Yemenite Jews flee their homes
Yemenite Jews flee their homes Kluger Zoltan/Public Domain

A bipartisan coalition of 14 congressional lawmakers have cosponsored a bill intended to rectify the losses suffered by Jewish refugees who fled their homes across the Middle East following the establishment of the State of Israel.

According to a statement released on Wednesday by the office of New York Democratic congressman Eliot Engel, the Displaced Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran Act would require the President “to ensure resolution for Jewish refugees displaced from Arab countries and Iran.”

The President would be required to include provisions for Jewish Middle East refugees in any future Arab-Israeli negotiated settlement.

A joint statement released by the bill’s sponsors recognized the hardships faced by the ancient Jewish communities across the Middle East and North Africa, and the oppression they suffered under local Arab governments.

“The Arab governments subjected hundreds of thousands of Jews to displacement, political marginalization, or property confiscation with no compensation.”

“The Displaced Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries and Iran Act ensures that the interests of all refugees displaced as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict are fairly considered in any final settlement of Arab-Israeli peace.”

Close to one million Jews were forced to leave their homes across the Middle East and North Africa following the establishment of Israel in 1948. More than 600,000 settled in Israel, where they and their descendants now make up a majority of Israel’s Jewish population.

In most cases, Jewish refugees lost their homes and valuables as they were forced out, and have since been largely unable to either receive compensation or reclaim their property.

While Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 have received widespread international recognition, the plight of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is largely unknown outside of Israel.