Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Bush 'very aware' of Jewish refugees

US President George W. Bush is "very conscious" that Jewish refugees fled to Israel from Arab lands after the 1947-49 war, and this came up in his discussions on the Palestinian refugee issue last week in Jerusalem, a senior Western diplomatic source said Tuesday, Herb Keinon of The Jerusalem Post reports. The question remains: why did Bush not mention them publically?

US President George W. Bush.
Photo: AP

"Jewish organizations have been trying for years to underline the similarities between the plight of Jewish and Arab refugees, and this was a clear indication that the narrative has begun to seep into US administration thinking.

"According to the official, "One of the points that came up in this [Bush's] discussion was the number of Jewish refugees that were created in this period after 1948. The president is very conscious that the Jewish refugees came to the Jewish state, and I think that's a parallel situation."

The official said, "A lot of the people now in Israel were refugees, they were one way or another made to feel unwelcome in the countries around the region. A lot of them lost property, and in some cases - in Iraq for example - they very narrowly escaped."

"The official made an analogy that just as Jewish refugees were absorbed in the Jewish state, the Palestinian refugees should be absorbed in a future Palestinian state.

"Both Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni have recently been highlighting in private conversations with guests from abroad the plight of the Jews who fled Arab countries after the creation of Israel.

"It is no coincidence that Bush has become aware of this," one Israeli government official said.

Read article in full

Update: JIMENA urges you to write and thank President Bush at The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington DC 20500, USA.

Update: The Zionist Organisation of America has criticised President Bush for failing to mention the Jewish refugees: "This failure will only lead to a lack of balance in negotiations over compensation for the non-Arab refugees."

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