World Jewish Congress commemorates the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab countries during event at United Nations - World Jewish Congress

World Jewish Congress commemorates the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab countries during event at United Nations

World Jewish Congress commemorates the forgotten Jewish refugees from Arab countries during event at United Nations

Shahar Azran / World Jewish Congress

(c) Shahar Azran / World Jewish Congress

UNITED NATIONS (New York) -- The World Jewish Congress,  together with other Jewish organizations and the Permanent Mission of Israel to the United Nations, co-sponsored an event at UN headquarters in New York on Wednesday to commemorate the rich history of the Jewish communities of the Middle East and North Africa who were persecuted and forced to flee from their countries in which they had lived for millennia during the years from the 1940’s to the 1970’s.  In 2014, the Government of Israel designated November 30th as the official day to mark this tragic period in Jewish history. 

Speakers at the event included Israel’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations Amb. Danny Danon, U.S. State Department Special Envoy to Combat and Monitor Anti-Semitism Elan Carr, and Human Rights Activist and former Miss Iraq Ms. Sarah Idan.

In his remarks, Ambassador Danon outlined his plans for placing the issue on the UN’s agenda, stating that, "denying the rights of Jewish refugees" is an attempt "to erase them from the narrative and an antisemitic historic injustice." To correct this, the ambassador said that Israel will, "propose a resolution that will reaffirm the Jewish refugees place in history and assure that their rights are recognized." Adding, "I can see no legitimate reason for any member state to oppose the resolution." 

Ambassador Danon drew a connection between the initiation of hostilities against the Jewish people following the passage of Resolution 181 and the beginning of the Jewish refugee crisis: "It was right after this announcement that pogroms and violence forced people to flee their homes. The hate, the antisemitism expressed by countries had nothing to do with borders. The idea of a Jewish state in Israel was enough to reignite the simmering flame of antisemitism and have countries turn on their own citizens."

Commenting following the event, Evelyn Sommer, Chair of World Jewish Congress North America, said, “For too long, the world has ignored the plight the Jewish refugees from Arab countries, who were persecuted and forcibly expelled from lands that had been their homes for hundreds and hundreds of years.  These Jewish refugees from countries such as Libya,  Iraq and Yemen, among others, had to flee their homes in distress during the 1940’s to the 1970’s, leaving everything behind. It is high time to right the record of history and to recognize the facts about the Jewish communities that once lived throughout the Middle East and North Africa and to educate  others about their rich heritage and culture.  The World Jewish Congress has been deeply active in the efforts to call the attention of the United Nations and the  international community to this history in order to ensure that these Jewish communities will be remembered and their stories commemorated.”

Israel's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Danny Danon and US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism
​​​​​​(c) Shahar Azran / World Jewish Congress
Chairman of World Jewish Congress North America Evelyn Sommer and Former Miss Iraq & human rights activist Sarah Idan (c) Shahar Azran / World Jewish Congress