Sunday, 26 December 2010

The Forgotten Refugees

There is always lot of talk about Palestinian refugees, who are referenced in over 120 UN resolutions, but finally Israel is trying to do something about the forgotten refugees: 900,000 Jews who, after the creation of the state of Israel, were forced to flee persecution in Arab countries - most of them to Israel. The issue of these Jewish refugees is now something that will be addressed in any future peace negotiations. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has said that bringing the issue to public awareness is "a matter of justice, closure and righting a wrong."
The creation of the state of Israel was a necessary reaction to the Holocaust, for the survival of the Jewish nation. Ayalon writes on CiF how this almost resulted in a second Holocaust of the Jews in the Middle East, where the reaction of the Arab countries was persecution and potential mass murder of the Jews residing there. Meanwhile Israel absorbed all it's refugees, whilst the Arab countries refuse citizenship to the Palestinians who live there are second-rate citizens with few rights.
However, in another article on CiF, none of those points are addressed. Just Journalism observe how Rachel Shabi doesn't mention the Arabs' mistreatment of Palestinian refugees, and almost completely ignores the violent persecution of Jews by Arabs, instead implying that most of them moved to Israel out of choice. But not only does she downplay the Jews' suffering, she also accuses Israel of exploiting it as "political point-scoring". CifWatch points out the obvious: "It is the Palestinians penned in camps who are the hostages to political point-scoring." Shabi advises that instead of focusing on the Jewish refugees, we should "celebrate" and "commemorate" "the long, vibrant experience of Jewish life in the Arab world". In other words, that the forgotten Jewish refugees should remain forgotten.
Read more about the Jewish refugees at 'Justice For Jews From Arab Countries', or the 'Point of no return' blog. It links to a film on the subject that you can watch online, created by the educational organisation The David Project.

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