CIJA and its predecessor organizations have long called for changes to Canada’s policy on Middle East peace to reflect the historic experience of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. While the situation faced by Palestinian refugees has featured prominently in Canadian policy for decades, the plight of Jewish refugees has been neglected. For Jewish Canadians with roots in the Middle East and North Africa, this is a fundamental matter of justice. Updating Canadian policy would correct the historical record and recognize that equal consideration of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is essential for any just and lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
CIJA has undertaken this effort in partnership with an international coalition led by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries. Working in cooperation with all political parties, CIJA facilitated parliamentary hearings on this subject by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development beginning in May 2013. In November 2013, the Committee concluded its study and issued a report recommending that the federal government “officially recognize the experience of Jewish refugees who were displaced from states in the Middle East and North Africa after 1948” and “encourage the direct negotiating parties to take into account all refugee populations as part of any just and comprehensive resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian and Arab-Israeli conflict.”
In March 2014, the federal government announced its formal acceptance of the committee’s recommendation that Canada officially recognize Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Later that month, the House of Commons voted unanimously to adopt the committee’s report, constituting all-party support for formal Canadian recognition of Jewish refugees from Arab countries. CIJA will continue to work with the government to translate these developments into a substantive change to Canada’s Foreign Policy as it pertains to the Middle East.
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