Two cheers for the 'Israeli Peace Initiative', being launched today as a response to the 'Arab Peace Initiative' of 2002 by a group of some 40 prominent personalities including the late prime minister Yitzak Rabin's son Yuval, former security chiefs and international businessmen.
Their initiative actually mentions Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
According to the New York Times, "the initiative’s goal is resolution of all claims and an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict. It acknowledges “the suffering of the Palestinian refugees since the 1948 war as well as of the Jewish refugees from the Arab countries.”
But don't pop the champagne corks just yet. Take a closer look at the wording:
The solutions for the Palestinian refugees shall be agreed upon between Israel, the Palestinians and all regional parties in accordance with the following principles: Financial compensation shall be offered to the refugees and the host countries by the international community and Israel; the Palestinian refugees wishing to return (as mentioned in UNGAR 194) may do so only to the Palestinian state, with mutually agreed-upon symbolic exceptions who will be allowed to return to Israel.
Vic Rosenthal at FresnoZionism comments: " why should Israel have any part in compensating them? Compensating them for what? The Jewish refugees from Arab countries are mentioned, but there’s no mention of compensating them. The implication is that it is Israel’s fault, rather than the Arab leadership, both in Palestine and the Arab nations, that is responsible for the flight of the original refugees, and their continued inability to find permanent homes."
It is a good thing that the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries is just beginning to find its way on to the peace agenda of the predominantly Ashkenazi security and business establishment. But it is shocking that these same individuals buy into a skewed 'narrative' on the conflict, in which Israel is the guilty party. These pillars of the Israeli establishment do not call for Arab states to recognise that they caused the flight of over 800,00 Jews. Nor do they call for Jewish rights to compensation. As usual with left-leaning peace proposals, the onus is always on Israel to make the concessions.
Il faut cultiver notre jardin, as Voltaire once said. Before attempting to convince the outside world, a huge amount still needs to be done to raise awareness among the Israeli elite of the centrality of Jewish refugees to the peace process.