Fairness For Jewish Refugees


Ronald Lauder should be applauded for delineating the plight of the Jews from Arab countries (“Redress Plights of Jewish And Palestinian Refugees,” Opinion, Nov. 29). I wish that the World Jewish Congress would become the ombudsman of this very important issue, especially now, while peace talks are undergoing between Israel and the Palestinians. To make peace, the Palestinian leadership does not dare to sign an agreement with Israel without an appropriate solution for their refugees.

As I reviewed the resolutions of the Arab League of 1948-1949, in the Arab League office, I found that the Arab League passed three secret resolutions in 1949: one recommending the boycott of Israel, the second, recommending to the Arab governments to facilitate the exodus of the Jews living in the Arab countries, i.e., forcing them to flee their homes, and the third, prohibiting Arab governments from granting citizenship to the Palestinian Arab refugees, thus keeping them in limbo and using them as a political football. For this reason, while Israel rehabilitated and absorbed close to one million Jewish refugees from Arab lands, the Arab countries, rich in oil and vast in territory, did not absorb the 600,000, Palestinian Arab refugees.

The issue of the Jewish refugees is important for peace. The United Nations and the United States should steer the Arab League to rescind its third resolution. When I brought this up with former secretary generals of the League, Ismat Abd el Maguid and Amr Musa, both agreed that this would dilute the Palestinian problem and be more conducive for peace.                                                        

President, World Organization of Jews for Arab Countries