The government needs to bring up the issue of hundreds of thousands of Jews who left their homes in Arab countries following the establishment of the State of Israel as part of any future peace agreement with the Palestinians, the president of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries said Thursday.What's new here is the actual proof of such vast amounts of land that Arabs had confiscated from Jews, dwarfing the size of Israel itself. The $300 billion number is also new to me.
About 850,000 Jews fled Arab countries after Israel's founding in 1948, leaving behind assets valued today at more than $300 billion, said Heskel M. Haddad.
He added that the New York-based organization has decades-old property deeds of Jews from Arab countries on a total area of 100,000 sq.km. - which is five times the size of the State of Israel.
Most of the properties are located in Iraq, Egypt and Morocco, Haddad said.
In an interview, he said that it was imperative for Israel to bring up the issue of the Jews who fled Arab countries at any future peace talks - including those scheduled to take place in Annapolis in the coming weeks - since no Palestinian leader would sign a peace treaty without resolving the issue of Palestinian refugees.
Haddad said that the key to resolving the issue rested with the Arab League, which in the 1950s passed a resolution stating that no Arab government would grant citizenship to Palestinian refugees, keeping them in limbo for over half a century.
At the same time, the Arab League urged Arab governments to facilitate the exit of Jews from Arab countries, a resolution which was carried out with a series of punitive measures and discriminatory decrees making it untenable for the Jews to stay in the countries.
"No Jews from Arab countries would give up their property and home and come to Israel out of Zionism," Haddad said.
He said that the Israeli government was "myopic" not to utilize this little-known information, which he said should be part of a package financial solution to solving the issue of Palestinian refugees.
An Israeli ministerial committee on claims for Jewish property in Arab countries, which is currently headed by the Pensioners Minister Rafi Eitan, has been virtually dormant since it was established four years ago.
Arabs, of course, will refuse to discuss their role in their real ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab countries in the late 1940s and 1950s. They will claim that Zionists are the ones who forced the Jews out (their only example is a much-disputed case of a series of bombs in Iraq in 1950, and ignore the series of anti-Jewish laws and terror attacks that occurred throughout the Arab world.)
It is indeed shortsighted for the Israeli government not to raise this issue during negotiations. The facts about the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab countries, and the land taken away from them, should have always been as prominent as the Palestinian "refugee" problem.