Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wikileak restitution cable is water under bridge

Leaked documents are all the rage at the moment, aren't they?

Prolific blogger Elder of Ziyon is all excited to have unearthed a Wikileaks cable from 2005. Discussing German reparations to Israel for the Holocaust, the cable ends intriguingly (as EoZ puts it) as follows:

Finally, xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that Poland would likely be the next area of focus of the GOI restitution efforts, and that the GOI would work in close coordination with the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) and the other main survivor and restitution bodies in Israel and abroad. All of the above are in addition to the GOI Ministerial Committees continuing research into expanding pursuit of restitution claims for Jewish property and assets from Arab lands.

In fact the Israeli government's decision to expand the pursuit of restitution claims in Arab countries is not as intriguing as all that. The Israeli Cabinet, in March 2002 and December 2003, called for efforts "to gather information, data, claims and documents... (and) record details of Jewish private and communal property in Arab countries and the denial of their rights."

The task of gathering claims was assigned to the Ministry of Pensioners' Affairs in 2009. In February 2010, the Knesset passed a law stating that no peace agreement could be signed with Arab states unless compensation for Jewish refugees was on the agenda.

So actively pursuing restitution for Jews from Arab countries has been Israeli government policy for at least the last seven years. Not that anyone would have noticed, so coy had the Kadima-led government been about it. The intriguing thing that it is only when a document is Wikileaked do people sit up and take note of what was always there!

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Sylvia said...

Are they talking here about restitutions by Arab countries? Or restitution by Germany for crimes committed against Jews in Arab countries? These are two different issues. My impression is that they're talking of those Arab countries such as Tunisia and Libya where the Germans were physically present and Jews were deported to concentration camps. If I am not mistaken, you had a post recently about Jewish survivors from Tunisia finally getting some reparation money from Germany.
This is not the same issue as that of Jewish assets from Arabo-Muslim countries which has been launched (or relaunched) dueing the first Netanyahu government - and subsequently "retired" by Justice Minister Yossi Beilin under the subsequent Barak government (1999-2001). At that time, to the best of my recollection, the Pensioneers' party didn't exist as yet and Rafael Eytan was not in government.
We might be confusing two entirely different issues here. Or perhaps I am the one mistaken.

bataween said...

I think we are talking about two separate issues here, Sylvia, although the fact the two have been lumped together in the same memo is confusing. My understanding - and I may be wrong - is that we are talking restitution claims from Arab governments, not reparations to survivors in Arab countries.
As you rightly point out, the latter reparations have been paid out recently to Tunisian and Libyan survivors for the first time - but the money came from the Israeli government.

bataween said...

Here are the links to the 'reparations' stories: