Peace without refugee recognition ‘won’t fly’

 Not a spare seat was to be had in the UK Parliament’s Committee Room 10 for the briefing on Jewish refugees (photo: Carol Isaacs)

A briefing in a UK Parliamentary committee room on 19 March called for recognition of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and their inclusion in the Middle East peace process. Peace without recognition ‘won’t fly’, said the speakers :

Chairing the meeting (which was organised by Harif  – The UK Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa –  the think tank, The Henry Jackson Society, and the grassroots campaigning branch of BICOM, We believe in Israel) Bob Blackman, Conservative MP for Harrow-East, urged the 150-strong audience to write to their MPs and demand equal recognition.

Stanley Urman, chief executive of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries,recalled that all minorities had suffered in the Middle East, commending Britain for welcoming Jews from Arab countries. More Jews were forced to leave Arab countries (850,000) than Palestinian Arabs who left Israel in 1948 (726,000): their rights must be recognised. The UN has spent $17.7billion and passed 175 resolutions on Palestinian Arab refugees. Not one has dealt with Jewish refugees, despite the UN acknowledging on at least two occasions that Jews fleeing Egypt and North Africa were bona fide refugees. International  aid of $30,000 to assist Jewish refugees from Egypt had even been repaid by the Jewish refugee organisation, the Joint Distribution Committee.

In Canada, following foreign affairs committee hearings, the Government was on the point of making recognition of Jewish refugees mandatory in Canadian Middle East foreign policy. The US Congress had passed a resolution in 2008 demanding that any mention of Palestinian Arab refugees be matched by a mention of Jewish refugees. However, the UK has done nothing to-date to recognise the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. There was a desperate need to raise awareness, as even MPs sympathetic to Israel knew nothing about the issue.

The current Middle East peace framework proposals being hammered out by US secretary of state John Kerry, it had been strongly hinted, included compensation for Jewish refugees. However, the Israeli government is committed to ratifying any peace settlement with a popular referendum. A peace agreement that only included compensation for Palestinian refugees and failed to include the rights of Jewish refugees, Dr Urman said, ”  would not fly” with an electorate composed of 50 percent of Jews descended from refugees from Arab and Muslim countries, or themselves refugees. Other forms of redress could include the restoration of Jewish shrines and cemeteries.

An international fund to compensate both Palestinian and Jewish refugees, an idea first mooted by US president Bill  Clinton in 2000, had a precedent in 1991, when Kuwaiti, Saudi and Israeli victims of Iraqi Scud missiles all received compensation.

Jenny Stewart (née Setton), born in Cairo in 1935, told the story of her expulsion and departure, stateless, in 1956, with three suitcases and £20. Her stepfather needed hospital treatment shortly after their arrival in the UK and her mother became clinically depressed. In spite of his Egyptian nationality, her father was imprisoned in Egypt ‘with thieves and robbers’ while his property was seized.  All attempts by Jenny’s family to claim compensation had failed.

Albert Zubaida told how Jews in Iraq were fired from jobs and universities in 1967, their assets confiscated and telephone lines cut. His father died of a heart attack. Recalling the public hanging of nine “Zionist spies” in 1969 in front of a hysterical crowd, it took him six months to plan his escape. He was smuggled out to Iran with his 85-year-old grandmother.

Edwin Shuker, of the Board of Deputies, who left Iraq in the 1970s, had recently visited a number of Jewish shrines, including the shrine of Nahumin northern Iraq. He had witnessed the destruction and abandonment of what were once centres of local Jewish population.  His stated objective should not be to belittle the claims of Palestinian Arab refugees but to act now, while peace negotiations provided a window of opportunity, to demand rights for Jewish refugees.

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THE FULL TRANSCRIPT:

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TRANSCRIPT

Bob Blackman MP

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Apologies for the
slight delay, but there has been another event here, in these hallowed
chambers; we have been rather concentrating on matters to do with the UK
budget, as opposed to necessarily what is happening in the Middle East peace process.
But can I welcome you all, I’m Bob Blackman, I’m the MP for Harrow East,
sometimes referred to as the MP for Tel Aviv East [laughter]. Can I welcome you to this meeting where we are going to
be talking about the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and the impact that
has on the Middle East peace process, which we are all looking forward to.

We have got a range of speakers this evening, and there
will be an opportunity for questions and answers from you after all of the
speakers have had their opportunity. Now, given that we are slightly later than
I anticipated, I’m not going to do a big run through of the biography of each
of these wonderful, distinguished speakers that we have got for you, because I
think it is better that they speak themselves rather than listening to me. So,
what I will say is please listen to the speakers, see what they have to say,
and then let’s have a lively question and answer opportunity, as we have this
room booked until just after seven, I believe. Seven thirty. And, so, from that
perspective there is going to plenty of time for good debate, and good
questions and answers.

Now, I am going to take the speakers in the order I’ve
been given them. So, whether they have changed their minds is another matter, but
Dr. Stanley Urman is our first speaker. So, Stanley, over to you.

Dr. Stanley Urman

Thank you, Bob Blackman, the honourable member from
Harrow East, for hosting and chairing this event on Jewish refugees from Arab
countries.

Bob Blackman MP

Can you speak up a bit?

Dr. Stanley Urman

I would also like to acknowledge the assistance of the
Member of Parliament, Ian Austin, for booking this committee room. I believe it
is important that this initiative is a bi-partisan effort for indeed, seeking out truth
and justice in the Middle East
is a daunting task. And this particularly
applies to the issue of refugees. It is sad but true that conflict has
dominated Middle East affairs for over 65 years. The ultimate and inevitable
victims of these years of strive are the peoples of the region; Arabs, Jews,
Christians, other minorities, who were uprooted from their homes and forced to
resettle elsewhere.

In this House of Commons, I am mindful of the historic
and extensive involvement by Great Britain in the Middle East, North Africa,
and the Gulf region. mandate over Palestine from the League of Nations
in 1922, Britain played a seminal role during significant benchmarks in Middle
East history: the Balfour Declaration of 1917; the Zionist Partnership with
Britain from 1917 to 1930; the tenuous relationship between these two parties
from 1930-1948; the partition plan; Egypt’s nationalisation of the Suez Canal
in 1956.

Each of these was a pivotal moment in the region’s
political history. Throughout

this period, Britain was well aware of the hundreds of thousands of refugees
that were seeking safe haven in Israel, emanating not only from across Europe, but also
from Arab countries, as well. As a protector in the region, Britain was a witness
to the uprooting of Jews and Jewish communities in Egypt, Iraq, Aden and Yemen]. Britain
is to be commended for opening her doors to Jews fleeing from these and other
Middle East countries. Indeed, in the second half of the 20th century,
Britain was among a small number of nations who recognised the need to provide
safe haven to many Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Yet, when the issue of refugees is raised in context to
the Middle East, the international community, and I dare say, the UK as well, it
invariably refers to Palestinian refugees – virtually never to Jewish refugees
from Arab countries.

It must be
stated,

that there is some justification for the international community’s focus on
Palestinian refugees; Palestinian refugees are the world’s longest standing
refugee population, they are among the world’s largest, statistically,
population of refugees. And, further, for the 1.6 million Palestinians who
still live in recognised

refugee camps, their plight remains compelling, requiring continuing
international assistance.

Within this context, it
is important to underscore that asserting rights and redress for Jewish
refugees from Arab countries is not intended to argue against any claims or Palestinians
refugees rights, nor to negate the suffering of any people. It is a legitimate
call to recognise Jewish refugees from Arab countries, as a matter of law and equity, possess the
same rights as all other refugees.

Now it must be stressed that
Jewish people in the region are in fact the indigenous people of the Middle
East. Jews and Jewish communities have existed in the Middle East, North
Africa, and the Gulf region for more than 2,500 years – fully 1,000 years
before the advent of Islam.

Following the Muslim conquest of the region under Islamic
rule, Jews and Christians were considered a privileged minority, but still
second-class citizens. Jews were, for a period of time, permitted limited
religious, educational, professional, and business opportunities. This
situation changed dramatically in the 20th century, as witnessed by
a widespread pattern of persecution, and the mass violations of human rights of
Jewish minorities in Arab

countries.

By way of example, official decrees and legislation
denied human and civil rights to Jews, expropriated their property, removed
them from civil service and all forms of employment. E
dicts of expulsion were enacted in Algeria,
Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Many Arab regimes stripped Jews of their
citizenship. In Egypt, the first nationality code enacted as early as May 26,
1926 stated that a person born in Egypt was entitled to Egyptian nationality
only if their father belonged racially to the majority of the population of a
country whose language is Arabic, and whose religion is Islam.

This provision later served in the mid-1950s as the
official pretext for expelling many Jews from Egypt. In Iraq, law number one of
1950,
entitling [the state] to cancel Iraqi
nationality was utilised to deprive Jews of their citizenship. In Libya, the Council of Ministers
announced a royal decree that a Libyan national forfeited his nationality if he
had any contact with Zionism.
At that time, this was defined as anyone who had acted morally or materially in favour of
Israel’s interests; the vague language allowed authorities to deprive Jews of their
nationality at will.

Now, we are not speaking here of discriminatory decrees
enacted in a vacuum. We

are dealing here with real traumas, affecting real people. You will be hearing
shortly from Jenny Stewartand Albert Zubaida, who came to the UK from
Egypt and Iraq, respectively. Theirs are harrowing tales of being uprooted from
their homes, and forced to rebuild fractured lives elsewhere. Throughout the region, Jews were often victims
of murder, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, and execution. The danger was
well known.

The status of Jews in Arab countries worsened dramatically
in 1948 as virtually all Arab countries declared war, or backed the war,
against Israel. Jews were either uprooted from their countries of residence or
became subjugated, political hostages in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The result:
the mass displacement  – or in today’s terms, the ethnic cleansing –
of
Jews from some ten Arab countries. Here are the facts; in 1948 there
were 856,000 Jews in some ten Arab countries, today some 4,300 remain. As a
result of every conflict  – in 1948,
1956, 1967 etc. –  the status of Jews
worsened precipitously. And Jews were force to leave as a result of these
conflicts.

Some 856,000 Jews, ethnically cleansed from the Arab
world. By way of comparison, this chart [points to presentation] provides
estimates of Palestinian refugees.
This is a copy of  an original document
currently housed in the archives of the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees in Geneva
. It lists the number of Palestinian refugees,
providing estimates by the British, by the United States, by Palestinians, by
Israel, and by the United Nations. More clearly, in September of 1949, the
United Nations Conciliation
Commission for
Palestine estimated that there were 726,000 Palestinian refugees displaced as a
result of Israel’s War of Independence.

As I noted earlier, 856,000 Jews displaced: i.e. more
Jews displaced than Palestinians displaced. The world knows well what happened
to Palestinian refugees, but little known is the fact that Jewish refugees were
similarly under threat.
Yet
they did not remain refugees for long. Jews displaced from Arab
countries immigrated to Israel, most of them to fulfil the Zionist dream of returning to
the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. Some two-thirds, or nearly 660,000
Jews emigrated to Israel, while one third, or over 200,000 Jews, sought safe
haven in countries other than Israel, including, obviously, the United Kingdom.

In virtually all cases, as Jews were forced to flee,
individual and communal property was seized and/or confiscated without any compensation
provided by the Arab governments involved.

Now when we first
raised this issue with US State
Department officials
, they asked two fundamental questions: were Jews
displaced from Arab countries really refugees? They contended, of course, that they were not.
They had a place to go, Israel, they found safe haven in other third-party
countries. And secondly, they stated, even if Jews were refugees way back when,
do they have any rights today, 65 years later after the fact? If not, Why are you even
raising this issue with us at this time?’

Legitimate questions, requiring legitimate answers. We
spent two years conducting legal
research to be able to respond definitively
to these questions. Were
Jews displaced from Arab countries actually, legally refugees? The answer is
definitively, yes. On
two separate occasions, the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees determined that Jews
fleeing from Egypt in 1957, and Jews fleeing from North Africa in 1967 here, indeed, bona fide refugees, according to
international law, under the mandate of the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees.

Second question. Even if Jews were refugees, what
rights, if any, do they have today? Once again, the answer is yes indeed, they
do possess rights. There is no statute of limitations on the rights of refugees. The passage of time
does not negate refugee rights to petition for redress for the mass violations
of human rights, as well as for personal losses. If a refugee left behind
assets – including bank accounts, pension plans –  they do not lose their rights to these assets,
notwithstanding how many years have passed.

So under international law, Arabs were declared as
refugees by the UNHCR, and Jews were declared as refugees by the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees. Yet, there is a glaring anomaly in the way the
United Nations responded to these two Middle East refugee populations. Our
research revealed startling differences, and disproportionate treatment by the United Nations,
in favour of the Arab refugees. We looked at the United Nations resolutions, we
looked at agencies dealing with refugees, and we looked at financial resources
provided to refugees.

Let’s start with resolutions. From 1949 until the year
2009, there had been a total of 1,088 UN resolutions enacted by the Security Council and
General Assembly on every conceivable Middle East issue. There are 172 resolutions that deal
specifically, and only, with Palestinian refugees. The world ignored the plight of hundreds of
thousands of Jewish refugees.
There were
no Security Council resolutions, or General Assembly
resolutions, that specifically addressed the issue of Jewish refugees, or any resolutions
on other topics that even mention the term, ‘Jewish refugees’.

This differential pattern of exclusivity, focusing only
on Palestinian refugees, continues to this very day. Each year in the United
Nations, four resolutions are adopted reinforcing the rights of Palestinian
refugees. Many of them would apply equally to Jewish refugees; they talk about
right to recognition, right to redress, right to loss of personal property.
These factors apply not only to Palestinian refugees; they similarly apply to
Jewish refugees.

With respect to the second criteria, the affiliated UN
agencies, once more we see skewed responses. The UN mandated, or created, ten
separate agencies to address the rights and welfare of Palestinian refugees. They had a
three part mandate: one – protection.
If
the Palestinians were in danger, there was a responsibility to
protect them from peril.
Two – rese
ttlement. The international community has a responsibility to
resettle refugees. Three –
recover
y of assets. All of these agencies ostensibly dealt with these
three mandates for Palestinian refugees. Only one agency ever dealt with Jewish
refugees, and that was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
(UNHCR).

Unlike UNRWA, the
UNHCR,

did not deal with protecting Jewish refugees; it was Jewish welfare and refugee
relief agencies which dealt with protection. Secondarily, the international community never
dealt with the resettlement of Jewish refugees; once again, it as Jewish
communal resources that were brought in to play. And lastly, the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees did indeed try to recover some assets,
particularly with references to Jews leaving Egypt. But, unfortunately, their
efforts did not meet with success.

With respect to financial resources allocated to Middle East
refugees
, from 1950 to 2012, the United Nations, through UNRWA, has
contributed US$17.7 billion to maintain and sustain Palestinian refugees in its
geographically mandated areas of the West Bank, Gaza, Jordan, Syria, and
Lebanon. By contrast, during that same period, the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees did not provide any comparable assistance to Jewish
refugees.

However, we did discover one allocation from the UNHCR
to Jewish refugees. In 1957,
a grant of US$30,000 was allocated
to provide “emergency aid” to Jewish refugees from
Egypt. This funding was
given with two provisos; number one, that there would be absolutely no
publicity given to this allocation, whatsoever, i.e. lest the world know that
an international agency has provided financial resources to Jews; and number
two, this allocation was later converted into a loan, and the JDC paid back the
US$30,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. That was the
extent of the international community’s financial support to Jewish refugees fleeing from
Arab countries.

This lack of symmetry in the way that the United
Nations dealt with these two refugee problems contradicts history. The world
failed to recognise the culpability of the Arab nations for creating both sets
of refugees. Not only did the Arab league reject the United Nations proposal of
a Palestinian state, they then declared war to extinguish the nascent Jewish
state, and then they launched a campaign of aggression against their own Jewish
nationals.

And yet, in this latest incarnation of Middle East negotiations
– the so called ‘framework agreement’ to be proffered by US Secretary of State, John
Kerry – while the discussion of Jewish refugees may, indeed, be on the table, there
is some question as
to whether Jewish refugees will even be included in this framework proposal.
This belies history and legal precedent. In the international political arena,
Jewish refugees have been inextricably tied to Palestinian refugees. Virtually all
international understandings on the Arab-Israeli conflict, including seminal
United Nations resolutions, refer generically to refugees and do not make any distinction between
Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees.

By way of example, United Nations resolution 242. It
was the United Kingdom’s ambassador to the United Nations, Lord Caradon, who
crafted the only one of five draft resolutions presented for the consideration of the United
Nations that was acceptable to all countries, including the Arab nations. As
ultimately adopted, Lord Caradon’s resolution states that a comprehensive peace
settlement should necessarily include a just settlement of the refugee problem;
not the Arab refugee problem, not the Palestinian refugee problem, but the
refugee problem. No distinction is made between Arabs and Jews.

That was the intent of Lord Caradon, and the resolution’s other co-sponsor, Justice
Arthur Goldberg, from the United States, who stated in his memoirs – and I
quote – ‘The language of 242 refers both to Arab and Jewish refugees, for an
equal number of each abandoned their homes as a result of those several wars’.
So, resolution 242 is the strongest recognition of the legitimate rights of
Jewish refugees, a fact that was subsequently replicated in other international
peace initiatives.

  • The Madrid
    conference created a
    working group of refugees whose mandate was to consider practical ways of
    improving the lives
    of
    people throughout the region who had been displaced from their
    homes.
  • The roadmap,
    which is still in force today, which the EU keeps promoting, currently
    states in phase three,
    to an ‘agreed, just, fair, and realistic solution to the refugee
    problem’ – language applicable to both Palestinian and Jewish refugees, once
    again.
  • As a result of previous bilateral
    negotiations, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority have signed bilateral treaties and
    agreements with Israel whose language, once again, was generic, calling
    for a just solution for all refugees.
  • The 1978 Camp
    David Accords, which led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty, refers to a
    commitment by parties to work with each other, and other interested
    parties to establish agreed procedures for a ‘prompt, just, and permanent
    resolution of implementation of the refugee problem’
  • In 1994, the
    bilateral treaty between Jordan and Israel, article 8 is entitled
    ‘Refugees and Displaced Persons’, refers to – and I quote – ‘massive human
    problem caused to both parties by the conflict in the Middle East’.

I mentioned the bilateral agreements between Israel and the Palestinian
Authority because, in fact, today, Palestinians are asserting that the
Jewish refugees should not be on the table at this current time; that these
negotiations are bilateral, and that the Jewish refugee problem is
multilateral, and, therefore, rights and redress for Jewish refugees from Arab countries has
no place on a bilateral negotiating table. Yet we see that in 1993, in 1995, for example, previous
bilateral Palestinian-Israeli agreements propose refugees as a subject for permanent status
negotiations, utilizing generic language once again applicable to both Arabs
and Jewish refugees.

Now, on a national level, the linkage, and requisite to
deal simultaneously with both refugee populations has been enshrined in
parliamentary initiatives in the United States, Israel, and in Canada. In 2008,
the US Congress adopted resolution
HR185,
which unanimously proclaimed that in all Middle East negotiations the President asked to have US negotiators ensure that ‘any explicit
reference to the rights of Palestinian refugees must be matched by a similar
explicit reference to the rights of Jewish refugees’.

In Israel, in 2010, the Knesset passed a law that required, as part of
negotiations to achieve peace in the Middle East, the government to includethe subject of
providing compensation for the loss of assets of Jewish refugees from Arab
countries.

And most recently, just last week in Canada, the
cabinet announced that they – quote – ‘officially recognise the experience of
Jewish refugees who were displaced from states in the Middle East and North
Africa after 1948’.

These governments have concluded that it would be
inappropriate, and would constitute a further injustice, for the international community to
recognise rights for one refugee population – Arabs – without recognising equal rights for
Jewish refugees from Arab countries. After decades of effort, from so many of
you in this room who at times have been loath and other times willing to tell
their stories, it must be stated that the modern-day chapter of the support of
the United Kingdom for Jewish refugees from Arab countries has yet to be written.

As a key interlocutor in the Middle East, I would
suggest that the policies and actions of the United Kingdom must be studiously balanced
to maintain its credibility and influence. Therefore, I would like to proffer
the following two principles which,
as citizens of the UK, you could ask your government t
o consider. Number
one: to officially recognise the experience of Jewish refugees who were displaced
from states in the Middle East and North Africa in 1948. And two; to encourage the direct
negotiating partners to take in to account all refugee populations as part of
any just and comprehensive solution to the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian
conflicts.

Seeking a just solution for the losses incurred by both
Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees may not be as problematic as many
people assume. Two
important Arab-Israeli negotiations – at Camp David II and Taba – have already addressed the need to
create an international fund as part of any Middle East peace process, as
proposed by President Bill Clinton in the year 2000.

Some say it is naive that such an international fund
could ever be created, with a mandate to provide compensation to both sides of
the same conflict, equitably and equally. But, in fact, there is such a legal
precedent. In 1991, the United Nations established a UN administered
compensation commission that provided restitution to victims of all sides of
the First Gulf War who were,
among others,
Kuwaitis, Saudi Arabian citizens, and Israelis. This
international precedent can serve as a model for providing compensation
equitably to both Jewish and Palestinian refugees.

In closing, let me say
that it is time for courageous leadership by moral and responsible governments
like the United Kingdom to recognise these truths: number one, it is time for
justice for Jews from Arab countries to assume its rightful place on the
international political agenda; number two, that any narrative on the Middle
East that does not include justice for Jewish refugees is a case study in
Middle East revisionism, and three; that rights for Jewish refugees from Arab
countries must be part of any narrative and peace process, if that narrative or
peace process is going to have integrity, credibility, and legitimacy.

Let there be no doubt about it, in the words of the
honourable Justice Irwin Cotler, former justice minister of Canada, ‘where
there is no remembrance there will be no truth, where there is no truth there
will be no justice, where there is no justice there will be no reconciliation,
and where there is no reconciliation there will be no durable peace between,
and among, all peoples of the region; something we earnestly hope for’.

Thank you very much.

[Applause]

Bob Blackman MP

Thank you, Stanley, for that excellent overview. And I
have to say, this is a message that needs to go out very, very loud and clear,
because I, as an MP, and other MPs, receive on a regular basis the concern about
Palestinian refugees; we never, ever hear about Jewish refugees. So, I think
your presentation is timely and apt, and I will certainly make use of the
information that you have kindly shared with us this evening.

Our next speaker is Jenny Stewart, who had the
experience of being expelled from Egypt in the same year that I was born, so
she has lived her lifetime outside of her native country. Jenny, without
further ado.

Jenny Stewart

Thank you, I’m Jenny Stewart.  I was born in Cairo in 1935, and in 1956 our
family was one of the first to be forced out of Egypt. I was 21 years old, a
primary school teacher. [Egyptian President Gamal Abdel] Nasser has
nationalised the Suez Canal, and in an effort to regain it, the British and
French have colluded with Israel and invaded the Suez Canal. In response,
Nasser started to expel both British and French nationals, as well as the Jews
of Egypt, Jews who had lived in Egypt for centuries.

As I recall, events started to get very close in
November, 1956, when there was a knock at the door, and Mrs. Kromovsky, a
Jewish friend of ours, who lived in the Suez area, was evicted by the Egyptian
military. She begged us to take her in, which to our great regret we were
unable to, as we felt threatened too. Three days later a couple of police
officers came to our door and gave us three days notice to leave Egypt. All we
were allowed to take was EGP£20 and three suitcases each.

I remember packing our suitcases with warm clothes, I
sewed in a EGP£10 note in to my dress and my mother insisted on taking her
jewellery, which, unfortunately, was confiscated at the airport. Although my
Mother had a UK passport, I had none, and my stepfather was stateless. I recall
getting travel
documents from the Swiss embassy, and it goes without saying we had to buy our
own tickets.

We left Cairo on the only air transport available,
which was the United Nations transport plane bringing peacekeepers in to Egypt.
After a long and complicated journey via Naples, I remember arriving at
Heathrow, which was not as it is now, but just corrugated huts. Being November,
it was cold and damp, and coming from the heat of Egypt, it was all the more so
to us. We had to stay in my stepsister’s house for a couple of months.

My stepfather became very ill, having previously lost a
kidney to TB, at least 20 years before; my mother became clinically depressed. Those
who were expelled after us in great numbers were sent to refugee camps in the
North, meanwhile, my father, an import/export merchant, had remained in Egypt.
He had a British passport, which he gave up in the thirties, in the hope of
better employment prospects.

He was arrested on trumped up charges of being a
Zionist; he was sent to an awful prison with thieves and robbers. After eight
months he was given a choice; either sign his property and possessions away, or
stay in prison. He took the only real choice open to him, and was then put on
board to Italy, and from there to Israel. For him, life in Israel was a
struggle; he was well educated, multi-lingual, but at sixty he had to start
work as a postman.

He managed to rebuild his life there. Our family
business
was two shops selling designer clothing for adult and
children – but on our departure we left the shop in the hands of my
brother-in-law, but later he, too, had to flee Egypt, leaving all his property
and business behind. Even our car was left at the airport, as we were not
allowed to be accompanied by anybody. My father had a large plot of land in
Alexandria, on the site of an ancient Greek temple; it must have been purchased
by my paternal grandparents in the 19th century. After Nasser took
power
, Jews were forbidden to buy land.

After the 1979 peace treaty, my husband and I visited
Egypt. I remember staying in a palace converted into a hotel that I used to
walk past as a child on the way to school, the shops had their original name,
but their original owners had been forced out with nothing. The street name,
however, had changed. Using an Egyptian lawyer, we tried to get compensation
for our losses. But this came to nothing. I am grateful to England, and forever
in her debt for her kindness.

What I would like is an acknowledgment of the suffering
of the people that lost their livelihood. But most of all, we Jews, we never
stay refugees for long; we want to be part of the country that took us, and be
good citizens.

[Applause]

Bob Blackman MP

Thank you, Jenny, for your personal experiences. And
what a good job that we live in an enlightened society in this country. Our
next speaker is Albert Zubaida, who was expelled from Iraq as a very young man
a substantial period of time ago; some 43 years.

Albert Zubaida

We covered quite a lot with Dr. Urman, and yes, with
Jenny we covered quite a lot, too. My story, I was born in Baghdad, my ancestors
came from Jerusalem, some 2,600 years ago. They were taken as prisoners by Nebuchadnezzar
and taken in to Babylon, and rebuilt Babylon.

The situation deteriorated so rapidly in 1967, after
the war between the Arabs and Israelis, and I vividly remember that the president,
or someone prominent in the Iraqi government, took it upon himself to rid Iraq
of ‘traitors and spies.’ And, sure enough, within a few days, people started
disappearing from the streets, having been arrested. New rules came up within a
few days; Jews could not work; if anyone employed a Jew, his business would be
closed; telephone lines to Jewish homes were cut off; Jewish youngsters no
longer were accepted in university; all travel outside of Baghdad, in a five
mile radius, was prohibited; if any person sold a property, he could not take
the money, but had to leave it in the bank; passports had suspended for Jews in
1964, so no one could leave the country legally.

Within a few days of the 1967 war, there was a
blackout; the government decided to switch off the lights at night, as they
were worried in case Israel bombed Baghdad. I remember very well that one
evening we had a knock on the door, my mum went to the window to see what was
happening; there were a few policemen outside, and they asked her to open the
door. She let one of the officers in, and he said, ‘don’t you know there’s a
blackout? You left one of the lights in one of the bedrooms on’. She
apologised, and he left.

By the time she went to the bedroom, my father had had
a massive heart attack from fright and we couldn’t ask a doctor to come as that
day our telephone line had been cut off. By the morning he was deteriorating. We
were worried to take him to hospital, because in  1941 Jews were injected and
killed in hospitals. Sadly, my father died within two weeks, at the age of 58.

At the beginning of 1969 – everyone knows about nine
Jews being hanged in Baghdad, in the main square – well, as two Jewish boys we
were going to school in the morning, the driver on the bus said, ‘why don’t you
go down and go back home’. So we went back home, and when we got back home we
figured out what happened with the situation. Two of my uncles were in prison
at the time, with another 30 men and we didn’t know what their fate was to be.

When leaving school in Baghdad, every boy needed to
have documentation for the army, and normally they stamp it with ‘not suitable
for army service, for medical reasons’. And I used to go to the ministry every
ten days for a mark, during the heat of the day, waiting from 8 o’clock in the
morning until 2 o’clock in the afternoon just to get my document stamped.
Meanwhile my father’s friend appears who was in the jewellery trade, which I
used to go and practice, I was good at making things, so I made my own stamp
and gave myself six months leave.

[Laughter]

At that time I had promised my grandmother, who was
living with us, to take her with me, and she took the offer. She was about 85,
quite big, she can’t see well, and it took me six months to manage to take her,
to find a smuggler willing to take us. We had to cross the border on mules and
horses, so the smuggler took us in a Land Rover from Baghdad to the border [to
Iran], and then I had to stand with my little suitcase and handkerchief opened,
as a sign for the smuggler to approach.

He came and we followed the track to his horse until
the evening when he got a Land Rover, he put us in and covered us with canvas.
I had, at that time, stuffed my shoes with dollars. We had to pass through five
army checkpoints, and each time I was really sweating in case we got caught. It
took us about two miles to reach this point until the Land Rover could go no
more. So, the chap took us in the middle of the night and said, ‘why don’t you
wait here and I’ll get some horses and mules to come pick you up’, so I begged
him to keep one person with us or he might just leave us stranded on the
mountain; he did.

He went and he got the horse and mules, put my grandmother
on, tied her up, and we proceeded. After a couple of hours, we got to a small
stream and he said that this was the frontier between Iraq and Iran. As soon as
we crossed it, we were surrounded by army personnel, but when they came near us
they were Iranians. And I told them we wanted political asylum, they said that
was fine and brought an Army jeep to put us in, and took us to a frontier
hotel.

The next morning we had to go to the police station to
register. They brought us teas and coffees, and what have you. His accent, and
his language, was so pure Baghdadi that I thought we hadn’t even crossed the
border. So I asked him to take us to Tehran, about eight hours inland, and he
said, ‘Fine, no problem’.

I got the doctor in Tehran to look at my grandmother,
and he said that she was fine and had nothing wrong with her; he gave her some medication
and within a couple of days we had a couple of people from the Israeli embassy
who had information that we had crossed the border. I took her to Israel, she
lived for two years, but had cancer, but I took all around – to the Kotel and
everywhere, and I then got myself to England.

This is my story.

[Applause]

Bob Blackman MP

Well, thank you, Albert, for that personal recollection. The final
speaker is Edwin Shuker, who is the Vice President of the European Jewish
Congress and Vice Chair of the International Division of the Board of Deputies
of British Jews, to give us some concluding remarks, and, I think, to close the
speeches before we go to the question and answer.

Edwin Shuker

First of all, I want to acknowledge the presence here of my President,
the President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Mr. Vivian Wineman and
thank him not just for coming here tonight but for the continuous support on
the issue.

[Applause]

Today, I carry none of the titles that Bob has mentioned. Today I’m a
refugee, I’m a Jewish refugee from Iraq. We have heard the statistics from Dr.
Stan Urman who, without his meticulous research and obsessive dedication to the
issue, this subject would not have seen the light. And I acknowledge that in
public today. We also heard testimonies from Egypt, from Iraq, so now what?
Most of you sitting here, I know, have seen pogroms, have seen your relatives
being tortured, some killed, and as we heard from Albert, hanging in Baghdad’s
public square.

For the past sixty years or so you have been waiting for an answer, why?
Why does the world ignore this issue, what do we have to do for the
international community to recognise the story, and to recognise the rights of
us to be recognised as refugees under international law. How can you explain
that a Palestinian, a fifth-generation Palestinian born in the United States,
with an American passport is considered, by the United Nations, as a refugee,
entitled to compensation; $17.1 billion spent in 60 years.

How can I, and how can Albert, who grew up and lived in the country, and
ran away like criminals in the night’ leaving our homes, our possessions, our
cemeteries, our schools; how can I not be recognised as a refugee? I share your
anguish, and I share your frustration. My Grandparents were displaced in 1951;
three dresses, one ring, and four books. They arrived to the young state of
Israel and slept in tents for several years; they passed away without seeing
closure or acknowledgement.

Twenty years later, my family and I went through the same experience,
and I am so grateful to the United Kingdom for receiving us, asylum seekers, and
giving us a new life. But I do not want to pass away without seeing closure to
this, because who will follow me? And who will tell my story. Over the past
thirty days I have gone through a rollercoaster of emotions. Three weeks ago I
went back to Iraq, I went there and I was able to locate and pray at the
shrines of three prophets. When I was praying at Daniel’s Shrine, which was totally
desolate, totally abandoned, falling apart.

I put on my tefillin and I prayed. And at that time somebody came
from the neighbourhood and asked what I was doing there. I when I explained, he
said, ‘I am not Jewish, but I am the protector of this Shrine, the fifth generation
protecting this place, and I have not seen Jews for a very long time; why have
you abandoned your prophet?’ And you know what? I asked myself, what right do
we have to abandon our prophets, our shrines; my grandparents were buried in
Iraq.

After coming back from Iraq I took my daughter to New York, in New York
toady there is a display of archives, called the Iraqi-Jewish archives of about
30,000 documents that the Americans located in 2003. They were floating in
water, almost destroyed. The Americans took it upon themselves to take them
back to America and preserve them, and for the last ten years they have been
working on them, spending  $3
million preserving them. Now there are a small sample of them, 24 items,
exhibited in New York in the Holocaust Memorial Museum. And as Providence has
it, one of those 24 items is my very own school certificate.

I took my daughter there because I realise that time is short, and that
it is running out for us to say the story as it was, for us to say it as eyewitnesses.
What I did, I past on the mantle to her, I passed on the story, I said to her,
‘Please God, I won’t be like my grandparents, I will live to see a closure’.

Today we want action, positive action. We are not here to place blame,
to say who said what. So, today, what do I want? I want the UK government, the
US Government, Europe to realise that this is the right time, now, to resolve
it together with the peace negotiations… Let us change the Middle East, let us
bring closure to the Middle East, let us have truth and reconciliation where
everyone apologises and tells the truth. Let us move on with our lives, because
we cannot move on while one side of the same coin gets compensation and the
other side is ignored. It is neither fair, nor just, nor lasting.

What do I want from Israel? I want Israel to recognise that this issue
is a critical, core issue that goes to the very existence of that state.
Because every time you mention the refugees from Arab countries you tell the
world that Israel is not a European implant, that Jews have lived there for
2,600 years in that area, and that we belong to that area. You also tell the
world that Israel is not an oppressor and the other side is victim. Every side
shares victimhood and everyone shares violence, there was a conflict and the
conflict has to come to a close, but the truth has to be prevalent.

What do I want from the Jewish community here, and worldwide? I want you
to hear and learn about this subject as if it is your own story and your own history,
I don’t want it to be seen as a one-off, once a year ethnic issue. I want you
to learn it and I want you to pass it on. Dr. Urman was startled in the last
couple of days when he came to the Houses of Parliament here and he spoke with
MPs who were very influential on the Middle East, and every one of them said
that they hadn’t heard of the story before. Never heard of this story before!
People in charge of Middle East policy and strategy had never heard of it!

What do I want from you? You the victims, you the Jews of Arab countries
who are sitting here; I want you to teach your children, and I want you to
teach your neighbours, I want you to tell your story to your MP, and to tell it
to the newspapers, and to support those who are working, people like Harif
[Association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa], Lyn [Julius], and
Michelle [Huberman], who sign up these pledges. Write to your MPs; as you just
heard, hundreds and thousands of letters are written by Palestinians about
Palestinians, and how do you expect an MP to listen to us if we are not even
writing to him?

This is the time for this subject, and this is a win-win-win subject
because if it is treated properly and there is a peace fund like the one Stan
Urman spoke about, that peace fund can change the face of the Middle East. That
peace fund should be used by Jews and Arabs to go back to the way we lived for
1200 years, to refurbish our synagogues, to preserve our cemeteries in the Arab
world. The shrines, let’s go visit them. And let’s the Arab and Jew to live
together, because God has decided we should live in the same place, so let’s do
it properly.

Finally, one of our greatest Rabbis, who lived in Babylon, Rabbi Hillel,
what he said was so apt for tonight, and I quote, ‘If I am not for myself, then
who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not
now, then when?’

Thank you.

[Applause]

Bob Blackman MP

Thank you, Edwin, for that excellent over view, and I think it was a
good summary. I just wanted to share with you – you may have seen my using my
phone earlier on – I just thought I should tweet out these comparisons as
Stanley was speaking, and I just wanted to demonstrate what we are up against
here. Because I got a response from someone, who I’ll spare their blushes, who
replied to my tweet about there being comparatively the same number of
Palestinian refugees as there are Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

His reply was; ‘That is because the Jews have money, they are even
stealing Palestinian land in contravention of edicts from the UN, the
Palestinians have nothing, but nothing, and are simply being bullied by the
big, ugly beast with nuclear weapons who live next door.’ And this is the worst
bit; ‘It is way past time that the Jews learnt some humility, they seem to
think they are a special case.’ Well, ladies and gentlemen you’ve heard tonight
what the case is, both at first hand and the facts. But I think that
demonstrates what we are all up against in producing this for the world and for
the UK.

Let’s have some questions – and we’ll get some answers – if you want to
direct your question to a particular member of the panel, please say so,
otherwise I shall invite each member to make a quick comment.

Question 1 – Hamid
Al-Sharifi

We have heard all these touching stories; of course, they are quite
painful. The people of this hall knew, or thought, that they knew everything, but
not everything is well known. There are a lot more tragic stories, of course, of
the Iraqi Jews, from Baghdad; they lost their parents, they were hung… [Recording stops]

[Recording starts] He doesn’t
want me to say that, so without his permission, his father was executed in
1969, he was forced to join the Iraqi Army, he fought against Iran in the
Iran-Iraq War. So, now, hopefully, we start to know a lot of things, thanks to
Edwin, of course. But we need more action, we need the media to know – it’s not
right telling our friends, telling our neighbour; that’s not enough.

We need drastic measures, so we’d like to hear from you, Mr. Blackman,
if there is any strategy toward that?

Thank you very much indeed.

[Applause]

Bob Blackman MP

We will take three people’s questions and then take answers from the
panel.

Question 2 – Sydney
Assor, Head of the Moroccan Jewish Community in Britain

I would like to say in January, ’69, I was, on that fateful day of
hanging, in the Baghdad hotel in that square. I have never been so shocked [as
I was] by the attitude of the concierge. We were on a trade mission, and he
said, ‘May I take your camera, and I’ll show you around the square’. I said, ‘Why
not’. Then we saw this crowd coming down; we were curious … I can only be
revolted by your experience. I was an outsider, and I was revolted.

Dr. Urman, you are aware that in November of last year, that the Chief
Rabbi of Israel was honoured by the King of Morocco with the highest decoration
… Why don’t you use this as an example of what some moderate Arab countries
can do? Because Jihadists, Islamists are taking the power and, God forbid, that
this happens in Morocco, then we have no hope.

So, I think you should use this. Tunisia is begging for Jews to come to
see the trail of the Jews. Why do you not use this? I beg you to use this as a
force to reinforce you justified claim, your experience, and so on.

Thank you.

[Applause]

Question 3 – Eylon
Aslan-Levy

At the period we are speaking of, Iraq was an independent country, but
it is very easy to forget that at the time Britain was the relevant colonial
power, and exercised an enormous degree of influence in Iraq. In 1949, Britain
looked favourably upon a non-compulsory population transfer between Palestinian
Arabs to go to Iraq in exchange from 100,000 Jews from Iraq to be sent to
Israel. It is on record that the Foreign Office did not look favourably upon
the idea of interceding the half of the Jews of Iraq, even as a humanitarian
rather than a political issue.

To what extent do these speakers on the panel believe that Britain has a
share of the blame in the creation of the refugee problem for failing to
exercise its influence, as the formal colonial power, in the government of Iraq
in the fifties?

[Applause]

Bob Blackman MP

Who wants to go first? Stanley?

Dr. Stanley Urman

To Mr. Assor – with respect, I
make no apologies for giving valid statistics. The statistics are: that there
were 235,000 Jews in Morocco [in 1948], and today, roughly 3,500 remain Having
said that, I agree with you. I have visited Morocco on a number of occasions. I
have met with senior officials of the King, I know that the King himself has
taken money, personal money, and paid for the restoration of Jewish cemeteries
through Morocco.

It is not my intention to come here and to pillory. My intention is to
come to educate. And in that context, it would be the best of worlds, if we were able to rely
on
moderate Muslim leaders, such as the King of Morocco. Morocco is a
place where Jews still today do function with absolute freedom to worship, can congregate,
and where Jews are part of the court of the King of Morocco. So I do accept your comment, and
do accept the hope that other countries throughout the Middle East would learn
from Morocco, notwithstanding the fact that in the near future the Jewish
community’s future and fate in Morocco are still uncertain.

With respect to any responsibility of the British Commonwealth, the
United Kingdom, may have in the displacement of Jewish refugees, very candidly,
I do not feel qualified to speak upon that subject. I do not purport to be an
expert in UK history. I have heard the contention that you have made. Clearly,
colonialist powers did not do enough; not only during their tenure, but
subsequent to their departure, to ensure the safety and security of the
populations they were leaving behind.

On the other hand, there are those who say that without the protectorate
powers, a lot of Jews in virtually of the Arab countries would have been much
worse. I leave it to history to judge the answer to that.

Edwin Shuker

I want to move on from the blame story; only because I think time is
short, not here, but in a world where we need to move on. And I think it is
incredible opportunity … we have heard, three weeks ago, two pieces of good
news. First of all, Canada is on its way to adopt a law recognising Jews from
Arab countries as having equal rights as Palestinians. This is the first
country that has adopted it as a law.

The second good news is Martin Indyk, Chief of Staff to John Kerry,
declaring that Jews of Arab countries will be on the agenda of the peace
process. If that is the case, we are very close to an incredible solution that
satisfies everybody. At the end of the day, the whole campaign is not to
belittle the Palestinian claims, or to challenge them, or to refute them. It is
just saying there are two people who both suffered from the same conflict, two
sides from the same coin, and it is time for the international community
instead of spending $3 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan, to spend 5% of that to
redress an injustice. And use that money to build a brand new Middle East,
based on peace rather than incitement and hate.

[Applause]

Question 4

Thank you.

I just wanted to make a brief statement to let you know that I’m here
from an American-Jewish television network in New York, and my colleague,
Catherine is based in London. And I have to say that I had no idea about this
problem, and we have some responsibility in the US for what’s happened in Iraq.
But the American-Jewish community is very charitable, speaking for Shalom TV;
we would very much like to help you to disseminate your information through to
our audiences, if this is something of interest to you?

Thank you for tonight.

[Applause]

Question 5 – Alfred
Nathan

Hi.

I am a refugee from Iraq, as many people here are. And I just want
people to understand the difference between what happened to the Palestinians
and what happened to the Jews. The Palestinians, even today, fourth or fifth
generation born in the surrounding Arab countries are denied citizenship. It is
an active policy by the Arab countries to deny them citizenship, the sole
purpose of this is to keep them in camps in order to use them as a whipping
tool against the Jews. So these people are being deliberately badly treated and
keep in camps and these situations. And I implore everybody, and parliamentarians,
to make this message understood that this is a deliberate policy.

If this had been the Jews, when I had arrived in England I would have
been put in to a field in Kent, surrounded by barbed wire, given tents,
received money from the UN, and sixty years later we would have schools and
hospitals and a town surrounded by barbed wire in a field in Kent, and my
children wouldn’t be British citizens. But they are, thanks to this wonderful
country.

[Applause]

Question 6 – Sara
Rose

My name is Sara Rose – I belong to the Henry Jackson Society. There was
a talk put on by the Henry Jackson Society a few days ago talking about the way
British taxpayers are sending money to Palestine, and a lot of that money is
used to provide hate teaching in the schools and teaching those children the
wrong story about the refugees. Something needs to be done about that. Organisations
that fight that situation need to be supported.

Thank you.

[Applause]

Question 7 – Yossi
Shukran

Hi.

My name is Yossi Shukran, I am not a refugee anymore, but my mother was,
and still is. I want to pick on two phrases that I really liked in these
speeches; ‘justice’ and ‘move on’. The blame game won’t get us anywhere, as
some people in Israel are in their seventies and eighties and need help now. My
father died, my grandparents died, they came from Iraq, but as everybody has
said, they go to the UK and got citizenship, got their children educated, and
they are not refugees anymore.

The question of how to get justice is, in my view, down to the US
government and community, it has to come to the agenda as an important topic.
And, another point that didn’t come up so far: I remember speaking to my dad,
and he said that we can’t complain too much as our brothers in Europe suffered
far more than us. So, they were really shy to bring it up, because they hadn’t
felt really anything in comparison. This is one reason really, when Lyn and
Michelle started [Harif], I was really sceptical that anybody was going to get
something out of this movement.

But now, when I see everyone here, I am really encouraged. And we really
need to pull together and get it to the top of the agenda – forget the blame
game, let’s move on.

[Applause]

Question 8 – Alec
Nacamuli

Thank you.

My name is Alec Nacamuli, I left Egypt in 1956, thank goodness in much
less traumatic circumstances than Jenny. At that time the Jewish community was
75,000, today there are 15 Jews left in Egypt. Now, that community contributed
enormously to the development of Egypt; politically, Jews were amongst the
founding members of the Wafd Party before independence; economically,
the first finance minister of Egypt, Yusuf Qattawi, was Jewish; also,
culturally, one of the founding fathers of the cinema in Egypt, Togo Mizrahi, also
a Jew.

So what we are seeing is the Arab countries trying to systematically
erase from their history the contributions of the Jewish community; be it Iraq,
be it Syria, be it in Egypt. Also, there is the question of the archives of the
community. My birth certificate was not issued by a British consulate, it was
issued by Egypt; those registers of birth, marriage, and death are currently in
Egypt and we have been refused permission even to scan them. Or to digitise
them so we can do
historical research.

So, my question to the panel; what can we do to prevent to prevent this
important page of the history from those countries, which is a contribution of
the Jewish communities, to be airbrushed and erased.

[Applause]

Jenny Stewart

There is no hope, according to me, for any return of the Jews to
anything, or anything being returned. I remember my husband had collected
several Torahs from Hungary and bought them to England, he wouldn’t let
anyone touch them but him and another Jewish person. And this is basically,
there is no chance, it is no good, we have to start fresh and make our
communities somewhere else.

Let the Arabs not progress, just make money from oil. That’s all it is
about.

Dr. Stanley Urman

Your question is a good one and an important one. Because too often when
people talk about rights and redress they talk about compensation. Redress under
international law can take many forms. Redress can be the right to commemorate. You’re right. Much
of the history of the Iraqi Jews has been eradicated, and is continuing to be systematically
eradicated in the Arab world. But what can we do about it?

Number one; we can have more hearings, such as this. Or reach out to
newspapers to make sure this issue
is being properly addressed
. That is number one, because most people
have not even heard of this story; the valued, rich life that has been expunged
from the Middle East.  Number two; we talked about an international
peace fund. Number three;
redress can be the right to commemorate. In some Arab countries there are museums that have been created. There is a value
in that, to have places where, perhaps, archives and Jewish treasures can be
exhibited.

Number four;
perhaps
we need to endow chairs in universities to study and promote the
rich cultural heritage that has been eradicated from the region. Perhaps we
must conduct additional research and produce publications. These are the ways in which we are able to
retain, promote, preserve, and still cherish what may have been lost. Some might say, why should we
spend good money now on supporting projects that might ultimately accrue to the
benefit of the Arab world?

I would suggest that the right to history and the right to memory is a
value that is worth preserving.

[Applause]

Edwin Shuker

One thing: I refuse to give up hope. [For example,] when I mention my
certificate, which I saw after I abandoned it forty three years ago when I ran
away, that certificate that went to the cellars of Saddam Hussein, where is was
flooded with water, dried in the sun, taken in deep freeze to America, and for
the past years preserved. For me to walk in to a museum and see it in front of
me, to see it looking pristine, if that can happen, anything can happen. And
this story of this certificate is the story of my identity and your identity.

Jewish people have always risen up from when they fell. And our story is
well documented, and we will be here for eternity. The hope, we will never give
up. I believe, truly believe, that once this peace fund starts, and once we
venture in to the Arab world, we will be received with open arms. I am a dreamer,
but sometime it is good to be a dreamer, good to be hopeful. And I tell you one
thing; that one that happens we can change, together, the face of the Middle
East, it has happened before and it will happen again.

Let’s do it in our lifetime.

Thank you.

[Applause]

Bob Blackman MP

Can I say that there will be two things that I will ask; there about one
hundred and fifty people here, if you all go back and write to your MP, draw
their attention to the issues that have been raised tonight it will help spread
the word among MPs. I’m secretary of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on
British Jews, and once of the things I will take away from tonight is the need
to educate our colleagues and Members of Parliament on this particular issue so
we can balance the rhetoric and the issues raised.

And, certainly, I will use this material as effectively as I can, and it
may be so that we may require your services and some meetings in order to get
this information over to colleagues in the house.

Without further ado, my I thank all our speakers for their time, and for
giving such emotional testimony. And can I also thank all of you for attending,
and the organisers, on your behalf, for making it happen. And can I ask you to
speedily leave this room, as we are already over time.

3 Comments

  • Trudy, my creative and constructive suggestion is that the UK, in order to maintain any credibility at all, ought to admit and ask forgiveness for its role in the Holocaust.

    The UK violated its commitment to the League of Nations mandate for "palestine" to foster development of the country as the Jewish National Home. In particular, the UK allowed very few Jewish refugees to come into the Jewish National Home when the Jews most needed a home. In this the UK was encouraged by the Palestinian Arab leadership, the mufti Husseini et al.

    Secondly, the UK & USA refused to bomb the gas chambers or the railroad tracks leading up to the death camps, etc.

    Thirdly, the UK did not offer any alternate refuge to the Jews such as the British dominions, Canada, Australia, etc.

    Reply
  • I hope you're not seriously proposing that the UK will pretend to give a damn. That would be silly.

    Reply
  • Nobody knows about the Jewish refugees for reasons somewhat akin to nobody speaking of people who became refugees pursuant to the partitioning of India to create Pakistan and "east Pakistan" now Bangladesh. The Jews resettled, largely in Israel, but also in western Europe, Britain and North America. The problem is of "hereditary refugees" who became such due to the policies of Israel's neighbouring states, the broader Muslim world and political alliances acting through the UN to maintain a separate body to deal with those then called "Arab refugees", now referred to as Palestinians. And naturally it is these same countries who created the Jewish refugees in the first place and go on denying culpability.

    Reply

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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.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

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