'We should get what we deserve', says Minister Silvan Shalom on matter of paying compensation to Jews from Arab countries who were forced to leave behind homes, land, businesses in 1948, echoing claims made by other Sephardic Jews attempting to find balance between past grievances and future prospects
A prominent minister and senior politician of Sephardic descent praised Israel’s bid to achieve refugee status for Jews who fled their Arab nation homes on the eve of the State’s foundation, calling it a “rectification of an historic injustice,” echoing claims made other Sephardic Jews.
The Cohen family left behind a residential building in Cairo while the Kalif family were forced to abandon a number of apartments and stores which were later nationalized by the Iraqi government. Decades have passed since they moved to Israel, and until it was revealed to be part of the framework peace deal being hatched between the Palestinians and Israelis, the idea of compensating Jews who fled Arab nations was a solely theoretical one, shadowed by the issue of Palestinian refuges.
"When we were expelled, each person was allowed to carry one suitcase. My mom tried to pass jewelry though customs and they ripped it off her neck. My family got $5,000 in compensation, the buildings were sold and the assets were frozen, but when my mom returned in 77’ to find out the account balance the Egyptians gave her $200," Cohen told Ynet, expressing support of the compensation idea.
"Giving the Palestinians money instead of lands is a very good idea for Israel, and if we can get something as well then whatever will come is welcome. I support this as a Likud voter.
Tikva Kalif, 76, made her aliya to Israel in 1951 together with her parents and six brothers and sisters from Iraq. “We left with only our clothes,” she recalled.
"I remember my mother taking down two shirts and two pairs of pants for each of us. They (the Iraqis) took the rest. We were well-established, we had no lack in money. My dad had two stores, and one day he came and saw a ‘closed’ sign had been put on one them. The government had taken them."
Years later, she said, the family attempted to get compensation for their lost property, but to no avail. “I don’t believe we’ll get compensations,” she admitted, “but I don’t care if they give the Palestinian refuges money so they will leave us alone, but its doesn’t sound really serious to me.”
National Infrastructures, Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalomaddressed the reports regarding the framework agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, in which, for the first time, there is a reference to the rights of Jews from Arab countries as refugees that need to be compensated for property that was left behind.
"This is rectification for an historic injustice," said Minister Shalom Saturday evening.
Shalom immigrated to Israel from Tunisia with his family in 1959, and has been an advocate for compensation for Jews from Arab countries over the years.
Shalom estimated that there are about one million Jews who were forced to flee Arab countries.
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