By Jonathan Cook
The National, UAE
"JERUSALEM // A broad coalition of Jewish lobby groups has made a series of breakthroughs this year in its campaign to link the question of justice for millions of Palestinian refugees with justice for Jews who left Arab states in the wake of Israel’s establishment 60 years ago......
This is because the equivalence argument fails to withstand minimal scrutiny. There are a number of grounds for rejecting the case made by the JJAC, Shas and government officials.
First, it holds the Palestinians accountable for actions for which they had no responsibility. In fact, the cost of the exodus of Jews from Arab states was borne chiefly by the Palestinians themselves, whose land, homes and belongings were transferred to these Jewish immigrants.
Second, although historians are agreed that the Palestinians were expelled by Israel in 1948, there is little evidence that most Arab Jews were forced from their homes.
According to the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim, whose family left Baghdad in 1950, most of these Jewish migrants left of their own accord, even if under pressure from Zionist agencies. The largest numbers came from Morocco, lured to Israel by Zionist officials who promised them a better life.
Only in the case of the small Jewish populations in Egypt and Libya was compulsion involved.
And third, and most embarrassing for Israel, there is overwhelming evidence that its secret Mossad agency carried out false-flag operations in Arab countries that endangered local Jews and significantly contributed to the exodus.
The involvement of Israel in bombing campaigns in both Egypt and Baghdad – and possibly elsewhere – is mentioned, for example, in the diaries of Moshe Sharrett, the former foreign minister. The explosions were designed, in his words, to “liven up the Middle East”.
A majority of the Jews from Arab states ended up in Israel, where today they constitute nearly half of the Jewish population. Shas makes it clear that its primary goal in raising the issue of restitution is to foil any attempt by the next government to reach a peace deal with the Palestinians.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the leader of the right wing Likud party and the candidate most likely, according to polls, to become the next prime minister, is also known to be sympathetic to the principle of tying the question of Jewish and Palestinian refugees......"