Press reports that an official evaluation of property and assets lost by Jews fleeing Arab countries amounts to $150 billion have prompted this piece by David A Dangoor in the Jerusalem Post. This staggering amount counters the myth that Jews in Arab countries were backward, poor and uncivilised. But Dangoor believes that Jews not only have claims to private property, they have a moral claim over the national assets subsequently squandered by Arab states on terrorism and corruption.
David A Dangoor: moral claim
The news that the Israeli government is finally tackling this issue, not as a talking point but as an issue with practical ramifications, is extremely welcome and overdue.
While the considered research, facts and figures are in cold black and white, they bring color to our story and history, one largely unknown or overlooked in Israel and the wider Jewish world for too long.
They also provide much needed push back against the regrettable canard that the Jews from Arab lands were backward, uncivilized, uncultured and poor, and that they had little of substance in the lands from whence they fled.
The Jews of the Arab world, like any other Diaspora, constituted a mixed population in terms of economic status, but when they were given the opportunity, they contributed massively to all walks of life in their nations of origin until this all came crashing down due to a series of unprecedented discriminatory, legal, economic and social measures taken against them in the middle of the last century.
In fact, the issue of redress should not just be limited to private and communal assets lost. A cursory reading of history would have demonstrated that had the Jews been allowed to stay, they would have had the benefit of their share of the national assets of the countries they were forced to leave.
As elsewhere, Jews contributed far beyond their numbers and would dictate and assist the economies and societies of which they were a part.
When they were forced out, many of these countries descended into chaos and subsequently failed economies.
If they had remained, Jews would have contributed to making those assets work for the welfare of their countries of origin and their peoples. Instead, these national assets were largely wasted on corruption and terrorism.
Thus, the exiled Jews also have a moral claim to a share of that wasted wealth.
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