As part of Israel’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of its independence, a chartered ship re-enacted the voyage of the infamous refugee ship “Exodus,” carrying 300 passengers to Haifa from Cyprus last week, including passengers who sailed on the original ship.
The original “Exodus” sailed from Marseilles, France, in 1947, with more than 4,500 passengers from refugee camps, all hoping to settle in Palestine. British troops intercepted the ship and forcibly deported the passengers to Germany. The ordeal of the “Exodus” passengers sparked international protest and helped consolidate support for the creation of Israel.
The passengers in the re-enactment, which was staged by the Jewish Agency for Israel, included new Jewish immigrants along with French Jewish donors.
— Anthony Weiss
Refugee Issue Raised
On Tuesday, Justice for Jews from Arab Countries staged a press conference to emphasize the fate of some 850,000 Jews who were displaced from their Arab homelands since the creation of Israel.
The organization rustled up a 1947 draft document from the Arab League describing a variety of discriminatory measures to be used against Jews, including detention and confiscation of assets.
Although the document had been mentioned at length in a New York Times article from May 1948, the Times presented it this week as long-forgotten evidence of a coordinated Arab policy targeting of Jews.
The group made it clear that the document’s release is timed to influence the upcoming Mideast peace conference, set for Annapolis, Md.
JJAC, which is supported by most mainstream American Jewish groups, aims to neutralize the burning issue of Palestinian refugees. The group cited a series of public statements by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni about Palestinian refugees, bemoaning the “glaring omission” of the plight of Jewish refugees. Noting that the absence of a firm Israeli government pronouncement “has been noticed and sends the wrong message,” the group urged Jerusalem to issue a “firm statement” on the rights of Jewish refugees.
— Marc Perelman
ADL: No Further Action
The Anti-Defamation League has decided to take no further action on the Armenian genocide question.
At the league’s national commission meeting in New York last week, ADL’s New England leadership pushed for a more unambiguous statement recognizing the World War I killings of Armenians as genocide. The matter was discussed at a three-hour closed-door session Friday afternoon, after which the ADL’s national commissioners voted overwhelmingly to endorse its current statement on the genocide. The New England leadership withdrew its resolution calling for a further statement.
In August, under mounting pressure from Boston-area communities, the ADL reversed long-standing policy and referred to the “consequences” of the killings as “tantamount to genocide.” Critics said the statement was insufficient and a dodge, a charge the ADL has repeatedly denied. ADL leaders from New England, who had initially pushed hard for a clearer statement, claimed to be satisfied with the outcome.
New England ADL leaders say they plan to try and mend fences with several Boston communities that broke ties with a popular anti-bigotry program sponsored by the ADL in protest of its position on the genocide. But local Armenian activists gave no indication that they would stop pressing for a change.