On December 1, a special panel dealing with “The untold story of the Middle East: Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries” was held up at the United Nations. Important as this panel is, is how the UN chose to deal with this issue.
This was the third panel held by the UN that commemorates the 856,000 Jewish refugees who were displaced from Arab countries during the 20th century. November 30th was legislated by the Knesset as the day for marking this day only in 2014. This day follows November 29, the anniversary date on which the UN Security Council adopted the Partition Plan, after which Arabs started attacking the Jewish communities in their countries with the goal of preventing the establishment of a Jewish state in the land of Israel.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said that Israel will work toward world recognition of the Jewish refugee problem. “This story was kept hidden for many years,” he said, and marked the difference between the way the world treats the Palestinian refugees and the way it treats Jewish refugees.
Minister of Gender-equality, Gila Gamliel, has pointed out that in the last 65 years the UN and its different agencies have spent billions of dollars on Palestinian refugees and not a penny on Jewish refugees. Since 1949, she continued, the UN has passed over 100 resolutions concerning Palestinian refugees and not a single one concerning Jewish refugees.
The story of the Jewish refugees was told by leading journalists Ben-Dror Yemini, whose family escaped Yemen, and David Swissa whose family escaped Morocco. Minister Gamliel herself is from a family that escaped Tunisia.
Chief executive officer of the World Jewish Congress, Robert Singer, said that though people may not know it, “there were more Jewish refugees from Arab lands than there were Arab refugees from Israel.” This phenomenon of ignoring Jewish refugees, he said, is “part of an ongoing distortion of the truth that sadly has become a mainstay of this international body. It has always been in the interest of those who continue to deny Israel’s legitimacy.”