Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries: Michael Fischbach on the History News Network

Jewish Property Claims Against Arab CountriesIn a recent post on the History News Network, Michael Fischbach, author of the forthcoming book, Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries, discusses the recent U.S. House of Representatives Resolution 185, which asks the United States government whenever mention is made of the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict to also address the existence of 800,000 Jews who left Arab countries at the same time.

A press conference regarding the resolution was held by the New York-based coalition Justice for Jews from Arab Countries (JJAC), and Fischbach goes on to explain what he finds are disingenuous motives behind their support of the resolution.

But why had JJAC, established relatively recently in 2002, suddenly become active on behalf of the rights of ex-Arab Jews—called Mizrahi or Sephardic Jews, although both terms are problematic—decades after most of them left the Arab world to build new lives in relative obscurity? And why did the Resolution fail to call explicitly for Jewish property compensation or restitution? Furthermore, why did the Resolution, which JJAC helped to write, link the fates, rights, and avenues of possible redress of ex-Arab Jews with those of the Palestinian refugees from 1948, who were not responsible for the Jews’ dispossession in the first place? Were not the mass Jewish exodus from the Arab world and the resultant property losses important enough issues to merit congressional scrutiny on their own, without reference to the Palestinians?

In fact, Resolution 185 was not the result of efforts to demand compensation for Jewish property losses in the Arab world, but rather to assist the government of Israel to blunt Palestinian refugee claims in any final Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Such claims include not only property compensation, but also what Palestinian refugees called their “right of return” to their pre-1948 homes in Israel—Israel’s nightmare scenario. Unlike the demands for Holocaust reparations, compensation, and restitution that Jewish groups and the State of Israel alike have pursued with vigor over the decades, JJAC went out of its way to state that its campaign on behalf of Jews of Middle Eastern and North African descent was not seeking monetary recompense for property lost at the hands of Arab governments. Why have JJAC and other groups such as the World Jewish Congress (WJC) adopted this stance toward the claims of Jews from the Arab world?

A rebuttal to Michael Fischbach’s essay was posted on the site Point of No Return.

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