Dershowitz weighs in, but media stay mum

Adding his considerable weight to the campaign for Jewish refugees, leading lawyer Alan Dershowitz (pictured) has been writing in Haaretz: there he challenges Hanan Ashrawi, and others who dispute that Jews in Arab countries were indeed refugees, to a public debate. When Dershowitz sneezes, the mainstream media rushes in to write about it. But apart from an article in The Washington Times, the US press and media, says the watchdog CAMERA (see link below), have been curiously silent about Israel’s historic UN meeting on Jewish refugees on 21 September. (With thanks: Lily)

Historical evidence conclusively establishes that the forced exile of
Jews from Arab countries was part of a general plan to punish Jews in
retaliation for the establishment of Israel.  There were organized
pogroms against Jewish citizens.  Jewish leaders were hanged.  Jewish
synagogues were torched.  Jewish bank accounts and other property were
confiscated.  Jews remained in Arab lands at risk to their lives.

Yet Hanan Ashrawi and othersdispute the applicability of the label of “refugee”
to these Jews.  Their argument is that since they are not seeking a
right to return to their native lands, they do not qualify as refugees. 
Under that benighted definition, Jews who escaped from Germany and
Poland in the early 1940s would not have been considered refugees, since
they had no interest in returning to Berlin or Oświęcim.

In
1967, the United Nations’ Security Council took a different view of this
matter.  I know, because I worked with Justice Arthur Goldberg, who was
then the permanent representative of the United States to the United
Nations, on the wording of Security Council Resolution 242, on which the
Middle East peace process has long relied.  That resolution dealt with
the refugee problem.  The Soviet Union introduced a draft which would
have limited the definition of refugee to Palestinian refugees.  The
United States, speaking through Justice Goldberg, insisted that
attention must be paid to Jewish refugees as well.  The American view
prevailed and the resulting language referred to a “just settlement of
the refugee problem.”  Justice Goldberg explained:  “The Resolution
addresses the objective of ‘achieving a just settlement of the refugee
problem.’ This language presumably refers to both Arab and Jewish
refugees, for about an equal number of each abandoned their homes as a
result of the several wars.”

Accordingly, the Jewish and Arab
refugees have equal status under international law.  There is now
pending in Congress H.R. 6242, a law which would grant Jewish refugees
from Arab countries equal status under American law
The time has now come, indeed it is long overdue, for these refugee
problems to be granted equal status in the court of public opinion, and
in the realm of morality.

If Hanan Ashrawi really believes
that Jews who were forced to leave their homes are not refugees, let her
defend her views in a public forum.  I hereby challenge her to a debate
on that issue.

If there are those who doubt the historical
accuracy of the Jewish refugee narrative, let an international
commission of objective historians take testimony from living refugees. 
Indeed, it would be useful for an archive now to be created of such
testimonies, since many of those who were forced to flee from Arab lands
are now aging.

There are some who argue that the issue of
Jewish refugees is a makeweight being put forward by cynical Israeli
politicians to blunt the impact of the Palestinian refugee narrative. 
But this is not a new issue.  I and many others have long been concerned
about this issue.  Since 1967, I have consulted with Iranian, Iraqi,
Egyptian and Libyan families who lost everything—life, property and
their original homeland—as the result of a concerted effort by Arab and
Muslim governments.  What is cynical is any attempt to deflect attention
from the real injustices that were suffered, and continue to be
suffered, by hundreds of thousands of Jews and their families just
because they were Jews who were born in Arab lands.

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Where’s the coverage, asks the media-monitoring blog CAMERA: 

On September 21, 2012, Israel hosted an event at the United Nations
highlighting the stories of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries
in the last century. What? You thought all refugees in the Arab-Israeli
conflict were Palestinian Arabs? Nope.

The event, “Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries,”
featured firsthand accounts from Jewish refugees, along with remarks by
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, Israel’s UN Ambassador
Ron Prosor, former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler and Harvard
Law Professor Alan Dershowitz. Normally, when Alan Dershowitz sneezes,
there’s an article in the press. He’s been mentioned in The New York Times on literally thousands of occasions.

But, when Israel tries to tell the story of the 850,000 Jews living
in Arab countries who were dispossessed and forced out between 1947 and
1972, there is virtual media silence.

While CAMERA has covered the story of Jewish refugees from Arab countries extensively (see here, here, here, and here), few major media outlets cover the issue and fewer covered the symposium. There was an article in The Washington Times but, other than that, only Jewish and Israeli media covered the meeting.

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

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forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.