Itongadol.- The Permanent Israeli Mission to the UN held an event to honor “the untold stories of 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands” on Tuesday at the United Nations headquarters.
In Israel, November 30th marks the official annual day for commemorating the expulsion of some Jews from Arab countries during the 20th century.
Some 850,000 Jews who lived in Arab countries around the world prior to the establishment of the State of Israel were persecuted.
When the UN approved the partition of Palestine on November 29th, 1947 and the creation of the Jewish State, Arab countries such as Yemen, Syria, Algeria, Iraq and Libya begun pogroms against their Jewish nationals, who were expelled from their homes and eventually made aliyah to Israel in the 1950s. The day of commemoration of this Jewish exodus is also referred to as “the Jewish Nakba”.
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, according to him.
“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 audience. “We are here tonight to ensure that the world finally recognizes the stories of these forgotten refugees.”
Danon also pointed a finger at the United Nations for making a difference between the recognition of Palestinian refugees and that of Jewish refugees.
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,” he added.
Danon also 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,” he told the Post.
The event, which was co-sponsored by the World Jewish Congress and the Conference of Presidents, was also attended by Israeli Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel whose own parents have emigrated from 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 a hundred 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 other UN diplomats who attended.
This is the third event on the issue of Jewish Refugees that the Israeli Mission to the UN holds 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.