Israel honors 'untold stories of Jewish refugees from Arab lands' at UN

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, opened the event and stressed that Jews from Arab lands have suffered a “historical injustice” that has been going on for years.

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December 2, 2015 18:10
2 minute read.
Danny Danon

Danny Danon speaking and a picture of Gila Gamliel and Malcom Hoenlein.. (photo credit: SHAHAR AZRAN)

NEW YORK – The Permanent Israeli Mission to the UN held an event on Tuesday to honor the untold stories of some 850,000 Jewish refugees who were forced to flee their native Muslim countries following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948.

In Israel, November 30th marks the official annual commemoration of the expulsion of Jews from Muslim countries during the 20th century.

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Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon opened the event by stressing that Jews from Muslim lands have suffered an “historical injustice” that has been going on for years.

“Facing violent, and even murderous anti-Jewish riots, government confiscation of wealth, nearly a million Jews were forced to flee the places their families had called home for generations, leaving behind everything they had,” he told the gathering. “We are here tonight to ensure that the world finally recognizes the stories of these forgotten refugees.”

Danon pointed a finger at the United Nations for differentiating between Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees from the same conflict.

Jewish refugees, he said, “do not have a special UN agency, and several UN organizations acting as a lobby on their behalf. The reason is simple: While the Arab countries refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees, the State of Israel opened its doors to fellow Jews.”

Danon told The Jerusalem Post that he intends to “raise the voice for Jewish refugees” at the United Nations. “When we are speaking about Palestinian refugees, at the same time, we should speak about Jewish refugees,” he said. “When we speak about propriety that was left behind in Israel, we should at the same time speak about propriety that was left behind in Casablanca and in Cairo.

“Concretely, when we will eventually one day get to the point of discussing a peace process, and the Palestinians raise the issue of Palestinian refugees as they do all the time, we will ask and demand that the issue of Jewish refugees will be brought to the table as well.”

The event, which was co-sponsored by the World Jewish Congress and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, was also attended by Israel’s Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel, whose own parents fled Libya and Yemen.

“In this institution, we hear a great deal about the suffering of Palestinian refugees, but we never hear about the suffering of almost a million Jewish refugees, forced to flee from Arab countries and Iran,” she said.

“Over the last 65 years, the UN and its agencies have spent tens of billions of dollars on Palestinian refugees, but not a cent on the Jewish refugees, and since 1949 the United Nations has passed more than 100 resolutions on Palestinian refugees and not a single one on Jewish refugees from Arab countries,” Gamliel stated.

She added that the history of the Jewish refugees is “an almost untold chapter of the Middle East” and called on the UN to bring the issue to light.

In addition, journalists Ben Dror Yemini, whose family fled from Yemen, and David Suissa, who emigrated to Canada with his family from Morocco, both told their personal stories at the forum, in front of Jewish leaders, Israeli representatives and UN diplomats.

This is the third event on the issue of Jewish refugees held by the Israeli mission to the UN this year. Last week, on the day dedicated to the “Question of Palestine” at the UN, Israeli singer of Moroccan origin Shimon Buskila performed at a similar gathering.


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