Israeli minister says that the time has come “to correct the historic injustice” committed against Jews from seven Arab countries and Iran.
After years of advocacy work and 18 months of governmental research, Israel says it is ready to demand compensation for property and assets left behind by Jews who were forced out of seven Arab countries and Iran following the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
“The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms” in those countries, and “to restore to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property what is rightfully theirs,” said Israel’s Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel, who is coordinating the government’s handling of the issue.
According to reports, Israel is set to seek $250 billion in compensation from Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, and Iran.
Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), an international umbrella group of Jewish community organizations, has estimated that some 856,000 Jews from 10 Arab countries — the other two are Algeria and Lebanon — fled or were expelled in 1948 and later, while violent riots left many Jews dead or injured.
“To the best of my understanding, these figures are accurate and could possibly be even greater,” Ashley Perry told World Israel News.
Perry, who currently works as an independent strategic, political and government adviser, served as an aide to then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman from 2009 until 2015. During that time, he was joined by colleagues in writing legislation to mark a day of commemoration in Israel, on November 30, for the Jewish refugees from those countries.
It passed under the sponsorship of former MK Dr. Shimon Ohayon of Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. The date was chosen to mark the day after the passage of the U.N. Partition Plan in 1947.
In addition, Liberman led a successful campaign to establish a day on the official United Nations calendar for an event dedicated to the issue of the Jewish refugees from Arab countries. It takes place around the same time each year as the Israeli commemoration.
On the latest development of the Israeli demand for compensation, Perry says: “I am delighted that our work on putting this issue on the national and international agenda is now reaping dividends.”
He says that with other Foreign Ministry officials and JJAC, “we developed the idea of employing an internationally renowned accountancy firm to do a forensic accounting of the assets, both personal and communal, of the Jews who were thrown out and expelled from the Middle East and North Africa during the last century.”
Though some advocates cite this campaign as a way to counter the Palestinian narrative on the international stage for the rights of their refugees, Perry says: “This idea is not about a political or diplomatic trade-off. It is about finally obtaining redress for those almost a million Jews who were ethnically cleansed from their millennia-old homes during the 20th Century.
“This is a long time in coming and now we have substantive and credible facts and figures behind the claims,” he said.