COMMITTEE UNANIMOUSLY APPROVES RESOLUTION ON RIGHTS FOR JEWISH
REFUGEES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES
27, 2008 - (New York, NY) Today, Congress moved one step closer
to recognizing the 'forgotten refugees.'
a unanimous bi-partisan decision, the House Foreign Affairs
Committee approved H.Res 185, a Resolution
recognizing the plight and flight of over 850,000 from Arab countries.
The Resolution now moves to the full House of Representatives
for a vote.
Resolution was introduced in the House by Rep. Jerrold Nadler
(D-NY) along with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Joseph
Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ).
the House Foreign Affairs Committee recognized the suffering and
terrible injustices visited upon Jewish refugees in the Middle
East, said Congressman Nadler. It is simply not right
to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees without recognizing
the rights of Jewish refugees, who, in fact, outnumbered their
Palestinian counterparts. By any definition, these displaced Jews
are refugees, and we should recognize them as such."
Ros-Lehtinen stated "It is imperative that we recognize the
history and plight of history's forgotten refugees, along with
the circumstances surrounding their departure. Failure to do so
only serves to perpetuate their suffering."
and Jewish communities have existed in the Middle East, North
Africa and the Gulf region for many centuries. Their lives changed
in the 20th century, as witnessed by a consistent, wide-spread
pattern of persecution and the mass violations of the human rights
of Jewish minorities in Arab countries. Upon the declaration of
the State of Israel in 1948, the status of Jews in Arab countries
worsened dramatically as Jews were either uprooted from their
countries of longtime residence or became subjugated, political
hostages of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The result - from over
850,000 Jews resident in North Africa, the Middle East and the
Gulf region at the turn of the century, it is estimated that less
than 5,000 Jews remain to-day in Arab countries.
Urman, Executive Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries
(JJAC) said the issue was first brought to the attention of Congress
by JJAC and B'nai Brith International over three years ago. Since
then, support has grown for this first formal recognition, by
the U.S. House of Representative, of Jewish refugees from Arab
truth must be told - that Jews are an indigenous people of the
region, having lived for 2,600 years in North Africa, the Middle
East and the Persian Gulf" said Urman. "These Jews became
victims of the Arab world's struggle against the state of Israel.
This Congressional Resolution is necessary because any denial
of rights to Jewish refugees from Arab countries will prejudice
authentic negotiations between the parties and undermine the justice
and legitimacy of any agreement."
current Resolution urges the President to ensure that when the
issue of Middle East refugees is discussed in international forums,
any reference to Palestinian refugees be matched by a similarly
explicit reference to Jewish and other refugee populations.
plight and injustices of Jewish, and other displaced, refugees
in the greater Middle Eastern region must be recognized by the
United Nations and dealt with in a fair and balanced manner,"
said Congressman Joseph Crowley. He added, "This recognition
will fulfill a very necessary step in the effort to establish
lasting peace and stability in a critically important and historic
part of the world."
important resolution urges the international community to treat
all refugees in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian
Gulf equally," said Congressman Ferguson. "All religions
- including Judaism and Christianity - must be treated equally
and fairly in any credible Middle East peace agreement."
for Jews from Arab Countries is a coalition of 77 Jewish communities
and organizations in 20 countries, operating under the auspices
of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
and the American Sephardi Federation, in partnership with the
American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation
League, B'nai Brith International, the Jewish Council for Public
Affairs and the World Sephardic Congress.