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







May 2003


By Shlomo Shamir (

NEW YORK - In the wake of the war in Iraq, Iraqi Jews residing in the United States and Europe are weighing the possibility of filing class-action suits demanding
compensation in lieu of property and assets that they were forced to leave behind.

Prominent members of the Jewish community in New York report that since the end of the war, they have seen a wave of requests from Iraqi Jews seeking an organized appeal for compensation for property and assets confiscated by the Baghdad regime when they left the country in the 1950s.

The requests have begun to come in at an increased rate recently to the main New York offices of the World Jewish Congress. The WJC is the organization
that led the international campaign against Swiss banks and achieved a global agreement under which compensation was paid out to relatives of holders of
dormant bank accounts who perished during the Holocaust.

WJC director Dr. Avi Becker said yesterday that an Iraqi-Jewish lawyer from San Francisco had informed him that she intended to file a class-action suit and
demand compensation for property and assets that had been in her family's possession and had been confiscated by the Iraqi government in 1951. She will
be seeking the compensation from Iraqi funds currently frozen in the U.S.

As a result of the plethora of requests, a conference has been scheduled in London next month to discuss the issue of "the property of the Iraqi Jewish
refugees." The event is expected to attract expatriate Iraqi Jews who will testify to the persecution and oppression they experienced prior to leaving the
country. Also participating will be jurists and other experts who will render opinions on the compensation issue from a legal point of view. The London
conference is being organized in conjunction with the World Sephardi Federation's England branch headed by Sami Shimon.

The matter of compensation for the Jews who formerly lived in Iraq will also be discussed at a session of the executive of the WJC, due to be held next week in
Jerusalem. The meeting is expected to be attended by Jewish delegates from the U.S. and Europe.

The organization was treating the issue with "much caution," the WJC's Becker told Haaretz. "The Congress will not deal with the matter without close
coordination with the government of Israel," he said.

Nevertheless, Becker added, the possibility of Jews filing independent class-action suits couldn't be ruled out altogether.

Becker noted that during the Camp David Israeli-Palestinian talks in 2000, then U.S. president Bill Clinton had created a direct link between the
rights of the Arab refugees and those of the Jewish refugees who had been forced to flee Arab states, including Iraq. Clinton determined that the framework
of a peace agreement should include the establishment of an international fund that would handle the claims of refugees from both sides and would pay compensation to both Arab and Jewish refugees.

Senior Jewish officials in New York said yesterday that it was possible to file class-action suits for compensation from the Iraqi funds and assets frozen in
the United States. According to assessments, in the framework of the rehabilitation of Iraq, the U.S. administration will soon release a large portion of
these frozen monies.

Another issue to come under discussion at the London conference will be the effort to work toward achieving recognition of the claims of expatriate Iraqi Jews in
the framework of the claims that are expected to be filed by other minority groups with the new Iraqi government following its establishment.

In a study on the Jews of Iraq that appeared in the March edition of the International Law Magazine, published by Fordham University, Prof. Carole Basri
writes that the number of Jews who left Iraq in 1951 (during Operations Ezra and Nehemia) was estimated at 120,000, of which some 110,000 emigrated to Israel. Each of those who left was allowed to take 50 dinars.

Basri, the great-granddaughter of Haham Ezra Dangur, who served as Baghdad's chief rabbi, argues that the value of the property and assets confiscated from the
Jews of Iraq totaled, at the time, some $150-200 million.

"In today's terms, we are talking about $1 billion," Becker of the WJC says.

In her research, Basri notes: "The war and the changein the Iraq regime have created circumstances that are likely to turn Iraq into the first Arab state that
will face up to its past with regard to its attitude toward Jews ... It will be important for the Iraqi people and those who shape U.S. policy to recognize
the human rights violations suffered by the Jews who lived in Iraq."

Sent by Monique Daoud - U.S.A

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