(JTA) — The United Nations must act to right the "historic wrong" done to Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries, said Israel’s U.N. ambassador to the world body, Ron Prosor.
Prosor made his remarks last Friday at an Israel-hosted event at the United Nations highlighting the refugees’ plight that featured firsthand accounts by some refugees, as well as remarks by Israel’s deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon, Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz and the former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler.
Prosor called on the U.N. to "establish a center of documentation and research to tell the 850,000 untold stories of Jewish refugees from Arab countries."
Between 1947 and 1972, more than 800,000 Jews living in Arab countries were dispossessed and sought refuge in Israel and elsewhere.
Jewish communities had existed in Arab countries for millennia until the Arab League drafted legislation in 1947 — the year before the founding of the State of Israel — that defined Jews as enemies of the state. State-sanctioned violence, arbitrary arrests and forced expulsions followed, and Arab governments confiscated billions of dollars of Jewish property.
"The United Nations has a clear duty to take responsibility for this historic wrong," Prosor said at the event. "It must take the first step in the right direction today. Open the doors of this institution to the Jewish refugees. Listen to their firsthand accounts. Collect the evidence to preserve their history.”
He added that "Arab countries have never been held accountable for their actions. Not a single syllable about the Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries can be found in any of the 1088 U.N. resolutions on the Middle East or the 172 U.N. resolutions dedicated to Palestinian refugees.
"Their history is no less real. Their stories are no less painful. And the time has come to make absolutely clear why these Jews from Arab countries were forced to leave their homes. This was not an accident. Arab leaders launched a war of terror, incitement and expulsion to decimate and destroy their Jewish communities."