Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Bataween - UN was misled and manipulated on Jewish refugees

In the Sha'ar Ha'aliya transit camp,
Haifa (Robert Capa/Magnum Photos)
Point of No Return
19 September '11


As the UN World Conference against Racism (known as Durban lll) gets underway, Stan Urman of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries has produced a damning indictment of the UN's dismal record on Jewish refugees, resulting in not one resolution being passed deploring their plight, while hundreds have been passed in favor of Palestinian refugees. Here is an extract of the PDF document The UN and Middle East refugees: the differential treatment of Arabs and Jews* (with thanks: Ron)

From 1949 to 2009, General Assembly resolutions focused much greater attention on the issue of Palestinian refugees – some 20 percent – than on any other Middle East issue. There were never any General Assembly resolutions that specifically addressed the issue of Jewish refugees, nor any resolutions on other topics that even mention Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Moreover, other primary UN entities are also guilty of this same omission.Since its founding in 1968, the UN Human Rights Commission (now Council) has adopted 132 resolutions on the plight of Palestinians, alleging violations of their human rights, and calling for compensation for Palestinian losses. No resolutions ever dealt with those same human rights of Jewish refugees.

Since 1974, the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has adopted 122 resolutions on the plight of Palestinian refugees including on “Living Conditions in Occupied Territory” (twenty-two resolutions), “Violations of Human Rights” (twenty-one resolutions), and “Assistance to Palestinian People” (fifteen resolutions). The lack of any UN attention to Jewish refugees was not due to a lack of trying. On numerous occasions, governmental and nongovernmental officials alerted the United Nations, its leadership, and affiliated agencies to the problem of Jewish refugees and sought its intervention, to no avail. The United Nations proceeded to deal solely with Palestinian refugees. This UN pattern of exclusivity,focusing only on Palestinian refugees, has continued up to today.

There are at least ten identifiable UN entities that have been specifically created, or charged, with addressing issues affecting Palestinian refugees. These include: the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP); the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA); the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967; the Committee on the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People; the United Nations Division for Palestinian Rights; the United Nations Development Programme of Assistance to the Palestinian People (UNDP); the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); the Office of the Special Coordinator of the Middle East Peace Process; and the Arab International Forum on Rehabilitation and Development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, sponsored by the ESCWA, the Arab League, and the Palestinian National Authority Ministry of Planning.

No UN entities were especially created or specifically instructed to address issues affecting Jewish refugees from Arab countries.Allocation of UN Resources to Middle East Refugees. There is a huge disparity in the UN resources provided to the two Middle East refugee populations – Arabs and Jews.

Since 1947, billions of dollars have been spent by the international community – by the UN, its affiliated entities, and member states – to provide relief and assistance to Palestinian refugees.

In 2007 prices, UNRWA has spent $13.7 billion since its inception in 1950.18 During that same period, the UNHCR did not provide any comparable financial assistance to Jewish refugees. The international resources provided Jewish refugees from Arab countries were negligible.

Moreover, Palestinian refugees receive disproportionate UN financial assistance as compared to all other refugees. The current, respective UNHCR and UNRWA expenditures for services to refugee populations reveal the differential treatment accorded Palestinian refugees. With a 2008 budget of $1,849,835,626, the UNHCR spends approximately $56 on each of the 32,900,000 persons under its mandate.20 By comparison, with a 2008 budget of $548,603,000, UNRWA spends more than double what the UNHCR does – approximately $117 on each of the 4,671,811 (December 2008) registered Palestinian refugees.

Manipulation of the UN: Whenever the subject of Jews in Arab countries was raised in the United Nations, a variety of tactics were used by member states to ensure that the United Nations never formally, nor properly, dealt with the issue of Jewish refugees. There are many such examples. Here are but a few:

Using Threats in an Attempt to Influence UN Decision-Making: For example, in the 1947 debate on whether the United Nations should adopt the partition plan, Heykal Pasha (Egypt) stated: The United Nations…should not lose sight of the fact that the proposed solution might endanger a million Jews living in the Moslem countries… If the United Nations decides to partition Palestine, it might be responsible for the massacre of a large number of Jews.

Further, he contended: "If the United Nations decides to amputate a part of Palestine in order to establish a Jewish state, no force on earth could prevent blood from flowing there… If Arab blood runs in Palestine, Jewish blood will necessarily be shed elsewhere in the Arab world…"

A few days later Iraq’s Foreign Minister Fadil Jamali warned that “any injustice imposed upon the Arabs of Palestine will disturb the harmony among Jews and non-Jews in Iraq; it will breed interreligious prejudice and hatred.” The threat was clear and real.

Misleading the United Nations: Treatment of Jewish Populations
When allegations were raised against the ill-treatment of Jews in their countries, Arab delegates asserted that there was no discrimination against Jews; that they were well treated. For example:
In 1970, the Saudi representative to the Human Rights ff Commission stated that “The Arab Jews were quite happy in their own countries and did not wish to go to Israel.” Mr. Kelani (Syrian Arab Republic) contended in 1974 that “In the Syrian Arab Republic the Jews are treated as Syrian citizens.”

At the UN General Assembly, on October 1, 1991, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Shara denied that the Arabs had ever discriminated against Jews, stating:

"The Arabs have never adopted measures of racial discrimination against any minority, religious or ethnic, living among them. For hundreds of years Jews have lived amidstMoslem Arabs without suffering discrimination. On the contrary, they have been greatly respected."

Misleading the United Nations: Jews Left Freely and Were Not Refugees:
In 1970, the UN representative from Morocco claimed that Jews had left Arab countries for economic reasons, not as a result of racial discrimination: It had been said that many Jews had left Arab states because discriminatory pressure had been exerted on them. Although many Jews had indeed left those countries, the explanation given for their departure was wrong. Such emigration formed part of a general world pattern, as did the movement of population from the developing countries to the developed countries for the purpose of seeking better working conditions and greater economic well-being.

Misleading the United Nations: On Statistics: Sometimes figures provided by Arab delegates on the numbers of Jews leaving their countries were disputed by others. One such interchange occurred on June 5, 1957, at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the United Nations Refugee Fund. Mr. Safouat (Egypt) tried to differentiate between Egyptians who had a specific nationality and those who were “stateless”: Those Egyptian nationals included 35,000 Jews, none of whom had been expelled. They in fact enjoyed the same rights and privileges as other citizens. Among those [possessing a foreign nationality], there were 11,046 British and 7,013 French subjects.

Some of them, to wit 800 British and 684 French subjects, had been asked to leave Egyptian territory because the Egyptian Government had considered their activities to be harmful to the interest of the State… With regard to the category of stateless persons, they numbered 7,000 and only 280 of them had been requested to leave the country in the public interest or for reasons of state security.

The representative of France, Mr. Monod, similarly disputed the Egyptian representative’s report that only 280 stateless persons had been asked to leave Egyptian territory: He “too was obliged to enter reservations about the accuracy of the figures cited by the Observer for the Government of Egypt. France alone had received nearly 2,300 stateless persons from that country.”

Using Procedural Maneuvers to Divert Attention Away from Jewish Refugees: There are recorded instances when procedural maneuvers were used in an attempt to divert attention away from Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

On March 5, 1948, Item 37 on the agenda of a meeting of ECOSOC was to address, inter alia, “Reports of the NGO Committee,” including Document E/710 containing two memos from the World Jewish Congress (WJC) warning that “all Jews residing in the Near and Middle East face extreme and imminent danger.” The meeting was presided over by Dr. Charles H. Malik (Lebanon) who, through a procedural maneuver, passed over Agenda Item 37 that included the WJC reports. Six days later, on March 11, 1948, when the Council was ready to resume its deliberations, Mr. Katz-Suchy (Poland) rose on a “point of order concerning the consideration of Item 37 of the Agenda” and objected to the fact that it had not been addressed. Concurring was Mr. Kaminsky (Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic) who declared that “he could not condone a practice whereby items on the agenda were allowed to disappear from the agenda.”

Nonetheless, after discussion, the matter was referred back to the NGO Committee and the danger facing Jews in Arab countries never made it back to the ECOSOC table.

In the aftermath of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Security Council adopted Resolution 237, which called for the “scrupulous respect of the humanitarian principles governing the treatment of prisoners of war and the protection of civilian persons in time of war.” The United Nations then sent an emissary to examine the plight of Palestinians as well as Jewish civilians in Arab countries. One year later, to prevent this dual focus on both Palestinians and Jews, the Security Council adopted Resolution 259, which recalled “its resolution 237 (1967) of 14 June 1967” while limiting the United Nations’ focus only to “the safety, welfare and security of the inhabitants of the Arab territories under military occupation by Israel” – eliminating the previous generic reference to “civilian persons in times of war,” which included Jews in Arab countries.

At the UN Human Rights Commission, on January 27, 1969, then-Israeli Ambassador Zeltner raised the issue of the public lynching of nine Jews that had occurred in Baghdad. The Egyptian representative, Ambassador Khallaf, contended that the discussion was procedurally out of order: In light of the Commission’s decision to confine its attention to the question of the violations of human rights in the territories occupied by Israel, the whole of the statement made by the representative of Israel at the previous meeting was out of order.

Moroccan Ambassador Kettani supported the Egyptian position, saying that the Israeli statement “was quite alien to the agenda” and inappropriate “as if the State of Israel was competent to speak on behalf of all Jews throughout the world.” The matter was subsequently not dealt with by the Human Rights Commission.

*To receive a copy of the PDF document (not yet online), apply to bataween@gmail.com

Two rallies are being held to draw attention to the plight of Jewish refugees from the Middle East this week. Please show your solidarity and bring banners and placards:
On Wednesday 21 September at 11 am in front of the UN building in Manhattan, NY.
On Sunday 25 September at 3pm on the North Terrace, Trafalgar Square, London.

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