Well, he is very welcome. I am sure it will not be his last. It probably will not be my last either, but that is by the way.
Since the partition of Ireland and the creation of Northern Ireland, the Protestants in the border regions that made up the new Northern Ireland have faced attempts on their lives, to ethnically cleanse them out of the regions. The United Nations has defined ethnic cleansing as
“a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic, or religious, group from certain geographic areas.”
That is what has happened along the border of Northern Ireland, and that is what has happened to the Jews. We know that only 4,000 Jews remain in the Arab world, while some 200,000 Arabs were absorbed into Israeli society, making up the Arab minority of 1.7 million people, which forms 21% of Israel’s population.
What can we do? First, the media bias against Israel and her people is exactly that: bias. For example, when the BBC attempts to set a narrative that does not equate to what is actually taking place on the ground—such as reporting retaliatory missiles launched by Israel in such a way that it seems like an offensive attack—we must investigate and seek the truth, but not from those who seek to write the narrative that suits them.
Secondly, we must fulfil our obligations to do what the Balfour Declaration began—allowing Israel back to her home and having equality and safety for all in the middle east. Thirdly, there is significant linkage between those two refugee populations, which underscores the need to deal with both simultaneously. We must impress upon the American Administration the importance of not negating any refugee’s rights to justice, nor the responsibility of Arab states to provide a humanitarian solution to their plight. Ensuring rights for both Arab and Jewish refugees is an essential key, on a very practical level, to resolving the issue of the refugees.
If Israelis—over 50% of whom are descendants of Jews displaced from Arab countries—are asked to approve a peace plan that provides rights and redress for Palestinian refugees only, it will be less likely to be adopted than an agreement that would provide rights and redress to Jewish refugees as well. That makes sense to me, and I believe it makes sense to everyone taking part in this debate.
A question was put to me over the weekend, and I shall ask the Minister the same question. What steps will the British Government take to recognise the injustice that was suffered by some 800,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries and to ensure that, in the Government’s stance on the middle east peace process, they recognise their tragedy alongside that of the Palestinian refugees? Both sets of lives matter and both narratives matter. We must strongly advocate for those whose plight often goes unnoticed—in this case, the plight of Jewish refugees from the middle east and north Africa.