Some 850,000 Jews have been deported from Arab countries and Iran, but their stories are not heard in E.U. meetings and their photos cannot be found hanging in exhibitions in the corridors of the United Nations. Their names are not mentioned in the thousands of U.N. resolutions of recent decades, and the international community has not earmarked an annual date to mark their plight.
The United Nations may see them as “negligible” refugees—but we do not. After their failure to prevent the establishment of the State of Israel, and as part of the Arab outrage after the Nov. 29, 1947 decision setting the process in motion, Arab states launched war not only against the newly formed Jewish state but also against the peaceful, thriving Jewish communities living in their midst.
Entire communities in Morocco, Iraq, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iran and other countries were “erased” and with them, thousands of years of heritage, culture and history were obliterated.
The United Nations has never done anything to acknowledge the gross injustice inflicted on our brethren, who were assaulted, murdered and robbed of their property by the Arab states they called home.
In the decades since the deportation of Jews from those countries, the United Nations has worked to help only “Palestinian refugees.” UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, has received tens of billions of dollars for the welfare of these refugees and their families. But these funds have also gone toward encouraging terrorism and incitement, and they perpetuate the false narrative of the Palestinian “right of return.”
I see it as the moral duty of the State of Israel, and as my own duty, to fight to right the wrong done to our brothers and sisters. As Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations and out of a deep commitment to them, I will work to raise awareness of the issue among the international community.
This proposal does not mean to provoke strife with our neighbors, rather to see justice is served and to bring about equality in the world’s approach to the immense injustice inflicted on our people. I intend to submit a draft resolution on the matter to the U.N. Secretariat, and use of the ties I have already fostered with many ambassadors to mobilize broad support.
If the international community truly seeks to promote peace between Israel and its neighbors, it must recognize the historical truth and injustice inflicted on Arab Jewry. The discourse we will foster in the United Nations may not change history, but it will restore the respect they deserve and recognize the decades-long injustice.
The Abraham Accords are a ray of light for the thousands of Jews currently living in Arab states. The rapprochement between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates—and soon, I hope other Arab countries as well—should encourage Arab leaders to support the Jewish communities in their countries and allow them to proudly celebrate their heritage.
Gilad Erdan is Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.