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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







Confiscated Wealth:
The Fate of Jewish Property in Arab Lands

by Itamar Levin


Over the past fifty years, hundreds of thousands of Jews have emigrated from various Arab lands. In most of those countries, all that remains of a once flourishing Jewish community is a handful of indigent Jews – a pitiful remnant. Those who left all share a common memory of the loss of livelihoods, property and savings. The Jew who emigrated legally from Iraq in 1950, the expellee forced to leave his home in Egypt in 1957, or the Jew who escaped from Syria in 1991 – all of them can tell of houses, furniture, books, religious objects, clothes and businesses which were left behind.

The majority of these emigrants eventually arrived in Israel. The World Organisation of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) estimates that of the 800,000 Jews who fled Arab lands since 1948, 600,000 emigrated to Israel. For many years, most of them were forced to live in abysmal conditions in its earlier years. Some, if not all, of that hardship might have been avoided had the immigrants been permitted to bring their property along with them. Under the conditions in which Israel found itself immediately upon its establishment – faced with the absorption of 650,000 new residents, a number identical to its entire population – each Egyptian pound, Iraqi dinar or Syrian lira would have made a significant difference. Today, as the Palestinian Arabs press their claims for compensation for properties abandoned in the War of Independence, Israel too should advance the claims of its own citizens who lost all their property, both movable and immovable, having been forced to leave it behind in the various Arab countries from which they fled.

The Author

Itamar Levin is deputy-editor of the Israeli financial daily Globes. Since April 1995, Levin has played a major role in the media exposure of the search for dormant Holocaust-era assets. He is the author of The Last Deposit (Hebrew), which was published by Hed Artzi in 1998.

Naim Dangoor writes:

Apart from the physical assets that the Jews from Arab countries left behind in their countries of origin, the Jews are entitled to a share in the wealth of those countries to which they had made a great contribution to their develoment and prosperity. Such a claim must form part of any compensation obtained from Arab countries. A Resolution to this effect has been passed by the first WOJAC Conference held in Paris in 1975.


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