FOR­GOT­TEN EX­O­DUS OF JEWS FROM ARAB LANDS

The Jewish Chronicle - - Comment -

This Passover held a spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for vic­tims of a mod­ern Jewish ex­o­dus — from Arab coun­tries. Just be­fore it, Is­rael’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter Danny Ayalon an­nounced that jus­tice for 870,000 Jewish refugees driven out of Arab coun­tries would be­come of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment pol­icy.

The Arabs have never ceased rais­ing the refugee is­sue while the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment has been silent. The Ayalon ini­tia­tive breaks new ground, by pub­li­cally lay­ing the blame for the cre­ation of both sets of refugees at the door of the Arab League states who at­tacked Is­rael in 1948. His min­istry rec­om­mends that an in­ter­na­tional fund be es­tab­lished to com­pen­sate both groups. Is­raeli em­bassies around the world have been in­structed to pro­mote Jewish refugee rights

Some 52 per cent of Is­rael’s Jewish pop­u­la­tion de­scend from refugees forced to leave their homes and pos­ses­sions in Mus­lim lands. An­other 200,000 found sanc­tu­ary in the West. Few have ever re­ceived com­pen­sa­tion, and their plight has never been in­ter­na­tion­ally recog­nised. Yet there were more Jewish refugees than Pales­tinian refugees, and they lost some 50 per cent more in as­sets.

We hope that Ayalon’s ini­tia­tive will pro­mote peace by mak­ing both sides recog­nise that an ex­change of roughly equal num­bers of refugees took place. Arab states need to fol­low the model of suc­cess­ful Jewish refugee re­set­tle­ment, in­stead of feed­ing the vain Pales­tinian hope of a “right of re­turn” to Is­rael, a coun­try which most refugees have never seen. Lyn Julius Harif — UK As­so­ci­a­tion of Jews from the Mid­dle East and N Africa info@harif.org

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