When President Obama made his Cairo speech in 2009, the Egyptian-Jewishauthor Andre Acimanwrote a heart-felt piece for the New York Times : “the President forgot me,” he complained. Standing in the heart of Cairo, where 80,000 Jews once lived, Obama forgot to mention Aciman and the other 800,000 Jewish refugees driven out of the Arab world.
President Obama’s major foreign policy speech yesterday has already generated reams of analysis and megabytes of reaction. But no pundit has yet pointed out that once again Obama still hasn’t remembered ‘me’ – he failed to mention Jewish refugees.
He referred to Palestinian refugees all right, as one of the ’emotional’ issues that should be deferred in talks between Israel and Palestinians – ignoring the fact that all official documents and UN Security Council resolutions to-date talk of the rights of ‘refugees’, not just Palestinian refugees.
You might argue – how can one expect Obama to mention Jewish refugees when Benjamin Netanyahu himself, in his rebuttal to Mahmoud Abbas’ op-ed in the New York Times, chose not to. Yet a source in the Prime minister’s office has given us reason to believe that Netanyahu was originally going to mention ‘two sets of refugees’.
With the notable exception of deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, the present Israeli government has made little public mention of Jewish refugees. And amid such high- level timidity, how can we expect the press and media to highlight the issue?
So once again, here are the main reasons why the Jewish refugees must be taken into account:
1. The ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab countries is proof of the Arab world ‘s longstanding nationalist and Islamist genocidal intentions against the Jews of the region, now focusing on the eradication of the world’s only Jewish state.
2. The subjugated history of Jews under Muslim rule, their sporadic persecution and forced conversions vindicates the creation of a sovereign Jewish State.
3. The main issue on the Israel-Palestine peace agenda is the ‘right of return’. The Jewish refugee issue neutralises the Palestinian ‘right of return’ by a) drawing attention to an exchange of refugee populations of roughly equal proportions by b) by positing a model of absorption and integration for Palestinian refugees denied basic civil rights in their host countries.
4. Jewish refugees are a human rights issue deserving of justice (recognition and compensation).
Do you hear me, Mr President?
(See next post) Netanyahu remembers me after all