U.S. House Considers Jewish Refugees Bill

August 2, 2012  

A bipartisan bill that would ensure recognition of the plight of 850,000 Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries since Israel’s War of Independence in 1948 has been introduced to the U.S. Congress.

The legislation, proposed by Representatives Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Howard Berman (D-CA), Ted Poe (R-TX), Joe Crowley (D-NY), and Bob Turner (R-NY), calls on the Obama administration to pair any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees with a similar reference to Jewish or other refugee populations.

“The suffering and terrible injustices visited upon Jewish refugees in the Middle East needs to be acknowledged,” Nadler said. “It is simply wrong to recognize the rights of Palestinian refugees without recognizing the rights of nearly one million Jewish refugees, who suffered terrible outrages at the hands of their former compatriots.

This no-nonsense legislation would help secure equal treatment of Palestinian and Jewish refugees.”

“Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab countries and Iran endured unimaginable hardships,” Ros-Lehtinen added. “Their plight has been ignored by the United Nations, other international bodies, and many responsible nations. Any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement can only be credible and enduring if it resolves all issues related to the rights of all refugees in the Arab world and Iran, including Jews, Christians and others.”

Chair of the World Jewish Congress of North America, Evelyn Sommer applauded the legislation saying, “For a long time, the plight of the Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries has been ignored by the international community. Since 1948, in many countries across the Middle East and North Africa, Jews were persecuted, their property stolen, and ancient Jewish synagogues and cemeteries were destroyed. Banished and impoverished, most of these Jewish refugees came to Israel where they were welcomed with open arms, became citizens, and today thrive in the Jewish state.” 

“Yet, the injustices done to these Jewish communities that existed for many hundreds of years and that were brutally uprooted have not been recognized or addressed. There are no United Nations resolutions to be found acknowledging this fact,” Sommer said.

We praise Representatives Nadler, Ros-Lehtinen, Berman, Poe, Crowley, and Turner for introducing this initiative in the House to help raise awareness of this history of intolerance and to demand an honest reckoning of this repression,” she added. “We strongly urge the members of the United States Congress to pass this legislation.” 

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