At last, we are seeing an attempt to inject desperately-needed context and balance in the way the Arab-Israeli conflict is perceived. This interview with Heskel Haddad of the World Association of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) prompted Tzvi Fleischer to write the following for the Australia Israel Review (October 2010). The Review is an influential publication read by Australian politicians (with thanks: Ron):
"I trust most readers of the AIR are aware that the years surrounding 1948 saw a two-way population exodus. In addition to the 700.000 or so Palestinians who fled from
the area that became the State of Israel, a probably slightly larger number of Jews fled various other Middle Eastern countries, largely to come to Israel.
"Moreover, most readers also probably know that these Jews, expelled or fleeing persecution in lands their ancestors had inhabited for centuries, lost a great deal of property as they fled - some estimates say it might today be worth tens of billions of dollars. In any case, it would
likely be larger, in monetary terms, than all the losses suffered by Palestinian refugees in 1 948.
"However, someone recently called my attention to an important claim about these refugees that I have not seen before, and suspect many others would also not know. According to the New York-basedWorld Organisation of Jews from Arab Countries, it has on file copies
of deeds from Jews who fled Arab countries for properties in the countries they fled amounting to 100,000 sq. km. These properties are principally in Iraq, Egypt and Morocco.
" Why is this significant? Because 100,000 sq. km is almost five times the size of the State of Israel (which is just over 20,000 sq. km. not counting theWest Bank or Golan). In other words, even if, as Palestinians and their radical supporters claim, all of Israel should, absurdly, be
considered stolen "Arab land", the Arab world has already exacted fives times as much in stolen'Jewish land" in compensation. Moreover, this'Jewish land" is genuine stolen property, complete with deeds held by individual Jews. The supposed stolen "Arab land" includes all of what became Israel - the vast majority of which was state land which belonged to no one individually before 1948, and much of the rest was land duly bought and paid for by individual
Jews and Jewish organisations. Only a small fraction actually belonged to individual Palestinian refugees who lost their property.
"Palestinian advocates will doubtless counter that this doesn't matter because the land stolen from Jews does not help the Palestinians as such. But it should. The Arab states benefitted enormously from confiscating Jewish assets during the two-way population exodus of 1948
- which was caused largely by their own policies bothin Palestine and toward their own Jewish minorities.
"Morally, they should use the land and wealth they seized to help compensate the Palestinians for the much smaller losses they suffered as a result of these policies."
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