David Littman Jewish refugees UNHRC


Comments by David G. Littman, NGO Representative to the UN in Geneva for the Association for World Education (AWE) and the World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
The following oral statement was prepared and delivered by DGL for the WUPJ; I was stopped by the Chair (a vice-president) after 2 minutes, 16 seconds – the microphone was cut off at 2 min. 26 sec. (two NGOs soon after were allowed 2 min. 33 sec. and 2 min. 37 sec., respectively). Member and Observer States are never stopped when their delegate exceeds the 3 or 2 minute official limit, sometimes taking twice as long when haranguing Israel; NGOs are usually treated very leniently by the Belgium president.
Our two concluding lines, comparing UN treatment of Jewish and Arab Palestinian refugees could have been completed within about 10 seconds (i.e. about 2 min. 25 sec.): They received no international aid, whereas a Palestinian ‘refugee’ and descendants still do, via UNRWA, if the “normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 or June 1967” – or that of their grandparents or great grandparents. This is unique in the world.
The Secretariat receives 25 copies of all oral statement for the interpreters and others (including the chairman- mine are always checked by someone on the podium). The four lines that I added after hearing the excellent comments on item 7 by the new U.S. ambassador the day before would have required another 20 secs. All this was visible in my text, available to the chair and the secretary. On this we shall make ‘no comment’!
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For a very detailed WUPJ written statement (prepared by DGL), see below:
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United Nations Human Rights Council -13th session (1-26 March 2010)
Statement: David G. Littman – 36th meeting (Tuesday 9:20am) 23 March 2010
Item 7: Human rights situation in Palestine…. (Self-Determination / Refugees)
[The words in brackets and smaller type were not spoken in the 2¼ minutes allowed]
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Sir, under item 7, we wish to refer to the ‘Right to self-determination’, as well as to the “Rights of Refugees”, referred to by the Special Rapporteur, whose Report has been put on a backburner [until the June session at the Palestinian delegate’s request (A/HRC/13/53)].
Facts & Figures on 2 Partition Plans for Palestine (1922 and 1947)
Dual Arab and Jewish Refugees Tragedies (after 1948)
Our written statement [* A/HRC/13/NGO/138] contains full facts and figures relating to the British Partition Plan of 1922, by which more than 77% of the 1921 League of Nations designated area of Palestine [120,000 km²] became the Hashemite Emirate of Trans-Jordan, renamed The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in 1946. Then came the UN General Assembly 1947 Partition Plan, whose aim [under GA Resolution 181 (II)] was to divide the area west of the river Jordan – covering the remaining 23 percent of the original Mandate area – into “independent Arab and Jewish States”, with Jerusalem as a corpus separatum administered directly by the United Nations. This UN ‘Partition Plan’ was categorically refused by all Arab League countries, five of whom then invaded Israel [- a day after its rebirth on 15 May 1948].
[The major part of the Cisjordan area, designated to become an independent Arab State, was occupied during the 1948 war against Israel by the Arab Legion commanded by British General Glubb Pasha and – despite the fact that the Rhodes Agreements with Israel referred only to ‘Armistice lines’ at the Arab League’s insistence – it was annexed and renamed by the British Foreign Office, the ‘West Bank’ of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Only the UK and Pakistan recognized this Jordanian land grab as legal. Egypt occupied the Gaza Strip but did not annex it, only evacuating it during the 1967 Six Days War.]
The Arab League’s defiance of international legality in 1947 led to the Arab and Jewish refugee tragedy that resulted from a unilateral Arab decision to make war in 1947, rather than peace, and it was repeated in 1967 at the Khartoum Arab League Summit Conference:
[“No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiation with Israel, no concessions on the question of Palestinian national rights.” (Rejection of UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 Nov.]
There is also the question of a return of, or compensation for, Arab refugees, resulting from the Arab war declared against Israel.
[The refusal by the Arab League, Arab leaders and the Arabs in Palestine to accept a Jewish State in any part of the biblical ‘Land of Israel’ (Palestine) was the primary reason for the dual tragedy of both Arab and Jewish refugees. The plight of Arab refugees took place during a Jihad war begun by five Member States of the Arab League (and the United Nations), backed by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, religious leader of the Arabs of British Mandatory Palestine (1921-1948) and of the Arab Higher Committee (1936-1948). Yet 1.5 million Arabs, Druze, Bedouin and others (20% of Israel’s population) are citizens of Israel today.]
However, almost a million Jews were deliberately targeted as a religious group in Arab countries, many of which are now virtually Judenrein (religiously-cleansed of all Jews). Two-thirds of these dispossessed Jews settled in Israel; they and their descendants represent almost 50% of the Jewish population.
[The hardship endured by the great majority of these 900,000 indigenous Jewish refugees from Arab countries has never been examined by UN bodies, or the loss of their inestimable heritage dating back two and three millennium, nor their vast personal and property rights confiscated.]
This great injustice should be addressed at the United Nations, all within the context of an equitable global solution for a peaceful, international recognition of a 2-State solution. A noteworthy document was adopted 2 years ago by the U.S. House of Representatives, which quotes both President Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton on the question of justice for these forgotten Jewish refugees [1 April 2008: U.S. Resolution 185]. A month ago, Israel’s Knesset passed a bill aimed at securing compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab countries, as part of the general peace negotiations in the Middle East [23 February 2010].
All delegates should become better informed about the forgotten million Jewish refugees, whose original number from Arab lands were larger than Arab-Palestinian war refugees.
[Gavel by vice-president; speaker expresses surprise: “Excuse me sir?” – then cut off.]
[They received no international aid, whereas a Palestinian ‘refugee’ and his descendants still do, via UNRWA, if the “normal place of residence was Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 or June 1967” – or the domicile of their grandparents or great grandparents. This is unique in the world.]
[Sir, yesterday a bright star shone through the stalactites of our colourful Disney-like ceiling – in this Alliance of Civilizations Room. We wish to endorse and praise the pertinent words and wise recommendations of new U.S. Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe, on item 7 – by quoting here that biblical proverb: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (25:11)]

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