Thursday, February 13, 2014
'We lost assets. Why not ask for them back?'
In this interview with Rachel Avraham of Jerusalem Online, the President of the Association of Egyptian Jews in Israel, Levana Zamir (pictured at the UN in November 2013), applauds the proposal by John Kerry in his framework peace deal for an international compensation fund. However, Mrs Zamir criticises those members of Israeli society who do not take the plight of Jewish refugees seriously enough:
Zamir stressed that there was a February 2011 Knesset Law, which states that all negotiations related to Palestinian refugees should also include the rights of Jewish refugees from Arabic speaking countries as well. “It is a special law by MK Nissim Ze’ev, in which it is said each time that Israel talks about the peace process, each time the Palestinian refugees enter into the negotiations, Israel has to mention the Jewish refugees from Arab countries’ compensation,” Zamir emphasized.
In April 2008, the US Congress recognized the Jewish refugees from Arabic countries. Furthermore, Paragraph no. 8 of the Israel-Egypt Agreement signed on March 1979 by Prime-Minister Menahem Begin, Sadaat and Carter, after it has been confirmed by the Knesset and the Israeli Government, said that an Israeli-Egyptian Committee will be established, to negotiate any money claims of both sides.
While this committee was never established, Israeli negotiators have stressed to the Egyptian Jewish community that their claims will be negotiated in an all inclusive peace agreement. Zamir stressed, “This is the time or never. More than 7.000 Claims Files were delivered by the Jews from Egypt to the Ministry of Justice, out of 20.000 Claims Files from all other Jews from Arab countries - which have been transmitted 4 years ago to the Ministry of Senior Citizens. These claims summarize hundreds of billions of dollars.”
Zamir does not believe that certain members of Israeli society are taking the plight of Jewish refugees from Arabic speaking countries seriously enough, even though around one million Jews were compelled to leave their homes within the Arab world, either via overt expulsion in the wake of Israel’s declaration of independence or following intense waves of anti-semitic violence. “Last week, the State of Israel Comptroller delivered a very bad report about how the different ministries handled the Jewish Refugees from Arab countries rights, severely accusing them of terrible neglect,” she stated.
Some Knesset members reportedly view compensation for Jewish refugees from Arabic speaking countries as “bribery” in order to compel Israel to withdraw from certain areas in the territories. Israeli Justice Minister Tzippi Livni has claimed that there is no connection between the plight of Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees from Arabic speaking countries. Dr. Haim Saadun from the Open University prefers to view the Jewish refugees from Arabic speaking countries as committed Zionists that made Aliyah to Israel.
To such people, Zamir stated, “We lost our assets. Why not ask for them back? Can you understand people saying we are not refugees? Why only Holocaust survivors receive compensation and not us as well? Why not ask for my inheritance? It’s mine.” She stressed, “We have to be compensated. A right of return will never happen. Four millions Arabs coming back here will make us dhimmi. Where there are Jews and Arabs, the Jews are dhimmi. It will be war again.” In regards to the idea of Jews returning to the Arab world, she emphasized, “They burn churches and persecute Christians. Is that a place for us?”
“The solution was given by Bill Clinton in July 2010 that the right of return won’t be,” she concluded. “There should be compensation to both sides; the Jewish refugees and the Palestinian refugees. Clinton called for an international committee to compensate and Israel agreed. Arafat said no to everything. John Kerry is saying the same thing now.” She stressed that Jewish refugees from Arabic speaking countries have been fighting for compensation as part of a just resolution to the Middle East refugee crisis for years and that now is the time to bring compensation into fruition.
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