Monday, November 06, 2006

Revisionist backlash to refugees campaign begins...

No sooner than the international campaign for the rights and redress of Jewish refugees from Arab countries was launched than revisionist anti-Zionists began their counter-attack. Foremost amongst them is Iraq-born Yehouda Shenhav, a sociology professor at Tel-Aviv University, whose Marxist political agenda has been exposed here.

At the end of October Shenhav had an article circulated by email branding 'as folly politics' the campaign on behalf of people he views as Arabs of the Jewish faith.

"Any reasonable person, Zionist or non-Zionist, must acknowledge that the analogy drawn between Palestinians and Arab Jews is unfounded. Palestinian refugees did not want to leave Palestine. Many Palestinian communities were destroyed in 1948, and some 700,000 Palestinians were expelled, or fled, from the borders of historic Palestine. Those who left did not do so of their own volition. In contrast, Arab Jews arrived to Israel under the initiative of the State of Israel and Jewish organizations. Some arrived of their own free will; others arrived against their will. Some lived comfortably and securely in Arab lands; others suffered from fear and oppression.

"The history of this immigration is complex, and cannot be subsumed within a facile explanation. Many of the newcomers lost considerable property, and there can be no question that they should be allowed to submit individual property claims against Arab states (up to the present day, the State of Israel and WOJAC have blocked the submission of claims on this basis). The unfounded, immoral analogy between Palestinian refugees and Mizrahi immigrants needlessly embroils members of these two groups in a dispute, degrades the dignity of many Arab Jews, and harms prospects for genuine Jewish-Arab reconciliation.

It's reasonable to assume that as final status agreements between Israelis and Palestinians are reached, an international fund will be formed with the aim of compensating Palestinian refugees for the hardships caused them by the establishment of the State of Israel. Israel will surely be asked to contribute generously to such a fund.

"In this connection, the idea of reducing compensation obligations by designating Arab Jews as refugees might become very tempting. But it is wrong to use scarecrows to chase away politically and morally valid claims advanced by Palestinians. The "creative accounting" manipulation concocted by the refugee analogy only adds insult to injury, and widens the psychological gap between Jews and Palestinians. "

Shenhav restates his view that the Jews from Arab countries are by and large not refugees, a claim firmly rebutted by Israel Bonan who was jailed in an Egyptian internment camp in 1967:

"I am a Jew born in Egypt currently living in America, so I speak with some authority when I suggest that no matter how you dissect it, analyze it, turn it upside down or right side up, when someone is incarcerated (during the Six Days War of '67), beaten, humiliated, dispossessed of his basic human rights, of all his possessions and finally given a one way ticket to nowhere, stamped "Not to Return", after having lived in Egypt for 22 years, that person qualifies to be called something. Pray tell what should he be called, 'Banana' ? "

Shenhav makes the unfounded claim that the Israeli government and WOJAC have blocked the submission of individual claims.

He also asserts that by supporting Jewish claims the Israeli government will have to pay less to Palestinian refugees - a bizarre assumption, given that Jews from Arab countries lost far more than Palestinian Arabs.

For Shenhav the purpose of an international fund is purely to compensate Palestinian refugees. What is missing in his analysis is any suggestion that Arab states bear the slightest responsibility for the plight of their Jewish citizens.

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