July 24-25, 2006, a series of meetings were held with
the senior staff of 19 Senators and the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee. These representations were
strengthened by the presence of professionals from the
American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, Bnai
Brith International, the JCPA, as well as from Justice
for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC).
ongoing conflict in the Middle East was first and foremost
on everyone's minds. Therefore, the agenda for those meetings
was twofold. First, to express appreciation to the Senators
for their support of Israel and briefing their staff on upcoming
pro-Israel initiatives on the Hill; and, to encourage support
for the Senate resolution on the rights of Jews from Arab
countries and determining feasibility as to its potential
adoption, in light of events then evolving in the Middle East.
Meetings were held on the implementation of the International
Rights and Redress Campaign (IRRC) with the Orthodox Union
(OU), the Conservative Movement and the Reform Movement. Rabbi
Waxman and the OU agreed to help conduct activities related
to the IRRC in over 1,000 synagogues across the USA; Rabbi
Joel Meyers of United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism agreed
to promote the IRRC through all of their Conservative synagogues,
as did ________ and the Conservative movement in Canada. Marla
J. Federman, Director of the Commission on Social Action for
the Union for Reform Judaism, agreed to promote the IRRC among
her peers and evaluate how best the Reform movement can participate.
materials on the 2,500 year history of Mizrahi Jewry and their
subsequent displacement from Arab countries is being prepared
that would be targeting governments, the media, Jewish organizations,
synagogues and Jewish day schools in all Diaspora Jewish communities.
The materials will be generic in nature, thereby allowing
each Jewish community entity (e.g. Synagogues, Schools, JCCs,
Jewish organizational chapters Hadassah, Bnai
B'rith, etc.) to run their own programs for their constituent
more information on these materials and to obtain copies,
please be in touch with Shelomo Alfassa at alfassa (at)
series of meetings also took place in Israel for the purpose
of strengthening both JJAC and the World Organization of
Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC). In attendance were Dr.
Heskel Haddad, Stanley Urman, Ben Ozer, and Mordechai ben
Porat. The two resolutions that JJAC helped to get introduced
into the U.S. Congress were discussed in a meeting with senior
officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Discussions
also took place on initiatives in Canada, Russia, Europe and
the United Nations.
subsequent meetings were held to discuss the ongoing worldwide
activities of JJAC. In attendance were Reuben Shalom, Director
General of the Jewish Agency and Jeff Kaye (look up). Also
participating were Dr. Heskel Haddad, Stanley Urman and Edwin
Shuker from London, member of the Jewish Board of Deputies
and representative of the World Sephardic Congress.
meetings were held with Jean Claude Niddam and other senior
officials of the Israeli Ministry of Justice to discuss implementation
of the International Rights and Redress Campaign, as well
as the potential development of one central database for Jewish
refugees from Arab countries. Other topics discussed was the
Campaign activities in Israel and potential funding for the
efforts are being made to educate public opinion on the rights
of Jewish refugees in Arab countries. In addition to regular
coverage in the media, public education efforts include providing
briefings for communal leadership and public education programs.
held a meeting with Rabbi Sam Kassin, Dean of Midrash
Sefaradi, the largest and most active Sephardic
yeshiva in the world. Rabbi Kassin, was in New York
in July, and before returning to Jerusalem, reaffirmed
his support for the International Rights and Redress
Campaign. Previously, Rabbi Kassin expressed
his support and advised that his students-Sephardic
rabbis around the world, should also support the activities
of the IRRC.
coordination with Rabbi Ezra Labaton, JJAC presented an evening
of education and testimony registration at Congregation Magen
David of West Deal, NJ. That evening, hundreds of visitors
saw the film The Forgotten Refugees, and heard a first hand
account by Rabbi Isaac Farhi, a man who struggled as a refugee
fleeing from Syria. Rabbi Elie Abadie of the Safra Synagogue
in Manhattan was in attendance, and made a special call for
all Jews from Arab countries to register as part of the International
Rights and Redress Campaign. Mr. Moses Tawil of the
Brooklyn/Deal community met Stan Urman at the event, and stated
he supported the activities of the IRRC; he then asked for
literature, enough for him to distribute to 150 persons.
Shams, Mindy Jerome, Charles Jacobs, Rabbi Elie Abadie,
Rabbi Isaac Farhi, Joey Mizrachi and Stanley Urman in Deal,
is working with The David Project to develop an educational
curriculum suitable for both younger and older students. The
material includes a Facilitators' Guide entitled: Justice
for Jews from Arab Countries: From Understanding to Advocacy.
Divided into two sessions with a total of four phases, the
instructional material will cover, Life As it Was; Trauma:
Things Get Worse, Flight and Displacement and Resettlement
and Rebuilding. The guide also has an extensive set of appendices
and additional supplementary resources. Persons wanting more
information on the Facilitators' Guide should contact Shelomo
Alfassa at 917-606-8262 or alfassa (at) justiceforjews.com.
(Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) working
in conjunction with JJAC and JCPA( Jewish Council for Public
Affairs) has been organizing the CRC's (Community Relation
Councils) through out the United States to initiate the registration
campaign in major cities across America. So far, JIMENA has
been working with Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, Las Vegas,
Phoenix, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, and are gearing up for Washington
DC, Houston, Dallas and other communities. JIMENA has been
working with the Hillels in the Bay Area to make them aware
of the registration campaign. JIMENA is actively getting cards
filled out in Silicon Valley where a large Mizrahi and Israeli
population lives, through participation in festivals and presentations.
members have also been actively lobbying their congressional
representatives in the area to encourage their co-sponsorship
of H. Res. 848 and S. Res. 494. They were able to secure Senator
Feinstein's endorsement and are hopeful others will follow
September 2, 2006 JJAC announced through a worldwide
release, that near 60 years since near one million
Jews were displaced from Arab countries, they now can
online in a process aimed at restoring their rights
and helping them seek redress for their suffering and
losses. The press release was picked up by several major
media outlets which expressed interest in covering the
development of the online registry as well as the case
of rights and redress for Jews from Arab countries.
Jewish refugees and their descendant who fled Arab countries
can now visit www.justiceforjews.com
to register their family narratives.