Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

The forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab countries


Many Jews and non-Jews are unaware that nearly one million Jews were driven out of their homes in Muslim countries. For more than 2,500 years, these Jews resided in substantial numbers in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region-fully 1,000 years before the advent of Islam. 

Following the Muslim conquest of the regions, under Islamic rule, Jews were considered second-class citizens but were, for a period of time, permitted limited religious, educational, professional and business opportunities. However, upon the declaration of the State of Israel's independence in 1948, the status of Jews in Arab countries worsened as many Arab states declared war or backed the war to destroy Israel.

On Nov. 21, 2013, a hearing on the 'forgotten refugees' of the Arab-Israel conflict-Jews forced from their homes in Arab countries was held at the United Nations convened by the Israel Mission to the United Nations, the World Jewish Congress, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. The film about these Jewish refugees, "The Forgotten Refugees," was viewed at the hearing.

The Central Florida community has the opportunity to see this film on Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, at 2 p.m. at Temple Israel, 50 S. Moss Road, Winter Springs. The Adult Education Committee of Temple Israel and Zionistas are sponsoring the program. Participating in the afternoon's program will be local members of the Jewish community who emigrated from Arab countries. There is no admission charge and it is open to the public.

Israeli Minister of Energy and Water Silvan Shalom, whose grandfather was once the leader of the Jewish community of Gabes, Tunisia, said, "Over the last 65 years, the U.N. and its agencies have spent tens of billions of dollars on Palestinian refugees, but not a cent on Jewish refugees."

Ron Prosor, Israeli ambassador to the U.N., noted that since 1947 there have been 687 U.N. resolutions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including 101 that speak specifically of Palestinian refugees, but no resolutions on Jewish refugees.

World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder praised the Canadian parliament's recent recommendation that Canada officially recognize and encourage the need for justice for Jewish refugees from Arab countries as part of any resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

"We hope that all members follow the Canadian lead," Lauder said.

Zionistas is a coalition of Christian and Jewish women united to support Israel. Founded in 2011 by Eva London Ritt, Diana Scimone, Judy Shujman and Sandi Solomon, Zionistas' goal is "advocacy, awareness and activism."

To reserve your seat or for more information, please email Sandi Solomon at sansolomon@hotmail.com or call her at 407-575-9899.


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