Let´s talk about refugees / Op-ed: After longtime focus on Arab refugees, Israel putting Jewish refugees on the agenda (YNetNews.Com -Yedioth Internet) Dan Calic Published: 04.15.12, 11:59)
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This month a meeting took place with little fanfare, addressing a
subject that has sat on the sidelines throughout the peace process,
having received only the slightest media attention. The topic of the
meeting was about refugees.
No, not Palestinian refugees; Jewish refugees.
For many years the world has heard about the "right of return." This
refers to Arabs who became displaced during the defensive war Israel
was forced to fight when the surrounding Arab countries attacked it
the day after declaring independence in 1948.
The plan was for Israel to be destroyed "in a few weeks," allowing
Arabs to return to their home. Yet these plans were dashed as Israel
won the war. After Israel´s victory, not a single Arab country took
these Arabs in - they were intentionally left to become "refugees,"
so the world would perceive Israel as the villain.
For more than 60 years now, most of them have lived in camps. As part
of any peace agreement with Israel, Mahmoud Abbas has demanded that
they and their descendants be allowed to return. Today they number
more than five million. Their return would mean Jews would no longer
be the majority in the only country designated as their homeland.
If they are not allowed to return, Abbas has demanded compensation.
Compensating those complicit in a plan to destroy Israel seems a
What is virtually never given media attention is the issue of Jewish
refugees. For centuries, Jewish communities existed in many Arab
countries. Their combined numbers were estimated to be roughly
850,000. The UN partition vote in 1947 brought tremendous upheaval
The creation of the tiny state of Israel brought about a harsh
reaction from Arab countries where Jews lived. They lost jobs and had
their homes and land taken away. Their assets were frozen. Many were
jailed, and some were killed. Virtually all of them were eventually
forced to flee with just the clothes on their backs, and whatever
they could carry.
The recent meeting, which seeks to raise awareness of the Jewish
refugee issue, was hosted by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Attendees included individuals from numerous organizations
representing Jews from Arab countries.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon opened the meeting by calling
attention to the injustice done to the Jewish refugees.
Ayalon also asked the Arab League to take responsibility for giving
birth to the Palestinian refugees by declaring war on Israel, which
caused their displacement. He insisted that if compensation is part
of future negotiations, it will be addressed only on a mutual basis,
which includes Jewish refugees.
This meeting represents an attempt by Israel to counter the Arab
revisionist agenda by presenting documented facts designed to bring
fairness and media attention to this long overlooked component of
the "peace process." Whether the balance of opposing narratives will
shift remains to be seen.
While much remains in dispute, there is one indisputable fact about
the peace process. There has been far too much "process," and far too
little "peace." (Copyright 2012 © Yedioth Internet 04/15/12)
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