HISTORIC APPEARANCE BY JEWISH REFUGEE FROM LIBYA, BEFORE THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
March 20, 2008
For decades, the United Nations has ignored the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Now they are no longer be able to do so. For the first time ever, appearing in Geneva at the United Nations Human Rights Council, was a Jewish refugee from an Arab country, Regina Bublil-Waldman, who fled Libya in 1967, in fear of her life.
Also appearing at a public program for UN officials and NGOs were Sylvain Abitbol, Co-President of the Canadian Jewish Congress who is originally from Morocco and Stanley A. Urman, Executive Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries.
Celebrating her heritage, Mrs. Bublil-Waldman appeared before the UN Human Rights Council wearing her grandmother’s Libyan wedding dress. At the same time, she was “mourning” the loss of her heritage, as in 1948, there were 36,000 Jews living in Libya. Today, there are none left. Ms. Bublil-Waldman ultimately resettled in the United States where she founded JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa).
At the NGO conference, Mr. Abitbol brought a message of hoped-for peace and reconciliation. He recalled that King Muhammad V intervened to protect Jews living in Morocco from the Nazi regime. While recognizing the historical plight faced by Jews who lived for millennia in Arab countries, Mr. Abitbol expressed the hope that these displaced Jews can serve as an important bridge to the Arab world, much as he does now in his business and community life.
A Report entitled “Justice for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights and Redress” was presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council. Published by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, the Report contains documents - recently discovered in the U.N. archives - that reveal a pattern of state-sanctioned oppression that precipitated the mass exodus of Jews from 10 Arab countries.
“The Report discloses the pernicious and prejudicial role played by the U.N. in excluding Jewish refugees from Arab countries from the justice and peace agenda” said Stanley Urman, Executive Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. “This is not just a case of justice delayed, but justice denied. Indeed, the displacement of 850,000 Jews from Arab countries is not just a ‘Forgotten Exodus’ but a ‘Forced Exodus.”
Photo available at: http://www.justiceforjews.com/geneva-1.jpg
Waldman speech: http://www.justiceforjews.com/un-speech.pdf
Justice for Jews from Arab Countries is a coalition of 77 Jewish communities and organizations in 20 countries, operating under the auspices of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the American Sephardi Federation, in partnership with the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, B'nai Brith International, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the World Sephardic Congress.