20 August 2000
Dear Mr Dangoor
I remember very well the lovely evening I had with you and your family and friends in London. The situation has indeed changed, and the time may be ripe for action on the claims issue.
I talked last week with Ben Porat in Israel about your letter, and he and his colleagues also agree that something should be done.
The problems are numerous, but the biggest is getting some person and team committed to the project. Recoveries from the Swiss banks, and the German companies and government, were made possible because lawyers were given authority to represent groups of Jews, and they brought cases and worked with the US government to bring about the pressures necessary for settlements to occur. I am prepared to round up a team, but you and the community would have to commit to that team or they would not be willing to work on a contingent basis to bring about a recovery.
Let me know what you think. Meanwhile, I will let you know the next time I am in London.
Hoover Institution on War-Revolution and Peace
Abraham D Sofaer
George P Shultz Senior Fellow
Further letter to Mr Sofaer:
Thank you for your interesting letter of 20 August and I am glad to note it may now be possible to take action regarding compensation. My comments are as follows:
1. Mordechai Ben Porat's area of claim would be for Jews who settled in Israel. Mine concerns Jews who never went to Israel but who now live in Europe or America.
2. How do you plan to go about it? Will it be through the peace process, through the Israeli government, the US government, the United Nations or perhaps even to sue the Iraqi government.
3. What are our chances of success?
4. What amounts are we talking about? If the claims would be for houses and businesses, etc that would not amount to very much. The ideal would be to claim a share of Iraq which was left behind by our community which was very prosperous and very active in Iraq's economy. That would more than match the billions claimed by the Palestinians.
5. Will this exercise end up in a set-off of one claim against another?
6. What sort of initial commitment are you looking for, for the bulk benefit to the lawyers will have to be by a percentage of the amount achieved. This principle of "no win, no pay" is quite common in America.
I look forward to meeting you again on your next visit to London.
Historical note: US Judge Abraham Sofaer served for five years as Legal Adviser to Secretary of State, James A Baker and George P Shultz, up to June 1990. He participated in all military actions taken by the United States against terrorism, the settlement of the Taba dispute between Israel and Egypt. He visited Baghdad in connection with the claim against Iraq for attacking the U.S.S. Stark.
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