Wide Angle

Israel insists on compensation for Jews who left Arab countries, including Morocco

Israel has recently issued a report stating that the value of property «Jews in Arab countries and Iran were forced to leave behind when they were expelled», stands at $150 billion. However, these demands are deemed «unfair» for Moroccan Jews who were not forced to leave the country.

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The National Library of Israel has started publishing videos, audio clips and interviews about the life stories of Jews who lived in Arab and Islamic countries. The body, formerly known as the Jewish National and University Library, relied on the first digital collection of the Sephardi Voices initiative to release these documents.

The step comes as part of a bigger project launched in 2002 by the Israeli government that seeks «to assess the scope of property left behind by Jews who were expelled or fled Arab nations and Iran», Israel Hayom wrote Tuesday.

In a government report, revealed in December 2019, the same newspaper stated that the first estimate of the value of property «Jews in Arab countries and Iran were forced to leave behind when they were expelled», stands at $150 billion.

«The review was two years in the making and its authors stressed that it is a conservative assessment that does not account for current inflation rates», Israel Hayom stressed.

A project rejected by Moroccan-Jews

Morocco is one of the countries that are concerned by the compensations Israel is planning to ask for. However, unlike other Arab countries that hosted Jewish communities in the past, Moroccan Jews were not expelled or forced to leave the country after the creation of the Hebrew state.

Jacky Kadouch, who heads the Jewish community of Marrakech, believes that the demands of Israel are «completely absurd». «Asking for compensations does not make sense», he told Yabiladi Friday, recalling, «the Jews of Morocco have never been robbed of their property».

«The proof is that those whose parents and grandparents had left for Israel with legal deeds have been able to return to Morocco and recover their properties. For those who have decided not to return and who have given up, we are not going to bother do what they are supposed to do themselves», he added.

Meanwhile, Kadouch stressed that he «helped Jews» who came to recover their ancestors’ property in Morocco. «They managed to update their legal documents, they only had to follow the procedures», he explained.

«Morocco never returned or expelled Jews. People left voluntarily and everyone knows the story», he stressed. «Morocco is certainly the country where there has been no expulsions. On the contrary, Moroccans were sad to see their compatriots of the Jewish faith leave», he concluded.

The position of Jacky Kadouch, shared by other members of the Jewish community in Morocco, joins the one already expressed last March by the Canadian Sephardic Federation, which had defended Morocco. Its president, Avraham Elarar, had said that Israel «unfairly accuses Morocco of a crime it did not commit».

He also said that Tel Aviv’s demands «intentionally or inadvertently place Morocco on the same dock as Iraq and Egypt», which only weakens its claims.

In January 2019, Israel first expressed its intention to ask for compensations worth $250 billion from seven Arab countries, including Morocco, in addition to Iran to offset the value of property of Jews who have left these countries since 1948.

In a petition published the same month, researchers, intellectuals, artists and civil society representatives in Morocco had denounced the decision and accused Israel of «falsifying history».

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