Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Minister calls on Oriental Jews to claim reparations

Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit is planning to counter Palestinian claims of refugees by placing counter-claims of Jews from Arab countries, reports Y-net News.

Could the Jews who left countries such as Morocco, Iraq, Egypt and other Arab and Muslim states get reparations for the lost property they left behind? Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit, himself a former refugee from Morocco, has announced the renewal of a campaign to document the legacies of those who came from Arab countries and record their claims.

The claims refer to property and other belongings that were left behind at the country of origin. Sheetrit explains that "we are talking about hundreds of thousands of claims that could be used as a balance to the claims of Palestinian refugees asking to return to Israel."

During his first stint as justice minister, Sheetrit established a special committee within the ministry designed to build a database for the documentation of the public and private legacies and properties of Jews who left Arab countries and to record the culture and heritage of Jews in those countries.

Upon his return to the post as the acting justice minister, Sheetrit reintroduced the committee and was even able to raise the necessary budget for its operation. Sheetrit emphasized the importance of these actions at this time saying that "If the State of Israel will not work on this project, it will never happen. If we wait for years, Israel may find itself in a position where the task cannot be completed."

Sheetrit explained that "the Palestinians are using the refugees as ammunition against Israel. When the time will ripen for peace talks, Israel could present this data as a balancing factor to the claims of the Palestinians."

According to him, "about 600,000 Jews left Arab countries (870,000 - ed), where the vast majority of them arrived in Israel, a country which absorbed them and led them to full integration in the Israeli society. On the other hand, about 200,000 Palestinians left Israel and have not assimilated into the rich Arab countries where they live. In addition, the hundreds of millions of dollars which were given to them by the UNRWA did not bring to an improvement in their position. They still live in refugee camps in Israel and in the Arab countries including the West Bank and Gaza."

Minister Sheetrit appointed Jean-Claude Niddam to head the effort of documenting the properties of Jews who left Arab countries who live in Israel and abroad. The effort will be assisted by more than 60 Jewish communities around the world which have already announced their participation in the campaign.

Read article in full

See comment by Gaza Arab:

"It's about accountability, a topic the Arab world has never fully understood. When the Arab world chose war instead of peace in 1948, they should have accepted the results of their decision. The Arab world should have been held to account. We should not have put the Arabs that fled the war zone for the safety of the surrounding Arab countries into refugee camps and kept them there. Instead we should have absorbed them as the Israelis did absorb the hundreds of thousands of Jews that we expelled from our Arab countries.

"You do realize that if the Arabs are given the right to return to live inside Israel....then the Arabs must return 40% of Baghdad to the jews, large parts of Cairo and Alexandria to the Jews, entire cities to the Jews that fled Yemen, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Libya ......fair is fair. Or have you always held the Jews to a higher level of accountability than the Arabs? Is it because you believe that we Arabs are incapable of being accountable?"


AHAMAD AHABAL, GAZA

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