US Jews step up campaign on Jewish refugees

Following an international conference in Jerusalem last month, the US Jewish community is stepping up its efforts to educate people about Jews who fled the Middle East and North Africa since the 1940s, the Jewish Advocate reports. (With thanks: Albert)

“While some may automatically think of Palestinians when they hear the phrase “refugees from the Middle East,” Director of Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston Israel Action Center Seth Brysk said that U.N. statistics show that there were more Jews than Palestinians displaced as a result of the conflict in the Middle East.

“Now Jewish communities throughout the world – including Boston – are aiming to publicize the stories of these Jewish refugees, so that if the issue of compensating Palestinian refugees is laid on the negotiating table, the plight of Jewish refugees will be taken into account too.
“This campaign is not about denying the rights of the Palestinians,” Brysk said. “Rather this campaign is that no attention has been paid to Jewish refugees.”

“Since the 1940s, 856,000 Jews were forced to leave 10 Arab countries, while only 728,000 Palestinians were displaced during the same time period, Brysk added.

“Throughout history, Jewish communities throughout the Middle East and North Africa – such as Algeria, Egypt, Iraq and Lebanon – were destroyed and Arab governments confiscated Jewish property.

“Today, people of Middle Eastern and North African descent account for nearly half of Israel’s Jewish population – yet their stories remain largely untold.

“We’re appalled that the international community recognizes only one refugee population who were victims of the Middle East conflict,” said Stanley Urman, the executive director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, a New York organization. “In fact there were two: Palestinians and Jews.”

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