JERUSALEM, Israel - Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called for greater recognition by the international community of Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Ayalon said the "real Nakba" took place when Jews living in Arab countries were stripped of their citizenship, relieved of their assets, and expelled from the country.
"Today, as the Palestinians and their supporters commemorate their so-called 'Nakba,' it is imperative that the catastrophe that befell the Jews from Arab lands be remembered and recognized," Ayalon said.
"While the Arabs in 1948 were involved in hostilities against the Jews, the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa were not present in any theater of war. Yet overnight, their citizenship was revoked, their assets stolen, and they were expelled or forced to flee," he said.
Many More Jewish Refugees
"There is also a massive disparity in numbers," Ayalon said. "While the Arab refugees numbered just over half a million, the Jewish refugees numbered over 900,000 and because they were urban and wealthy, their assets accounted for almost double those of the more rural Arabs," he said.
Ayalon would like to make the issue a central point within the Foreign Ministry and believes it should be part of any future talks with the Palestinians.
"In any future agreement with the Palestinians, the issue of the Jewish refugees should be recognized and those who fled -- and their descendants -- ought to receive redress," he said.
Ayalon said the Palestinian issue has been left "uncontested," while few know what Jewish residents of Arab countries went through.
"This issue has been recognized by United Nation resolutions, peace agreements with our neighbors, in the U.S. Congress and the Knesset," Ayalon said.
"The Palestinian refugee narrative has been allowed to stand uncontested," he added. "Too few people know about the real Nakba that saw the dispossession of almost a million Jews -- and it is about time for this to change," he said.