July 3, 2008 - "We lost everything we had, we could not
even take our family photos," declared Edwin Shuker, a displaced
Jewish refugee from Iraq at a hearing in the European Parliament
in Brussels, Belgium on July 1, 2008.
first-ever hearing in the European Parliament was organized by
Paulo Casaca, MEP (Member of the European Parliament), with the
European Friends of Israel and B'nai B'rith in association
with Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC),
the international coalition of organizations that are seeking
justice for the up to one million Jews displaced from Arab countries
since 1948. Among the other speakers were Moise Rahmani from Belgium
(born in Cairo) and Prof. Carole Basri of the USA (family from
defended the cause of all ethnic and religious minorities in the
Middle East. He indicated that he deplored the fact that the rights
of Jewish and Christian refugees today are virtually unrecognized
by Europeans. Prof. Basri, an attorney who teaches law at the
University of Pennsylvania, said that the criteria for ethnic
cleansing is one that can honestly be used to describe the political
measures that were put in place, to displace the Jewish population
in Arab countries that never represented a military threat. Prof.
Basri outlined the legal and historical arguments supporting the
case to recognize the Jews of Arab countries as bona fide refugees
under international law and called for Truth and Reconciliation
hearings on the subject .
Rahmani introduced the background to the displacement of Jews
from their ancestral birthplace as detailed in his book L'exode
a UK resident and President of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries,
gave a detailed account of the "black period" that his
family suffered through in Iraq under the nationalist Baathist
regime. He said, "Two refugee populations emerged from the
Arab-Israeli conflict, both suffered, both were victims and justice
requires equal consideration and redress." "In passing
Resolution 185 the US congress recognized this and we appeal
to the European Parliament to deliver a similar message,"
European Parliament is the only directly elected parliamentary
institution of the European Union (EU). Together with the Council
of the European Union, it has been described as one of the most
powerful legislatures in the world.
for Jews from Arab Countries is an international coalition
of major Jewish communal organizations operating to ensure that
justice for Jews from Arab countries assumes its rightful place
on the international political agenda and that their rights be
secured as a matter of law and equity.
room in the European Parliament
Shuker with original family documents