Tag: Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

CANADA, AGAIN, LEADS, RECOGNIZING 1948 JEWISH REFUGEES— NO FINAL M.E. PEACE WITHOUT JUSTICE FOR THE 850,000 EXPELLEES

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

NB: Today's Briefing topic reflects one of CIJR's important on-going research projects, our Jews Expelled from Muslim Lands (JEML) undertaking, designed to make known on a broad public scale both the expulsion of over 800,000 Jews from 1947-48 forward, and the value of Jewish real and moveable expropriated property, by various Arab and Muslim regimes.  This key issue, long overlooked, must be part of any final peace negotiations between Israel, the Palstinians and Arab states, and extra-regional interlocutors. (For more information on JEML, please contact us at [514] 486-5544 or email cijr@isranet.org.)


                                           

Canada Recognizes Experience of Jewish Refugees: Government of Canada, Mar. 26, 2014— Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement …

Reparations For Jews From Arab Countries Must be Included in Peace Talks, MKs Say: Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014 —The government is ignoring Jewish refugees from Arab countries in negotiations with the Palestinians, Knesset Control Committee chairman Amnon Cohen said Wednesday.

The Other Refugees and the Path to Peace: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Mar. 27, 2014 — Today Canada’s foreign minister proved once again why the Great White North is one of the world’s outliers with regard to the Middle East.

Arab Refugees and Jewish Refugees – the Inextricable Link: Lyn Julius & Stanley A. Urman, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 9, 2014— Suddenly Jewish refugees from Arab countries have been catapulted into the headlines.

My Iraqi Jewish Heritage: What’s Left?: Robert Fattal, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 4, 2014 — Last month the National Archives in Washington unveiled an exhibit showcasing Iraqi Jewish artifacts recovered from Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters.

 

On Topic Links

 

What Made Canada Recognize Jewish Refugees From Arab Countries?: Vicky Tobianah, Ha’aretz, Mar. 24, 2014

A Page From Barker's Playbook: Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 13, 2014

Battle Over Iraqi Jewish Archive Heads to US House: Times of Israel, Mar. 10, 2014

                                     

 

CANADA RECOGNIZES EXPERIENCE OF JEWISH REFUGEES             

Government of Canada, Mar. 26, 2014         

                                    

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird today issued the following statement after the House of Commons concurred with the recommendations in the report by the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development to recognize the experience of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa:

 

“I am pleased that the House of Commons agreed with the recommendation of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, which is supported by the Government of Canada, and officially recognizes the experience of Jewish refugees who were displaced from states in the Middle East and North Africa after 1948. Fair and equal acknowledgement of all refugee populations arising out of the Arab-Israeli conflict requires the recognition of Jewish refugees. Such recognition does not diminish or compete with the situation of Palestinian refugees.”

 

“The Government of Canada agrees in principle with the committee’s second recommendation, that the experience of Jewish refugees should be taken into consideration as a part of any just and comprehensive peace deal, however, we believe that the peace process as it is currently structured offers the best hope for a positive solution. I thank the committee for its efforts and its continuing interest in the issues of human rights and religious freedom in the Middle East and North Africa…”

                                                                                               

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REPARATIONS FOR JEWS FROM ARAB COUNTRIES

MUST BE INCLUDED IN PEACE TALKS, MKS SAY                                  

Lahav Harkov

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 26, 2014

 

The government is ignoring Jewish refugees from Arab countries in negotiations with the Palestinians, Knesset Control Committee chairman Amnon Cohen said Wednesday. “We have to take our brothers from Arab countries into consideration. They don’t get any reparations from property worth billions of dollars, which they had to abandon because they were expelled,” Cohen (Shas) explained. Cohen pointed out that the government is disregarding a 2010 law requiring that reparations for Jews from Arab countries be included in any negotiations with the Palestinians.

 

However, US envoy in the negotiations Martin Indyk indicated earlier this year that a treaty could include such compensation. Cohen also called for Senior Citizens Minister Uri Orbach to prepare a report on the value of lost Jewish property to be used in the talks, as the topic falls under his jurisdiction, and to collect information previously gathered by the Justice and Foreign ministries on the matter. “Some justice ministers, like Tzipi Livni, aren’t interested in the matter, even though the UN recognized the legitimacy of Jewish refugees from Arab countries’ demands,” Cohen stated.

 

Orbach said collecting information “is important because of these people’s right to their lost property, but the chances of receiving compensation are small…. I don’t want to commit to missions that we may not be able to handle, but we will up the pace of the documentation.” However, Senior Citizens Ministry director-general Gilad Semama said that his budget is too low for the project. Still, by the end of 2014, Semama expects the ministry to gather testimony from 3,000 people. Finance Ministry representative Guy Harmati took issue with the complaint, saying that the Senior Citizens Ministry asked for a NIS 50 million budget, which is too high, and that he needs to see results before increasing funds.

 

Levana Zamir, head of the International Association of Jews from Egypt, said that 35,000 Jews were expelled from Egypt in 1956 and that the Foreign Ministry documented some of their abandoned property. According to Zamir, part of the peace treaty with Egypt said that Israel would demand compensation for the lost property, but it never happened. “Livni thinks that Jews from Arab countries are an obstacle to peace,” Zamir lamented. Meir Kahlon, representing Libyan Jews, said communal property should count, as well. “Palestinians document every tent, well and thicket they had here, but we left behind property worth billions of shekels,” he stated.

 

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THE OTHER REFUGEES AND THE PATH TO PEACE           

Jonathan S. Tobin

Commentary, Mar. 27, 2014

 

Today Canada’s foreign minister proved once again why the Great White North is one of the world’s outliers with regard to the Middle East. Foreign Minister John Baird said that the Canadian government stated that the fate of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries should be both recognized and taken into account in discussions about Middle East peace. The statement followed Canada’s parliament adopting a report on the subject and though Baird was careful to say that he didn’t want the issue to become a point of contention in the talks between Israel and the Palestinians sponsored by the United States, the mere raising of the topic is enough to cause some of Israel’s critics to claim the Canadians are trying to sabotage the negotiations. While the Israelis have repeatedly raised the issue of the hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled or were forced to flee their homes throughout the Arab world in the months and years following Israel’s birth in 1948, the Palestinians not only refuse to discuss the matter, they regard it as a distraction from the “nakba”—or disaster, as they refer to Israel’s creation. But in doing so they make it plain that this issue is central to understanding why peace has eluded the region.

 

The argument about competing sets of refugees is not an abstract historical puzzle. To even talk about Jewish refugees with their own history of suffering undermines the narrative that the only result of Israel’s War of Independence was the dispossession of a Palestinian refugee population whose descendants continue to demand a “right of return” to the homes they left 66 years ago. For the same reason that the Palestinian Authority refuses absolutely to recognize that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, so, too, do they and their supporters close their ears to any discussion about Jewish refugees. Palestinians fear that both subjects undermine their sense of themselves as victims who must be compensated by the world. But while they believe that any diminution of that victimhood, either to recognize the claims of other refugees or the state where most of dispossessed Jews found a home, would deprive them of their identity as a people, the truth is just the opposite. Discarding this mindset is the only way that they—or the Israelis—will ever find peace.

 

The Canadian report will undoubtedly be ignored by the international press that tends to treat any mention of Jewish refugees as somehow an illustration of Israel’s lack of contrition about the suffering of the Palestinians. But the more that one learns about the topic, the easier it is to understand that there was no monopoly on suffering in this conflict. Just as hundreds of thousands of Arabs fled or, in a few cases, were told to leave their homes in the former British Mandate for Palestine, almost an equal number of Jews throughout the Arab and Muslim world experienced the same fate.

 

The difference between the two populations was that the Jews were taken in and resettled by their brethren, either in the newborn state of Israel or in Western countries. Though their journeys and adjustment to their new homes was not always easy, none were allowed to languish in limbo. Today, they and their descendants in Israel or in the United States and other Western countries are members of successful communities where they enjoy equal rights.

 

By contrast, the Arabs who left the territory that would become the State of Israel were deliberately kept in camps to this day and denied any resettlement or citizenship in the countries where they found themselves. The reason for this was that they were useful props in the Arab world’s ongoing war to reverse the verdict of that war. Their future was held hostage to the struggle to destroy Israel, and the refugees and their numerous progeny have been kept apart and in squalor in order to further that effort. Their plight merits the sympathy of the world. So, too, does the way they have been exploited and abused by their own leaders and other Arab countries.

 

Unfortunately, many of those who wish the Palestinians well, including many Jews, have accommodated their nakba narrative demands and sought to pressure Israel to apologize for winning the war of survival in 1948. But the Palestinian decision to cling to this narrative of suffering rather than embracing one of nation building in the West Bank and Gaza, where Israel has repeatedly offered them an independent state, is the primary obstacle to peace. As Rick Richman noted earlier this week, the point of insisting on the so-called “right of return” is not really the refugees but to keep the war against Israel’s existence alive. Not until they realize that they were not the only ones who suffered and that the war that led to their dispossession was the result of their own unwillingness to compromise and share the land will the Palestinians be prepared to accept the current compromise that has been on the table from Israel for many years, and finally move on.

 

Far from harming the cause of peace, the best thing those who wish to promote a resolution of the Middle East conflict can do is to remind the Palestinians that they were not the only ones who lost their homes and that the Arab world has as much apologizing to do as the Israelis. If one group of refugees must be compensated, so must the other. Just as two states for two peoples is the only possible formula for peace, let the Palestinians recognize that they aren’t the only 1948 refugees. Until they do and acknowledge the legitimacy of a state for those Jewish refugees, peace will be impossible.

 

                                                                                                 

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ARAB REFUGEES AND JEWISH REFUGEES –

THE INEXTRICABLE LINK                                                         

Lyn Julius & Stanley A. Urman                                            

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 9, 2014

 

Suddenly Jewish refugees from Arab countries have been catapulted into the headlines. The Kerry peace framework proposals will, it is rumored, contain a clause recommending compensation for both Jewish refugees and Palestinian refugees. This is music to the ears of us activists on behalf of Jewish refugees. It’s what we have been fighting for decades. At last, the rights of over 856,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries will be recognized and redressed. What’s not to like? Already discordant voices are being heard. In this newspaper, Sarah Honig’s February 13 column entitled: “Another Tack: A Page from Barker’s Playbook” suggested that a reported proposal to compensate Jewish refugees along with refugees from British Mandate Palestine is just a means for US Secretary of State John Kerry to sway the “hawks” of the Israeli electorate – Jews from Arab countries and their descendants.

 

At its core, advocating for the rights of Jews from Arab countries is not about money. Recognizing rights and redress for Jewish refugees is a quest for truth and justice, the prerequisite for true reconciliation between and among peoples in the region. While under international law the legitimate rights of Jews forced to flee Arab countries are neither identical to, nor symmetrical with, those of Palestinian refugees, there is significant linkage between these two refugee populations, underscoring the need to deal with both simultaneously: Both refugee populations were created by the Arab countries’ refusal to accept the 1947 UN Partition Plan and attacking Israel; both became refugees during the same period in history; and both were declared to be bona fide refugees, under international law, by the appropriate UN Agencies – UNHCR and UNRWA.

In the international, political arena, Jewish refugees have been inextricably linked to Palestinian refugees. The historic United Nations resolution 242 on the Arab-Israeli conflict stipulates, that a comprehensive peace settlement should necessarily include “a just settlement of the refugee problem,” language that, according to the expressed intent of the UN Resolution’s co-authors, would be inclusive of Arab refugees and Jewish refugees. The 1991 Madrid Peace Conference created a Working Group on Refugees whose mandate was to “…consider practical ways of improving the lot of people throughout the region who have been displaced from their homes” – generic language applicable to both Palestinian and Jewish refugees. The 2002 Road map to Middle East Peace also refers in Phase III to an “agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue,” language applicable both to Palestinian and Jewish refugees. The intention in all of these seminal blueprints for peace is for both refugee populations to be addressed in tandem.

 

Rights for Jewish refugees have been enshrined in legislation, as a matter of government policy, for years, both in Israel and in the United States. In 2008, the US Congress’ House Resolution 185 proclaimed that, in Middle East peace negotiations, “any explicit reference to the rights of Palestinian refugees must be matched by a similar reference to the rights of Jewish refugees.” In 2010, Israel’s Knesset passed a Law which requires that: “As part of negotiations to achieve peace in the Middle East, the government will include the subject of providing compensation for the loss of assets of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.”

 

So who will pay? There are those who pessimistically believe that compensation for Jewish refugees will never materialize. Surely it won’t come from the Palestinians. And Arab states in the throes of internecine warfare won’t want to pay. Even President Barack Obama may be loathe to pay out from the US’s depleted coffers. Compensation for Arab and Jewish refugees is not a new idea. The concept, which was first proposed by president Bill Clinton in 2000, was for the creation of an international fund to which many states would contribute, including the United States. But Uncle Sam should not foot the bill alone. Multilateral involvement would provide the legitimacy and commitment – as well as financial support – to cement the peace. The G-8, the EU, the Arab League, Arab countries, Israel and others as well – should all participate and contribute.

 

Arab participation is paramount; a genuine peace can only be achieved when all culpable Arab states accept responsibility and express regret for the injustices they perpetrated on their Jewish citizens. Some believe it illogical that such an International Fund could be created, with a mandate to provide compensation to both sides involved in the same conflict. In fact, in 1991, the United Nations established just such a precedent for the victims of the first Gulf War, by creating a unique Compensation Commission that can serve as a model for providing restitution equitably to both Jewish and Palestinian refugees. The responsibility to create an International Fund, and the lion’s share of its endowment, would have to be borne, of course, by the United States. The cost of compensating refugees on both sides with a few billion dollars is a drop in the ocean compared to the $6 trillion that the US has expended on its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a small price to pay for the ultimate prize – a permanent end to the Arab-Israeli conflict.                                                           

                                                                                                 

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MY IRAQI JEWISH HERITAGE: WHAT’S LEFT?                             

Robert Fattal                                             

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 4, 2014

 

Last month the National Archives in Washington unveiled an exhibit showcasing Iraqi Jewish artifacts recovered from Saddam Hussein’s intelligence headquarters. The controversy surrounding the find and whether the US should live up to its commitment and return the historic materials to Iraq has made me reflect on my own identity. Or rather, I should say, on my lack of any true Iraqi Jewish identity.

My parents, newly arrived Iraqi Jewish immigrants to Canada, sent me to Jewish school. Like most Hebrew day schools in North America we were basically taught the Ashkenazi Zionist worldview. Essentially, that Ashkenazim built and founded the State of Israel, and that Sephardi Jews generally didn’t contribute very much to Judaic heritage or Israel. For all intents and purposes, we were made to feel that Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, King Solomon and other biblical figures might have all hailed from the Levant, but their true descendants came to Israel by way of Eastern Europe and the Ashkenazi tradition. Overall, I admit I was satisfied with the education I received. I became somewhat fluent in Hebrew, and compared to my parents, whom I would describe as secular and very traditional, I was definitely more religiously informed than they were. However, being one of the few if not the only Middle Eastern Jew in my school, I was sporadically taunted, labeled a camel jockey or worse. Granted, the instances of bullying were very few and far between, but the ultimate result was that I had a sense of alienation that I couldn’t really get around.

My parents, content that other Iraqis had also immigrated to Montreal, hardly felt compelled or rarely felt welcome getting to know my classmates families. Looking back, perhaps it was a combination of my father trying to establish a successful business and my mother simply trying to help build a safe home that contributed to my segregated identity. It goes without saying that today my closest friends are children of Iraqi immigrants like myself. It wasn’t until recently that I began to ask serious questions about my heritage, any remaining legacy, and what I could potentially pass on to future generations. Sadly, I can’t say I can contribute very much. I certainly don’t want to sound like I am looking to cast blame, but it is true that a confluence of three independent interests conspired to discriminate against me and deny me my heritage.

I’ve already alluded to the first, Ashkenazim downplaying any Iraqi or Middle Eastern contribution to Jewish consciousness. It is well known that Israel’s Ashkenazi leadership constantly downplayed the history and suffering that Arab Jewish immigrants went through. It is well documented that the new citizens were discriminated against when they settled in Israel. To the Ashkenazim, it was as if Arab Jews should have been thankful to leave their 2,600-year-old traditions for the tents of the Ma’abarot. Forgotten refugees; their sole usefulness being to serve as a bargaining chip to counter Palestinian claims against the State of Israel. Lost in all these calculations is the fact that today there is no Jewish community in any Arab country.

Nor is there a movement or desire to promote their history or traditions. At this point preservation is the best we can hope for. It is difficult to illustrate this profound loss, however, when I visit the Wailing Wall on any religious holiday, the plaza is overwhelmed with haredi men wearing typical Ashkenazi religious attire: three-piece suits with furry black hats or fedoras. Where are the traditional Mizrahi religious haredim?

It is a pity that many observant Middle Eastern Jews have adopted the symbols of a 200-year-old tradition over their own, much older ones. I have to ask, which tradition should the Jews of Israel wish to preserve? Eastern European attire and customs of the 1800s, or those of a rich, over 2,000-year-old Middle Eastern Jewish tradition? Witnessing the black suits and furry hats, etc., what many would consider alien phenomena, is it any wonder that accusations stigmatizing Israelis as outsiders from Europe gain so much traction? Obviously, Arab governments themselves were ultimately responsible for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from their countries, and erasing their history. To this day they refuse to acknowledge any responsibility or remorse for their actions.

In fact, the massive exodus depleting the Arab world of its millennial Jewish character is blamed solely on the victims themselves, and Israel. It was the Arab Jews themselves, it is argued, that wanted to leave, and for those that preferred to stay it was Israel that threatened them with violence if they didn’t leave. To add insult to injury Arab pundits advocate that “Arab countries… offer to take the Jews back.” This is a bad joke; one need only witness the exodus of Christians from the Middle East, and the violence they face if they stay, to realize this is nothing but a pathetic attempt to whitewash past misdeeds and culpability. One can only shudder at the fate of any Jews accepting such an offer….                                                                                   

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]
 

CIJR wishes all its friends and supporters Shabbat Shalom!

                                                                          

 

What Made Canada Recognize Jewish Refugees From Arab Countries?: Vicky Tobianah, Ha’aretz, Mar. 24, 2014— As a Jew growing up in Iraq, Gladys Daoud had an ordinary life. Her father served in the Iraqi army as a colonel and had a medical practice in Baghdad.

A Page From Barker's Playbook: Sarah Honig, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 13, 2014 —It’s a safe bet that John Kerry hasn’t heard of General Evelyn Hugh Barker, GOC (General Officer Commanding) of British forces in Palestine (Eretz Yisrael).

Battle Over Iraqi Jewish Archive Heads to US House: Times of Israel, Mar. 10, 2014 —A new House resolution urges the State Department to renegotiate the terms for the return to Iraq of an archive of Iraqi Jewish texts.

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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QUEL PEUPLE N’A PAS DROIT À SON ÉTAT AU PROCHE-ORIENT?

 

 

«ÉVENTUELLEMENT, TOUTE L’HUMANITÉ
SERA DES RÉFUGIÉS PALESTINIENS»

Daniel Pipes

The Washington Times, 21 février 2012
Version originale anglaise: “Eventually, All Humans Will Be Palestine Refugees”
Adaptation française: Anne-Marie Delcambre de Champvert

De toutes les questions qui agitent le conflit israélo-arabe, il n'en est pas de plus centrale, de plus pernicieuse, de plus primordiale, de plus permanente, de plus chargée d'émotion et de plus complexe que le statut de ces personnes connues sous le nom de réfugiés palestiniens.

 

Les origines de ce cas unique, comme l'observe Nitza Nachmias de l'Université de Tel Aviv, remontent au comte Folke Bernadotte, médiateur du Conseil de Sécurité des Nations Unies. Se référant à ces Arabes qui avaient fui le mandat britannique sur la Palestine, il avait soutenu en 1948 que l'ONU avait une «responsabilité concernant l'allègement de leurs souffrances» parce que c'était une décision de l'ONU, la création d'Israël, qui en avait fait des réfugiés. Malgré le caractère inexact de son point de vue, ce dernier demeure vivace et puissant et contribue à expliquer pourquoi l'ONU consacre une attention sans pareille aux réfugiés palestiniens en attente de leur propre État.

 

Fidèle à l'héritage de Bernadotte, l'ONU a mis en place une série d’institutions spéciales exclusivement pour les réfugiés palestiniens. Parmi celles-ci, l'Office de secours et de travaux des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés de Palestine (UNRWA), fondé en 1949, se distingue comme étant la plus importante. C'est à la fois la seule organisation de réfugiés traitant d'un peuple spécifique (la Commission des Nations Unies pour les réfugiés s'occupe de tous les réfugiés non palestiniens) et la plus grande organisation des Nations Unies (en termes de personnel).

 

L'UNRWA définit apparemment ses domaines d'intervention avec une grande précision: «les réfugiés palestiniens sont des personnes dont le lieu de résidence était la Palestine entre juin 1946 et mai 1948, qui ont perdu à la fois leur domicile et leurs moyens de subsistance par suite du conflit israélo-arabe de 1948». Le nombre de ces réfugiés (qui à l'origine comprenaient quelques Juifs) a, bien sûr, beaucoup diminué au cours des 64 dernières années. En admettant le nombre (exagéré) de l'UNRWA des 750.000 réfugiés palestiniens du début, à peine une petite partie de ce nombre, environ 150.000 personnes, est encore en vie.

 

Le personnel de l'UNRWA a pris trois mesures importantes au cours des années afin d'élargir la définition de réfugiés palestiniens. Tout d'abord, et contrairement à la pratique universelle, il a étendu le statut de réfugiés à ceux qui sont devenus des citoyens d'un État arabe (Jordanie, en particulier). Deuxièmement, il a pris une décision peu remarquée en 1965 qui a élargi la définition de «réfugiés palestiniens» aux descendants de ces réfugiés qui sont de sexe masculin, un changement qui permet aux réfugiés de Palestine uniquement de transmettre leur statut de réfugié aux générations suivantes.

 

Le gouvernement des U.S.A, principal bailleur de fonds de l'agence, a seulement un peu protesté contre ce changement capital. L'Assemblée générale l'a entériné en 1982, de sorte que maintenant la définition d'un réfugié palestinien comprend officiellement «les descendants de réfugiés palestiniens de sexe masculin, y compris les enfants adoptés légalement.» Troisièmement, l'UNRWA en 1967 a ajouté des réfugiés de la guerre des Six Jours à sa liste; et aujourd'hui, ils représentent environ un cinquième du total des réfugiés de Palestine.

 

Ces changements ont donné des résultats spectaculaires. Contrairement à toutes les autres populations de réfugiés, dont le nombre diminue à mesure que les gens s'installent ou décèdent, la population des réfugiés de Palestine a connu une croissance au fil du temps. L'UNRWA reconnaît ce phénomène bizarre: «Lorsque l'Agence a commencé à fonctionner en 1950, elle devait répondre aux besoins d'environ 750.000 réfugiés de Palestine; aujourd'hui, 5 millions de réfugiés palestiniens sont admissibles aux services de l'UNRWA.». En outre, selon James G. Lindsay, un ancien conseil juridique de l'UNRWA, en vertu de la définition de l'UNRWA, ce chiffre de 5 millions ne représente que la moitié de ceux qui sont potentiellement admissibles au statut de réfugiés palestiniens.

 

En d'autres termes, plutôt que d'avoir une population 5 fois moins nombreuse sur plus de six décennies, l'UNRWA a une population de réfugiés qui a augmenté de près de 7 fois. Ce nombre pourrait croître encore plus rapidement, ceci dû au sentiment croissant que les femmes réfugiées devraient également transmettre leur statut de réfugié. Même lorsque, dans environ 40 ans, le dernier réfugié réel de l'époque du mandat sur la Palestine, mourra, les pseudo-réfugiés continueront à proliférer. Ainsi le statut de «réfugiés de Palestine» est voué à gonfler indéfiniment. Autrement dit, comme le fait remarquer Steven J. Rosen [qui fait partie] du Forum du Moyen-Orient, «étant donné les normes de l'UNRWA, tous les hommes seront un jour des réfugiés palestiniens.»

 

Si le statut des réfugiés de Palestine était sain, cette expansion sans fin n'aurait guère d'importance. Mais le statut a des conséquences destructrices pour les deux parties: Israël, qui souffre des ravages causés à une catégorie de personnes dont les vies sont brisées et faussées par ce rêve impossible de retour à la maison de leurs arrière-grands-parents, et les «réfugiés» eux-mêmes, dont le statut implique une culture de dépendance, de ressentiment, de rage, et d'inanité.

 

Tous les autres réfugiés de la Seconde Guerre mondiale (y compris mes propres parents) se sont établis depuis longtemps; le statut de réfugié palestinien a déjà trop duré et doit être restreint à de vrais réfugiés avant que cela ne cause davantage de dommages.

«DEUX ÉTATS (NATIONS) POUR DEUX PEUPLES?»
Éditorial

UPJF.org, 21 février 2012

Le slogan «Deux États pour deux peuples» s’est imposé ces dernières années, au point de devenir une sorte de mantra que l’on répète inlassablement, comme s’il s’agissait d’une formule magique pour amener la paix au Moyen-Orient… Les événements récents – du «Printemps arabe» à l’hiver islamiste en Égypte, en Tunisie ou en Syrie – montrent pourtant que la réalité de cette région du monde est très fluctuante, et beaucoup plus complexe que les slogans simplistes. Non seulement les concessions unilatérales israéliennes, depuis les accords d’Oslo signés il y a bientôt 20 ans, n’ont pas amené la paix dans la région, mais elles ont renforcé le camp le plus extrémiste au sein de la société arabe palestinienne; celui du Hamas et du Djihad islamique. Le récent accord entre le Fatah de Mahmoud Abbas et le Hamas montre que ces deux organisations partagent aujourd’hui les mêmes objectifs, et que seule leur stratégie pour y parvenir diffère.

 

Il est en effet de plus en plus clair que les Palestiniens ne sont nullement intéressés à la création d’un État démocratique vivant en paix aux côtés d’Israël, et qu’ils font tout leur possible pour parvenir à l’éradication de l’État Juif, tantôt par la guerre et le terrorisme, tantôt par la délégitimation d’Israël et du sionisme sur la scène internationale.

 

Dans ces circonstances, parler de «deux États-nations», comme l’a fait récemment le Président de la République [Sarkozy], relève plus de l’incantation que de l’analyse objective de la situation. On ne peut à la fois proclamer son amitié pour Israël et son attachement à sa sécurité, et se dire favorable à la création d’un nouvel État arabe palestinien à l’Ouest du Jourdain, qui se transformera inévitablement en nouvelle base de terrorisme contre Israël, comme l’est devenue la bande de Gaza depuis le retrait israélien en 2006.

 

La mise en parallèle de l’État Juif, foyer national d’un des peuples les plus anciens au monde, qui a offert à l’humanité un apport inestimable sur le plan culturel, spirituel et intellectuel, et de l’État palestinien, revendiqué par une nation tout récemment apparue (certains diront «inventée»), dont la seule «contribution» majeure à l’humanité est, à ce jour, l’invention du terrorisme international, est insultante pour le peuple Juif. Il est surprenant qu’un ami sincère comme Nicolas Sarkozy ne comprenne pas cela…

 

L’insistance de la diplomatie française à vouloir à tout prix créer un État palestinien est d’autant plus suspecte qu’elle est totalement muette sur le refus palestinien de négocier directement avec Israël, sur les violations palestiniennes répétées des accords conclus, et sur l’incitation constante à la haine dans les médias officiels de l’Autorité palestinienne, qui qualifient de «martyrs» et glorifient les auteurs de l’odieux attentat d’Itamar. Ce mutisme est d’autant plus inacceptable que l’Autorité palestinienne ne fonctionne que grâce au financement généreux de l’Union européenne.

FATIMA HOUDA-PEPIN INTERVIEWÉE PAR
RICHARD MARTINEAU AUX FRANCS-TIREURS

Dépêche

Pointdebasculecanada.ca, 16 février 2012

Le 15 février 2012, Télé-Québec a diffusé une interview de Fatima Houda-Pepin par Richard Martineau. […] L’interview de madame Houda-Pepin a été présentée au début de l’émission. Après avoir rappelé que Fatima Houda-Pepin est vice-présidente de l’Assemblée nationale depuis mai 2007 et députée depuis 1994, Richard Martineau a souligné combien sa contribution avait été importante pour empêcher l’introduction des tribunaux islamiques au Canada en 2005.

 

Richard Martineau: La preuve que même en tant que «simple députée» on peut faire une différence, vous l’avez fait (lors du) combat que vous avez mené, tambour battant, contre l’instauration de la charia, des tribunaux islamiques au pays. Vous étiez vraiment la première au front.

 

Durant l’entretien, Richard Martineau a demandé à madame Houda-Pepin d’élaborer sur son contact avec l’islam radical au Canada alors qu’elle n’y avait pas été confrontée dans le Maroc de son enfance.

 

Richard Martineau: Il y a une phrase que vous avez dite qui m’a très bouleversé. Vous, vous êtes née au Maroc, vous avez été à l’école coranique, vous avez fréquenté l’école coranique lorsque vous étiez enfant. (…) Vous avez dit: «J’ai connu le fondamentalisme en arrivant au Canada».

 

Fatima Houda-Pepin: En effet. En effet. (…) Moi je viens d’une famille très religieuse et pratiquante. Donc, la religion pour moi c’était la joie, c’était le partage, c’était la musique, c’était les fêtes. (…) La religion qui s’épanouit, qui se vit humblement, sereinement et une religion qui se vit dans la confiance et dans la sérénité. Ma mère exigeait d’inviter mes amies juives aux fêtes religieuses et mes amies chrétiennes. C’était un devoir. Il fallait qu’elles soient là. Et moi, j’allais célébrer avec elles leurs fêtes. Je célébrais Noël avec elles et ainsi de suite. J’arrive ici et là Noël c’est haram (interdit), l’arbre de Noël c’est haram…Tout est haram. Mais qu’est-ce que tu fais ici si tout ça est haram?

 

Madame Houda-Pepin a rappelé combien les opposants au radicalisme islamiste devaient être spécifiques dans leurs interventions s’ils espéraient avoir la moindre chance de ralentir le phénomène.

 

Fatima Houda-Pepin: Le combat contre les intégrismes de toutes les religions, c’est un combat périlleux. Il faut être prêt à le mener ce combat-là et la première condition, c’est la connaissance. Si vous ne connaissez pas ces phénomènes, si vous ne connaissez pas leurs structures, leurs organisations, leur agenda, où est-ce qu’ils s’en vont et ce qu’ils veulent, ça sert à rien de vouloir vous attaquer à plus fort que vous.

QUI MÉRITE VRAIMENT UN ÉTAT?
LES KURDES OU LES PALESTINIENS?

Victor Sharpe
Israel-Flash.com, 21 février 2012

Vraiment c’est une bonne question! Il y a plus de vingt États arabes au Moyen-Orient et en Afrique du Nord, mais le monde exige, en chœur avec une animosité à peine déguisée envers Israël, qu’un un autre État arabe soit créé au sein des quarante miles qui séparent la mer Méditerranée du Jourdain.

 

Israël, un territoire pas plus grand que le pays de Galles ou l’État du New Jersey, serait forcé de partager cette bande de terre avec une nouvelle entité arabe hostile appelée «Palestine», tout en voyant sa taille actuelle réduite à neuf miles de largeur autant dire un projet génocidaire – ce que l’homme d’État israélien, Abba Eban, décrit comme les frontières d’Auschwitz.

 

Rappelez-vous, il n’a jamais existé dans toute l’histoire une nation souveraine indépendante appelée la Palestine – et certainement pas non plus arabe. Le terme «Palestine» a toujours été le nom d’un territoire géographique, comme la Sibérie ou la Patagonie. Mais n’a jamais été un état. Mais il y a un peuple qui, comme les Juifs, mérite une patrie et qui vraiment peuvent remonter leur ascendance à des milliers d’années d’histoire.

 

Ce sont les Kurdes, et il est très instructif d’examiner leur remarquable histoire en parallèle avec celle des Juifs. Il est également nécessaire de revoir l’injustice historique qui leur a été imposée au fil des siècles par des empires et des voisins hostiles.

 

Revenons à la captivité des dix tribus d’Israël, ces tribus ont été déportées à partir de leurs terres par les Assyriens en 721-715 avant l’ère commune. L’Israël biblique a été dépeuplé, ses habitants Juifs ont été déportés vers une zone dans la région de l’ancienne Médie et de l’Assyrie – ce territoire correspondant à peu près aujourd’hui à celui du Kurdistan. L’Assyrie a été à son tour conquise par les Babyloniens. Les Babyloniens sous Nabuchodonosor ont ensuite envahit le royaume de Juda en – 586 avant l’ère commune.

 

Les deux autres tribus juives ont été envoyées à leur tour dans la même même zone que celle de leurs frères du nord du royaume. Lorsque le conquérant perse de la Babylonie, Cyrus le Grand, a permis aux Juifs de retourner sur leurs terres ancestrales, de nombreux Juifs sont restés et ont continuer à vivre avec leurs voisins Babyloniens – une région qui, encore une fois, correspond dans nos temps modernes au Kurdistan.

 

Le Talmud de Babylone se réfère dans un passage aux déportés Juifs de Juda ayant reçu l’autorisation rabbinique de communiquer le judaïsme à la population locale. La maison royale kurde et une grande partie de la population en général dans les années qui ont suivi ont accepté la foi juive. En effet, lorsque les Juifs se soulevèrent contre l’occupation romaine au 1er siècle après l’ère commune, la reine a envoyé des troupes kurdes visant à soutenir les Juifs assiégés.

 

Dès le début du 2ème siècle après l’ère commune, le judaïsme a été fermement établi au Kurdistan, et les Juifs kurdes en Israël parlent aujourd’hui une forme ancienne d’araméen dans leurs maisons et dans les synagogues. La vie juive est devenue si intime et à un tel degré que de nombreux contes populaires kurdes sont en rapport avec les Juifs.

 

[…] Après que la révolte ait échoué contre Rome, de nombreux rabbins ont trouvé refuge dans ce qui est aujourd’hui le Kurdistan. Les rabbins se sont joints à leurs collègues universitaires, et au 3ème siècle après l’ère chrétienne, les académies juives de la région étaient florissantes.

 

[…] Sous l’empire perse des sassanides les Juifs et les Kurdes ont souffert de persécution et cela a duré jusqu’à l’invasion arabo-musulmane au 7ème siècle. Les Juifs et les Kurdes se sont joints aux envahisseurs arabes dans l’espoir que leur action leur apporterait un soulagement aux déprédations et persécutions subies sous les sassanides. Peu de temps après la conquête arabe, les Juifs de l’État autonome Juif de Himyar (royaume antique du Yémen) ce qui est l’Arabie Saoudite aujourd’hui ont rejoint les Juifs dans les régions kurdes.

 

Cependant, sous l’occupation arabo-musulmane, leur situation a empiré, et les Juifs ont souffert en tant que dhimmis dans les territoires contrôlés par les musulmans. Les Juifs ont été chassés de leurs terres agricoles du fait des taxes onéreuses imposées par leurs suzerains musulmans. Ils ont donc quitté la terre pour devenir commerçants et artisans dans les villes.

 

Beaucoup de paysans Juifs ont été convertis à l’islam par la force et les circonstances désastreuses les poussèrent à se marier avec leurs voisins. De cette population kurde est issue une grande figure historique. En 1138, un garçon est né dans une famille de guerriers et d’aventuriers kurdes. Son nom était Salah-al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyoub – mieux connu en Occident sous le nom de Saladin.

 

Il a été l’artisan de la reconquête de Jérusalem contre les croisés chrétiens, et a donné la victoire aux musulmans sur les Francs même si les arabo-musulmans se méfiaient de lui du fait qu’il soit Kurde. Les Arabes de l’époque étaient au courant de la relation étroite qui existait entre le peuple kurde et les Juifs. Saladin a établi des mesures de justice et humanitaires en temps de guerre et temps de paix également. Cette situation contrastait avec les méthodes employées par les Arabes.

 

En effet, Saladin fut non seulement juste pour les chrétiens, mais il a permis aussi aux Juifs de se développer à Jérusalem et, à ses frais, à fait déblayé le Mur occidental du Temple Juif, enterré sous des tonnes de déchets pendant l’occupation chrétienne byzantine. Le grand rabbin et philosophe Juif Maïmonide était le médecin personnel de Saladin.

 

[…] Mais revenons à nos jours et les raisons pour lesquelles les clameurs du monde se font entendre pour un État palestinien arabe, et que ce même monde tourne étrangement le dos à l’indépendance nationale d’un état kurde. Le principe universellement accepté de l’autodétermination ne semble pas s’appliquer aux Kurdes.

 

Dans un article paru dans le New York Sun, le 6 Juillet 2004 intitulé «L’Exception d’un état kurde», Hillel Halkin expose la discrimination et les doubles standards employés à l’encontre des aspirations à l’indépendance des kurdes. La brutalité de la realpolitik, fait que les Arabes qui se disent Palestiniens ont de nombreux amis dans le monde arabe riche en pétrole – pétrole dont le monde a désespérément besoin pour son économie.

 

Les Kurdes, comme les Juifs, ont peu d’amis, et les Kurdes ont peu, ou aucune, d’influence dans les couloirs internationaux du pouvoir. M. Halkin a souligné que «les Kurdes méritent bien mieux un État que les Palestiniens. Ils ont leur propre langue et une culture unique, les Arabes palestiniens n’en n’ont pas. Ils sont un peuple distinct et ce depuis de nombreux siècles, les Arabes palestiniens ne sont pas un peuple distinct des arabes. Ils ont été trahis à plusieurs reprises par les promesses durant les 100 dernières années par la communauté internationale, tandis que les Arabes palestiniens n’ont été trahis que par leurs compatriotes arabes.»

 

[…] Pendant la tyrannie de Saddam Hussein, les Kurdes ont été gazés et assassinés en grand nombre. Ils ont subi un nettoyage ethnique par les Turcs et continuent d’être opprimés par le gouvernement turc actuel. L’actuel ministre des Affaires étrangères turques, Ahmet Davutoglu, a eu le culot de déclarer, lors d’une réunion du Centre d’études stratégiques et internationales, que la Turquie soutient les opprimés dans le monde.

 

Il a ignoré l’oppression des Kurdes par son propre gouvernement et appelle les terroristes sanguinaires de la bande de Gaza des «opprimés». Sur la base de la pure realpolitik, la légalité et la moralité de la cause des Kurdes est infiniment plus forte que celle des Arabes qui se disent Palestiniens. D’autre part, après le renversement de Saddam Hussein, les Kurdes ont fait preuve politiquement et économiquement d’une grande sagesse.

 

La différence avec les Arabes de Gaza est que, lorsqu’Israël a donné le contrôle total de la bande de Gaza, les Arabes n’ont pas choisi de construire des hôpitaux et des écoles, mais plutôt des bunkers et des lanceurs de missiles. En plus de cela, ils ont imposé la charia humiliant les femmes et les non-musulmans.

 

L’expérience kurde, en cours sur le territoire quasi-indépendant qui est le leur a montré au monde une société décente, où tous ses habitants, hommes et femmes, jouissent de libertés bien plus grandes que ce qui peut être trouvé dans le monde arabo-musulman – et certainement nulle part ailleurs en Irak, qui est en train de sombrer dans un chaos ethnique, maintenant que l’armée américaine l’a quitté. […]

 

Copyright © Israël Flash

“NAKBA WEEKEND”—O, WOE IS ME!— PALESTINIAN “HOSTAGES” VS. JEWISH REFUGEES

 

 

 

ENDLESS CATASTROPHE
Editorial
Jerusalem Post, May 15, 2011

 

‘Nakba Day” has expanded into “Nakba weekend,” and judging from the potential diplomatic and military fallout in the wake of the turmoil in the north, now threatens to occupy our attention for days to come.

But while the developments in Majdal Shams and Maroun a-Ras set this year’s “Nakba” apart from previous years, the preferred way to commemorate the supposed “catastrophe” visited on the Palestinian people from the creation of the State of Israel has remained the same: violence, incitement and provocation.

Early Sunday, a 22-year-old man from Kafr Kasim chose to commemorate the failed attempt 63 years ago to violently snuff out the emerging Jewish state at birth with more death and destruction.… He climbed into the cabin of his semi-trailer and embarked on a collision spree along a two-kilometer strip of highway in Tel Aviv, using his huge vehicle as a deadly weapon. When his truck was finally forced to a stop when it collided with a bus, the driver nevertheless continued his rampage, clubbing a young woman.

By the time he had been subdued, the truck driver, who was only moderately wounded by an incensed crowd, had left behind him one dead and at least 17 injured, one of them critically.

In the north, meanwhile, Bashar Assad, in a cynical attempt to distract the Arab world’s attention from the atrocities and human rights abuses he is perpetrating against his citizens—including hundreds shot down in the streets during demonstrations, and thousands who have disappeared—orchestrated an intentional provocation in the most unlikely of places.

Hundreds of Syrians, many of them living in refugee camps as Palestinians (because Assad refuses to integrate them into Syrian society), were bused in coordination with Syria’s military forces to the border with Israel on the Golan Heights. From there, they descended en masse on the quiet town of Majdal Shams, a Druse village whose citizens are generally loyal to Israel and who reject commemoration of Israel’s establishment as a “Nakba.”

In the ensuing anarchy that included rock-throwing and violent confrontations, IDF soldiers opened fire in an attempt to prevent the Syrians from overrunning the border. Unfortunately, at least one Syrian was killed and more were wounded.

IDF soldiers seemed to have reacted reasonably judging from the circumstances. The border in the north stretches well over 200 kilometers. The army could never hope to position the requisite amount of soldiers needed to confront hundreds of infiltrators. The 30 to 40 soldiers who were in Majdal Shams reacted as appropriately as they could. And they were responding to a new phenomenon apparently inspired by the sorts of “Arab Spring” demonstrations that have taken place in Egypt and Tunisia.

On the Lebanese border in the town of Maroun a-Ras, as hundreds of additional Palestinians moved toward the border, three to five Palestinians were shot dead. In the south, on the border with Hamas-ruled Gaza, similar attempts were made to infiltrate Israel. Inside Israel, riots broke out around Jerusalem from Kalandiya to Silwan, A-Tur and Isawiyia, though these disturbances were “usual” for annual “Nakba” demonstrations.

This year’s “Nakba” provides additional bitter evidence that, far from preparing its people for peace with Israel, the Palestinian leadership continues to encourage the most extremist, intransigent positions. Palestinians have been encouraged to focus solely on their own suffering and victimization rather than coming to grips with their own tragic historical mistakes. These include rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan and launching an unsuccessful war against the nascent Jewish state, continuing to reject peace proposals including those put forward in 2000 by prime minister Ehud Barak and in 2008 by prime minister Ehud Olmert, and voting a Hamas majority into their parliament in 2006.

Just this weekend [Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud] Abbas, supposedly representing the more moderate Palestinian leadership, vowed that the PA would never neglect the “right of return.”

Since Abbas knows that full implementation of this “right” would put an end to the Jewish majority in Israel, he was implicitly calling for an end to Israel as a Jewish state. In parallel, a high-ranking official in Fatah declared this weekend that his organization’s political program is identical with Hamas’s. As for Hamas’s program, its Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh marked “Nakba Day” by predicting “the collapse of the Zionist project in Palestine.”

How much longer will Palestinians allow themselves to be captives to extremism and intransigence, and pawns to rogue states such as Syria? The only path to their independence lies through reconciliation with the State of Israel. That was the message of the international community in 1947. For how many more years are they going to reject it?

 

FIVE LETTERS THAT SPELL MIDDLE EASTERN MISERY
Michael S. Bernstam
National Post, Janusary 7, 2011

 

…The narrow confines of the 139 square miles of the Gaza district feature eight separate Palestinian refugee camps.… These refugee camps were established in 1949 and have been financed ever since by the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Far from seeking to help residents build a new and better life either in Gaza or elsewhere, UNRWA is paying millions of refugees to perpetuate their refugee status, generation after generation, as they await their forcible return to the land inside the State of Israel.

Though pundits and foreign-policy experts focus on the question of settlements or the current temperature of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, UNRWA’s institutionalization of refugee-cum-military camps is…the principal obstacle to peace in the Middle East. The chances of achieving peace and security in the Middle East will continue to be remote as long as UNRWA is, in effect, underwriting a self-destructive Palestinian cycle of violence, internecine bloodshed and a perpetual war against Israel.

For 60 years, UNRWA has been paying four generations of Palestinians to remain refugees, reproduce refugees and live in refugee camps. It is UNRWA that put them in refugee cages and watched the number of inhabitants grow. The Palestinian refugee population in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza has exploded from 726,000 in 1950 to 4.8 million in 2010. About 95% receive some form of UNRWA care. The unprecedented nature of this guardianship is rooted in the unusual nature of this institution. UNRWA is a supranational welfare state that pays its residents not to build their own nation-state; for, were they to do so, they would forfeit their refugee status and its entitlements of cash, housing, health care, education, credit and other largesse.…

All refugees except the Palestinians fall under the jurisdiction and care of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Only actual refugees qualify for aid under the UNHCR and only on a short-term basis.… The UNHCR’s mandate is to resettle and integrate all refugees in their historical homelands, or in new host countries. But Palestinians were provided with a different sort of relief.

The UNRWA charter specified that the Palestinians who lived in British Mandate Palestine during the years 1946-48 and who subsequently fled in 1948-49 qualified for refugee status—together with all their descendants. This open-ended definition of refugees applies for generations to come. It bestows housing, utilities, health care, education, cash allowances, public works and social services for multiple generations from cradle to grave. In practice, this means multigenerational refugee camps and ghettoes in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Close to one-third of today’s refugees, about 1.4 million, live in 59 refugee camps. There is no longer any room in UNRWA’s mandate and agenda for resettlement and integration.

UNRWA’s mandate created, in effect, a multigenerational dependency of an entire people.… Only the triumphant return of the grandchildren and the great-grandchildren to the ancestral land will mark the final deliverance in this ideology. Until then, the permanent refugee welfare state means permanent war, as it is fueled by a particular “right of return” claim—the argument that Palestinians should be given title to the land they occupied before Israel’s independence.

To see its pernicious demographic and physical meaning, consider what this claim is not, and then what it is.

First, it is not the right of return of actual refugees (as opposed to descendants) that was created by international conventions since 1948 to prevent deportations and to mitigate the conditions of concurrent refugees who fled the ravages of war. Nor is it the right of return of historical ethnic diasporas to their own nation-states. Nor is it the establishment of new nation-states where there were none. Rather, the claim of the Palestinian right of return is intended for one historical ethnic diaspora of the descendants of perennial refugees to repopulate another people’s existing nation-state, Israel.… This is…a reconquest after a lost war, a claim of the right of retake.…

A change in the Palestinian incentive structure is necessary for both peace and statehood. Palestinian sovereignty will only be achieved by liberation from UNRWA and, like peace, cannot be truly achieved without this liberation.… One possible first step is to merge [the UNRWA] with the UNHCR. Such a measure could allow UNRWA to be abolished immediately. If the new, merged agency adopted UNHCR’s program of short-term emergency relief, it would signal the beginning of the end of the world body’s support for continuance of the Palestinians’ agony. Alternatively, UNRWA could be held in place and phased out gradually.

The process is not important. What is important is the change in mission. The new mandate should be resettlement, integration and naturalization. The task is, in short, to transform 4.8 million people from dependent refugees into productive citizens.…

In Jordan, more than 1.8 million of the nearly two million registered refugees are already naturalized citizens of that country. Another 170,000 have permanent residency rights. Both citizens and permanent residents are integrated into the labour market and are isolated from other Jordanians primarily by the stigma of refugeeism. These Jordanian-Palestinians prefer to send their children to Jordanian schools that teach English and computer science rather than to UNRWA schools that teach historical mythology and use maps without Israel.

In Syria, since 1957, Palestinian residents have had the same rights as citizens in employment, commerce and social services. They lack formal citizenship and full property rights because the Syrian government, in a concordat with UNRWA, committed itself to “preserve their original nationality,” that is, to keep them trapped in their permanent refugee status and the ensuing claim on retaking Israel. Without UNRWA, this obstacle to integration would weaken even if the Syrian hostility toward Israel remains intact.

Lebanon is the most difficult case. Of 414,000 registered refugees, only 70,000 are citizens. Others do not enjoy employment rights, cannot own land and do not qualify for public education, health care and welfare. However, the transfer of the array of social and financial services and facilities from UNRWA to the Lebanese authorities would contribute to integration and help create jobs.…

The end of UNRWA would automatically nullify the pernicious issue of the right of return-cum-retake. It is unsolvable in the presence of UNRWA, because it implies the repopulation of Israel with millions of perennial paramilitary refugees. But once UNRWA is discarded, the refugee status expires instantaneously or after a transition period, and the right of return becomes a non-issue due to immediate and actually pressing needs.…

Instead of perpetuating the dead end that the international welfare state for the Palestinians represents, ending UNRWA’s horrific six-decade reign would instantly create the conditions for an honest, meaningful and viable peace process to begin in the Middle East.

(Michael S. Bernstam is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.)

 

JEWISH REFUGEES FROM ARAB COUNTRIES
Jacqueline Shields
Jewish Virtual Library, May 16, 2011

 

Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees, little is said about the Jews who fled from Arab states. In 1945, there were more than 870,000 Jews living in the various Arab states. Many of their communities dated back 2,500 years. Throughout 1947 and 1948 these Jews were persecuted. Their property and belongings were confiscated. There were anti-Jewish riots in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Iraq.… Approximately 600,000 Jews sought refuge in the State of Israel. They arrived destitute, but they were absorbed into the society and became an integral part of the state.…

Little is heard about the Jewish refugees because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions. During the 1947 UN debates, Arab leaders threatened the Jews living in their countries with expulsion and violence if partition were to occur. Egypt’s delegate told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries would be jeopardized by partition.” Following the 1947 United Nations vote to partition Palestine, Arab violence against Jews erupted throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

On January 18, 1948, the president of the World Jewish Congress, Dr. Stephen Wise, appealed to U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall: “Between 800,000 and a million Jews in the Middle East and North Africa, exclusive of Palestine, are in ‘the greatest danger of destruction’ at the hands of Muslims being incited to holy war over the Partition of Palestine.… Acts of violence already perpetrated, together with those contemplated, being clearly aimed at the total destruction of the Jews, constitute genocide, which under the resolutions of the General Assembly is a crime against humanity.”

The United States, however, did not take action to investigate these pleadings.

On May 16, 1948, a New York Times headline read “Jews in Grave Danger in all Muslim Lands: Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia face wrath of their foes.” The story reported of a law drafted by the Arab League Political Committee “which was intended to govern the legal status of Jewish residents of Arab League countries. Their bank accounts would be frozen and used to finance resistance to ‘Zionist ambitions in Palestine.’ Jews believed to be active Zionists would be interned and their assets confiscated.…”

Roughly half of Israel’s [current] Jew[ish population compromises descendants of] Jewish refugees from Arab countries.… Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab compensation for Jewish refugees.

The Treatment of Jews in Arab Countries Prior to Expulsion

SYRIA

Jews had lived in Syria since biblical times.… In 1943, the Jewish community of Syria had 30,000 members. In 1945, in an attempt to thwart efforts to establish a Jewish homeland, the government restricted immigration to Israel, and Jewish property was burned and looted. The government then froze Jewish bank accounts and confiscated their property.…

Following Syrian independence from France in 1946…attacks against Jews and their property increased, culminating in the pogroms of 1947, which left all shops and synagogues in Aleppo in ruins. Thousands of Jews fled the country, approximately 10,000 to the United States, and another 5,000 to Israel, and their homes and property were taken over by the local Muslims.

For the next decades, those Syrian Jews that remained were, in effect, hostages of a hostile regime.… Jews were stripped of their citizenship, and experienced employment discrimination.… The community lived under siege, constantly under surveillance of the secret police.

The last Jews to leave Syria departed with the chief rabbi in October 1994. Prior to 1947, there were…three distinct communities: the Kurdish-speaking Jews of Kamishli, the Jews of Aleppo with roots in Spain, and the original eastern Jews of Damascus, called Must’arab. Today, only a tiny remnant of these communities remains.

EGYPT

…In 1945, with the rise of Egyptian nationalism and the cultivation of anti-Western and anti-Jewish sentiment, riots erupted; 10 Jews were killed, 350 injured, and a synagogue, a Jewish hospital, and an old-age home were burned down. On July 29, 1947, an amendment was introduced to the Egyptian Companies Law which made it mandatory for at least 75% of the administrative employees of a company to be Egyptian nationals and 90% of employees in general. This decree resulted in the loss of livelihood for many Jews.

The establishment of the State of Israel led to further anti-Jewish sentiments. Between June and November 1948, bombs set off in the Jewish Quarter killed more than 70 Jews and wounded nearly 200. 2,000 Jews were arrested and many had their property confiscated. Rioting over the next few months resulted in many more Jewish deaths.

In 1956, the Egyptian government used the Sinai Campaign as a pretext for expelling almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscating their property. Approximately 1,000 more Jews were sent to prisons and detention camps. On November 23, 1956, a proclamation signed by the Minister of Religious Affairs, and read aloud in mosques throughout Egypt, declared that “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state,” and promised that they would be soon expelled.

Thousands of Jews were ordered to leave the country. They were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating” their property to the Egyptian government. Foreign observers reported that members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government.

By 1957 the Jewish population had fallen to 15,000 [from a high of 63,500 in 1937]. In 1967, after the Six-Day War, there was a renewed wave of persecution, and the community dropped to 2,500. By the 1970s, after the remaining Jews were given permission to leave the country, the community dwindled to a few families. Today, nearly all the Jews in Egypt are elderly, and the community is on the verge of extinction.

IRAQ

…After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionism became a capital crime. In 1950, the Iraqi parliament finally legalized emigration to Israel, provided Iraqi Jews forfeited their citizenship. Between May 1950 and August 1951, the Jewish Agency and the Israeli government succeeded in airlifting approximately 110,000 Jews to Israel in Operations Ezra and Nehemiah. At the same time, 20,000 Jews were smuggled out of Iraq through Iran. A year later the property of Jews who emigrated from Iraq was frozen, and economic restrictions were placed on Jews who remained in the country. In 1952, Iraq’s government barred Jews from emigrating, and publicly hanged two Jews after falsely charging them with hurling a bomb at the Baghdad office of the U.S. Information Agency. A community that had reached a peak of 150,000 in 1947, dwindled to a mere 6,000 after 1951.

Persecutions continued, especially after the Six Day War in 1967, when the remaining 3,000 Jews were arrested and dismissed from their jobs. Those who were arrested, some were hanged in the public square of Baghdad, others died of torture.

MOROCCO

…In June 1948, bloody riots in Oujda and Djerada killed 44 Jews and wounded scores more. That same year, an unofficial economic boycott was instigated against Moroccan Jews. In 1956, Morocco declared its independence, and by 1959 Zionist activities became illegal. In 1963, more than 100,000 Moroccan Jews were forced out from their homes and moved to Israel. During this year, more than 30,000 Jews [also] left for France and the Americas.… [Before the founding of Israel in 1948, there were about 250,000 Jews living in Morocco; today, fewer than 7,000 remain].

YEMEN

The first historical existence of Jews in Yemen is from the third century CE. In 1922, the government of Yemen reintroduced an ancient Islamic law that decreed that Jewish orphans under age 12 were to be converted to Islam. In 1947, after the partition vote, Muslim rioters, joined by the local police force, engaged in a bloody pogrom in Aden that killed 82 Jews and destroyed hundreds of Jewish homes.… Early in 1948, looting occurred after six Jews were falsely accused of murdering two Arab girls. 50,000 Jews were forced out of Yemen in 1948. By 1959 over 3,000 Jews from Aden arrived in Israel, many more fled to the US and England. Today, there are no Jews in Aden. There are an estimated 350 Jews in Yemen today.…

TUNISIA

The first documented evidence of Jews living in what is Tunisia dates back to 200 CE.… In 1948, the Tunisian Jewish community had numbered 105,000, with 65,000 living in Tunis alone. Jews suffered greatly in 1956, when the country achieved independence. The rabbinical tribunal was abolished in 1957, and a year later, Jewish community councils were dissolved. In addition, the Jewish quarter of Tunis was destroyed by the government. Anti-Jewish rioting followed the outbreak of the Six-Day War, and Muslims burned down the Great Synagogue of Tunis. These events increased the steady stream of emigration to Israel. Today, an estimated 2,000 Jews remain in Tunisia.

LIBYA

The Jewish community of Libya traces its origin back some 2,500 years to around the third century BCE. At the time of the Italian occupation in 1911, there were approximately 21,000 Jews in the country, the majority in Tripoli.… During the British occupation [following WWII], there were a series of pogroms. A savage pogrom occurred in Tripoli on November 5, 1945, where more than 140 Jews were massacred and almost every synagogue in the city was looted. In June 1948, rioters murdered another 12 Jews and destroyed 280 Jewish homes. When the British legalized emigration in 1949, more than 30,000 Jews fled Libya.

Thousands of Jews fled the country to Israel after Libya was granted independence and membership in the Arab League in 1951.… After the Six-Day War, the Jewish population, only 7,000, was again subjected to pogroms in which 18 people were killed, and many more injured, sparking a near-total exodus that left fewer than 100 Jews in Libya.… By 1974, there were no more than 20 Jews, and it is believed that the Jewish presence has passed out of existence.

ALGERIA

…On the eve of the civil war that gripped the country in the late 1950s, there were some 130,000 Jews in Algeria, approximately 30,000 of whom lived in the capital. Nearly all Algerian Jews fled the country shortly after it gained independence from France in 1962. After being granted independence in 1962, the Algerian government harassed the Jewish community and deprived Jews of their principle economic rights.…