Move in US Congress on Jews from Arab countries

The Representatives behind the Sense of Congress motion also call on UNRWA to resettle Palestinian refugees.

The Members of the House of Representatives in the US are initiating a Sense of Congress motion to recognize the distress of Jewish refugees from Arab states.

A Sense of Congress motion is not binding, but could serve as an instrument for awakening public opinion in the US to the suffering of Jewish refugees, which is virtually unknown, in comparison with the suffering of Arab refugees. The initiators of the motion say the world must recognize that there are two refugee population in the Middle East - Jewish and Arab.

The thriving Jewish life in the Arab world came to an end in the 1940s and early 1950s, in the period preceding and following Israel's independence in 1948. The initiators of the motion say almost 900,000 Jews were driven out of Arab countries, and fewer than 8,000 now live there.

The initiators of the motion say are Rep. Ileana Rus-Lehtinen (Republican from Florida) Rep. Frank Pallone (Democrat from New Jersey) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (Democrat from New York). An official announcement about the Sense of Congress motion is expected today in Washington.

The Sense of Congress motion will urge UNWRA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) to establish a special program to resettle Palestinian refugees, instead of prolonging their suffering in temporary camps.

The World Jewish Congress (WJC) has been active in several countries in the past year to put the rights of refugees from Arab countries on the public and political agendas. These efforts focus on countries with large populations of Jews from Arab countries: the US, Canada, and France. In Israel, The WJC prefers leaving the matter in the hands of the government.

This effort is mainly intended to counter the Palestinian demand for the right of return, in order to reach a comprehensive settlement for compensation to all refugees - Jews and Arab alike - in exchange for conceding the right of return.

Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on October 30, 2003

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