Avigdor Liberman in the tie pin and Danny Ayalon (behind) with representatives of the organisations representing Jewish communities from Arab lands at the first ministerial meeting of its kind (Photo: A Perry)
Two important new developments in the campaign for Jewish refugees: Israel’s foreign minister Avigdor Liberman has promised that the Jewish refugees will be part of his party’s election manifesto, (Yisrael Beitenu); and a coordinator for Jewish refugee rights is to be appointed within the ministry. This means that, whatever the outcome of the January elections in Israel, Jewish refugees will occupy a permanent place on the foreign ministry’s agenda. The Jerusalem Post reports:
“We will not give up on this goal,” Liberman told representatives from the
Central Organization for Jews from Arab Countries and Iran on Tuesday afternoon
in reference recent developments on his ministry’s efforts to bring the issue of
Jewish refugee rights to public and diplomatic attention.
issue of Palestinian refugees is raised in the context of peace negotiations, we
will raise the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.”
that the Jewish refugees “came to Israel and were successfully absorbed by the
state, as opposed to the Arab states who kept Palestinian refugees in refugee
camps to tear Israel apart.”
Liberman, who heads Yisrael Beytenu, also
said the issue would be part of his party’s election platform and that he would
insist that the campaign be advanced as part of any coalition agreement after
the general election in January.
The meeting with the delegates was the
first to take place at the ministerial level.
Deputy Foreign Minister
Danny Ayalon also announced that a coordinator for Jewish refugee rights had
been appointed within the ministry, and that the coordinator would meet
regularly with the relevant government departments to advance the
According to the ministry, more than 850,000 Jews from Arab states
fled their countries of birth following persecution that ensued after the
establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. Many also had their property
The ministry, along with the World Jewish Congress, has
embarked on a campaign in recent months to raise awareness of the Jewish exodus
from Middle Eastern countries.
In September, Ayalon, ambassador to the UN
Ron Prosor and World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder held a press
conference presenting the campaign at the UN. Foreign diplomats, activists and
journalists were in attendance.
Critics of the campaign, including former
Jewish refugees from the Middle East, have claimed that it is designed merely to
forestall negotiations with the Palestinians.
Speaking at Tuesday’s
meeting at the Foreign Ministry, Ayalon – who has taken the lead on the issue –
denied that this was the objective of the campaign.