Giving the lie to the ‘big lie’

Seminal piece by David Meir-Levi giving the lie to the ‘big lie’ that Israel created the Arab refugee problem. He makes the point that Israel has more than paid handsomely in reparations to the Arab refugees in terms of abandoned Jewish land and assets, assuming Israel was responsible for the Arab flight – which he then demonstrates convincingly that for the most part it was not.’Hypothetically,’ he argues,’the Arabs would be getting the better deal.’

” Some observers have suggested that this turn of events could be understood as a “population exchange” – Arabs fled to Arab countries as Jews fled to the Jewish country, both as a result of the 1948 war, both under conditions which their side regards as forced evacuations. On the other hand, no one on the Arab side has suggested the obvious: if Jewish refugees were resettled on land vacated by fleeing Arabs, why not resettle Arab refugees on the lands of Jews who were forced to flee the Arab countries. One reason no one has suggested this is that no Arab state with the exception of Jordan will even allow Palestinians to be citizens. Another point: Taking into account the assets of the Jewish refugees from Arab and Muslim lands, one can conclude that the Jews have already paid massive “reparations” to the Arabs whether warranted or not.

The property and belongings of the Jewish refugees, confiscated by the Arab governments, has been conservatively estimated at about $2.5 billion in 1948 dollars. Invest that money at a modest 6.5% over 57 years and you have today a sum of $80 billion, which the Arab and Muslim governments of the lands from which the Jews were expelled could apply to the benefit of the Arab refugees. That sum is quite sufficient for reparations to Arab refugees. There is no way of accurately assessing the value of Arab property left in Israel’s control; but there are no estimates as high as a 1948 value of $2,500,000,000. So, hypothetically, the Arab side would be getting the better of such a deal.

Another irony must be considered in the context of the refugee issue. Israel handled its Jewish refugee problem by devoting massive resources to the education and integration of the Jewish refugee population into its society. Read the whole thing!

Their self-inflicted Naqba

As the Palestinians mark the Naqba of Israel’s creation 57 years ago, Gerald Honigman’s strident message is once again that the indigenous non-Arab and non-Muslim peoples of the Middle East and North Africa – Jews, Berbers, Kurds, Assyrians – are denied the political rights that the Arabs claim for themselves.

” Keep in mind that for every Arab who was forced to flee the fighting that Arabs started, a Jewish refugee was forced to flee Arab/Muslim lands (where they were commonly known as kilab yahud, “Jew dogs”) into Israel and elsewhere… but with no UNRWA set up to assist them. Half of Israel’s Jewish population consists of these people.

And as just a few of many other examples, Greater New York City alone now has tens of thousands of Syrian Jewish refugees and their descendants, and most of France’s post-Holocaust Jewish population consists of these Jewish refugees from “Arab” lands as well.Read it all…

Berber Jews of Morocco

Not much is known about the Berber-speaking Jews of Morocco, but with the total Jewish population having dwindled to fewer than 5,000, the Berber Jews are vanishing fast.

While distinguishing between the ‘toshavim’, the pre-Islamic communities of the Atlas mountains, and the ‘megorashim’ – Jews fleeing Spain in the 15th century who settled mainly in the towns – foreign travellers and ethnographers in the 19th and 20th century were divided over the Berber Jews’ mysterious origins. Some believed that they descend from the Jews of ancient Israel. Some believed Berber tribes converted to Judaism, like the famous Berber queen, the Kahena. Some even thought that the Jews who settled in Spain were originally North African Berbers.

This article (in French) is worth reading and ends with an extract of a rare Haggadah written in amazigh, the Berber language.

Will Libya’s Jews get back what Gadhafi confiscated?

Another article for an Arab readership by Michael Fischbach, an American history professor who specialises in Palestinian and Jewish refugee compensation issues, this time about progress on the Libyan track (with thanks to Faelino). The article is not entirely accurate, and certainly distorts the history of the Libyan Jews, whose situation began to deteriorate in the 1930s well before the creation of Israel, but is nonetheless of interest.

The matter of Arab states, compensating their former Jewish citizens for property abandoned when they left their countries of origin during and after 1948 was long ago made an issue of international diplomacy. After decades of relative obscurity, renewed focus on Jewish property claims against Arab states has emerged during the past two years.

In Iraq, the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime initially led to movement on compensation for abandoned and sequestered Jewish property, although the current instability in the country has stalled this. Much more tangible progress on compensation, however, was recently made by former Libyan Jews, who have held discussions about the matter with high-level Libyan officials, including Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi himself. Gadhafi has spoken out publicly in favor of compensation, and reports claim that two months ago a high-ranking Libyan official actually visited Israel, where most former Libyan Jews now live. Could a deal be in the works?
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Iraq will not compensate the Jews: official

Iraq will not compensate the Jews whose property was confiscated, the Israeli business publication Globes reports.

by Itamar Levin

Looted Jewish private property is estimated at $4 billion, and communal property at several more billions of dollars.

Iraq Property Claims Commission head Sohail al-Hashmi today denied reports that his country would restore property looted from Jews who immigrated to Israel.

In an interview in “Asharq Al-Awsat”, al-Hashmi said that the reports were unfounded. He said that a reports concerning recent case involving such a claim were inaccurate, since the claimant was an Armenian Christian, not a Jew.

Following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, rumors circulated that the new regime would compensate Iraqi emigrants for their property in order to establish closer relations with the West, especially the US. To date, however, the reports have not been officially confirmed, and have now been officially denied. More

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.