Monday, July 04, 2005

Israel 'footdragging' on refugee claims

According to an article by Isabel Kershner in the Jerusalem Report, international campaigners seeking redress for the Jews who fled Arab countries point to signs of growing recognition in both the Arab world and the West of these individuals as former refugees with rights to compensation. Yet leading activists say that the Israeli Justice Ministry, responsible for documenting the former refugees' case histories and claims, is footdragging, and assert that only some 10 percent of the potential files have been collected.

Four Arab countries - Libya, Iraq, Algeria and Tunisia - have already gone on record and acknowledged that their Jews "were discriminated against, driven out and are entitled to compensation," notes Stanley Urman, executive director of the New York-based Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC). Various groups of former Libyan Jews have engaged in contacts with the Tripoli government while Iraq has opened up an application process for claims of Iraqi nationals who lost property "as a result of their ethnicity, religion or sect," including Jews.

Also in early June, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin told the Canadian Jewish News that "a refugee is a refugee" and that Jewish refugees' claims should be taken into consideration. Jewish activists see this development as particularly significant given that Canada is still officially the gavel holder of the Refugee Working Group, set up as part of the Madrid Mideast peace process. Read article in full.

No comments: