Sen. Daniel Inouye's claim {op-ed, Jan. 22} that ''400,000 North African Sephardic Jews have been forced from their homelands by years of persecution or outright expulsion'' is a blatant and vicious lie based on ignorance and misinformation. It is outrageous to refer to them as refugees and compare their situation to that of the Jews who live under Soviet totalitarianism, as the senator has done on an earlier occasion. Speaking for my country, Morocco, I challenge him to come up with any Moroccan Jews who have ever been mistreated or expelled. I also challenge him to hold Senate hearings on this issue.

From my own experience, we have always coexisted as good, courteous and helpful neighbors; they shared in our holidays and we shared in theirs. Jews were and some still are active and respected members of the business community in Morocco. As children, the only insults and derogatory expressions we heard about them came from French colonialists. When the French Vichy government, which counted Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia among its colonies, ordered colonialist authorities to work with their Gestapo masters in arresting and shipping Moroccan Jews to the concentration camps, the Moroccan people stood together and resisted that horror.

The late king, Mohamed V, upon hearing of that sinister plot, acted, along with the leadership of the national independence movement and fought that attempted savagery at a risk to their lives and blocked its execution. When he died in 1961, the Jews in every Moroccan city, led by their rabbis, marched with the Muslims in the streets and held memorial services in the synagogues to mourn his departure.

His heir and successor, King Hassan II, continues in that tradition. He endeavors for reconciliation and peace between Arabs and Jews and for an end to the tragedy of Palestine.

The Jews' departure from their homelands in North Africa, after centuries of peaceful and harmonious coexistence with Arabs, was caused by Zionist European Jews who mounted propaganda campaigns of lies and distortions in the 1950s to scare them into emigrating to the newly established Jewish state, carved out of Palestine.

After the 1967 war, some Jews in Morocco were reported to have celebrated the Arabs' defeat. These reports caused tensions, broke countless friendships and caused many but not all of the remaining Jews to emigrate in the following few years, despite attempts by the government and civic leaders at reconciliation. It is a known fact that Jews who emigrated from the Arab countries to Israel, although a majority, live as second-class citizens. They are employed to do the dirty, menial and unskilled labor.

It is the policy of the Moroccan government that those who wish to come back are welcome to resettle in Morocco. A number of families have taken advantage of that invitation. The tragedy that has engulfed the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine is not going to be resolved by lies and distortions; it is not going to be resolved through vindictiveness and violence; and it is not going to be resolved by cowardly politicians, in Washington and elsewhere, who prostitute themselves and sell their services to the highest and strongest bidder.

It can only be resolved by people of peace and vision, through the implementation of a solution that would guarantee the rights of the Israelis, restore the rights of the Palestinians and allow both communities to coexist in peace with self-determination for all. -- Mostafa Albulghaith ALbalghiti

The writer is chairman of the Arab Cultural Foundation.