Israel-backed event highlights Arab-Jewish refugees

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UNITED NATIONS — The international community has applied a double standard in recognizing Palestinian refugees but not the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who have been forced out of Arab lands, Jewish scholars and Israeli officials say.

“Why have you not heard more about the plight of Jewish refugees? Because they had a homeland that would accept them, Israel,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Friday during a symposium at the United Nations headquarters.

“Never again would we allow a Jew to wander after World War II. We Jews remember,” Mr. Dershowitz added.

He made his comments at the “Justice for Jewish Refugees From Arab Countries” symposium hosted by Israel’s U.N. mission and focused on the plight of Arab Jews forcibly expelled from their native lands since the creation of Israel in 1948.

According to Israel’s U.N. mission, more than 850,000 men, women and children were forcibly expelled from more than a dozen Arab nations between 1947 and 1972. None has received compensation or relief from any international agencies.

“Today we break 64 years of silence … Arab countries have never been held responsible for their actions,” Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., said during the symposium, which was attended by more than 600 people.

Other key speakers included Nobel Peace laureate Elie Wiesel and Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon.

The symposium was held days before the opening of the U.N. General Assembly, where Palestinian leaders are expected to renew their effort for statehood recognition.

Israeli and U.S. officials blocked the Palestinians’ bid last year, saying that direct negotiation between Israeli and Palestinian leaders is the only way to secure a two-state solution. Palestinian officials have long refused to renew negotiations with Israelis, who have long refused to meet preconditions for peace talks set by Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will travel this week to New York to address the United Nations.

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