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JIMENA (Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa) seeks to educate and advocate for Jewish refugees from the Middle East.

Prior to 1948, approximately 950,000 Jews lived in Muslim countries of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Persian Gulf.[1]

Historical background[edit]

The Jewish exodus from Arab lands in the 20th century was a result of the expulsion and mass departure primarily of Sephardi and Mizrahi background from Arab and Islamic countries. The migration started in the late 19th century, but accelerated after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. According to official Arab statistics, 856,000 Jews left their homes in Arab countries from 1948 until the early 1970s. Some 600,000 resettled in Israel,[2] leaving behind property valued today at more than $300 billion.[1][3] Jewish-owned real-estate left behind in Arab lands has been estimated at 100,000 square kilometers (four times the size of the State of Israel).[2] Thus, of the nearly 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands, approximately 600,000 were absorbed by Israel; the remainder went to Europe and the Americas.[4][5]

Political activities[edit]

JIMENA played a key role in the unanimous passage of House Resolution 185 by the U.S. Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, February 27, 2008.[4][6] This resolution urges the President to ensure that when refugees from the Middle East are discussed in international forums, any reference to Palestinian refugees be matched by a similarly explicit reference to Jewish and other refugee populations.[7]

In December 2007 JIMENA briefed Iraqi born Ruth Pearl, mother of slain journalist Daniel Pearl, before her meeting with the President at the Hanukka White House party. She informed President Bush, for the first time ever, of the plight of the 850,000 Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa. During the President's recent visit to Israel, he was reported to have mentioned the importance of including the Jewish refugees in future negotiations about refugees of the Middle East.[8]

In March 2008, JIMENA testified at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on behalf of Jewish refugees from the Middle East and North Africa.[9][10][11]

Joe Wahed was the founder of JIMENA. Current board members include noted human rights advocate Gina Waldman, executive film producer and co-founder of the David Project Ralph Avi Goldwasser, Varda Rabin (wife of the noted Jewish philanthropist Irving Rabin), and Professor Henry Green of the University of Miami, director of the Sephardi Voices project.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ a b Warren Hoge (November 5, 2007). "Group Spotlights Jews Who Left Arab Lands". The New York Times. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b Adi Schwartz (January 3, 2008). "'All I wanted was justice'". Haaretz. Archived from the original on January 10, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  3. ^ Lefkovits, Etgar. "Expelled Jews hold deeds on Arab lands. The Jerusalem Post. 16 November 2007. 18 December 2007.
  4. ^ a b Congress mulls Jewish refugee cause by Michal Lando. The Jerusalem Post. July 25, 2007
  5. ^ Historical documents. 1947-1974 VI - THE ARAB REFUGEES - INTRODUCTION MFA Israel
  6. ^ H. Res. 185: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the creation of refugee... (GovTrack.us)
  7. ^ "Jimena Voice" (PDF). JIMENA. April 2008. pp. 2–3. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  8. ^ Devora Mandell (December 12, 2007). "Chanukah At The White House". The Jewish Press. Archived from the original on February 20, 2008. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on October 11, 2008. Retrieved October 29, 2008. 
  10. ^ Breaking News - JTA, Jewish & Israel News[dead link]
  11. ^ Paul Lungen (27 March 2008). "Rights Council hears from Jewish refugee". The Canadian Jewish News. Archived from the original on June 6, 2011.