RIGHTS AND REDRESS CAMPAIGN
February 12, 2007, landmark Resolutions on Middle East refugees
were introduced in both the US Senate (S.Res
85) and in the House
of Representatives (H.Res
far-reaching Resolutions urge the President to affirm that
in all international forums, when the issue of 'Middle East
refugees is discussed, representatives of the United States
should ensure that: "...any explicit reference to Palestinian
refugees is matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish
and other refugees, as a matter of law and equity."
bi-partisan effort is being spearheaded in the House of Representatives
by Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY)
along with Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
(R-FL); Rep. Michael Ferguson
(R-NJ); and Rep. Joseph Crowley
(D-NY). In the Senate, sponsors are Sen.
Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ); Sen.
Trent Lott (R-MS); Sen. Norm
Coleman (R-MN); and Sen. Richard
adopted, these Resolutions will be the strongest declarations
ever adopted by the U.S. Congress, on the rights of Jewish
and others refugees from Arab countries.
Communicate with President George Bush directly, urging
his support for the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab
countries. The White House has a comment line where you
will be connected to a live person (10am-4pm EST) at 1-202-456-1111.
Letters can also be faxed to the office of the Public Liaison
in the White House (fax - 202-456-6218).
Contact your Members of Congress (meet, call or write) urging
them to support the bi-partisan resolutions on 'Middle East
Refugees' now before the Congress that call for equal rights
for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. (House Resolution
#185 & Senate Resolution #85) Representatives and Senators
names and numbers can be found at: www.congress.org.
March an Action Alert was issued to draw attention to the
political effort on behalf of Jews from Arab countries. The
Action Alert was emailed to over 10,000 people and covered
the following topics: Background on the Issue; Copies of the
House & Senate Resolutions on Refugees; What to Emphasize
to Your Congressmen; Follow up Action Required!. You can read
the Action Alert at: www.justiceforjews.com/action-alert.html
its meeting of February 25, 2007, the Israeli Cabinet again
dealt with the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
A Communiqué, issued by the Prime Minister's office,
recorded the following in agenda item #9.
Cabinet discussed the issue of the restoration of Jewish
property rights and noted Prime Minister Olmert's decision
that Minister Rafi Eitan will be responsible for the issue
and for the issue of the rights of those Jews who left
Arab countries as refugees. The Cabinet also established
a ministerial committee on the issues, to be chaired by
Minister Eitan, and a steering committee."
Israeli Government's position on the rights of Jews from Arab
countries was first enunciated in a Cabinet resolution on
September 28, 1969. Subsequently, on two other occasions -
March 3, 2002 and December 28, 2003 - the Israeli Cabinet
reiterated its commitment to advocate for the rights of Jews
from Arab countries and instructed the Ministry of Justice
to undertake renewed efforts to collect "data, material,
requests and documents"..."of private and communal/public
property claims as well as the different violations of the
rights of Jews from Arab countries".
newly appointed Justice Minister, Prof. Daniel Friedmann,
assumed office on February 2, 2007. Prof. Friedmann was formerly
the Dean of the Tel-Aviv University Law Faculty; and has been
a visiting professor at, among others, Harvard University
and the University of London.
his first day in office, Justice Minister Friedmann agreed
to meet with Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of
the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations
and Stanley Urman, Director of Justice for Jews in Arab
Countries to review the Justice Ministry's mandate to
pursue rights for Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Discussion
ensued on avenues for legal redress for Jews displaced from
Arab countries and on efforts in Israel and in Diaspora Jewish
communities to register individual and communal losses.
HISTORY PROJECT: TESTIMONIES OF OUR PEOPLE
legacy of Mizrahi Jews - history, plight and flight of Jews
from Arab countries - has never been adequately documented.
It's now time to do so.
historical lessons of World War II can never be understood
without the archival collections stored at institutions like
Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the US Holocaust Memorial
Museum in Washington, D. C., and the 50,000 testimonies
collected by the Shoah Foundation.
educators and policy makers who seek to study the displacement
of Jews from the Arab world must have access to primary source
data and to the voices and testimonies of these refugees,
documenting their stories of tragedy and triumph.
project will: record the history and legacy of Sephardi-Mizrahi
Jews, their subsequent displacement from Arab and Islamic
countries; provide educational products; and support those
advocating for human rights and social justice.
important questions must be answered:
do we need to document the testimonies of Jews displaced
from Arab countries?
answers to these questions are compelling:
Over 70% of those who left Arab countries are no longer
alive. Those that are still living are well on in years.
With memories fading and people passing on each day, this
will be our last chance to obtain this irretrievable history
and legacy of Sephardi-Mizrahi Jewish life.
If we do not tell our story, who will? Our children and
our grandchildren need to know what Sephardi-Mizrachi Jews
lived through to secure their continuing legacy among the
Only primary source, evidence-based data can counter the
revisionists, in the Arab world and elsewhere, who claim
that there were never any large Jewish communities in the
region; that there was no discrimination against Jews; and
the Jews left Arab countries of their own free will.
The collected testimonies will reinforce a fundamental truth
of law and equity: no peace in the region can be reached
without recognition of, and redress for, the uprooting of
centuries-old Jewish communities and their displacement
from North Africa, the Gulf and the Middle East.
who is interested in being interviewed, or who would like
to support this effort by becoming a volunteer interviewer;
videographer, etc., please email us at info
the month of March, 300 people participated in a major event
in Rio de Janeiro where the film The
Forgotten Refugees was screened along with an exhibit
on Jews living in Arab countries. In São Paulo, WIZO,
the Women's International Zionist Organization held
an event with some 50 people in attendance, and the Hebraica,
a senior citizens group had 70 members attend their program.
Registration cards were distributed at all events.
activities in Brazil call for showing The Forgotten Refugees
at a registration event in São Paulo, as well as
a potential direct mailing of registration cards to homes
of members of the local Jewish community.
Hamoui, the JJAC coordinator in Brazil, published a book about
his family's displacement from Egypt and resettlement in Brazil.
Entitled Charles e Louly from Cairo to São Paulo,
the book was released on March 11th, the day Mr. Hamoui's
father would have turned 100 years old. Mr. Hamoui is the
publisher and editor of Yad Vashems magazine in Portuguese.
number of programs were recently held in Montreal including:
March, Stanley Urman, executive director of Justice for
Jews from Arab Countries, addressed over 200 people
attended in program in Concordia University, organized by,
among others, Centre Hillel. The film The Forgotten Refugees
was screened and one of the speakers was Ariella Cotler,
Canadian representative on the Steering Committee of the
International Rights and Redress Campaign.
Passover, Stanley Urman addressed over 200 people attending
services at Congregation Dorshei Emmet in Montreal. On another
evening, he participated in a panel discussion on "Middle
East Refugees", organized by the Montreal Dialogue
Group, which included an audience of both Jewish and Muslim
film The Forgotten Refugees was recently screened
at a program organized at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue,
the largest Sephardic Synagogue in Montreal.
the auspices of CRIF, a
national campaign was launched in March to register Jews in
France who originated from Arab countries. The campaign has
been planned and launched by a Committee of CRIF, chaired
by Jean Pierre Allali, who is one of France's representatives
on the Steering Committee of the International Rights
and Redress Campaign.
its inception, over 35 programs have taken place in some 12
cities across France. There have been numerous articles published
and radio interviews in both the Jewish and non-Jewish press.
large audiences came out for programs in Marseille, Nice,
Toulouse and Paris. The keynote speaker at these programs
was Jean Claude Niddam, Head of the Legal Assistance Department
for Israel's Ministry of Justice, whose appropriate theme,
in advance of the oncoming holiday of Passover was ve-hee-ga-deta
le- vinha- you should tell your children". The film
Silent Exodus" produced by Pierre Rechov was
screened and a registration effort took place.
with these programs, in each of those cities, working group
meetings took place with local Jewish communal leadership
to discuss ways to continue and expand the public education
and registration campaign in France. Major programs are now
being planned to focus on the Jews of Egypt; Morocco; Tunisia;
Iraq; Algeria; Syria; Lebanon; Libya; and Yemen.
the Association of Jews from the Middle East and North
Africa reported that several events took place recently
in London on behalf of Jews from Arab countries. In March,
there was a launch of a new book by Marina Benjamin, Last
Days in Babylon: the History of a Family, the Story of a Nation.
The book discusses a daring trip to Iraq in 2004, by Mrs.
Benjamin, in search of her roots, and to track down the last
remaining members of a once-vital 2,600 year-old Jewish community.
also held an open forum chaired by Linda Dangoor-Khalastchi,
which included discussion between Naim Kattan, author of Farewell
Babylon, and Marina Benjamin author of Last
Days in Babylon.
events have been held throughout the United States as part
of the International Rights and Redress Campaign
that was launched in March 2007.
20,000 e-mails have been sent out to Jewish leadership and
membership organizations across the U.S. Additionally, over
3,000 CDroms containing extensive program materials on the
rights of Jews from Arab countries have been distributed across
the US. These CDs contain a Synagogue Guide, a Program
and Registration Event Package, a Media Guide and a guide
for making representations to government officials.
guides and other materials went out to every rabbi and congregation
of the various streams of the Jewish community, including:
presidents and executive directors of the 52 member organizations
of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish
the Orthodox community via the Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America (OU), and the Rabbinical Council
of America (RCA);
the Conservative movement via the Rabbinical Assembly (RA);
the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; the Women's
League for Conservative Judaism (WLCJ); and MERCAZ: the
Zionist movement of Conservative Judaism;
the Reform movement via the Union for Reform Judaism;
the Reconstructionist movement via the Reconstructionist
Rabbinical Association and the Jewish Reconstructionist
you or your organization wishes to receive a copy of these
resource guides, please contact
us at JJAC.
Sunday, February 25, 2007, Stanley Urman participated in the
of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the annual gathering
of CRC professional and lay leadership from across the United
States. The program was entitled "Bold New Initiative
in Pro-Israel Advocacy: Effectively Refuting the Myths about
Middle East Refugees." Also on the program were Yitzhak
Santis, Middle East affairs director for the Jewish Community
Relations Council of San Francisco; Emily Blanck, Director
of JIMENA, based in San
Francisco, and Sabine Dazin, JIMENA's Mid-West Coordinator.
March, in partnership with JIMENA and The
David Project, JJAC conducted a special training session
for Jews from Arab countries who would like to participate
in a Speaker's Bureau. Born in Egypt and Iraq, each person
had a compelling story to tell. There are 10 people who are
now prepared and available to speak to schools, synagogues
you would like a speaker for your congregation, meeting or
event, please contact Shelomo Alfassa, Director of the US
Campaign, at 917-606-8262 (East
Coast) or Emily Blanck 415-957-1566 (West Coast).
Wahid, one of the founders of JIMENA, will undertake a Mid-West
speaking tour, addressing synagogue congregations, Jewish
organizations, and Jewish Community Relation Councils on Jews
from Arab countries. In the first two weeks of May, Mr. Wahid
will be visiting Detroit, Michigan; Milwaukee, Wisconsin;
Chicago, Illinois; and Grand Rapids Michigan.
David Yeshiva High School (MDY),
the largest Sephardic school in the United States, has taken
the lead among the New York City schools by hosting a major
school event, on February 21, 2007. Rabbi Alouf, the Dean
of the school and also the Egyptian Jewish community leader
of New York, spoke at the program which included a screening
of the film The Forgotten Refugees. Students were moved
by Rabbi Alouf's story about how his father was imprisoned
and tortured by the Iraqis in the infamous Abu Gharib
prison, only because he was Jewish; and how his uncle's home,
a multi-million dollar mansion was taken from him by the Arabs.
His closing words to the students were: "remember your
Richard Altabe with students and staff of Magen David Yeshiva
April, the school conducted a direct mailing to the homes
of its student body, sending hundreds of registration cards
for parents and grandparents of the students to register with
the International Rights and Redress Campaign.
MDY students that are participating in the campaign are from
the campus group AUDGE, which stands for, Awareness
Unites Different Groups Everywhere. The yeshiva was the
first Brooklyn location to place a 'drop off' box in the school
to collect completed registration forms. Additional boxes
were also placed in synagogues and other locations.
has been providing speakers for programs in Los Angeles, San
Diego and around the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento.
Seattle, JIMENA will have representatives at the Jewish Film
Festival in March to distribute registration cards at the
screening of The Forgotten Refugees. A number of coffee
meetings have also been arranged.
Waldman, founder of JIMENA, recently met with Joseph Mimun
who is the president of the Organization of Libyan Jews in
Israel. They discussed the idea of developing a Museum of
Jewish heritage in Libya. She reported there would be a conference
of Libyan Jews in June of 2007, to be held in Israel.
March, the United Jewish Communities of MetroWest invited
representatives of all synagogues, schools, organizations,
in the New Jersey-MetroWest area to discuss their participation
in the International Rights and Redress Campaign.
Rabbis and lay leaders were shown a screening of The David
Project's film, The Forgotten Refugees and Stanley
Urman briefed attendees on how each group can run a program;
contact their local media; politicians in Washington; etc.
Many of those in attendance agreed to host an event for their
constituencies and copies of the film The Forgotten Refugees
were made available for later screenings.
front page article and photo of this meeting ran in the local
NJ Jewish newspaper under the headline: "Coalition
Aims to Register Jews from Arab Lands."
Urman of JJAC was the keynote speaker at a program organized
at Congregation Bene Naharayim, the Iraqi synagogue
in Queens, New York. The synagogue recently screened The David
Project's The Forgotten Refugees film, and was interested
in learning more about Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
Mr. Urman discussed the current status of the International
Rights and Redress Campaign and some 30 registration
forms were collected from attendees.
- Bnai Zion is
welcomed as the 66th participating Jewish organization in
the International Rights and Redress Campaign.
Bnai Zion is a charitable, non-partisan organization dedicated
to the support of humanitarian projects both in Israel and
in the United States. Bnai Zion has a membership of approximately
30,000 and have raised substantial funds for projects and
causes focused on improving the human condition of Israeli
your family's history!
the evidence for any future claims
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