Jewish Refugees from Arab States

The Jerusalem Post reports on a campaign to record claims of Jewish refugees from Arab States.

A Jewish Habani woman Ein Shemer immigrant's camp (1/9/1950)

As outlined in the stats page, over 850,000 Jewish refugees left different Arab States after Israel declared its independence in 1948. Over 600,000 came to Israel and were absorbed into the society and became full Israeli citizens and an integral part of the state.

This is in contrast to the Palestinians refugees who never received citizenship or rights from the Arab States that host them. Since the Palestinians also did not accept a State of their own in 1948 nor in 2000, they are still stateless and refugees

I copy the full article below.

Campaign to record claims of Jewish refugees from Muslim lands

NEW YORK – Decades after Jews were forced to flee the Arab world, the Justice Ministry and the American Sephardi Federation (ASF) are launching a worldwide campaign to register every one of the 850,000 Jews who fled the Muslim world after the establishment of Israel, Justice Minister Meir Sheetrit and ASF director Vivienne Roumani-Denn announced on Friday.

The decision to register the property of Jewish refugees was made in March when the government passed a resolution calling on the Justice Ministry to record Jewish claims from Muslim lands dating back to 1940. ASF and other Jewish groups will help the ministry compile the claims.

While Jewish assets in the Arab world were believed to surpass Palestinian claims in Israel, ASF vice president Marlene Brill said collecting money is not on the agenda.

“We are not going to go after claims. We want to get the information into the hands of the Israeli government and use this information to achieve peace,” she said.

Sheetrit joined forces with ASF and 26 Diaspora organizations in an effort to counter Palestinian demands for the right of return, and educate the world on Israel’s integration of its refugee population as it built a new state, fought a war for survival, and recovered from the trauma of the Holocaust, he said.

“At the same time that there were Palestinian refugees, there were hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees,” said Sheetrit, whose family fled Morocco in 1957. “The difference was that in the Arab world, they tried to keep the refugees in refugee camps. In our case, the Israeli state took them all in. We did not try to use them as a political tool... ”

An additional goal for Sheetrit is to educate Israeli youth on the rich history of Jews whose families came from Muslim lands, and their treatment under Arab rule. “It is very important for future generations of Israelis to understand what happened,” he said.

Israel first tried to compile data on Jewish claims in the Arab world in 1969, though few resources were put into the campaign, and documents that were submitted were all but forgotten.

ASF officials attributed renewed efforts on the issue to increased public interest and statements of support from American officials, including former president Bill Clinton.

Clinton raised the possibility at Camp David in 2000 of an international fund to compensate all refugees from the Arab-Israeli wars, including Jews from Arab lands.

The new campaign includes the preservation of existing claims on microfilm and computers, an effort to record all private and communal property, and recording the testimonies of those who were persecuted, expelled, or otherwise forced to flee.

A documentary on Jewish refugees is being made, and the ASF is raising funds to publicize the effort.

Sheetrit said he hopes that a full list of claims, verified by Justice Ministry researchers, will be completed and made available to the public within a year.

Online claim form can be found at ASF’s website,

Posted by David Melle
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