Jewish Refugees' Losses Outweigh Arabs'
Research by international economist Sidney Zabludoff shows that the Jewish refugees of 1948 suffered more and have been helped less than their Arab counterparts.
In a paper published by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Zabludoff shows that many more Jews were forcibly displaced or expelled from their homes around the world than Arabs, that they lost significantly more property, and were helped over the years to a much smaller extent.
The number of Arabs displaced by the War of Independence in 1948 is estimated at 550,000, and another estimated 100,000 were displaced by the Six Day War in 1967. The number of Jews who were forced to move as a result of the Israeli-Arab conflict was between 850,000 and one million.
It is further estimated that the Jews, most of whom lived in cities, lost $700 million in lost and stolen property - worth some $6 billion in today's dollars. The Arabs of 1948 and 1967, on the other hand, lost an estimated total of $450 million, or $3.9 billion in today's money.
Zabludoff notes that the case of the Arab refugees is different than any other refugee crisis in world history, in that aid for their cause has never stopped, and has been ongoing for nearly 60 years. UNRWA, the United Nations Relief Works Agency, has poured $13.7 billion dollars into the Arab refugee concentrations. In addition, Arab and Western countries have given their own aid over the decades.
The Arabs have also done much better than the Jews in terms of repatriated assets. Israel returned more than 90% of blocked Arab bank accounts and most of the contents of safe deposit boxes, Zabludoff notes, while there have been only "a few cases where Jewish property was restored."
While many of the Arabs living in the Land of Israel left their homes voluntarily, goaded on by Arab promises that they would come back as victors and be able to displace the Jews, the Jews in Arab countries were generally expelled amidst violence, threats and confiscation of their property.
"Since 1920," Zabludoff writes, " all other major refugee crises involving the exchange of religious or ethnic populations, while creating hardships, were dealt with in a single generation. Meanwhile, issues such as the 'right of return' and compensation never were adequately resolved and were largely forgotten. The same pattern evolved for Jews who fled Middle Eastern and North African countries, even though their number was some 50 percent larger than Palestinian refugees and the difference in individual assets lost was even greater."
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The U.S. House of Representatives last week recognized for the first time the rights of Jews who became refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Resolution 185 expressed "the sense of the House of Representatives regarding the creation of refugee populations."
Zabludoff is an international economist who has worked for the White House and the CIA.