JJAC kicks off Canadian study into Jewish refugees

 Sylvain Abitbol, vice-president of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, was called as a witness

A study of the experience of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa by the Canadian Parliament this week may result in a correction to an imbalanced Canadian foreign policy, Paul Lungen blogs in the Canadian Jewish News:

The House of Commons standing committee on foreign affairs is
scheduled to wrap up two days of study this week on the experience of
Jewish refugees from Middle Eastern countries.

The committee was to have heard from eight witnesses by the time it
concluded its session on May 9, including representatives of the Centre
for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and Justice for Jews from Arab
Countries (JJAC).

In a news release, CIJA stated it has long called for a change to
Canadian foreign policy “so that it correctly reflects the historic
plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.”

More than 850,000 Jews fled persecution throughout the region after
Israel’s creation in 1948, but “Canada’s official Middle East policy
neglects this fact, only accounting for Palestinian refugees,” CIJA

South of the border, the U.S. House of Representatives has already
taken action on the file. In 2008, the House adopted a resolution that
stated in part that a “comprehensive Middle East peace agreement… must
address and resolve all outstanding issues relating to the legitimate
rights of all refugees, including Jews, Christians and other

In 2012, bipartisan Congressional lawmakers sponsored a billto
recognize the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, as well as
other refugees, such as Christians from the Middle East, North Africa,
and the Persian Gulf. The resolution also called on the Obama
administration to bring up the issue of Jewish and other refugees when
mentioning Palestinian refugees at international forums.

At the time, JJAC vice-president Sylvain Abitbol stated, “Right now
Jewish refugees are not on the international agenda. We have been called
the forgotten refugees. After 1948, many Arabs from Palestine left
their homes and yes they have been refugees. The difference is that we
were never called refugees. We adapted to the places where we went,
which was not the case for Arab refugees.”

Abitbol, who served as co-president of Canadian Jewish Congress, said, “We’re talking about recognition, about justice.”

CIJA chair David Koschitzky applauded the foreign affairs committee
for examining the situation faced by Jews who had resided in Arab lands.

“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.”

To request the unedited transcript of the 2 May committee proceedings, featuring witness statements from Sylvain Abitbol, Stan Urman, David Matas and David Bensoussan, please email [email protected] 

Jewish Voicereport

Canadian Parliament investigates Jewish refugees 

One Comment

  • I bet these organizations didn't allow any Palestinian Jewish refugees speak.


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