Now a government ministry has created a new department that will now to collect specific claims by Jews who lost their property when they left Arab countries during the 20th century. The department will begin to collect the claims of the Jewish refugees, about 80 percent of whom settled in Israel.
Thus it was reported recently in the Jerusalem Post
A spokesman of the department said "the new effort comes to fill a gap in awareness both in Israel and abroad. The UN has dealt at least 700 times with Arab refugees and their property, but not once with the issue of Jewish property."
There is little awareness in the world at large, and Israel in particular, thus it is thought it is now time for Israelis to get to know better the history of the Jews of Arab lands, who make up some 60% of the ethnic ancestry of Israeli Jews.
"It's time to deal with this amongst ourselves," says the spokesman. "I say that as a citizen, as a father and as an academic. We should know the history of the pogrom in Baghdad in 1941, of the Lybian Jews who ended up in Bergen Belsen. It's time for people to know that there was this part of the Jewish people and its history was brought to an end."
In late 2007, a Baghdad-born American Jew representing the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC), called on the Israeli government to begin to seriously examine the issue of Jewish property left behind in Arab lands. At the time, WOJAC had a staggering 100,000 square kilometers in property deeds.
Internationally, the project has support. "The US Congress [in mid-2008] decided that any discussion of refugees in the Middle East must include the Jewish refugees from Arab lands. The current presidency of the EU, the Czech Republic, agrees with this position," said the spokesman.
In addition to the government, "Justice for Jews from Arab Countries" (JJAC), http://www.justiceforjews.com/int.html has been increasing the awareness of this problem which has been totally overshadowed by the pressure from Arab States to consider only one side of the coin. The goals of JJAC are:
1) To conduct public education programs on the heritage and rights of former Jewish refugees from Arab countries; and
2) To register family history narratives, and catalogue communal and individual losses, suffered by Jews who fled from Arab countries.
Both sides of the argument should be considered in parallel, not one withut the other