The story of the Jews in Arab lands forms a major gap in most of the world's knowledge of the history of the Middle East. Jewish presence in what are now Arab lands long predates Islam and the Arab conquest of the Middle East and goes back to Biblical times. In 1945, there were approximately 866,000 Jews living in communities throughout the Arab world. Today, there are fewer than 7,000. In many Arab states, once thriving Jewish communities have all but disappeared. According to official statistics, 856,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries between 1948 and the early 1970s leaving behind substantial property and other assets.
In April 2008, the US House of Representatives unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of Jewish, Christian, and other refugees from Arab lands. The resolution states that any agreement between Israelis and Palestinians must include recognition of Jewish refugees as well. The resolution makes it clear that the subject should be brought before the UN General Assembly again, to have it recognize the plight of the Arabic Jews.
The plight of Jews who fled from, or still live in, Arab lands and their specific concerns are not well-known and need to be raised with governments and international organizations.
Actions taken on behalf of those communities still residing in Arab lands must be done in consort with the communal leadership lest such interventions create further problems and dangers for the resident Jewish community.
Illegal seizure of assets that took place should remain on record, to preserve the right of restitution claims by former owners and their heirs.
Jewish communal sites in Arab countries must be preserved and respected and must receive the same care and attention presently shown to similar sites by Jewish communities in the rest of the world.
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The World Jewish Congress will co-host event at UN Headquarters in New York on Wednesday 3 December 2014.
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