We strongly urge the members of the United States Congress to pass this legislation,” said Sommer.

Jewish refugees from Arab countries

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