Hamas on Saturday denounced the Israeli call to recognize the suffering of
Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their material claims – the same way it
acknowledges the plight of displaced Palestinians, the Ma’an News Agency
reported on Sunday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Ambassador to
the UN Ron Prosor and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder presented
the recently launched diplomatic campaign to raise the issue of Jewish refugees,
in a special gathering at the UN before Israeli officials, foreign diplomats,
activists and journalists last Friday.
Following the gathering Hamas
spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement that, “those Jews are criminals
rather than refugees.”
He added that, “Those Jews were not refugees as
they claim. They were actually responsible for the displacement of the
Palestinian people after they secretly migrated from Arab countries to Palestine
before they expelled the Palestinians from their lands to build a Jewish state
at their expense.”
Zuhri said it was the fault of the Jewish refugees
from Arab lands who “turned the Palestinian people into refugees,” Ma’an
Commenting on the conference, he said: “The Hamas movement
views this conference as a dangerous, unprecedented move which contributes to
the falsification of history and reversing of facts.”
politicians like Hanan Ashrawi have argued that Jews from Arab lands are not
refugees at all and that, either way, Israel is using their claims as a
counter-balance to those of Palestinian refugees against it.
that “If Israel is their homeland, then they are not ‘refugees’; they are
emigrants who returned either voluntarily or due to a political
“Arab Jews were part of the Arab region, but they began
migrating to Israel after its establishment,” she said. “They did so in
accordance with a plan by the Jewish Agency to bring Jews from all around the
world to build the State of Israel.”
Ashrawi did, nonetheless,
acknowledge that “some Arab countries at that time were ruled by tyrannical
regimes,” but, she noted, “all citizens, regardless of their religion, were
subjected to suffering.”
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat has also commented
that there was no connection between Palestinian refugees and Israelis whose
families are from Arab countries, but he supported their right of
“We are not against any Jew who wants to return to Morocco, Iraq,
Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. I believe no Arab state rejects the Jewish right of
returning to their native lands,” he said.
The story of the Jewish
citizens who left, fled or were expelled from Arabic-speaking countries while
the Israeli-Arab conflict flared has been relatively neglected, a fact Ayalon
acknowledged in his speech.
Gil Shefler contributed to this report.