Canadian Parliament investigates Jewish refugees

 Jason Kenny, PC MP, a senior minister in the Canadian government, issued a statement

In the most significant development since the 2008 passing of the US Congress Resolutionno.185, calling for Jewish refugee rights to be considered whenever Palestinian refugee rights are mentioned, the Canadian Parliament this week began an investigation into Jewish refugees from Arab countries. According to Jason Kenny PC, MP, a senior minister in the Harper government:”The Government of Canada initiated this study to learn more about this little-known, but important part of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which has not been reflected in Canadian policy”. (With thanks: Joseph, Eliyahu, Lily):

The Wall St Journal carried the following item:

OTTAWA, ON, May 2, 2013 /CNW/ – Today, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development commenced a study on the experience of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were displaced as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. More than 850,000 Jewish refugees fled persecution and violence in Arab countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa, resulting in the extinction of vibrant communities that had thrived for thousands of years. Currently, Canada’s official Middle East policy neglects this fact, only accounting for Palestinian refugees. (…)

Shimon Koffler Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, will be appearing as a witness to provide expert testimony alongside refugees and representatives from Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, a prominent international organization advocating for refugee rights.

In response to the commencement of the study, David Koschitzky, Chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, issued the following statement:

“We applaud the Foreign Affairs committee for examining the situation of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. We encourage Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum to carefully consider the testimonies of experts and refugees, and to join together in recognizing the persecution and displacement of nearly one million Jews throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

“Two refugee populations were created as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict – one Palestinian and the other Jewish. Unfortunately, the plight of Jewish refugees has been completely omitted from Canada’s Middle East policy while that of the Palestinians features prominently. It is essential that policymakers correct this inherent imbalance in Canadian policy. Equitable consideration of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is a necessary component for any just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.”

Wall St Journal article (subscription required)

JIMENA issued the following press release:

San Francisco – JIMENA, a San Francisco based non-profit organization was invited to present and submit briefs to the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development for their May 7th hearing on Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. In the briefs, JIMENA calls on the Canadian government to pass legislation ordering Canadian diplomats and leaders to use the voice, vote and influence of the Government of Canada to incorporate the issue of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa into all discussions and negotiations involving the issue of Middle Eastern refugees.

Gina Waldman, president and co-founder of JIMENA provided testimony at the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus hearing on Jewish refugees once again shared her story with the Canadian Committee on Foreign Affairs. “I’m thrilled that the Canadian government is considering advancing the issue of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. The JIMENA community recommends that the Committee of Foreign Affairs and International Development forward a resolution to the House of Commons similar to United States House Resolution 185,” she said.

The US Congress passed legislation in 2008 known as House Resolution 185 declaring that for any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement to be credible and enduring, the agreement must address and resolve all outstanding issues relating to the legitimate rights of all refugees, including Jews, Christians and other populations, displaced from countries in the Middle East.

The JIMENA briefs include passages from the personal narratives of JIMENA members from seven different Arab countries collected over the course of JIMENA’s Oral History and Digital Experience Project.

Dr David Bensoussan, The Moroccan-born leader of the Sephardi community of Quebec, was invited to submit a report to the Foreign Affairs Committee. For a copy of his eight-page report (French) please email [email protected]

The House of Commons committee will hear witness testimonies on 7 May.  

Transcripts of hearings:2 May; 7 May here and here 


  • Thanks for covering this. It has had no play in the Canadian media that I am aware of. Instead, the Canadian media is concerning itself with Qatar's bid to become the new home of a prestigious international aviation organization in Montreal, spinning this as some sort of "payback" for Canada's staunch support for Israel's security rather than the Qataris — who are currently working on improving trade relations with Israel while supporting the Palestinians — just spending their money to improve their international standing. Laughable really, considering the Arab press carrying accusations of the Qataris really being Jews.

    On a completely unrealted theme, can anyone here tell me if the Unity Palace in Cairo was property confiscated from Jews?

  • Somewhat unrelated to this post, but any update on when Georges Bensoussan's book about Sefardi/Mizrahi Jews will be translated into English (if at all)?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


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.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.