Oriental Jews staking their claims

Tuesday, October 24, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
In light of possible peace talks with the Palestinians, acting Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) has revived an old plan to record and document the lost property and belongings of all Jews who were expelled from Arab countries and fled to Israel and to other places around the world.

Sheetrit’s plan calls for the establishment of a special division within the Ministry of Justice to concentrate those efforts to be used as a countermeasure for the claims of the Palestinians who are likely to present the Palestinian refugee problem as a wrong Israel inflicted on them and demand their return. During his first stint in the post, Sheetrit had already begun working on the subject and was even able to secure the necessary budget for the project.

According to Minister Sheetrit, himself a former refugee from Morocco, it is important for Israel to advance the project to record all property claims of the Jews who left countries such as Morocco, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and others, and left all their belongings and properties behind.

The main purpose of this project is to build a database of all claims, which will then be presented to the world as a counter balance to the claims of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties they abandoned in Israel throughout the years, especially during Israel’s 1948 War of Independence, and the 1967 Six Day War.

Sheetrit explained that "the Palestinians are using the refugees as ammunition against Israel. When the time will ripen for peace talks, Israel could present this data as a balancing factor to the claims of the Palestinians."

A conference on the subject was held in Jerusalem Monday, headed by Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC) and the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC), dealing with the issue of identifying, registering and documenting vast property claims of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Stanley A. Urman, Executive Director of JJAC says that “two, not one refugee problems were caused by the strife in the region, and our campaign will insist that the world community recognize the appalling events that befell Jews from Arab countries.”

The project has already begun taking shape with vast support of the relevant organizations, and the cooperation of more than 60 Jewish communities worldwide.

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