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Nadler Bill Recognizes Jewish & Other Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

Washington, DC, February 25, 2007
Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) is pleased to announce his introduction of a bi-partisan Congressional Resolution (H.Res.185) recognizing the plight of the nearly one million Jewish refugees who were displaced from countries in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf. Along with Rep. Nadler, the resolution’s original co-sponsors include Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ). The resolution also recognizes Christian and other displaced populations and urges the President to ensure that when the issue of Middle East refugees is discussed in international forums, any reference to Palestinian refugees be matched by a similarly explicit reference to Jewish and other refugee populations.

For more than two and a half millennia, the large swath of territory extending from Northern Africa to Central Asia has been home to thousands of vibrant Jewish communities.  Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, however, the status of Jews in Arab and Muslim countries changed dramatically. When virtually all of Israel’s neighbors declared (or supported) war on the Jewish state, many Jews in these countries were forcibly expelled from their homes. In all, approximately 850,000 Jews left their homes. Others became subjugated political hostages in the Arab world’s struggle against Israel. In virtually all cases, individual and communal properties were seized and/or confiscated by governments without any compensation provided.

“The suffering and terrible injustices visited upon Jewish refugees in the Middle East needs to be acknowledged,” says Congressman Nadler. “It is simply not right to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees without recognizing the rights of Jewish refugees, who, in fact, outnumbered their Palestinian counterparts.”

"This measure underscores the need to address the refugee issue in a comprehensive, balanced manner,” says Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. “The displacement of Jewish, Christian and other minorities living in predominately Arab countries receives scant attention, and yet remains a stumbling block on the road to a sustainable long-term peace in the Middle East.  It is essential that the plight of these communities be integrated into discussions of any comprehensive settlement regarding the issue of refugees."

According to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, the international definition of a refugee clearly applies to Jews who were expelled, or fled, from Middle Eastern countries.

Yet, more than 100 of the 681 UN resolutions on the Middle East conflict refer directly and exclusively to the plight of the Palestinian refugees.  None contain any reference to the hundreds of thousands of people displaced from Muslim and Arab countries. And, despite the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) repeated ruling that displaced Jews in the Middle East are indeed ‘bona fide’ refugees, the international community has not done, or said, anything about them.

“Jewish and other individuals who have had to flee persecution in the Middle East deserve recognition by the United Nations, and the support of our government,” says Congressman Crowley.  “As an international forum, the UN should put a spotlight on the close to a million Jews who have been displaced in Arab countries since 1948, instead of ignoring their plight.  Lasting peace in the Middle East can only be achieved once the voices of all parties and all individuals are respected and heard.”

“This important resolution urges the international community to treat all refugees in the Middle East, North Africa and the Persian Gulf equally,” says Congressman Mike Ferguson. “All religions – including Judaism and Christianity – must be treated equally and fairly in any credible Middle East peace agreement.”

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