By Yonah Jeremy Bob, The Jerusalem Post
March 4, 2014
Ottawa accepts recommendation of committee which found that Jewish population in countries in question went from 856,000 before 1948 to only 4,315 in 2012.
Canada, early on Tuesday, accepted the recommendation of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development that "Canada officially recognizes the experience of Jewish refugees who were displaced from states in the Middle East and North Africa after 1948."
The recognition came following the committee's November 2013 report on Recognizing Jewish Refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.
The committee "learned of the discrimination and hardship faced by Jewish people living in the Middle East and North Africa in the 20th century," according to the report.
Further, said the report, "almost all of the Jews in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen eventually left their homes and communities, which had existed in the Middle East and North Africa for centuries."
The report represented the "culmination of a substantial, allparty examination of the historic suffering of Jewish communities across the region," according to the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA).
Next, the report said that the countries in question had 856,000 Jews before 1948, 76,000 in 1968 and only 4,315 in 2012.
At the same time, the report said that, "the committee would also underline its belief that recognition of the experiences of Jewish refugees does not diminish or compete with the situation of Palestinian refugees."
The issue of Jewish refugees is heated as peace negotiations delve deeply into the Palestinian refugees, with Israel arguing that all of the refugee issues must be addressed simultaneously.
Evidence on the issue was presented by two individuals who recounted their personal experiences of life in Iraq, in addition to CIJA, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries and other community representatives.
CIJA chairman David Koschitzky responded to the news, saying, "Today's decision brings Canada one step closer to recognizing the otherwise forgotten persecution of Jewish minorities across the Middle East."
He continued, "This is not only a matter of ensuring historical accuracy. Once implemented, it will correct a fundamental imbalance in a Canadian policy that acknowledges Arab refugees, but makes no mention of Jewish refugees resulting from the Arab–Israeli conflict."
The report did say that there were two separate refugee problems created as part of the 1948 and later wars.