After decades of avoiding the issue the Israeli Foreign Ministry is finally placing this issue front and center for the international community to deal with in any context dealing with the “rights of refugees”, whether Arab or Jewish. 1 million Jewish refugees were created by the Arab/Muslim countries in the Middle East due to the establishment of the State of Israel. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Finally, Israel is putting the issue on the international agenda!
The Arab media was up in arms this week over a plan spearheaded by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon to hold a summit on the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries at the UN in September.
The summit’s main purpose is to push forward the matter of property rights of Jewish refugees who were forced to flee Arab countries after the establishment of the state of Israel and to turn the Jewish refugee issue into a bargaining chip which would make it clear that if the Palestinians voice demands for refugee compensation – demands would also be made from the Israeli side.
Watch The Movie: The Forgotten Refugees (about the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab Countries)
Egypt’s press has recently shown a great deal of interest in the matter. Several papers have written that following the July 1971 revolution in the country, Jewish property devolved to state ownership under law. The press estimated the property to be worth 1 billion Egyptian Lira.
The local Egyptian press also noted that at the beginning of the 1950s there were some 100,000 Jews in Egypt of which only 25 remain in Egypt today. They are claiming that Israel is demanding the rights to some $21 billion worth of property in the old Jewish quarter of Cairo, including the large Adly Street Synagogue.
Egyptian media also quoted Israeli reports on the campaign. The Al Youm al-Saba newspaper carried the headline: “Israel enlisting the world to recognize Egyptian Jews and Jews from Arab countries as ‘refugees’.”