Daily Israel Report

Canadian Lawmaker Calls for Recognition of Jewish Refugees

Irwin Cotler has proposed calling for formal government recognition of Jewish refugees displaced from Arab lands since 1948.
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 11/13/2012, 7:20 PM

Canadian parliament member Irwin Cotler,
Canadian parliament member Irwin Cotler,
Flash 90

A renowned Canadian lawmaker has proposed a motion in the country's Parliament calling for formal government recognition of some 850,000 Jews forcibly displaced from Arab lands since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.

Member of Parliament Irwin Cotler, who has served as Canadian Justice Minister and Attorney General, noted in his motion that by rejecting the United Nation's partition plan of 1947-1948, Arab states had "launched their double aggression of a war against the nascent Jewish state and assaults on their own Jewish nationals, resulting in two refugee populations, Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees from Arab countries."

He said the time had come "to restore the pain and plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries to the international peace and justice narrative from which it has been eclipsed these past 60 years."

The motion calls on Canada to recognize that since 1948, there have been more than 170 UN resolutions on so-called “Palestinian” refugees, "yet not one resolution that makes any reference to, nor is there any expression of concern for, the plight of the 850,000 Jews displaced from Arab countries."

It also asks that the annual commemoration by the United Nations of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, held on 29 November, "should be transformed into an International Day of Solidarity for a Two-People, Two-State Solution - as the initial 1947 Partition Resolution intended."

Cotler also implored the Canadian government to recognize "that any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement must address and resolve all outstanding issues relating to the legitimate rights of all refugees, including Jews, Christians, and other populations, displaced from countries in the Middle East."

He expressed hope that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, of which he is a member, would hold hearings on this matter similar to ones held in the US Congress, the Italian parliament, and the British Parliament.

Cotler is an international human rights lawyer, who served as counsel to former prisoners of conscience, including Nelson Mandela and to poltical prisoners such as Natan Sharansky. A staunchly pro-Zionist Jew, he was at the forefront of the fight against lawfare, the use of the letter of international law to attack Israel.

In September, the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in conjunction with the World Jewish Congress and the Pensioners Affairs Ministry, launched the “I am a refugee” campaign, seeking to refocus the debate by bringing to light the truth behind the many myths and fabrications that have come to dominate the issue of refugees.

Since then, the campaign has succeeded in garnering widespread international recognition, including the first-of-its-kind event at the United Nations, which had been attended by senior UN officials and Western ambassadors.