I am referring to the attached article which was published in the "Scribe" No, 70 under the title: "The Truth about Jewish assets in Iraq" (view article). Please find enclosed herein two letters that were published in "Haaretz" regarding the same matter. I will appreciate if you would also publish these letters.
The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Centre
Professor Shenhav touched upon a complicated subject wherein there are interwoven many different factors, often with conflicting interests. (Haaretz Magazine, 10.4) I value the research that he did and where he noted the minutes of Cabinet meetings, but I am astounded that he mixed precise quotes with unfounded remarks based only on "somebody said..." Prof. Shenhav is not unaware of the dilemma and he notes that "private history cannot replace documented history."
It is exactly here that Prof. Shenhav fails and bases all his contentions on "private history." It is true that the immigrants that came to Israel from Iraq suffered greatly in the absorption camps and directed their discontent towards the organisations that had brought them here, but he then goes on to say, "They told of acts of coercion on the part of activists without any documentation or receipt, only promising that the property would be returned to them in Israel, of the bombs that were thrown in the city, according to them in order to frighten the Jews into leaving Baghdad.
I regret that Prof. Shenhav did not make use of the method that every holder of even a B.A. degree accepts, but presents every rumour as fact. Does he have any examples of this coercion on the part of the Zionist activists? Just what property was taken without benefit of a receipt? Who promised them the return of their property in Israel? And again, the story of the bombs - Does Prof. Shenhav have any testimony other than that which was published by Shlomo Hillel and myself, Dr. Moshe Gat and others that all state that the bombs were not the work of the Jews or of the Israelis?
As for property, in my book "To Baghdad and Back" (Published by Ma'ariv), I quote telegrams that I sent to the various organisations. In a telegram to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, March 12, 1951, I suggested that they immediately begin to interrogate the immigrants and compose a list of any and all confiscated property of Iraqi Jews with property of the Palestinians that were in Israel. As an Israeli whose interest is also the protection of the Israeli interest, I can see how such a decision might be seen as a delaying tactic in decision making, but there is a long road between that and "Total Robbery.
While I was the Chairman of WOJAC (The International Organisation of Jews from Arab Countries), I was familiar with the peace agreement with Egypt from its beginning, and I convinced the late Moshe Dayan to include a paragraph (no.8) in the peace agreement that would relate to the mutual claims. The conditions of this paragraph have not yet been fulfilled.
It was at my instigation that WOJAC decided that in all negotiations with Arab States or the Palestinians over property the matter of confiscated property of Jews in Arab countries should be taken into consideration, and if the State of Israel, for its own reasons, decides to forego these claims, or to decrease them, then it assumes the responsibility of compensating for properties confiscated, frozen assets etc. Professor Ya'akov Meiron who is in charge of the division at the Ministry of Justice that deals with these matters has, at the present time, more than 4000 claim files. I am certain that in the course of time that the matter of these properties will be discussed at the negotiating table.
Related Articles :
Second Article from Haaretz
The truth about Jewish Assets in Iraq (Issue 70)