Friday, November 16, 2007

Jewish Arab Refugees

Someone else agrees with my long-standing belief that Israel should play up the existence of Jewish refugees from Arab countries in trying to resolve the issue of Palestinian refugees:
"The government needs to bring up the issue of hundreds of thousands of Jews who left their homes in Arab countries following the establishment of the State of Israel as part of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians, the president of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries said Thursday.

"About 850,000 Jews fled Arab countries after Israel's founding in 1948, leaving behind assets valued today at more than $300 billion, said Heskel M. Haddad.

"He added that the New York-based organization has decades-old property deeds of Jews from Arab countries on a total area of 100,000 - which is five times the size of the State of Israel...

"Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians - with estimates ranging from 400,000 to 750,000 - left Israeli-controlled territory in 1948 and 1949, and they, along with their millions of descendants, make up one of the prickliest issues to be dealt with by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators as part of any resolution to the conflict.

"Haddad said that the key to resolving the issue rested with the Arab League, which in the 1950s passed a resolution stating that no Arab government would grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees, keeping them in limbo for over half a century.

"At the same time, the Arab League urged Arab governments to facilitate the exit of Jews from Arab countries, a resolution which was carried out with a series of punitive measures and discriminatory decrees making it untenable for the Jews to stay in the countries."

Because I'm dealing with the Arab-Israeli conflict, I need to assert that this is not the same as the military operations aimed at removing Arabs from central Israel during the Israeli War of Independence, and certainly doesn't justify anything now happening in the Occupied Territories. However, I think it's one of many important facts about Israel and Israeli history which is not widely known, especially in the Arab world, and one that could contribute to an end to the conflict, which would be good all around.

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