Sometimes it is good to be a pack rat,the type of person that never throws out anything. The president of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries said last November that the New York-based organization has decades-old property deeds from Jews from Arab countries. These deed represent a total area of 100,000 sq.km. in Arab countries which is five times the size of the State of Israel. Of till now Prime Minster “Comb-over,” Ehud Olmert has refuse to help THESE people who were thrown out of their homes 60 years ago. Though he has worked on solving the problems of the Arab Refugees, which is strange because even the UN has recognized that the Jewish Refugee Issue must be resolved
On two occasions, in 1957 and again in 1967, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) determined that Jews fleeing from Arab countries were refugees who fell within the mandate of the UNHCR.
“Another emergency problem is now arising: that of refugees from Egypt. There is no doubt in my mind that those refugees from Egypt who are not able,or not willing to avail themselves of the protection of the Government of their nationality fall under the mandate of my office.” Mr. Auguste Lindt, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Report of the UNREF Executive Committee, Fourth Session – Geneva 29 January to 4 February, 1957.
Resolution 242 stipulates that a comprehensive peace settlement should necessarily include “a just settlement of the refugee problem.” No distinction is made between Arab refugees and Jewish refugees.
The international community’s intention to have Resolution 242 include the rights of Jewish refugees is evidenced by the fact that during the UN debate, the Soviet Union’s delegation attempted to restrict the “just settlement” mentioned in Resolution 242 solely to Palestinian refugees. (S/8236, discussed by the Security Council at its 1382nd meeting of November 22, 1967, notably at paragraph 117, in the words of Ambassador Kouznetsov of the Soviet Union). This attempt failed clearly signaling the intention of the international community not to restrict the “just settlement of the refugee problem” merely to Palestinian refugees.
Moreover, Justice Arthur Goldberg, the United States’ Chief Delegate to the United Nations, who was instrumental in drafting the unanimously adopted U.N. Resolution 242, has pointed out that:
“A notable omission in 242 is any reference to Palestinians, a Palestinian state on the West Bank or the PLO. The resolution addresses the objective of ‘achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.’ This language presumably refers both to Arab and Jewish refugees, for about an equal number of each abandoned their homes as a result of the several wars.
About 850,000 Jews fled Arab countries after Israel’s founding in 1948, leaving behind assets valued today at more than $300 billion which, although not enough for a congressional bail-out, does represent a nice nest egg.
Now after sixty-years plus Israel is FINALLY gathering the needed information to claim the lost property of the Jewish Refugees, or to make them a negotiation tool in their talks with the Fatah terrorists:
Gov’t to recover assets in Muslim lands
Jan. 27, 2009
Haviv Rettig Gur , THE JERUSALEM POST
The Pensioners Affairs Ministry has created a new department over the past two weeks that will begin to collect specific claims by Jews who lost their property when they left Arab countries during the 20th century.
More than 850,000 Jews fled or were expelled from Arab lands and Iran, most after Israel’s founding in 1948. Estimates of the value of the property they were forced to leave behind are hard to come by, ranging from as low as $16 billion in known assets to as high as $300b. when estimates of the value of their abandoned real estate are included.
“Israel has talked about this on and off for 60 years. Now we’re going to deal with it as we should have all along,” said Dr. Avi Bitzur, director-general of the Pensioners Affairs Ministry.
The ministry established a department with an initial staff of five to begin to collect the claims of the Jewish refugees, about 80 percent of whom settled in Israel. Bitzur will host a panel on the issue at next week’s Herzliya Conference, and over the next two weeks hopes to pass a decision through the cabinet mandating discussion of Jewish refugees whenever the question of Arab refugees are raised in peace negotiations.
According to Bitzur, who is also a political scientist at Bar-Ilan University, the new effort comes to fill a gap in awareness both in Israel and abroad. “The UN has dealt at least 700 times with Arab refugees and their property, but not once with the issue of Jewish property,” he says.
It’s also time for Israelis to get to know better the history of the Jews of Arab lands, who make up some 60% of the ethnic ancestry of Israeli Jews.
“It’s time to deal with this amongst ourselves,” says Bitzur. “I say that as a citizen, as a father and as an academic. We should know the history of the pogrom in Baghdad in 1941, of the Lybian Jews who ended up in Bergen Belsen. It’s time for people to know that there was this part of the Jewish people and its history was brought to an end.”
In late 2007, Baghdad-born American Jew Heskel M. Haddad, representing the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries, called on the Israeli government to begin to seriously examine the issue of Jewish property left behind in Arab lands.
At the time, Haddad told The Jerusalem Post that WOJAC had a staggering 100,000 square kilometers in property deeds.
Yet it is uncertain whether the recent initiative can survive after the February 10 Knesset elections. The Pensioners Affairs Ministry was established as part of a coalition deal with the Gil Pensioners Party in 2006. With the Pensioners currently polling below the threshold to return to the Knesset, would the ministry – and with it the newly-formed department – survive in a new coalition?
According to Bitzur, emphatically yes. “The department was formed by a government decision which continues to be in effect after the elections. The department has been approved and funded by the Finance Ministry, and its workers are government workers with all the implied protections,” he explains.
Internationally, too, the project has support. “The US Congress [in mid-2008] decided that any discussion of refugees in the Middle East must include the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. The current presidency of the EU, the Czech Republic, agrees with this position,” he says.