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(NB  This is a .pdf word processing file that can be used as a brochure
probably written about 2012)

Click here to go to all sections (including Educational) of this part of the site.
Click Part 1V - Resource and Reference Materials to go to the .pdf file above)

The Jews in Arab countries were reduced from

850,000 (app) in 1948 to 4,315 (est) in 2012.          

Other non-Muslim religions in the Middle East have and are still suffering,

Since 1948 Palestinian Refugees have been used as a tool
by Arab countries against Israel

The need for Palestine Refugees to return ‘home’ and/or reparation
has been highlighted in all Palestinian publicity  
for it to sink into international consciousness.  

Most Arab countries see them as second class citizens known as ‘Palestine refugees’
under a UN refugee agency that only serves them called UNRWA
(the rest of the world is served by UNHCR)

Jewish refugees were accepted as citizens and concentrated on building a new life.
Now their demands for what they lost are being heard.

Go To   Expulsion  to find out what happened to them

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries

Excerpts from 2007 report entitled: "Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries: The Case for Rights and Redress" (http://www.justiceforjews.com/jjac.pdf) which documents the legal arguments for the legitimate rights of Jews displaced from Arab countries.


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, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Report of the UNREF Executive Committee, Fourth Session - Geneva 29 January to 4 February, 1957.

"I refer to our recent discussion concerning Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries in consequence of recent events. I am now able to inform you that such persons may be considered prima facie within the mandate of this Office."

--Dr. E. Jahn, Office of the UN High Commissioner, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Document No. 7/2/3/Libya, July 6, 1967.


On November 22nd, 1967, the Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 242, laying down the principles for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East. Still considered the primary vehicle for resolving the Arab-Israel conflict, 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. (See further, Appendix A)

The international community's intention to have Resolution 242 include the rights of Jewish refugees is evidenced by the UN debate, as discussed by the Security Council at its 1382nd meeting of November 22, 1967. The international community adopted a resolution with generic language that does not restrict the "just settlement of the refugee problem" merely to Palestinian refugees. This was the intent of the Resolution's drafters and sponsors. (See attached, page 4: UN Resolution 242": "Just Settlement of the Refugee Problem")

Moreover, Justice Arthur Goldberg, the United States' Chief Delegate to the UN, 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…." (1)


The Madrid Conference, which was first convened in October 1991, launched historic, direct negotiations between Israel and many of her Arab neighbors.

In his opening remarks at a conference convened to launch the multilateral process held in Moscow in January 1992, then-U.S. secretary of state James Baker made no distinction between Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees in articulating the mandate of the Refugee Working Group as follows: "The refugee group will consider practical ways of improving the lot of people throughout the region who have been displaced from their homes." (2)

The Road Map to Middle East peace currently being advanced by the Quartet (the U.N., EU, U.S., and Russia also refers in Phase III to an "agreed, just, fair and realistic solution to the refugee issue", language applicable both to Palestinian and Jewish refugees.


Israeli agreements with her Arab neighbors allow for a case to be made that Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians have affirmed that a comprehensive solution to the Middle East conflict will require a "just settlement" of the "refugee problem" that will include recognition of the rights and claims of all Middle East refugees:

Israel - Egypt Agreements

The Camp David Framework for Peace in the Middle East of 1978 (the "Camp David Accords") includes, in paragraph A(1)(f), a commitment by Egypt and Israel to "work with each other and with other interested parties to establish agreed procedures for a prompt, just and permanent resolution of the implementation of the refugee problem."

rticle 8 of the Israel - Egypt Peace Treaty of 1979 provides that the "Parties agree to establish a claims commission for the mutual settlement of all financial claims." Those claims include those of former Jewish refugees displaced from Egypt.

Israel - Jordan Peace Treaty, 1994

Article 8 of the Israel - Jordan Peace Treaty, entitled "Refugees and Displaced Persons" recognizes, in paragraph 1, "the massive human problems caused to both Parties by the conflict in the Middle East". Reference to massive human problems in a broad manner suggests that the plight of all refugees of "the conflict in the Middle East" includes Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

Israeli-Palestinian Agreements, 1993-

Almost every reference to the refugee issue in Israeli-Palestinian agreements, talks about "refugees", without qualifying which refugee community is at issue, including the Declaration of Principles of 13 September 1993 {Article V (3)}, and the Interim Agreement of September 1995 {Articles XXXI (5)}, both of which refer to "refugees" as a subject for permanent status negotiations, without qualifications.


" Former U.S. President Bill Clinton made the following assertion after the rights of Jews displaced from Arab countries were discussed at 'Camp David II' in July, 2000 (From White House Transcript of Israeli television interview):

"There will have to be some sort of international fund set up for the refugees. There is, I think, some interest, interestingly enough, on both sides, in also having a fund which compensates the Israelis who were made refugees by the war, which occurred after the birth of the State of Israel. Israel is full of people, Jewish people, who lived in predominantly Arab countries who came to Israel because they were made refugees in their own land".

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, after successfully brokering the Camp David Accords and the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty, stated in a press conference on Oct. 27, 1977:

Palestinians have rights… obviously there are Jewish refugees…they have the same rights as others do."

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin stated, in a June 3rd, 2005 interview with the Canadian Jewish News which he later reaffirmed in a July 14, 2005 letter:

"A refugee is a refugee and that the situation of Jewish refugees from Arab lands must be recognized. All refugees deserve our consideration as they have lost both physical property and historical connections. I did not imply that the claims of Jewish refugees are less legitimate or merit less attention than those of Palestinian refugees."


At the United Nations, on November 22nd, 1967, the Security Council unanimously adopted, Resolution 242, laying down the principles for a peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

Still considered the primary vehicle for resolving the Arab-Israel conflict, 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. This was the intent of the Resolution's drafters and sponsors.

On Thursday, November 16, 1967 the United Kingdom submitted their draft of Resolution 242 [S/8247] to the UN Security Council. The UK version of 242 was not exclusive, and called for a just settlement of "the refugee problem." Just four days after the United Kingdom submission, the Soviet Union's U.N. delegation submitted their own draft Resolution 242 to the Security Council [S/8253] restricting the just settlement only to "Palestinian refugees" [Para. 3 (c)].

On Wednesday, November 22, 1967, the Security Council gathered for its 1382nd meeting in New York at which time, the United Kingdom's draft of Resolution 242 was voted on and unanimously approved.(3) Immediately after the UK's version of 242 was adopted, the Soviet delegation advised the Security Council, that "it will not insist, at the present stage of our consideration of the situation in the Near East, on a vote on the draft Resolution submitted by the Soviet Union" which would have limited 242 to Palestinian refugees only.(4) Even so, Ambassador Kuznetsov of the Soviet Union later stated: "The Soviet Government would have preferred the Security Council to adopt the Soviet draft Resolution…" (5)

Thus the attempt by the Soviets to restrict the "just settlement of the refugee problem" merely to "Palestinian refugees" was not successful. The international community adoption of the UK's inclusive version signaled a desire for 242 to seek a just solution for all - including Jewish refugees.

Moreover, Justice Arthur J. Goldberg, the US Ambassador to the United Nations who was seminally involved in drafting (6) the unanimously adopted Resolution, told The Chicago Tribune that the Soviet version of Resolution 242 was "not even-handed."(7)

He went further, in pointing 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…." (8)


(1) Goldberg, Arthur J., "Resolution 242: After 20 Years", published in Security Interests, National Committee on American Foreign Policy, April 2002.

(2) Remarks by Secretary of State James A. Baker, III before the Organizational Meeting for Multilateral Negotiations on the Middle East, House of Unions, Moscow, January 28, 1992.

(3) Security Council Official Records - November 22, 1967 - S/PV.1382 - Paragraph 67

(4) Security Council Official Records - November 22, 1967 - S/PV.1382 - Paragraph 117

(5) Security Council Official Records - November 22, 1967 - S/PV.1382 - Paragraph 117

(6) Transcript, Arthur J. Goldberg Oral History Interview I, 3/23/83, by Ted Gittinger; Lyndon B. Johnson Library. March 23, 1983; Pg I-10

(7) "Russia stalls UN Action on Middle East." The Chicago Tribune. November 21, 1967 pg. B9

(8) Goldberg, Arthur J., "Resolution 242: After 20 Years." The Middle East: Islamic Law and Peace (U.S. Resolution 242: Origin, Meaning and Significance.) National Committee on American Foreign Policy; April 2002. (Originally written by Arthur J. Goldberg for the American Foreign Policy Interests on the occasion of its twentieth anniversary in 1988.

Haaretz: Eetta Prince-Gibson, 22 Apr 2019

Comments are from Point of no return e-mail ‘Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries’ of 23 April 2019

Long Haaretz article by Eeta Prince-Gibson controversially suggesting that reparations claims for Jews from Arab countries could derail the Trump peace plan. The article gives prominence to voices on the left like Lara Friedman, President of the Foundation for Middle East Peace, who has form in delegitimising Jewish claims, while privileging Palestinian claims. The issue of reparations is portrayed through the classic leftist lens of Israel's 'discriminatory treatment and manipulation' of Mizrahim for political purposes. My comments appear in italics in the text.
(With thanks: Edward, Imre)

Israel’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal last month by a group of Iraqi Jews demanding to be recognized as victims of the Nazis.

While acknowledging that the Nazis had been heavily involved in creating the anti-Jewish atmosphere that led to the pogrom known as the Farhud (which took place in Iraq in June 1941), the court determined that they could not be recognized as victims of the Nazis under existing Israeli legislation. Such recognition would have allowed the group to receive pensions and other monetary benefits. The court’s decision marked the final stage in a case that had been ongoing since 2011.

 But it does not put an end to the issue of compensation to Jews from Arab lands, including Iraq, who fled their homes after the establishment of the State of Israel in May 1948. At the time of the state’s foundation, almost a million Jews lived in Arab and Muslim countries and Iran. Some of these communities dated back to ancient times. Although in some countries they had experienced intermittent anti-Semitism and persecution throughout the ages, many of the communities and individual Jews were prosperous.

However, according to Jews for Justice from Arab Countries — an international umbrella group of Jewish community organizations — as hostility toward Israel and Jews intensified, some 850,000 Jews left or fled their homes in Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Egypt, abandoning their property and assets. Today, only a few thousand Mizrahi Jews are left in all of those countries. Reparations initiatives resurface every few years, in both Israel and the United States. But unlike the question of reparations for victims of the Nazis, the compensation demands for Mizrahi Jews are more complicated and have become inextricably linked to regional peace — leaving some to question whether the true intent of the reparation efforts is to shackle any possible peace negotiations with the Palestinians and/or Arab world.

Two refugee movements occurred at the same time and in similar numbers. It is only reasonable to regard them as an irrevocable exchange of refugee populations in the Middle East.

The reparations issue was first raised in the 1970s, spearheaded by the likes of former MK Mordechai Ben-Porat. The first relevant organization to be established was the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries in 1975, which demanded that any settlement of the Palestinian refugee problem also recognize the Mizrahi Jews forced to flee from lands where they had lived for centuries. The organization disbanded in 1999 and was superceded by Jews for Justice from Arab Countries in 2002.

In February 2010, the Knesset passed legislation preserving the right of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran to compensation. This law obligated the State of Israel to ensure that any negotiations for peace in the Middle East would also include the subject of compensation for Jewish refugees. At the same time, the National Council for Jewish Restitution was established. However, it was subsequently disbanded and has never been reestablished. Most recently, a report on Israel television’s Channel 10 in January revealed that Israel intends to demand over $250 billion from seven Arab countries and Iran as compensation for what the Mizrahi Jews left behind. According to the report, Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel was coordinating the process of assessment and demand with the National Security Council, which is part of the Prime Minister’s Office, and has engaged the services of an international accountancy firm. Jews for Justice from Arab Countries was apparently involved in these efforts, too. The report said that Israel was first set to seek $35 billion in compensation for lost Jewish assets from Tunisia and $15 billion from Libya. Claims against Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iran would follow later.

The figures produced by Minister Gamliel remain  arbitrary until the results of the professional assessment are announced.

Repatriation of Jews to Arab lands is not and has never been a viable option.

Why is repatriation to Israel  ('the right of return') for Palestinians a viable option? This right does not exist in international law.

Furthermore, for geopolitical as well as practical reasons (in most cases, there are no listings of properties or assets), financial or material compensation are not likely either. So why has the issue resurfaced, and why now?

Officials contend it is because of genuine concern for justice.“It is time to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms in seven Arab countries and to restore to the hundreds and thousands of Jews who lost their property what is rightfully theirs,” declared Gamliel in announcing the initiative.

And on its official website, the Israeli Foreign Ministry writes that “Official recognition of rights [of Jews displaced from Arab countries] which were neglected and the need to grant justice is an issue of national, ethical and moral importance.”

To some, these efforts are a vindication of their experiences — both in their country of origin and in Israel.

Mazal Ashkenazi, now 79, left Morocco clandestinely with her family in 1955, afraid for their lives. “It is about time that the state stood up for us,” she says. “My family was terribly poor when we came to Israel. We gave up all the comforts that we had to come to Israel, and it is only right that if there ever is an agreement, we should receive compensation — for what we left behind and for the suffering we experienced here.”

“They called us avak adam [“human dust,” or “wrecked people”],” says Shoshana Ben Abu, 73, a retired teacher whose family came to Israel from Morocco, citing a particularly derogatory remark about immigrants commonly made by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. “In Morocco we were Jews; here we were nothing. But at least now the state is standing up for us,” she says.

However, following her announcement earlier this year, Gamliel’s office has not issued further statements about the reparations and the issue has not come up at all during the election campaign. Her office did not respond to requests for comment.

In fact a political party, Peula Le'Israel, stood in the elections on a platform of demanding reparations for Jews from Arab countries. It came 17th out of 40 parties in the vote.


There are some who contend that these efforts are little more than a ploy to preemptively kill any peace deal with the Palestinians and the presumed demand to recognize the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.

On the contrary, recognising the claims of Jews from Arab countries would improve the chances for peace. Half the Jewish population of Israel have roots in Muslim and Arab lands. No peace deal which ignores their rights will have credibility.

Michael R. Fischbach, professor of history at Virginia’s Randolph-Macon College, has extensively researched this issue and published a widely regarded book in 2008, “Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries.” He says that for years, various actors — but especially Israel — have linked the resolution of Jewish property claims to the fate of Palestinian refugee property and repatriation claims. “The term has been politicized, using the Mizrahim as a weapon against the Palestinians,” he tells Haaretz in a phone interview. “The linkage takes an individual or a family’s assets and subsumes them into an Israeli political issue.”

One can only marvel at the double standards here. For over seventy years the Palestinian issue has been politicised, to the extent that the Arab states and Palestinian leadership have refused to integrate their refugees, maintaining them as a weapon against Israel.

The Jews for Justice from Arab Countries group strongly refutes this. On its website, it writes that “the legitimate call to secure rights and redress for Jews displaced from Arab countries is not a campaign against Palestinian refugees. ... However, it emphasizes that “it is important to ensure that the rights of hundreds of thousands of Jews displaced from Arab countries be similarly recognized and addressed. ... For any peace process to be credible and enduring, it must ensure that all bone fide refugees receive equal rights and treatment under international law.” Fischbach argues, though, that the involvement of international groups like Jews for Justice from Arab Countries is controversial. “There is a strong, ethical and historical question here: By what moral and legal right do these organizations, which are not representative in any way, take upon themselves to speak for the Mizrahim in Israel?”

These organisations are certainly more representative than Michael Fischbach, a US professor whose sympathies lie with the Palestinians.

 American politicians have reinforced this claim. During the Camp David peace talks of 2000, President Bill Clinton announced that if an accord were to be reached, an international fund should be established to both compensate Arab refugees and Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Since then, the U.S. Congress has passed a series of resolutions stating that Jewish refugees should be recognized as refugees by the UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and that an international fund be established to compensate Jewish and Palestinian refugees for the loss of their property. The most recent resolution, in 2016, was sponsored by Democratic Rep. Jerrold Nadler and called for a report on U.S. actions that have been taken “to ensure that a just, comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace accord also finds resolution of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran.” The resolutions are not binding, says Lara Friedman, president of the Foundation for Middle East Peace — a Washington-based think tank dedicated to the promotion of “a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

But, she adds, they do have tremendous symbolic significance. “Congress acts to systematically delegitimize Palestinian refugees,” she argues, “while introducing more bills recognizing Jewish [people] from Arab lands as refugees whose claims/grievances must be addressed.

Ms Friedman's warped idea of justice does not seem to recognise that the Jewish refugees have any legitimate claims whatsoever.

“The main goal is to impose new terms of reference on future peace negotiations,” she says — “terms that place full responsibility on the Arab world both for Palestinian refugees of 1948 and for Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries in the wake of the creation of Israel.”

These efforts, she says, are merely a “cynical exploitation of Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries. Do the supporters of these efforts inside Congress ... believe that the Jews who came to Israel from Arab countries see themselves as unwilling exiles in a foreign land, dreaming of the day they can return to their true homes in, say, Yemen, Egypt or Tunisia?” she asks. “Is Israel the homeland of the Jews, or is a generic country that magnanimously gave permanent refuge to a group of foreigners (who happened to be Jewish) who were fleeing persecution in their native countries?” she continues. “It can’t be both.”

It can be both. These Jews left Arab countries because of 'push' factors: persecution, mob violence, popular antisemitism. The return to Zion was for many pious Jews a 'pull' factor. Ultimately, however, Israel was the only possible destination country which would unconditionally accept Jews stripped of their rights and property.

 Friedman notes there has been a flurry of new congressional initiatives in response to leaks around the U.S. administration’s Middle East peace plan. She calls this “absurd. If the intent is to shackle the administration, it’s unnecessary. This administration has already delegitimized the Palestinians and ‘the deal’ [of the century] is unlikely to go anywhere.” The linking of Mizrahi reparations with the Palestinian right of return angers some Mizrahi activists, who say it perpetuates the discrimination the community has long felt in Israel.

Fischbach says the issue has become a partisan problem because connecting the reparations claims with the Palestinians’ right of return “takes an individual or a family’s assets and subsumes them into an Israeli political issue,” thus creating divisions between right-wing and left-wing Mizrahim.

Two comments from people interviewed by Haaretz for this article highlight that divide. Lawyer Moshe Karif, whose parents came from Tunisia and Iran, tells Haaretz that “it takes a lot of arrogance, chutzpah and racism to pit the Mizrahi assets against the Palestinians’ assets. Why should my grandparents’ modest assets be used as an excuse not to pay the Palestinians?! Now, after all we’ve suffered, we’re supposed to be the ones who ‘pay off’ the Palestinians or be part of the failure of a peace process? Where’s the justice in that? Why didn’t anyone do that with the reparations from Germany?”

The Clinton international fund envisages compensation for individual refugees on both sides, not a trade-off.

Ben Abu, for her part, has a different outlook. “I don’t really think we’ll ever see any money from the countries we left — so the Palestinians shouldn’t get anything either,” she says.

“Both the Ashkenazim and Mizrahim arrived in this country as refugees, with nothing of any material value. But while the Ashkenazim received reparations and were able to build themselves financially, the Mizrahim have remained in the lower classes until now. The state has no right to nationalize the assets that my family lost,” says Yonah, whose parents both came from Iraq.

Fischbach says that in all of the proposed plans for compensation from Arab countries, the monies would not go directly to individuals but to the state.

Not true. The Clinton international fund will compensate individual refugees on both sides.


The international community’s wish to prevent the looting of ancient artifacts is understandable, but shouldn't apply in the case of the Middle East’s persecuted Jewish communities.
Jewish News Syndicate, Lyn Julius, November 26, 2019

 On or around Nov. 30, Jewish communities around the world will be holding events to remember the mass exodus of Jewish refugees from Arab countries and Iran. Almost a million people were displaced in the past 50 years, leaving billions of dollars’ worth of property behind.

Not only have Arab governments never compensated Jews for their stolen homes and businesses, they are waging a pernicious campaign to claim communal property and Jewish heritage as their national patrimony.

Synagogues can’t be moved and clearly, it is better for Arab states to preserve them as memorials to an extinct community than not at all. However, these states are also declaring Torah scrolls, communal archives and books to be part of their cultural heritage.

For instance, the Egyptian government claims that all Torah scrolls and Jewish archives, libraries, communal registers and any movable property over 100 years old are “Egyptian antiquities.” However, Jews consider Torah scrolls their exclusive property. It is forbidden to buy or sell them. Fleeing Jews have often prioritized scrolls and books over their personal possessions.

What does international law have to say? The Hague Convention of 1954 “protecting cultural property in conflict” was brought in to stop the massive looting that has always occurred in war and specifically during WWII. There is also the post-colonial understanding that the new states that emerged in the 20th century have ownership of their own cultural heritage; the days when Britain could ship the Elgin Marbles from Greece, or Napoleon could plunder ancient Egyptian obelisks as “war booty,” are over.

In Egypt, registers of births, marriages and deaths of Jews from Alexandria and Cairo dating back to the middle of the 19th century were once kept in the two main synagogues in each city. But in 2016, government officials took away the registers to be stored in the Egyptian National Archives.

Egyptian Jews living abroad cannot even obtain photocopies of certificates, often the only formal Jewish identification Egyptian Jews have to prove lineage or identity for burial or marriage. Repeated efforts since 2005 to intercede with the Egyptian authorities have come to nothing.

Egyptian government policy has been backed by the tiny remnant of the country’s Jewish community. Its leader, Magda Haroun, intends to leave the community’s assets to the government. She has even suggested that two paintings in the Louvre once owned by an Egyptian Jew should find their way back to Egypt.

Under the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, thousands of books, manuscripts and other documents were seized from Jewish homes, schools and synagogues and stored at the headquarters of Iraq’s secret service in Baghdad. In 2003, the archive was discovered in the flooded basement after the building was bombed by the Americans.

The Americans shipped the archive to Washington, D.C., for restoration and hastily signed a diplomatic agreement promising to return the material to the Iraqi government. The United States spent over $3 million to restore and digitize the archive, which has since been exhibited across the country. The collection includes a Hebrew Bible with commentaries from 1568, a Babylonian Talmud from 1793 and an 1815 version of the Jewish mystical text Zohar, as well as more mundane objects such school reports and a Baghdad telephone book.

Although tens of thousands of Iraqi documents were shipped to the United States, the Iraqi government has only formalized its claim to the 2,700 books and 30,000 documents of the water-stained archive, which it claims are the country’s “precious cultural heritage,” a last emotional link with its ancient Jewish community and a reminder of Iraq’s former diversity.

The Iraqi Jewish community in exile has been waging a bitter battle to recover the collection and prevent it being sent back to Iraq. They say that to return the archive, which was seized from Jewish community offices, schools and synagogues, would be like returning property looted by the Nazis to Germany.

The Iraqi and Egyptian cases are symptomatic of a larger problem. Since 2004, the United States has been bound by law to impose import restrictions on archaeological and ethnological material that constitutes a country’s cultural heritage and has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) to this effect with Algeria, Egypt, Syria and Libya. In January 2018, the International Council of Museums released a “Red List” for Yemen aimed at protecting Hebrew manuscripts and Torah finials from leaving the country. All but 50 Jews have fled the country, taking what possessions they could, but even these ultimately could be returned to Yemen.

“These MOUs claim to be about [stopping] looting, but their broad scope and limited evidence of success suggests their real impact is providing a legal vehicle to legitimize foreign confiscations and wrongful ownership claims. … The MOUs are based on a flawed premise. It is the heritage and patrimony of 850,000 indigenous Jews who fled their homes and property under duress,” said Sarah Levin of the California-based Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA).

It is understandable that the international community should wish to prevent the looting and smuggling of ancient artifacts and their sale on the international art market. That is how Islamic State financed much of its conquest of northern Iraq and Syria. But there is a distinction between theft for financial gain, and legitimate salvage of Torah scrolls or books taken by fleeing Jews to be used for prayer.

Eight Sumerian artifacts sold to the British Museum were recently sent back to Baghdad. But the Iraqi-Jewish archive does not belong to some long-extinct civilization—some of the owners are still alive.

International law is based on the outmoded assumption of territorial sovereignty. It needs updating, specifically to resolve the tug-of-war between minority and national heritage, where the minority has been persecuted and displaced.

Lyn Julius is the author of “Uprooted: How 3,000 years of Jewish Civilization in the Arab World Vanished Overnight” (Vallentine Mitchell, 2018).

Israel said set to seek $250b compensation for Jews forced out of Arab countries

After 18 months of research, first claims being finalized for reported $35b from Tunisia, $15b from Libya, for assets Jews left behind when kicked out after establishment of Israel

Times of Israel , TOI STAFF, 5 January 2019

Israel is preparing to demand compensation totaling a reported $250 billion from seven Arab countries and Iran for property and assets left behind by Jews who were forced to flee those countries following the establishment of the State of Israel.

“The time has come to correct the historic injustice of the pogroms (against Jews) in seven Arab countries and Iran, and to restore, to hundreds of thousands of Jews who lost their property, what is rightfully theirs,” Israel’s Minister for Social Equality, Gila Gamliel, who is coordinating the Israeli government’s handling of the issue, said Saturday.

According to figures cited Saturday night by Israel’s Hadashot TV news, compensation demands are now being finalized with regards to the first two of the eight countries involved, with Israel set to seek $35 billion dollars in compensation for lost Jewish assets from Tunisia, and $15 billion dollars from Libya.

In total, the TV report said Israel will seek over $250 billion from those two countries plus Morocco, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen and Iran.

Yemenite Jews walking to Aden, the site of a reception camp, ahead of their emigration to Israel, 1949. (Kluger Zoltan/Israeli National Photo Archive/public domain)

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 were Algeria and Lebanon — fled or were expelled in 1948 and after, while violent Arab riots left many Jews dead or injured.

For the past 18 months, utilizing the services of an international accountancy firm, the Israeli government has quietly been researching the value of property and assets that these Jews were forced to leave behind, the TV report said.

Immigrants from Iraq soon after landing at Lod Airport, summer 1951 (Teddy Brauner, GPO)

It is now moving toward finalizing claims as the Trump Administration prepares for the possible unveiling of its much-anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal. A 2010 Israeli law provides that any peace deal must provide for compensation for assets of Jewish communities and individual Jews forced out of Arab countries and Iran.

“One cannot talk about the Middle East without taking into consideration the rights of the Jews who were forced to leave their thriving communities amid violence,” said Gamliel, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

“All the crimes that were carried out against those Jewish communities must be recognized.”

The Palestinian Authority has sought over $100 billion in compensation from Israel for assets left behind by Arab residents of what is today Israel who fled or were forced to leave at the time of the establishment of the Jewish state, and presented documentation to that effect to the United States a decade ago, the TV report said.

The Palestinians have also always demanded a “right of return” to what is today’s Israel for the few tens of thousands of surviving refugees and for their millions of descendants. This demand would spell the end of Israel as a Jewish state and has been dismissed by successive Israeli governments. Israel argues that Palestinian refugees would become citizens of a Palestinian state under a permanent peace accord, just as Jewish refugees from Arab lands became citizens of Israel. It also argues that by extending refugee status to Palestinian descendants, the relevant UN agencies artificially inflate the issue, complicating peace efforts. The latter view is shared by the Trump administration, which last year announced it was halting funding for the UN’s Palestinian refugee agency, UNRWA.

Israel has never formally demanded compensation for Jews forced out of Arab lands and Iran, and although many of those Jews arrived in Israel with next to nothing, they did not seek formal refugee status from the international community.

At the time, the newly established Jewish state was struggling to attract migration from the world’s Jews and to project its legitimacy as a sovereign state, able to care for its own people. Its first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, would not have wanted Jews returning to their “historic homeland” classed as refugees, according to Meir Kahlon, chairman of the Central Organization for Jews from Arab Countries and Iran.

Monies obtained from the eight countries would not be allocated to individual families, the TV report said, but would rather be distributed by the state via a special fund. Gamliel is coordinating the process, together with Israel’s National Security Council, which works out of the Prime Minister’s Office.

In 2014, Israel passed a law making each November 30 a day commemorating the exit and deportation of Jews from Arab and Iranian lands, which involves educational programming and diplomatic events aimed to increase international awareness of the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab lands and Iran, and of their right to compensation.

That year, at the first such events, Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin issued calls for financial reparations.

“It is not for nothing that this day is marked on the day after the 29th of November,” Netanyahu said on November 30, 2014, in reference to the anniversary of the UN adoption of the Palestine partition plan in 1947. “The Arab countries, which never accepted the UN declaration on the establishment of a Jewish state, compelled the Jews living in their territories to leave their homes while leaving their assets behind… We have acted – and will continue to act – so that they and their claims are not forgotten.”

In his address at that first ceremony, Rivlin appealed for greater Sephardic representation in Israeli society, as well as for compensation for their suffering. He acknowledged that the troubles of Middle Eastern Jews were not mitigated upon their arrival in Israel, where European Jews were firmly entrenched in power.

“Their voices were muted, but the words were in their mouths all along, even if they were said in Hebrew with a Persian or Arabic accent, which in Israel were thought of as enemy languages and viewed as a source of shame,” he said.

“The voice of Jews from Arab countries and Iran must be heard within the education system, in the media, in the arts, and in the country’s official institutions, as it needs to be heard in the international arena as well, in order to mend the historical injustice, and to ensure financial reparations,” Rivlin said.

Kahlon said that “nearly 800,000 came here (in the years after the establishment of the state) and the rest (around 56,000) went to the United States, France, Italy and elsewhere.”

Kahlon himself came to Israel as a child from Libya and spent his first years in the Jewish state in one of the tent camps set up to shelter the flood of newcomers.

In March 2014, Canada formally recognized the refugee status of the Jewish emigres who fled or were expelled from Arab countries after Israel’s founding.

Some of the migrants to Israel say privately that the issue is being promoted to give Israel a bargaining card in negotiations with the Palestinians, to set against Palestinian compensation claims for property and assets left behind in what is now Israel.


Israel Hayom, Yori Yalon and Israel Hayom Staff, Dec 2017

Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel revealed Thursday she was leading international efforts to demand compensation for Jewish property stolen in Arab countries and in Iran. The announcement was made at an event commemorating the exodus of Mizrahi Jews in the International Convention Center in Jerusalem.

Some 3,000 people from all across the country attended the event on Thursday to commemorate the expulsion and exodus of some 850,000 Jews from Arab states and Iran since the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and until the early 1970s.

These once-sizable communities are now virtually gone after anti-Jewish reactions to the Jewish state forced them to leave their countries of birth. These communities potentially left behind billions of dollars' worth of property and assets, according to the Alliance of Moroccan Immigrants.

Gamliel, who initiated Thursday's event, gave a speech revealing that she has led international efforts over recent months to assess and appraise the value of Jewish property forcibly left in Arab states and Iran.

Gamliel said that "in the coming months, we will be able to talk about numbers, and as such, also formulate a plan of action to claim the rights of the Jews of Arab states and Iran to their property."

The event opened with a touching bereavement prayer for the Jewish communities of Iran, Algeria, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Tunisia and Yemen, which include martyrs who gave their lives to assist immigration to Israel, victims of pogroms and other Jews who did not survive the journeys to Israel.

Ceremonies commemorating the exodus and expulsion of Mizrahi Jews took place earlier this week and will continue into next week, both in Israel and abroad.

Gamliel said that a national initiative to gather the legacies and stories of prominent Mizrahi Jews from Arab countries and Iran on camera will be expanded to include the Bnei Menashe and Cochin Jews of India, the Balkan Jews and the Caucasus Jews.

In addition, Gamliel signed a collaborative agreement on Thursday with director Steven Spielberg's University of Southern California Shoah Foundation, which records the testimonies of Holocaust survivors for posterity. The foundation will provide professional assistance to the government in recording the legacy of Mizrahi Jews.

President says voices of Jews forced to leave Arab countries when Israel was founded ‘were muted,’ world must ‘mend the historical injustice’
Times of Israel by Marissa Newman and AFP November 30, 2014,

Israel on Sunday marked the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries in the years after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin calling for financial reparations.

In a bid to draw attention to the plight of the forced migrants, Israel formally marked their displacement with a ceremony at the president’s house under a new law naming November 30 as the anniversary.

“It is not for nothing that this day is marked on the day after the 29th of November,” Netanyahu said, in reference to the anniversary of the UN adoption of the Palestine partition plan in 1947. “The Arab countries, which never accepted the UN declaration on the establishment of a Jewish state, compelled the Jews living in their territories to leave their homes while leaving their assets behind… We have acted – and will continue to act – so that they and their claims are not forgotten.”

In his address, Rivlin appealed for greater Sephardic representation in Israeli society, as well as for compensation for their suffering. He acknowledged that the troubles of Middle Eastern Jews were not mitigated upon arriving in Israel, where European Jews were firmly entrenched in power.

“Their voices were muted, but the words were in their mouths all along, even if they were said in Hebrew with a Persian or Arabic accent, which in Israel were thought of as enemy languages and viewed as a source of shame,” he said.

“The voice of Jews from Arab countries and Iran must be heard within the education system, in the media, in the arts, and in the country’s official institutions, as it needs to be heard in the international arena as well, in order to mend the historical injustice, and to ensure financial reparations,” Rivlin said.

The president also defended his decision to exclude singer Amir Benayoun from the event. Benayoun was disinvited last Tuesday from performing after he released a song that many criticized as expressing racist sentiment against Arabs.

In his address, Rivlin said he “objected to boycotts and I do not boycott anyone,” but maintained that his position required him to “be sensitive to public trends and opinions, and the atmosphere on the street, especially during such tense and sensitive times as these.

“Of course, an artist needs nobody’s permission to express themselves, within the limits of freedom of expression. However, the President’s Residence, as the home of all the citizens of Israel, must and should be careful to show care and respect to all citizens of Israel,” he said.

Meir Kahlon, chairman of the Central Organization for Jews from Arab Countries and Iran, said that “Nearly 800,000 came here [in the years after the establishment of the state] and the rest (around 56,000) went to the United States, France, Italy and elsewhere.”

Kahlon himself came to Israel as a child from Libya and spent his first years in the Jewish state in one of the tent camps set up to shelter the flood of newcomers.

Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), an international umbrella group of Jewish community organizations, says 856,000 Jews from 10 Arab countries, among them Morocco, Iraq, Tunisia and Algeria, fled or were expelled in 1948 and after, while violent Arab riots left many Jews dead or injured.

Although many migrants arrived with meager belongings packed in a single suitcase, they did not seek formal refugee status from the international community.

At the time, the newly established Jewish state was struggling to attract migration from the world’s Jews and to project its legitimacy as a sovereign state, able to care for its own people.

Its prime minister, David Ben Gurion, would not have wanted Jews returning to their “historic homeland” classed as refugees, Kahlon said.

In March this year, Canada — whose Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is a staunch backer of Israel — formally recognized the refugee status of the Jewish emigres who fled or were expelled from Arab countries after Israel’s founding.

Some of the migrants to Israel say privately that the issue is being promoted to give Israel a bargaining card if stalled negotiations with the Palestinians should resume and the Palestinians submit compensation claims for the property and assets they left behind in what is now Israel.

“The point is to establish symmetry so that the dispute can be closed,” one migrant told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior official with the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said the issue was entirely separate from Palestinian claims for reparations from Israel — and must remain so. “They can discuss this with Arab countries, it’s not our business,” she told AFP. “They are trying to find every possible means of circumventing and sabotaging the Palestinian refugees’ rights.”

JJAC executive director Stanley A. Urman said the campaign to seek restitution for Jews from Arab countries was not meant to negate Palestinian rights.

“History, geography, demography don’t allow any comparison between the plight of Palestinian refugees and Jewish refugees,” he told journalists on Sunday, advocating a multilateral approach.

During the latest round of peace talks, which were shepherded by US Secretary of State John Kerry until their collapse in late April, there was talk about the establishment of an international peace fund, he said.

Such a fund would provide physical infrastructure for a Palestinian state, such as roads and sewers, as well as security for Israel in the form of final borders and the funding to allow for the establishment of security perimeters along those borders, he explained.

Thirdly, it would provide compensation “to all victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestinian and Jewish refugees alike.”

Jerusalem Post, Rebecca Anna Stoil, FEBRUARY 17, 2010

With a final vote on a key bill due next week, MK Nissim Ze’ev (Shas) held a planning meeting Monday involving community and international leaders working to secure compensation for Jews forced to flee Muslim lands following the establishment of the State of Israel.

During the meeting, which was attended by government officials from both Israel and the United States, as well as former Canadian Justice Minister Irwin Cotler, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) lashed out at the Arab Peace Initiative for engaging in “selective historical justice” and said that the Right of Return could not be discussed without also discussing compensation for Jewish refugees.

“This is the first step in a long process of raising awareness both in Israel and overseas regarding the fate of Middle Eastern Jewish communities,” Ze’ev told The Jerusalem Post Monday. He added that in the future he would conduct further meetings, and has drafted a bill that would require schools to teach the travails that faced Jews from the Middle East in the last century, both prior to and following the establishment of Israel.

Ze’ev said that Monday’s meeting was designed to increase public and international awareness of the near-total destruction of hundreds of ancient Jewish communities throughout North Africa, the Middle East and the Persian Gulf. Almost one million Jews became refugees in the years following the establishment of the State of Israel after they were expelled from many Muslim-controlled countries.

A bill sponsored by Ze’ev that would require tabling compensation for Middle Eastern Jews in any final status talks where Palestinian compensation is on the table is expected to pass its final readings on the Knesset floor next week with the support of the coalition.

“While Israel is being unremittingly attacked internationally with claims regarding Israel’s behavior toward the Palestinians, the world must remember that historical justice can be neither selective nor one-way,” said Rivlin during the conference. “Following 1948, Israel absorbed over a half-million Jewish refugees from Arab states, refugees who also have rights and historical and financial claims, and this issue must be inseparable from any future regional negotiations.”

Rivlin emphasized that particularly in light of the Palestinian claims of right of return, awareness of the historical and financial rights of those Jewish refugees must be raised.

“Even if we accept the estimates regarding the number of Palestinian refugees, which range from 500,000 to one million, then it is clear that before 1948, over one million Jews lived in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Rivlin argued that while the value of Palestinian claims has been estimated at approximately four billion dollars, the value of the Jewish refugees’ property has been assessed at six billion dollars.

The Knesset speaker accused the Arab Peace Initiative – which is based on a Saudi-sponsored peace plan – of engaging in selective historical memory for focusing only on “finding a just solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees.”

In conversations outside the conference, Rivlin said that the key difference was that in the years after the establishment of the state, Israel worked to absorb and normalize the Jewish refugees “rather than keeping them in poor conditions to use as a political tool.”

fanack   2015/2017  


Apart from the use of legal definitions to play down the importance of Palestinian losses, Israel tried vehemently, even before 1948, to reduce or even annul the amount of compensation it might be required to pay to Palestinians. To this end Israel has submitted a whole range of counterclaims, for example concerning the war damage endured by Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, since the Lausanne Conference in 1949. The most important of all counterclaims concerns the loss of property and bank accounts of Jews in Arab countries after becoming citizens of the State of Israel.

The claims concern first those properties lost after the armistice of 1949 in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem after their annexation by Jordan, as well as those lost in Gaza when it came under Egyptian rule. The second kind of counterclaims concerns properties left behind by Jews in the various Arab countries after they immigrated to Israel in 1948.


Beside claims on the properties owned by Jewish institutions in the West Bank, the most important counterclaim of Israel concerns properties and bank accounts left behind by Jews in Arab countries after their migration to Israel. The counterclaims concerning these properties have been employed by Israel in two ways. First, they have been used to defend the idea of an exchange of population which has been one of the basic principles of Zionism: Palestinian Arabs must be resettled and absorbed in Arab countries in exchange for the absorption of Jews from Arab countries in the new Jewish state created for this purpose in 1948. Moshe Sharett, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel in 1951, officially advocated an Arab-Jewish exchange of populations. Don Peretz, Professor of Political Science at  the State University of New York, reports that Sharett drew parallels with the mass migration of populations that occurred after World War I in Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, and after World War II from Poland and Czechoslovakia into Germany, and more recently, between India and Pakistan. A restoration of previous situations did not happen in these countries and there would be no reason why it should occur in Palestine. The idea of population exchange was repeatedly used by Israel as a solution to the whole Palestinian refugee issue and in answer to Palestinian claims.

Secondly, Israel considers the properties of Jews from Arab countries left behind between 1948 and 1953 as a basis for a counterclaim against compensation of Palestinians who abandoned their land in 1948. In the Israeli logic, the fate of Palestinian claims is linked to that of the Jewish claims. From 1948 on, Israel countered claims made by Palestinians with the remark that the value of sequestered Jewish property had to be deducted from any amount owed to Palestinian refugees. One of the arguments used by Israel to annul the Palestinian claims has been that it had to bear the expenses of absorbing impoverished Jews originating from Arab countries who migrated to Israel. As the most significant number of properties left behind by Jews from Arab countries were located in Iraq, these properties became central to the discussions on compensation to Palestinians. Minister Sharett proclaimed that ‘an appropriate amount from any compensation which Israel would pay [to Palestinians] would be deducted for Jewish assets frozen in Iraq’.


After the World War I, Zionist organizations and individuals bought land in some Arab countries. However, their acquisitions were centred mainly in what is now called Palestine (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip) and Israel (which at that time fell under the British Mandate). In May 1948, Jewish settlements built on these lands (excluding Israel) were evacuated. After the 1948 War, Jewish individuals, civil and religious institutions, and some companies also lost real estate in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

The Zionist movement and King Abdullah of Jordan had established secret relations before the creation of the State of Israel. As a result, in 1949 Israel and Jordan reached a secret bilateral peace agreement. The agreement dealt, among other matters, with the borders of both countries and with the exchange of property and bank accounts in Israel belonging to Palestinians who were now living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Conversely, it dealt with Israeli Jews’ properties which had come under Jordanian control after the War of 1948.

The bilateral treaty between Jordan and Israel was strongly opposed within the Arab world. It considered King Abdullah a traitor as a result of his willingness to accept the loss of Palestine in exchange for property belonging to Palestinians after the armistice in Jordan. Talks between the two countries ended with the assassination of King Abdullah by a Palestinian in July 1951.

In the 1950s and 1960s, Jordan published lists in official government newspapers of villages and regions in the West Bank as well as individual properties which had been placed under control of the Jordanian Guardian of Enemy Property. The list did not make a distinction between Jewish and non-Jewish properties, as some of these properties belonged to Palestinian Arabs who had become citizens of the State of Israel after the armistice. The lists recorded properties that belonged to persons and institutions established in or affiliated to Israel. Fischbach reports that ‘unlike Israeli legislation toward Palestinian refugees’ land, Jordanian law preserved the legal rights of the ‘enemy’ landowners and did not allow for the sale of these properties. Some of this land was later rented to others, including UNRWA and Palestinian refugees who were allowed to settle in the ruined Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

After World War I, Zionist organisations had also tried to buy land in Syria and had succeeded in obtaining some land in the Golan Heights after gaining permission from the Ottoman ruler in Istanbul. Nevertheless, opposition of the Syrian rulers and population impeded the establishment of Jewish settlements on these plots of land. After its independence in 1946, Syria enacted a law that forbade foreigners from owning rural land, thus denying Zionist organizations the right to land ownership. Moreover, a Syrian legislative decree of 1952 made it impossible for foreigners who owned rural land to pass it down to their heirs. After the owner’s death, the property was appropriated by the Syrian state;  compensation was subsequently to be paid by the Administration of State Lands. After 1948, Zionist organizations transferred the legal ownership of the land they owned in Syria to the State of Israel, which transferred it to the Jewish National Fund.


For centuries, several hundreds of thousands of Jews lived in the Arab countries among Christians, Muslims, and Druze Arabs. Some were descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain in 1492, others were European Jews who emigrated to different Arab countries, especially to Egypt and Palestine. The rise of Zionism and the strong hostility of the Arab populations toward this movement had its impact on the relation between Jews from Arab countries and the rest of the population. Opposition to the Zionist movement was sometimes directed against the Jews living in the Arab countries irrespective of whether they were involved in Zionist activities or not.

After 1948, the position of the Jews deteriorated. Several Arab countries enacted legislation that allowed the confiscation of Jewish property, and after the War of 1948-1949 permitted its sequestration in retaliation for seizure of Palestinian land by Israelis. By introducing such laws, these countries also wanted to prevent Jewish property from becoming a profitable asset for the State of Israel. The most widely documented loss of Jewish properties concerns Iraqi and Egyptian Jews.

The number of Jews living in the different Arab countries in 1948, the number of Jews who migrated to Israel, and the number of Jews who still live in these countries fluctuate in the different sources. Palestinian sociologist Jan Abu Shakrah gives an estimate of 700,000 Jews who left the Arab countries around 1948. Approximately 500,000 migrated to Israel; the remainder settled in Europe, the United States, Canada and Latin America. Estimates are that in addition to the approximately 110,000 Iraqi Jews who emigrated to Israel, 180,000 Jews came from Morocco, more than 50,000 came from Yemen, 30,000 from Libya, 20,000 from Tunisia, 16,500 from Egypt and 12,000 from Syria and Lebanon.

Jews in Egypt

Before 1948, some 75,000 Jews lived in Egypt. After the coup by the ‘Free Officers’ and the revolution of 1952 in Egypt, land reforms and nationalization hit all rich sectors of Egyptian society. In addition, different laws were enacted allowing the sequestration of the property of persons interned on security charges. Some were Jews who were suspected of supporting Israel; others belonged to the communist party, which had been forbidden by the new revolutionary government. Many Egyptians, among them Jews as well as wealthy foreigners, left Egypt after their businesses were nationalized as part of the policy of Gamal Abdel Nasser who, after he became president in 1954, tried to transform Egypt into a socialist state. British and French nationals as well as stateless Jews were also expelled from Egypt after sequestration of their property. Egyptian laws forbade the export of valuables. Around 23,000 Jews left Egypt between 1956 and 1958. A third wave of property seizure occurred after the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Hundreds of Jews were forced to leave Egypt without their assets. In total, around 30,000 Jews emigrated from Egypt to Israel between 1948 and 1972.

Jews in Iraq

In 1948, an ancient indigenous Jewish community of 135,000 people lived in Iraq. In March 1950 a law was enacted in Iraq that dealt with the withdrawal of Iraqi nationality. The law intended to prevent Iraqi Jews from migrating to Israel while holding the Iraqi nationality. Under the new law, Jews were permitted to leave the country twelve months after signing a document issued by the Ministry of the Interior, leading to the forfeiture of Iraqi citizenship. The loss of Iraqi citizenship would not result in loss of ownership of any property in Iraq. Unexpectedly, thousands of Iraqi Jews took advantage of this law and left the country with the help of the Israeli government. In an attempt to stop the drain of capital caused by the emigration of wealthy Jews, the Iraqi government passed another law in 1951 that had disastrous consequences not only for Jews intending to leave the country, but also for those who had already left after January 1948. This new law allowed the freezing of assets of ex-Iraqi Jews and the sequestration of property of those still waiting to leave Iraq. Although the estimated value of assets left by Jews in Iraq varies enormously, depending on the sources, it is certain the value of the lost properties is considerable.

Jews in Libya

A strong link between Libyan Jews and Zionism developed under the British Military Administration (1943-1951). In the decades prior to 1948, the Zionist movement had shown interest in Libyan Jews and had encouraged their emigration to Palestine. ‘Zionist pioneering’ in Libyan Jewish youth movements became an important source of manpower for drafting by the Zionist army, the Haganah. The relationship between the Jewish population and the Zionist movement was an important reason for the animosity between Jewish Libyans and the rest of the population and in November 1945 culminated in riots in Tripoli and its vicinity, which claimed the lives of approximately 130 Jews.

Of the 40,000 Jews who lived in Libya, 30,000 moved to Israel between 1948 and 1951, leaving behind their property. After the country became an independent monarchy in 1961, laws were enacted allowing the sequestration of properties. The laws did not explicitly affect Jewish property but targeted the property of people who allegedly had ties with Israel. According to Fischbach: ‘The law allowed the freezing of the property and bank accounts of persons or institutions who were in Israel, who were citizens of Israel, or who allegedly were working on Israel’s behalf’. At the time of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s coup in 1969, the number of Jews in Libya was reduced to 500. According to some sources, Gaddafi confiscated Jewish property and cancelled all debts owed to Jews. It is believed there is no longer any Jewish presence in Libya.

Jews in Syria and Lebanon

After the 1948 War, 30,000 Syrian Jews left the country and emigrated to Lebanon, Italy and Israel. They succeeded in liquidating their assets, although their bank accounts were frozen by the Syrian government in 1949. It is not clear whether the government of the newly independent country froze the bank accounts of all citizens who left the country after independence or if the measure applied only to Jews. Lebanon did not take any action against the 5,000 members of the Lebanese Jewish community.

Jews in Yemen

The Zionist movement encouraged Yemenite Jews and Jews of Aden to migrate to Israel, and flew nearly 49,000 of them to the Jewish state in Operation Magic Carpet between 1949 and 1950. According to Fischbach, information about lost properties of Yemeni Jews is not available. The members of the Yemenite Jewish community still living in Yemen number circa 200. Despite attempts by different parties to convince them to emigrate to Israel and despite the deteriorating political situation in the country, the remnants of the Yemeni Jewish community refuse to leave Yemen. According to Moshe Nachum, President of the Israeli Federation of Yemenite Jews, ‘one of the main factors deterring this small community from emigrating to Israel is the financial aid provided by members of the Jewish Satmar community in the United States, which is known for its radical stance against Zionism and the State of Israel’. Another reason mentioned for staying in Yemen is the fear of loss of property.


The World Organization of Jews from the Arab Countries (WOJAC) was founded in 1975. This organization, which ceased to exist in 1999, allowed Jews who originally lived in an Arab country and lost material assets upon leaving to fill out forms detailing their lost assets in view of future claims. The WOJAC noted that the absence of documents or precise details would in no way prevent the proper registration of the declaration of material losses.

On an international level, the linkage between the property of Jews from Arab countries and abandoned Palestinian land is receiving more and more support. In 2000, American President Bill Clinton linked the Palestinian refugees‘ claims to those of Jews originating from Arab countries. He mooted the idea of establishing an international fund to compensate both Palestinian and Jewish refugees. In April 2008, the US House of Representatives passed a non-binding resolution urging that every reference to Palestinian refugees raised in international forums be matched by a similarly explicit reference to the uprooted Jewish communities originating from Arab countries. In February 2010, the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, adopted a law under which any Israeli government entering into peace talks had to use this opportunity to advance a compensation claim for those who had become Israeli citizens. This law is meant to create a connection between the Palestinian refugee problem and that of Jews from Arab countries.


Most Palestinians firmly refuse, on legal and political grounds, to accept the linkage between the claims for compensation to Palestinian refugees and the fate of Jewish properties left behind in Arab countries. They state that they are not responsible for the policy of the individual Arab countries towards their respective Jewish citizens. The losses of Jews from Arab countries can therefore not be connected to the amounts of compensation Israel owes the Palestinians nor have any influence on their claims.

The consistent position of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) regarding these claims is to refuse discussion of the subject in bilateral negotiations with Israel. This point of view has been repeated by Palestinian delegations whenever the subject has been brought up by Israel. This was the reaction of the Refugee Working Group which was created as part of the multilateral peace talks in the wake of the October 1991 Madrid Conference. In its second plenary session in Ottawa the Palestinians rejected, first, the Israeli statement that a population exchange occurred leading to the replacement of the Palestinians who fled in 1948 by Jewish immigrants from the Arab world.

Secondly, they rejected the linkage made by the Israeli delegation between compensation to Palestinians and Jews from the Arab countries. This issue should instead be raised with the respective Arab countries of origin of Jewish immigrants, not the Palestinian representation, they reasoned. Daoud Barakat head of the PLO’s Department of Refugee Affairs, repeated this stance in 1999: ‘There is no linkage here. Israel has to negotiate directly with Lebanon, Morocco and Egypt. I do not represent those countries.’ At the Camp David II negotiations, PLO negotiator Yasser Abed Rabbo repeated this argument: ‘This problem has nothing to do with us. Bring it up with the Moroccan authorities, the Yemenis and so on.’


Besides refusing to accept the linkage between the two issues, some Palestinian scholars such as Abbas Shiblak argue that Arab Jews were not expelled from the Arab countries. The use of the terms ‘Myth’ and ‘Lure of Zion’ to describe the migration of Jews from Arab countries, is testimony to how they regard the basis of these claims. Some observe that the migration of Jews to the future Jewish state has always been the core idea of Zionism and that Israel endeavoured to invite Jews from Arab countries as well as elsewhere in the world to leave their country of origin and migrate to Israel. Without Jewish migration to Israel, Zionism would have been a failure.

Therefore, according to these publicists, most of the Jews who left Arab countries were not ‘expelled’ but left voluntarily after pressure by Israel. Nevertheless, they consent to the idea that the birth of Zionism worsened the position of Jews in Arab countries, especially after the 1948 War. According to Sir Francis Humphreys, Britain’s Ambassador in Baghdad in 1948, ‘Zionism has sown dissension between Jews and Arabs, and bitterness has grown up between the two peoples, which did not previously exist’. Publicist Naeim Giladi describes the freedom and flourishing cultural, political, and economic life Jews enjoyed in Iraq before 1948. Their integration into Iraqi society came to an end after the aims of the Zionist movement became known in Iraq and other Arab countries. Following the ensuing war and hostilities, many Jews migrated to Israel.


According to Abu Shakrah, many factors lay at the heart of the mass emigration of Jews from Iraq. These included the pressure exerted by Britain and the United States for a transfer or population exchange. Under this scenario around 100,000 Palestinians were to resettle in Iraq in exchange for 100,000 Iraqi Jews, who were to be resettled in Israel. Abu Shakrah argues that denaturalization laws enacted by Iraq divesting any Iraqi who wanted to leave the country of Iraqi nationality, were passed under pressure from Britain on the then Iraqi government. These laws led to the emigration of 40,000 Jews to Israel, and the transfer of 10 million Iraqi dinars, which caused an unexpected drain on Iraq’s economy. The denaturalization laws were therefore followed by laws that froze the assets of Jews who applied to relinquish their Iraqi nationality. Thousands of Jews left Iraq and were brought to Israel following a campaign organized by Israel, ‘Operation Ali Baba’.

This operation was meant to encourage Iraqi Jews to migrate to Israel, using extensive propaganda internationally and inside the Iraqi Jewish community. An important component of ‘Operation Ali Baba’ seems to have been a series of five bomb attacks on Jewish targets from April 1950 through June 1951. One year later, Mossad and British officers were identified as responsible for the attacks, while several Israeli sources confirmed that the bombing campaign was carried out by an Israeli Zionist commander, Mordechai Ben-Porat. The goal of the bombing was to generate fear in the Jewish Iraqi community in order to encourage them to leave Iraq. Abbas Shiblak, Palestinian historian at the Refugees Studies Centre in Oxford, notes that the bombing campaign could only have been carried out following decisions taken at a high level in the Israeli government and with the personal knowledge of Yigal Allon, who at that time was in charge of external Mossad operations, and of the then Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. ‘Operation Ali Baba’ also entailed an evacuation plan to bring thousands of Jews from Iraq to Tel Aviv.

Whatever the reasons for the emigration of Jews from the Arab world to Israel, some Palestinians, such as Rashid Khalidi, a well-known Palestinian scholar, consider that any claim of an Arab Jew who left or was forced to leave the Arab world is a ‘perfectly legitimate claim, one which might conceivably be resolved in tandem with reparations to Palestinians’.

Shlomo Gazit, retired general in the Israeli Defence Forces, and Lex Takkenberg, former Deputy-General of UNRWA in Syria, share the opinion that Israel is incontestably entitled to raise the issue of Jewish property abandoned in Arab countries. However, Israel should not use this issues as a means to avoiding admitting responsibility for the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem or to refusing the payment of compensations to Palestinian refugees. The issue should be resolved bilaterally with the Arab countries involved, or during an international conference to deal with the multilateral aspects of the refugee problem.


One of the arguments Israel used to refuse the payment of compensation to Palestinian refugees was the costs it had to bear for absorbing Jewish immigrants. The argument could not stand after the1952 negotiations between the World Jewish Congress and the Federal Republic of Germany about reparations by Germany for Nazi crimes against Jews before and during World War II.

A final agreement between Israel and the Four Powers that controlled Germany at the end of World War II was reached by the end of 1952. West Germany agreed to pay reparations to victims of Nazi crimes amounting to one billion USD. This would be paid over 14 years in goods and as allocations for Jews living outside Israel. The rest of the reparations would be obtained from East Germany in the future. But German payments to Israel have stretched far beyond the reparations to victims of Nazi crimes. According to American political scientist Norman Finkelstein, to date Germany has paid Israel a total amount of 60 to 80 billion dollars.

Several parties saw that a relation could be established between the compensation to Palestinians and the huge capital of indemnification Israel obtained from Germany. The Arab countries approached the Four Powers before the agreements were made between the Germany and Israel had been made, asking that the Palestinians should benefit from future reparations by Germany to Israel. The Israelis were divided on the issue, as was the American government.

In the end, the Palestinians did not profit from the German reparation payments to Israel. Soon after the agreement with Germany had been reached, Israel adopted the attitude that it was under no political obligation to help Palestinian refugees and was not responsible for their losses. It was therefore only prepared to offer humanitarian help. This offer was never realized.

Has Come
to Correct
Historic Injustice

Minister Leads Effort to Claim Reparation for Stolen Jewish Property

Israel Calls for Reparations
Middle Eastern

Seeking Reparations for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries






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Legal Bases
for the
Rights of
Jewish Refugees

Jewish Reparations Claims Could 'Derail'
Trump Plan
Jewish Refugees from
Arab and Muslim Countries

Arab States
Claiming the Heritage
of their
Expelled Jews