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May 26, 2003

Oh. THAT refugee problem. Seldom hear about it

Iraqi Jews Seeking Claims

Though the world seldom hears anything but the fires of anguish concerning the displaced arab refugee problem, an equal number of Jews were displaced with the creation of the State of Israel. This article in The Jewish Week discusses Iraqui Jews, Jews from but one arab country where Jews were hounded out of their homelands.
The overthrow of Saddam Hussein has touched off a scramble among Jewish groups seeking compensation for Jewish refugees from Iraq as well as other Arab countries. In many cases the groups are competing against each other.

At stake potentially are billions of dollars from individual and communal claims.

The push for reparations comes at a time when Palestinians are demanding the right of return to their former homes in Israel.

The World Jewish Congress and the American Sephardi Federation have been focusing attention on the claims of displaced Jews for more than a year. The WJC has held five conferences on what it calls “the forgotten exodus,” including one this week in Jerusalem.

Avi Beker, the WJC’s secretary general, said he hopes the testimony presented by displaced Jews will be enough to warrant the issue’s inclusion in the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

“This is the strongest moral case Israel has against the Palestinian right of return, which has proved to be a major stumbling block in the peace process,” Beker said.

But Dr. Heskel Haddad, a Manhattan ophthalmologist who heads the American Committee for the Rescue and Resettlement of Iraqi Jews, brushed aside that effort as a “publicity stunt.”

“It is of no financial value to the Jews,” Haddad argued. “We plan to file a class-action lawsuit like the one filed against the Swiss [banks].” [more]