Posts Tagged ‘exodus’


November 25, 2007


the jews want to milk arabs dry and they do not hide it…What do Andre Azoulay, king Mohamed VI’s advisor, Robert Assaraf, Serge Berduggo and Serfaty think ?As for me, i have no comment to make…

Forgotten refugeesEffort under way to focus on Jews of Arab lands
by Eric Fingerhut Staff Writer

Most everyone knows that Israel’s creation in 1948 led many Palestinian Arabs to flee to refugee camps.

Much less is known about another refugee group: Jews who fled Arab lands. An effort is under way to heighten their visibility.

On Wednesday of last week, one of those Jewish refugees told her story to a group of about two dozen local synagogue and Jewish agency represenatives brought together by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington. And leaders of a group representing such refugees said that they want the Jewish refugee issue to be part of the agenda in future Middle East peace talks.

Those attending were urged to return to their synagogue and plan a program on the issue sometime in the next couple of months. They received a packet of materials to facilitate planning such an activity.

“The broader Jewish community has no idea” about this issue, said JCRC executive director Ron Halber. “As we educate ourselves about it,” he said, “then we can go” to the wider community.

In 1948, some 856,000 Jews lived in Arab countries, according to Justice for Jews in Middle East Countries executive director Stanley Urman. Twenty years later, that number was just 72,600, and by 2001 only 7,800 (with 5,700 of that number in one country, Morocco.)

Regina Waldman was among those ultimately forced to leave her home in Libya.

Addressing the gathering at Magen David Sephardic Congregation in Rockville, she said that while she was growing up, Jews, who weren’t allowed to leave the country were “tolerated, but didn’t have human rights.”

To illustrate, she recalled a school lesson when she was 6 years old. A teacher asked the students, “If you have 10 Jews and you kill five of them, how many are left?”

At the time of the Six Day War, rioting broke out in the streets of Libya. The then-19-year-old was taken into hiding by a British Christian, she recalled. A few weeks later, Libya expelled all its Jews, taking their property. She said that she and her family barely made it out alive ‹ they had boarded a bus and soon realized the driver was going to set the vehicle on fire, but the same Brit who had hidden Waldman rescued the family.

Following the Sept. 11 attacks in this country, Waldman decided that “maybe I should tell my story” and founded the organization Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa, or JIMENA, to educate the public.

She pointed out that she has spoken on college campuses with hostile environments toward Israel and is effective, because “it is hard to look at an eyewitness and deny the story.”

Waldman was in town last Thursday to testify, along with other advocates, before the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on the issue.

At that hearing, JTA reported, Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.), who has traveled extensively in the Middle East, including to Israel, pointed out that the U.N. General Assembly since 1947 “has adopted 681 resolutions on the Middle East conflict, including 101 resolutions on Palestinian refugees. During that same time period, there were no U.N. resolutions, nor any recognition or assistance from the international community for Jewish and other refugees from Arab countries.”

Urman, meanwhile, told the JCRC gathering that his organization had “one simple mission”: Every time Palestinian refugees are mentioned, there should be a corresponding acknowledgement of Jewish refugees.

“It breaks the exclusivity” and “levels the playing field,” he said, adding that “we cannot allow a second injustice” by recognizing “the rights of one population and not another.”

The issue “is not about money,” he said, and Jewish refugees, unlike the Palestinians, are not interested in returning to their old homes in Arab countries.

Yet, he didn’t say that money would be refused, nor was he specific about what Jewish refugees from Arab countries want ‹ other than for their story to be told.

“It is not up to us to decide, it is up to Israel” and its interlocutors to determine “whatever rights will be available,” he said. “We don’t demand specific rights, we just demand recognition.”

Embassy of Israel spokesperson David Siegel said that “Israel attaches great importance” to the issue, noting that laws passed in 2002 and 2003 called for Israelis from Arab lands to register their property claims with the government for the purpose of future restitution.

“Justice and equity for those forced to flee from Arab states who subsequently made their homes in Israel” is a subject that “should be on the [diplomatic] agenda,” said Siegel.

Urman’s organization is also seeking to “register” as many Jews from Arab lands as possible, so that the group has a database of names with which to back up its awareness efforts. Registration forms are available on the group’s Web site,

Bethesda’s Leo Rennert, attending the meeting as a representative of Ohr Kodesh Congregation in Chevy Chase, said his synagogue would definitely be following up ‹ preparing a fact sheet about the issues for congregants, as well as programs for the congregation and possibly for religious school students as well.

Rennert said he felt the Jewish refugee issue would resonate among the wider Jewish community because “it goes to the very essence of the history of Israel and how it’s misrepresented” by others.

“These people’s histories have been swept under the rug,” he noted, and yet there were more Jewish refugees from Arab lands than Palestinian refugees from Israel ‹ according to figures provided by Justice for Jews in Arab countries, there were 130,000 more.

But Beth Allen of the District, who was representing Washington Hebrew Congregation, said that while she believes the issue is a valid one, she hoped that the Jewish refugees would develop a sharper message.

“I feel like they need a statement of purpose,” she said. “They don’t have a clear mission statement,” noting that it seemed like the group was hesitant to state exactly what its goals were.

Interviewed Monday, Allen, 27, said she had passed information along to her synagogue’s rabbis, but she was unsure if the matter would engage the younger sector of the Jewish community.

Younger Jews have forged a connection with the Holocaust because of the many living survivors and other artifacts from the era, she said, but was uncertain that they would be able to develop the same sort of empathy for such an unfamiliar group.

Group Spotlights Jews Who Left Arab Lands

Published: November 5, 2007

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 2 — With assertions of the rights of Palestinians to reclaim land in Israel expected to arise at an planned Middle East peace conference in Annapolis, Md., a Jewish advocacy group has scheduled a meeting in New York on Monday to call attention to people it terms “forgotten refugees.”

The organizing group, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, says it is referring to the more than 850,000 Jews who left their homes in Arab lands after the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948.

“This did not occur by happenstance, as is sometimes said,” said Stanley A. Urman, executive director of the group, a five-year-old New-York-based organization. “In fact, we have found evidence that there was collusion among the Arab nations to persecute and exploit their Jewish populations.”

To back the claim, the group has reproduced copies of a draft law composed by the Arab League in 1947 that called for measures to be taken against Jews living in Arab countries. The proposals range from imprisonment, confiscation of assets and forced induction into Arab armies to beatings, officially incited acts of violence and pogroms.

Subsequent legislation and discriminatory decrees enacted by Arab governments against Jews were “strikingly similar” to the actions laid out in the draft law, Mr. Urman said.

In January 1948, the World Jewish Congress submitted a memo with the text of the draft to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. It accompanied the submission with a warning that “all Jews residing in the Near and Middle East face extreme and imminent danger.”

At a meeting two months later, however, Charles Malik, the Lebanese ambassador and president of the council, succeeded in a parliamentary maneuver that ended consideration of the memo. Though the event drew news coverage at the time, it has apparently gone unnoticed since.

The Arab League draft law had been drawn up in response to the Nov. 29, 1947, vote in the General Assembly to partition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish.

With the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the status of Jews in Arab countries changed dramatically, because most of those countries either declared war on Israel or supported the war to destroy the new state.

The group cites United Nations figures showing that 856,000 Jewish residents left Arab countries in 1948.

“This was not just a forced exodus, it was a forgotten exodus,” said Irwin Cotler, a former Canadian minister of justice who is scheduled to be the main speaker at Monday’s program to open the campaign on behalf of the Jewish refugees.

For that reason, he said, the main goal of the campaign was to raise public awareness rather than to seek compensation. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the other components of redress, recognition, remembrance and acknowledgment of the wrongs committed,” he said.

He said that a particular focus of the campaign would be the United Nations, where Palestinian concerns got regular attention and Israel was frequently the object of condemning resolutions. “The U.N. has participated in expunging this experience from the Mideast narrative and from the U.N. narrative,” Mr. Cotler said.

The campaign is aimed at assuring that mention of Jewish refugees is included in future General Assembly and Human Rights Council resolutions and commemorations.

The next opportunity would be Nov. 29, the 60th anniversary of the partition vote, which is officially recognized by the United Nations as the International Day of Solidarity With the Palestinian People.

The United Nations says that 711,000 Palestinians left Israel-controlled territory in 1948 and 1949 and that today, along with their descendants, the number of Palestinian refugees is at least four million.

“There is mention, as there should be, of Palestinian refugees, but no mention of Jewish refugees,” Mr. Cotler said of the annual commemoration.

Another objective is to push for early passage of resolutions introduced in the United States Senate and House that say that any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees in any official document must be matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees.

The American-sponsored peace conference in Annapolis is planned to take place before the end of the year to address core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict like borders, the status of Jerusalem and the Palestinian refugees.

“We want to have this meeting now, in advance of the Annapolis conference, to ensure that this issue is front and center in the international awareness as it should be,” Mr. Urman said.

Daniel Carmon, an ambassador at the Israeli mission, said that while there ought to be a change in attitude at the United Nations, no one expected it to occur soon.

“This has not been forgotten because it does not exist,” he said. “It is a reflection of the dynamic at the U.N.”

Mr. Cotler said a change in perception would help bring the region’s antagonists together.

“I know this may sound Pollyannaish, but I believe that if we allow people to understand the truth of what occurred, then they will be able to recognize the other,” he said. “Right now the other is being demonized.”