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The articles in this issue have been divided upinto the following categories







WOJAC and the Palestinian problem

by Naim Dangoor

In November 1975, the World Organisation ( WOJAC ) established by Mr. Mordechai Ben-Porat, held its first conference in Paris.

Before I left for Paris to attend that conference, I telephoned the State Department in Washington in order to exchange some views regarding the Palestinian refugees and their comparison to a similar number of Jews who had to leave Arab countries. The following is a transcript of that conversation as recorded by me immediately after that telephone call:-

Thursday 13/11/75 3.15 p.m.-Washington 10/15
Called State Department 0101202 6329588
Mr. Saunders was at meeting ….. his number is 0101202 6329464

I asked to speak to his assistant. Mr. Abingdon his assistant spoke to me.

I. I read of Mr. Saunders speech to the House sub committee yesterday in which he said:" we are prepared to accept any reasonable proposal from any quarter……

he- What is the name of your organisation ?

I. I speak for Jews from Arab countries. I should like to make an appointment to see Mr. Saunders or yourself or whoever wishes to see me at the State Department to exchange views on the subject.

he- Are you coming to Washington in any case ?

I. No. Only if I can have an appointment.

he- Can you give a general idea of your views ?

I- Yes. Our view is that you must not equate the Palestinians with Israel. You must equate them with us, the Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

he- I don’t understand what you mean by "equate".

I. I mean that if the Palestinians will be invited to the Geneva conference then the Jews from Arab countries should also be there.

He- This is not a viable proposition. Most Jews from Arab countries went to Israel and they should be represented by Israel. Israel is quite capable to speak for them.

I. I don’t think so. There are many Jews from Arab countries who did not go to Israel.

he- Israel would still be able to speak for them ?

I. No. Israel is very careful not to speak for Jews outside Israel especially in view of the large number of Jews in the U.S. and G.B. Israel is careful not to exceed her limits.

he- Your proposal is not viable. I have no statistics in front of me but I would say 50% of Arab Jews went to Israel.

I. That is right — 50%. That leaves over 1m. Jews outside Israel. There are large communities in the States, Canada, G.B. and all over the world. There are over 300,000 N. African Jews in France alone. At the end of this month we are having an international conference in Paris of Jews from Arab countries.

he- ( alarmed ) Under whose auspices is this conference being held ?

I. Nobody’s auspices. We are organising it privately.

he- We know that Jews from Arab countries have claims on property but the Palestinians have a different claim. Everybody is agreed that there must be a solution to the Palestinians’ problem. Even Israel agrees that there must be a solution to the Palestinian problem.

I. We also agree that there must be a solution to the Palestinian problem but only within a wider M.E. context. Our claims are not just for property. We also have political claims on our countries. The Palestinians say they want a democratic, secular, binational state of Palestine. We say we want a democratic, secular, multi-national M.E. Whatever the Palestinians say with regard with Palestine, we say with regard to the M.E.

he- Mr. Saunders will think this is not viable. How can we get in touch with you ?

I. I gave my number and address.

According to the Oxford Dictionary EQUATE means — regard as equal or equivalent.

On my return to London after that successful WOJAC conference, I wrote the following letter to the State Department :

Mr.Alfred A. Atherton 3RD December 1975

Assistant Secretary of State
For Near East Affairs,
Department of State,Washington, D.C.20520

Dear Sir,

I refer to my telephone conversation with Mr. Abingdon.

At a conference in Paris last week representatives of Jewish refugees from Arab countries numbering over 2 millions (1.2m in Israel and 0.8 elsewhere ) have constituted ourselves into the World Organisation of Jews from Arab countries (WOJAC).

Among other Resolutions , we authorised the Israeli Government to represent us at the Geneva Conference this being in deference to the Israeli view that PLO could be part of an Arab delegation.

However, it appears that the debate at the Security Council on 12th January will bypass the Geneva Conference. If the PLO will be invited to take part in the debate and as a result Israel will boycott the proceedings then it would be fair and constructive that Jews from Arab countries be given the same hearing . If Israel will not attend then they would not be in a position to recommend WOJAC . Likewise the U.S. Government cannot at this stage recommend WOJAC not having endorsed PLO’s participation . But in the last resort you could veto PLO’s appearance unless Jews from Arab countries got the same treatment . This would be a statesmanlike measure and a positive step in the search for peace .

We believe that the core of the problem in the Middle East is not Zionism but Arab Imperialism .

We believe in an overall Middle East settlement "which would preserve the legitimate rights of all concerned", not a limited settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.

We believe that the pursuit of the present policies would only lead to the outbreak of yet another war in the Middle East and that history will keep repeating itself until the lesson is learned , namely , that for lasting peace there must be a settlement involving the whole region and safeguarding the rights of all refugees Arab and Jewish.

Yours very truly,
( signed )
Executive Council, WOJAC

Naim Dangoor writes:

In view of the current campaign to disarm Iraq it seems to me that the above correspondence with the State Department is still valid and that any attempt to solve thePalestinian problem should be within the wider scope covering the whole region including Iraq.

I have always maintained that peace in Iraq is the key to peace in Israel.

As a matter of interest , we print the letter of the State Department to the Chairman of WOJAC concerning the Jewish and the Palestinian refugees of similar numbers who had been obliged to leave their countries of residence .

Department Of StateWashington D C
June 23 , 1976
Mr. Mordechai Ben-Porat
Mr. Leon Tamman
World Executive Committee
World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries
3 Bograshov Street
Tel Aviv , Israel

Dear Messrs , Ben-Porat and Tamman :

I have been asked to reply to your letter of June 2 to the President , in which you asked that the United States in its contacts with Arab governments underline the importance of a just settlement for the Jews formerly from Arab countries as part of any lasting peace settlement in the Middle East . I would also like to take this occasion to thank Mr. Ben-Porat for his letter to me of May 13 along the same lines .

The Government of the United States is well aware of the fact that large numbers of Jews from Arab lands found a home in Israel in the period immediately following the establishment of the State and that many of these persons have significant property claims. In your letter you twice asserted that Deputy Assistant Secretary Saunders in his testimony before the Subcommittee on Investigations of the Committee on International Relations of the house of Representatives on November 12 , 1975 ignored this fact .

Naim Dangoor adds:

Nowadays we only hear of the Palestinian problem and the various attempts to solve it at Israel’s expense.

The preferred future regime for Iraq appears to be a federal government. Likewise, a confederation for Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and a Palestinian entity should be considered as the ideal arrangement for that region.

Throughout history it was water that made Iraq the heavyweight among the countries of the region, but now it is oil that makes Iraq again so important. Water, in fact, may now become Iraq’s weak point. For the Tigris and Euphrates rise in turkey that may wish to make more and more use of that water inside turkey itself.

Why should Turkey give Iraq all its water free of charge? Iraq should pay for the water in the oil with in its borders. Any regional arrangement for the Middle East could make a start by arranging that water as well as oil should be shared by all the countries of the region.

For 401 years between 1516 and 1917, the Middle East was part of the Ottoman Empire. A new arrangement can again be formed on similar lines. It would help to guarantee external as well as internal peace






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