Israel’s UN Mission commemorated on Wednesday the expulsion of the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa, holding an event where one speaker said, “Without remembrance, there can not be truth; without truth, there can not be justice; without justice, there can not be reconciliation; without reconciliation, there can not be peace.”
The gathering, which took place at the UN headquarters in New York, occurred a day after the global intergovernmental body marked the 72nd anniversary of the General Assembly’s passage of Resolution 181 (i.e. the “Partition Plan,” which recommended the division of British Mandatory Palestine into independent Jewish and Arab states).
This anniversary is usually marked by intense anti-Israel activities at the UN, often highlighting the plight of Palestinian refugees while ignoring the nearly one million Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa that Israel absorbed around the time of its founding.
At Wednesday’s event, Israeli Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon denounced the UN’s denial of “the rights of Jewish refugees” in order “to erase them from the narrative,” calling it “an antisemitic historic injustice.”
Danon said he would “propose a resolution that will reaffirm the Jewish refugees’ place in history and assure that their rights are recognized.”
“I can see no legitimate reason for any member state to oppose the resolution,” he added.
The US State Department’s special envoy for monitoring and combating antisemitism, Elan Carr, also spoke, saying, “In order to fight antisemitism, whether it be in Europe or anywhere else, it has to be acknowledged that anti-Zionism is antisemitism.”
“Jew-hatred is Jew-hatred whether it is focused on the Jew down the street or the Jew in the diaspora or the Jewish state,” he noted.
Sarah Idan, a former Miss Iraq whose citizenship was revoked after she posted a photo of herself with Miss Israel, recounted her subsequent visit to the Jewish state, saying, “I was very surprised and especially touched by the experience of visiting the Babylonian Heritage Museum on Or Yehuda — which serves as a center to honor the heritage and history of Iraqi Jews.”
“I was born in Baghdad,” she said, “and felt very connected to the Iraqi Jews I met in Jerusalem who welcomed me with open arms and with so much love, even though my country treated them unfairly. I was overwhelmed when I saw pictures of Iraqi government stamps on their passport saying ‘one-way exit — not allowed to return.’ I told them I was utterly ashamed.”
Nathaniel Malka, of the organization Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA), said, “Without remembrance, there can not be truth; without truth, there can not be justice; without justice, there can not be reconciliation; without reconciliation, there can not be peace.”
“We are here today for remembrance,” he continued. “We recall the history of my ancestors and the rest of the million Jews who left North African and Middle Eastern lands under duress in the last century.”
“Let me wish you all strength in your work toward reconciliation, enabled by the justice required for it, determined with truth and built over the remembrance we undertake today and increasingly all the other days of the year,” he added.