Let's not forget about Jewish refugees...
If Israel has to discuss Palestinian refugees, then let's not forget about Jewish refugees...
With the Palestinian refugee issue one of the core issues expected to be at the center of the US's new diplomatic push, the foreign ministry is actively engaged in an effort to ensure that Jewish refuges who fled Arab lands are not forgotten.
Deputy Foreign Ministry Danny Ayalon, who is leading the push to include Jewish refugees in the core issue discussion with the US about refugees, said "it is vitally important to return this issue to the international agenda. It is a matter of justice, closure and righting a wrong."
Ayalon, whose father came to Israel after being forced out of Algeria, said this issue has "a practical as well as a moral aspect. The demands from the two sides are asymmetrical, the Palestinians talk of rights and justice [for Palestinian refugees], yet the rights and justice of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands have been ignored and suppressed for too long. "
In an article Ayalon wrote in September in The Jerusalem Post entitled "I am a refugee," Ayalon said that while some 750,000 Arabs fled or left Mandatory Palestine, there were some 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
"We are going to make an effort now to bring to the forefront the plight of the Jews from the Arab countries,” he said.
The foreign ministry, in an effort to place this issue high on the international agenda, has appointed an official to coordinate the matter. He has met over the last few weeks with historical and legal experts, and is preparing a detailed position paper that will be entered into the discussion on the refugee issue.
“We will make sure that this will be an important and integral part of the negotiations for a final settlement," Ayalon said. "Just as the Arab refugees is an issue, so is the Jewish refugees.”