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I am writing as a constituent of yours to draw your attention to a neglected aspect of the Israel/Palestine conflict – namely the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries – and to ask for your support in ensuring that this issue be given equal prominence with the far more familiar issue of Arab/Palestinian refugees.
Some 850,000 – a larger number of Jewish refugees – were driven out from Arab countries at the same time. The majority found a new home in Israel, but some tens of thousands were resettled in the UK .
There is no question that in 1947-48 (and in some cases much earlier) Arab countries deliberately targeted their Jewish populations.
· On Sunday 16th May 1948 the New York Times carried a headline ‘Jews in Grave Danger in all Moslem Lands’, with the sub-heading ‘Nine Hundred Thousand in Africa and Asia Face Wrath of their Foes’.
· In Egypt, as early as 1926 a nationality law 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 or whose religion is Islam”.
· In Iraq, a 1950 law to entitled “Supplement to Ordinance Cancelling Iraqi Nationality,” was used to deprive Jews of their Iraqi nationality.
· In all Arab countries, violence, expropriations and expulsions ensured that Jewish communities, which in many cases had existed for thousands of years, ceased to exist. Most who left were forcibly deprived of their property.
At the time this injustice was recognised by international actors: the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) recognised on a number of occasions that the plight of the Jewish refugees fell within its remit. This is also why UNSC Resolution 242 refers to “a just settlement of the refugee problem” without specifying the “Arab” or “Palestinian” refugee problem.
Some countries today have also recognised this refugee issue as the injustice it is. In 2008 the US House of Representatives passed Resolution 185 which stated that “any explicit reference to the rights of Palestinian refugees must be matched by a similar reference to the rights of Jewish refugees”. In March 2014, the Government of Canada officially recognised “the experience of Jewish refugees who were displaced from states in the Middle East and North Africa after 1948”.
My request to you is that you use your influence to persuade the British government to take a stance similar to that of the USA and Canada – namely to recognise the injustice that was suffered by more than 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, and to ensure that it recognises this tragedy alongside that of the Palestinian refugees in its stance on the Middle Eastern peace process.
(All MPs can be contacted by post at House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA.)