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Public Statements

Expressing Sense of House Regarding Creation of Refugee Populations

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Madam Speaker, I rise today in strong support of House Resolution 185 regarding the creation of refugee populations in the Middle East, north Africa, and the Persian Gulf region resulting from human rights violations.

Discussions of Middle Eastern refugees invariably focus exclusively and short-sightedly on the plight of those of Palestinian descent. Few are aware of the injustices faced by hundreds of thousands of Jews, Christians and others who fled from Arab lands and Iran either as a direct result of the Arab-Israeli conflict or from persecution associated with that conflict.

Perhaps the most telling example, Madam Speaker, is the case of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Many Jews saw their communities, which had existed vibrantly for centuries even before the advent of Islam, systematically dismantled. Their populations throughout the Arab world and Iran was reduced from over 1 million to just several thousand. They lost their resources, their homes, and their heritage sites fleeing in the face of persecution, pogroms and brutal dictatorships.

Jewish refugees who fled Arab countries and Iran left behind what today amounts to billions of dollars in assets. Not only have they received not one thin dime of compensation to this day, but their plight has not even received recognition by the United Nations nor similar international institutions.

While countless U.N. resolutions have been adopted focusing on the Palestinian refugee issue, no conferences have been held on the Jewish refugees. No U.N. agencies nor international human rights organizations address their fate. Failure to recognize their plight, Madam Speaker, along with the plight of the Christian communities throughout the region, only serves to perpetuate their suffering. Therefore, in past Congresses, I have sponsored resolutions similar to the one before us today, House Resolution 185. This resolution urges greater recognition of the plight of these often overlooked refugees, it emphasizes that any comprehensive Middle East peace agreement can only be credible, can only be enduring if it resolves all issues related to the rights of all refugees in the Arab world and Iran, including Jews, Christians and others.

I am proud to be the lead Republican cosponsor of this resolution. And I thank my good friend and my colleague from New York, Congressman JERRY NADLER, for having the insight to introduce it.

I urge the House to adopt this very important resolution.

And with that, Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.


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