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Summer To Remember
Refugee Claims Not
Cour tesy Mag en Dav id Adorn
Local teen helps save Israeli lives
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Eden Adler cried when she first saw the Israel ambulance donated by family members in
2009 in memory of her zaydie, Lawrence Newman.
den Adler's first shift as a student
volunteer aboard an Israeli ambulance
this past summer proved beshert.
The experience as a certified first responder
truly was "meant to be" for the University of
Michigan sophomore, who plans to go into
After rushing a woman in labor
from her apartment to the hospi-
tal, the Tel Aviv-based ambulance
team she was assigned to by Magen
David Adom (MDA), Israel's
national medical, disaster relief,
ambulance and blood services
agency, got its second call of the
day. The emergency: An elderly
woman had suffered a stroke. As
the woman and her daughter-in-
law were taken to the hospital,
Eden, 19, took the woman's vital
signs; the assistant medic went through routine
When the ambulance driver noticed the
younger woman was speaking to her mother-
in-law in a different language, he asked where
they were from.
"She proceeded to tell us, in Hebrew, that
she is from Sighet, Romania:' Eden related. "I
couldn't believe it. And I chimed in to tell her
September 27 • 2012
that my grandpa is from Sighet also."
When the woman learned that Eden's last
name was Adler, she said her maiden name
was Adler, too. She asked if Eden's grandpa,
Sandor Adler (now of Walled Lake), was mar-
ried to Elana and if they had two sons and a
"I was shocked; that was exactly
right:' Eden said. "When I told her
I belonged to the younger son, Jeff,
she laughed and said she has a pic-
ture of me in her house
The woman turned out to be
Sandor's first cousin. After the
Holocaust, her family was the only
family he was able to find that had
survived Hitler's fury.
"Now, many years later, we were
reunited in the Holy Land:' said
Eden about this emotionally charged
fourth trip to Israel. "After we dropped them
off at the hospital, I was still stunned about the
whole incident, but it also gave me faith that
this was only the start to an incredible sum-
On The Edge
The middle child of three children of Nancy
and Jeffrey Adler of Farmington Hills, Eden
Remember on page 49
he Palestinians have made resettlement and compensa-
tion on behalf of refugees or their descendants a core
issue of the seemingly dead peace talks with Israel.
Today, the number of Arabs considered refugees of Israel or
descendants stands between 500,000 and 1 million, depending on
In reality, while Jewish fighting forces drove out some Arabs,
most Arabs were told to leave Palestine by their leaders in
advance of Arab armies invading the newly declared Jewish
Almost lost in the fiery Palestinian Authority rhetoric about
addressing refugee claims as part of a final-status deal in any
future Israeli-Palestinian peace talks is the push to recognize
Jewish refugees from Arab lands as a counterbalance.
More than 800,000 Jews lived in Arab lands at the time of
Israel's founding. Most left, fled or were compelled to leave their
homes after Israel achieved statehood; 75 percent of these
Mizrahim (Hebrew for Easterners) settled in the fledgling state
and haven for endangered Jews everywhere.
The Arab world's violent response to Israel's creation dramati-
cally shrunk or virtually wiped out the once-thriving Jewish com-
munities of Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Yemen
and Tunisia. The expelling authorities assumed a chunk of the
property once Jewish owned. It's not like the Jews were nicely
asked to leave; persecution was a hallmark. More times than not,
they were harassed, robbed, humiliated or even killed.
The World Jewish Congress, the Conference of Presidents of
Major American Jewish Organizations and the Israeli Foreign
Ministry are among the Jewish organizations driving the cam-
paign to win world recognition for Jewish refugees or their
descendants as well as compensation for their lost property. It's
a noble campaign: There is a Jewish parallel to Palestinian refu-
gee claims from Israel's War for Independence.
World Jewish Congress Secretary General
Dan Diker put it well: "It restores parity to
Certainly, Jews lived under Muslim rule for
centuries though with limited rights. The dan-
ger level rose as talk of an ancestral Jewish
homeland gained traction. Israeli statehood
stripped Jews of more rights in Arab lands,
including citizenship. Consequently, Jewish
expulsion gained steam.
"The claim that Jews left on their own is not reflecting the
truth of history because the true history shows that Jews could
no longer continue living there without having their lives threat-
ened," Ben-Gurion University Professor Maurice Roumani, told
JTA. "Jews from Arab countries had been living in continuous
insecurity for generations. If their lives had not been so inse-
cure, few co them would have left."
Still, some Jews in Arab lands left their homes to fulfill the
Zionist dream once immigration became legal.
Diker suggests the respective refugee claims could be resolved
separate from the critical negotiation questions between the
Israelis and the Palestinians. That makes a lot of sense.
The refugee matter won't go away without serious debate, but
it has no place commanding the negotiating spotlight — should
that ever shine again. Borders, security, water rights and
Jerusalem are more pivotal issues, and they shouldn't be held
hostage by wrangling over refugees. Let's be candid: Giving the
Palestinians what they want, full right of return for refugees or
their descendants, would obliterate Israel's Jewish majority.