Monday, August 11, 2008

Senate Resolution on Jewish Refugees

1) The Issue

For over 2,500 years, Jews in substantial numbers resided in areas that are today Arab countries - over 1,000 years before the advent of Islam.

In the 1940's, the status of Jews in Arab countries worsened dramatically, especially after many Arab countries declared war, or backed the war against Israel. Jews were uprooted from their homes or became subjugated, political hostages in the Arab world's struggle against Israel. In virtually all cases, as Jews fled, Arab governments seized and/or confiscated their individual and communal properties without any compensation provided.

In reality, there were two Middle East refugee populations. Yet, neither the mass violations of human rights, nor the displacement of Jews from Arab countries, have ever been adequately addressed by the international community. It would constitute an injustice were the international community to recognize rights for one victim population - Palestinian refugees - without recognizing equal rights for other victims of that very same Middle East conflict - Jews displaced from Arab countries.

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2) Senate Resolution on Refugees

In 2007, four Senators and four Congressmen introduced bi-partisan landmark Resolutions on Middle East refugees. Senate Resolution 85 and House Resolution 185 - The House Resolution was ADOPTED UNANIMOUSLY in April of 2008, now, it is time to ensure Senate Resolution 85 gets approved!

S.Res 85 calls attention to the fact that Jews living in Arab countries suffered human rights violations, were displaced from their homes, and were made refugees. Far-reaching and comprehensive, this Resolution instruct the President to ensure that in all international forums, when the issue of "Middle East refugees" is discussed, representatives of the United States must ensure: "That any explicit reference to Palestinian refugees is matched by a similar explicit reference to Jewish and other refugees, as a matter of law and equity."

This bi-partisan Senate Resolution has been spearheaded by: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ); Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN); Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL); Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) [now retired]; Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT); Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The Resolution is currently before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

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3) What to Emphasize to Your Senator

No just, comprehensive Middle East peace can be reached without recognition of, and redress for, the uprooting of centuries-old Jewish communities in the Middle East and North Africa by Islamic regimes hostile to the State of Israel.

The legitimate call to secure rights and redress for Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries is not a campaign against Palestinian refugees; nor is it about launching legal proceedings to seek compensation. It is an initiative to ensure that the plight of former Jewish refugees from Arab countries be placed on the international political agenda as a quest for truth and justice and that their rights be secured as a matter of law and equity;

On November 22nd, 1967, the Security Council unanimously adopted, Resolution 242, laying down the principles for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. Still considered the primary vehicle for resolving the Arab-Israel conflict, Resolution 242 stipulates that a comprehensive peace settlement should necessarily include "a just settlement of the refugee problem." No distinction is made between Arab refugees and Jewish refugees.

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4) Here is how YOU can help!

1. Familiarize yourself with the issue. The Resolution and information can be obtained by visiting

2. Contact members of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations urging them to adopt S.Res 85, the bi-partisan resolution on 'Middle East Refugees' that calls for equal rights for Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Here is a sample letter.


Fax: 202-228-3612 (Sen. Joseph Biden leading the Democrats)


Fax: 202-224-0836 (Sen. Richard Lugar leading the Republicans)


Christopher J. Dodd (D-CT) 202-224-1083
John F. Kerry (D-MA) 202-224-8525
Russell D. Feingold (D-WI) 202-224-2725
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) 202-224-0454
Bill Nelson (D-FL) 202-228-2183
Barack Obama (D-IL) 202-228-4260
Robert Menendez (D-NJ) 202-228-2197
Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) 202-224-1651
Robert P. Casey (D-PA) 202-228-0604
James Webb (D-VA) 202-228-6363

Chuck Hagel (R-NE) 202-224-5213
Norm Coleman (R-MN) 202-224-1152
Bob Corker (R-TN) 202-228-0566
George Voinovich (R-OH) 202-228-1382
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) 202-224-5301
James DeMint (R-SC) 202-228-5143
Johnny Isakson (R-GA) 202-228-0724
David Vitter (R-LA) 202-228-5061
John A. Barrasso (R-WY) 202-224-1724


S.Res 85 is supported by both political parties. You can call the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations at:

Voice: 202-224-4651 (Sen. Joseph Biden leading the Democrats)


Voice: 202-224-6797 (Sen. Richard Lugar leading the Republicans)


c/o Mr. Puneet Talwar (Middle East Policy Specialist)

c/o Mr. Patrick Garvey (Legislative Assistant)


U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510-6225

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Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) is a coalition of Jewish communal organizations operating under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the American Sephardi Federation, in partnership with the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, Bnai Brith International, the Jewish Public Council for Public Affairs and the World Sephardic Congress.

JJAC 15 West 16th St. New York, NY 10011 - 917-606-8262 - 212-294-8348 (fax)

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC)

Questions? Contact: Stanley A. Urman, JJAC Executive Vice-President or
Shelomo Alfassa, JJAC US Director at 917-606-8262

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