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October 27, 2016 / 25 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘refugee’

Heirs of Jewish Refugee Suing Met over Stolen Picasso

Thursday, October 6th, 2016

The estate of Paul Leffmann, a German-Jewish businessman who fled Nazi Germany in 1938, on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Metropolitan Museum of Art in new York, over ownership of Pablo Picasso’s painting The Actor, The Art Newspaper reported.

The 1904-5 oil on canvas painting shows a lanky man gesturing with his hands. The Met curators describe it as a “simple yet haunting” work that marked the beginning of Picasso’s interest in “the theatrical world of acrobats and saltimbanques (acrobats).”

According to the suit, Leffmann sold the painting under duress for $13,200, when he and his wife were in Paris, to pay for their escape to Brazil. The painting was sold to art dealer Hugo Perls and Picasso’s dealer Paul Rosenberg. The painting was then purchased for $22,500 in 1941, by Thelma Chrysler Foy, daughter of founder of the Chrysler Corporation, Walter Chrysler. In 1952, she donated the picture to the Met.

The suit argues that the Met should have known that the original owner was forced to part with the painting, today estimated at $100 million, because he was the victim of “Nazi and Fascist persecution,” according to The Art Newspaper.

The Met argues that Leffamann actually received for his Picasso more “than any other early Picasso sold by a collector to a dealer during the 1930s.” They bring as proof the fact that when the Leffmanns, after the war, were trying to recover their stolen property, they did not include The Actor on their list. If the Leffmanns themselves did not consider the painting stolen, why should the Museum be accused of holding improperly acquired property?

The litigation was begun by Leffmann’s great-grandniece, who presumably discovered her family’s connection to the Met’s Picasso about ten years ago.


Weapons, Bomb Making Equipment Found in Refugee Camp

Sunday, September 11th, 2016

Weapons and bomb making equipment were found overnight in a raid conducted by the Israel Police Border Guard, in collaboration with the IDF and Shabak, at the Nur al-Shams refugee camp east of Tulkarm in Samaria, the police spokesperson’s office reported Sunday.

The raid, conducted in the home and the car of a suspect as part of security forces’ operations in Nur al-Shams, yielded two homemade firearms, as well as a large stash of bomb making supplies. The suspect, 18, was detained for further interrogation.

David Israel

Rioting Arab Shot Dead, 45 Injured in Refugee Camp Riot

Tuesday, August 16th, 2016

An Arab teenager who was rioting and posing a threat to the lives of IDF soldiers from the Egoz Reconnaissance Unit carrying out an operation in the Al Fawwar refugee camp southwest of Hebron was shot and killed, according to Arab media reports.

Muhammad Abu Hashhash, 17, was shot by the Israeli force during clashes inside the camp. At least 45 other rioting Arabs were injured, one seriously.

Israeli forces stormed al-Fawwar at dawn on Tuesday, raiding homes and interrogating suspects. Clashes broke out between local youth and Israeli soldiers, who defended themselves using tear gas, rubber-coated bullets and low impact live bullets.

The Egoz Reconnaissance Unit operation is expected to last 24 hours. The IDF Spokesperson said Tuesday that the purpose of the operation is arrests of suspects, searching for weapons and issuing subpoenas for security interrogations.

The IDF Spokesperson added that the force ran into a mob that threw stones, firebombs and improvised explosives. At least four rioters were shot after the hurled cinder blocks at the soldiers.

Israeli army soldiers carry on a house-to-house searching raid from  in Al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron August 16 2016.

Israeli army soldiers carry a searching raid from house to house in Al-Fawwar refugee camp south of Hebron August 16 2016.

David Israel

Syrian Refugee Suicide Bomber a ‘Soldier of ISIS’ in Germany

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016

The Islamic State terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the terror attack Sunday in the southern German city of Ansbach, calling the suicide bomber a “soldier of ISIS.”

A Syrian asylum seeker blew himself up outside a music festival on Sunday after he failed to gain entry to the event.

The quick action by guards who blocked the entry of the attacker contained the damage; 15 people were wounded but the bomber was the only casualty.

Initially there was uncertainty about the motives behind the explosion, with police telling media that the Syrian refugee “may have been suicidal” due to his personal circumstances. Security personnel said he had acted on his own.

But as the investigation clarified the amount of explosive material that detonated in the blast, combined with the fact that the operative made an effort to enter a festival filled with thousands of participants, the intent of the Syrian “refugee” became obvious.

In addition, The attacker who left a bomb outside a bar in Ansbach, Germany, had enough materials to make another explosive device, according to police. The man also pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video found on his phone.

The attacker left a bomb outside a bar in Ansbach and had enough materials to make another explosive device, according to police. The man also pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a video found on his phone, according to a statement by Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann, quoted by AP.

“A provisional translation by an interpreter shows that he expressly announces, in the name of Allah, and testifying his allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a famous Islamist leader, an act of revenge against the Germans because they’re getting in the way of Islam,” Hermann said at a news conference. “I think that after this video there’s no doubt that the attack was a terrorist attack with an Islamist background,” he added.

The Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization meanwhile claimed responsibility for being the inspiration behind the actions of the “lone wolf” attacker. But the group said the suicide bomber had acted in response to its calls to target nations who participate in the coalition fighting against ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

The group had also taken responsibility for inspiring an attack in Germany last week by a 17-year-old who boarded a train and started swinging an ax and a knife.

Earlier in the day on Monday German sources said they had found ISIS propaganda on the bomber’s electronic devices. Police also found bomb-making equipment at his home.

The asylum seeker-turned-bomber had been given a place to live, even though he was not going to be allowed to stay in country permanently.

Hana Levi Julian

The Palestinians: Refugee Camps or Terrorist Bases?

Sunday, July 24th, 2016

{Originally posted to the Gatestone Institute website}

ISIS is on the mind of the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership. Top PA officials have expressed concern that jihadi groups, including ISIS, have managed to infiltrate Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Lebanese authorities are also worried — so worried that they have issued a stiff warning to the Palestinians: Stop the terrorists or else we will take security into our own hands.

According to Lebanese security sources, more and more Palestinians in Lebanon have joined ISIS and the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra Front, a Sunni Islamist militia fighting against Syrian government forces. In response, the Lebanese security forces have taken a series of measures in a bid to contain the problem and prevent the two Islamist terror groups from establishing bases of power in the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

According to some reports, dozens of Palestinians from Lebanon who joined ISIS and Al-Nusra Front have been killed or wounded in Syria in recent months. Most of those who were killed have been buried in Syria, the reports said.

Alarmed by the success of ISIS and Al-Nusra Front in recruiting dozens of Palestinians to their ranks, the Palestinian Authority leadership this week sent Azzam Al-Ahmed, a senior advisor to President Mahmoud Abbas, to Beirut for urgent talks with Lebanese government officials on ways of containing the escalation. The PA leadership fears that the heightened activities of the two terrorist groups in the refugee camps will force the Lebanese army to launch a massive military operation to get rid of the terrorists, who pose an immediate threat to Lebanese national security.

Al-Ahmed, who is in charge of the Lebanon Portfolio in the Palestinian Authority, held a series of meetings with Lebanese government officials in a bid to avoid a security showdown between the Lebanese army and the Palestinians living in the country’s refugee camps. Following a meeting with Lebanese Interior Minister Nihad Al-Mashnouk, the Palestinian envoy said that the talks focused on the need to take “joint steps to ensure security stability in the Palestinian refugee camps.” According to Al-Ahmed, the talks also dealt with ways to prevent certain parties, especially ISIS and Al-Nusra Front, from exploiting the Palestinian refugee camps to threaten Lebanon’s security interests.

Lebanese security officials have reported direct contacts between ISIS leaders in Syria and some senior Islamist figures in the Ain Al-Hilweh refugee camp, the largest camp in Lebanon, with a population of more of than 120,000 — half of them refugees who fled Syria since 2011. The officials said that one of the commanders of ISIS in Syria, Abu Khaled Al-Iraqi, has stepped up his contacts with Palestinians in Ain Al-Hilweh in recent weeks, in preparation for launching terrorist attacks against Lebanese targets. The Lebanese have named a number of Palestinians from Ain Al-Hilweh evidently serving as ISIS representatives in Lebanon: Emad Yasmin, Helal Helal, Abed Fadda, Nayef Abdullah and Abu Hamzeh Mubarak.

Last week, Palestinian sources revealed that one of the jihadi leaders in Ain Al-Hilweh, Omar Abu Kharoub, nicknamed Abu Muhtaseb Al-Maqdisi, was killed while fighting alongside ISIS in Syria. The sources said that he is only one of hundreds of Palestinians from Lebanon who have joined ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front.

The Lebanese government has informed the Palestinian Authority leadership in Ramallah that at least 300 jihadi terrorists are now barricaded inside Ain Al-Hilweh. “The situation has become intolerable and we can no longer turn a blind eye to this threat,” the Lebanese warned the PA.

The Islamist terrorists who have found shelter inside Ain Al-Hilweh have repeatedly warned the Lebanese authorities against launching a military attack against the refugee camp.

In a recent sermon for Friday prayers, Sheikh Abu Yusef Aqel condemned Lebanon’s mistreatment of its Palestinian population. He pointed out that under Lebanese law, Palestinians are banned from working in 72 professions. Referring to reports in the Lebanese media about the threats emerging from the Palestinian camps, Sheikh Aqel said:

“If these (Lebanese) media outlets were really affiliated with the resistance, as they claim, they would have focused on the suffering of a people that was displaced from its homeland more than 70 years ago. They would also have focused on the fact that Lebanon bans this people from working in 72 professions.”

Aqel is referring to the circumstance that until a decade ago, a total of seventy-two professions were restricted to Lebanese only. The Lebanese government issued a memorandum on June 7, 2005 permitting Palestinians refugees to work in fifty of these seventy-two professions. However, Palestinians in Lebanon are still banned from several types of jobs, especially in the fields of medicine and law. The 450,000 Palestinians living in Lebanon refer to these restrictions as apartheid measures.

The Lebanese apartheid measures against Palestinians are rarely mentioned in the Western media and international human rights groups. The United Nations does not seem overly concerned about this discrimination, apparently because it is practiced by an Arab country against Arabs.

Lebanon has never been comfortable with the presence of the Palestinians on its soil. That is precisely why the authorities have turned the twelve Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon into ghettos. These ghettos are off-limits to the Lebanese security forces. As a result, these camps have become in the past few decades bases for various innumerable militias and terrorist groups. Until a few years ago, the major Palestinian Fatah faction was the dominant group controlling the refugee camps in Lebanon. No longer. Today, it has become evident that many other groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, ISIS and Al-Qaeda have established bases of power inside the camps.

It is worth mentioning that the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) is formally in charge of the refugee camps in Lebanon, including those that are now providing shelter to Islamist terrorists.

Back to PA anxiety. Undoubtedly, the Palestinian Authority leadership is concerned that many of its erstwhile loyalists in Fatah have defected to the various jihadi terror groups. These groups are now posing a major threat not only to Lebanon’s security and stability, but also to the PA and its president, Mahmoud Abbas, who feel helpless in the face of the Islamist tsunami sweeping the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

Abbas and his PA have clearly lost control over the millions of Palestinians living in the neighboring Arab countries, including Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. This is in addition to the fact that Abbas and the PA have nearly no control over Palestinian refugee camps in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, where various jihadi groups and other secular militias and gangs are now in control.

The hands of the Palestinian Authority leadership are now tied: the PA cannot regain control over the refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and the Arab countries. There is also nothing that Abbas can do to stop the residents of these camps from joining ISIS, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

All what is left for Abbas to do is to try and prevent a catastrophe from falling on the heads of the Palestinians in these camps, especially Lebanon, where the Lebanese authorities are increasingly running out of patience with the growing Islamist threat.

“The Lebanese army will not allow terrorism to find a safe place in Ain Al-Hilweh or any other part of Lebanon,” cautioned a Lebanese security source. “We will not allow Ain Al-Hilweh to become a hotbed for terrorism and be used as a launching pad to explode the situation in Lebanon. We will face any such attempt with force and firmness.”

The Palestinians’ biggest fear now is that Ain Al-Hilweh will meet the same fate as the Nahr Al-Bared refugee camp in Lebanon, which was almost entirely destroyed by the Lebanese army in 2007. Then, the presence of Islamist terrorists belonging to the Fatah Al-Islam group inside Nahr Al-Bared triggered heavy clashes during which the Lebanese army used artillery and helicopter gunships to attack the camp, home to some 40,000 Palestinians. At least 158 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the fighting, which also left many families homeless.

Busy with more pressing issues, Abbas was unable to make the trip to Lebanon himself. What is the urgent business that prevented him from showing up in person to try to prevent catastrophe for his people in Lebanon? His grand tour, an end-game bid to win support for an international Middle East peace conference that would choke Israel into submission.

Abbas is next slated for Paris, where on July 22 he is scheduled to meet with President François Hollande to discuss the latest French initiative to “solve” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hollande might do better to turn inward to consider how his own country will manage the latest wave of Islamist terrorism. Abbas, for his part, is unlikely to broach with Hollande the incendiary situation in the Palestinian refugee camps, where ISIS and Al-Qaeda are gaining the upper hand.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Finally: Congress Asking UNRWA for Real Number of Palestinian Refugees

Friday, July 15th, 2016

Both houses of Congress are at work to modify funding bills for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), as part of an effort to investigate the very legitimacy of the decades-old agency, Michael Wilner reported in the Jerusalem Post Friday. Both the House and the Senate want the State Department to, once and for all, define the term “Palestinian refugee,” and while they’re at it, reveal how many are receiving aid from UNRWA.

UNRWA was established in 1948 to assist the 750,000 Palestinians who had left Israel. Since then UNRWA has been a promoter of the Palestinian cause, funding as many as 5 million “refugees,” the majority of whom never left the homes where they were born in the Gaza Strip, the “West Bank,” eastern Jerusalem, or other Arab countries, to the tune of $1.23 billion annually, $250 million of which is donated by US taxpayers.

Many in Congress have been saying, since about 2012, that the majority of Palestinians are permanently settled, and should not be under the jurisdiction of a refugee agency.

Needless to say, Wilner points out, “such a finding would fundamentally change the narrative of the decades-old conflict.”

The first Palestinian census was completed 15 years ago, and the head of the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) admitted then that the census was, in effect, “a civil intifada” rather than a scientific survey. In 2011 the Bureau attempted to correct that blatant misrepresentation, claiming that 2.6 million Palestinian Arabs inhabit Judea and Samaria.

But Israeli demographer Yoram Ettinger challenged those numbers, claiming they overstated the real number of Arabs there by as much as 66%. He explained that the PCBS’s total counts 400,000 Palestinians living overseas, and double-counts 240,000 Jerusalem Arabs. It also undercounted Palestinian emigration.

In 2014, UNRWA came up with the figure of 5 million Palestinian refugees living in Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, and the US responded by providing hundreds of millions of dollars for UNRWA’s health, education, and social service programs.

“UNRWA is sort of becoming an entitlement program of the Middle East, and the desire is to increase transparency on who actually are refugees relevant to that conflict,” a senior Senate aide familiar with the language told Wilner, suggesting the new bill “goes to the heart of the debate over UNRWA funding.”

Republicans in both houses have launched parallel efforts to compel the State Department to go on the record with who qualifies as a “Palestinian refugee,” and the combined version of the law, once passed, will compel the secretary of state to provide “a justification of why it is in the national interest of the United States to provide funds to UNRWA.”

The bill’s language continues: “Such justification shall include an analysis of the current definition of Palestinian refugees that is used by UNRWA, how that definition corresponds with, or differs from, that used by UNHCR, other UN agencies, and the United States Government, and whether such definition furthers the prospects for lasting peace in the region.”

And, naturally, “the committee directs that such report be posted on the publicly available website of the Department of State.”

Finally, it should be noted that there are two distinct definitions of the term “refugee” in international law.

A refugee, according to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, is a person who is outside their country of citizenship because they have well-founded grounds for fear of persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, and is unable to obtain sanctuary from their home country or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail themselves of the protection of that country; or in the case of not having a nationality and being outside their country of former habitual residence as a result of such event, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to their country of former habitual residence.

It is rare for a refugee status to extend beyond the lifetime of the original refugee, because normally it is expected that their offspring will have settled someplace else.

Not so regarding Palestinian refugees, according to UNRWA’s definition of the term, which includes the patrilineal descendants of the original “Palestinian refugees,” limited to persons residing in UNRWA’s areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.


Israel Engaged in Secret Efforts to Obtain Restitution for Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

By Jonathan Benedek/TPS

Jerusalem (TPS) – The State of Israel is engaged in clandestine efforts to obtain restitution for the lost or stolen property of Jews who fled Arab countries after the State of Israel was founded. This was revealed in a discussion of the Knesset’s Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs on Wednesday morning.

“The expatriates from Arab countries fled, leaving their property behind,” said MK Avraham Neguise, the committee chairman. “We want to do historical justice by making sure that this property is finally restored to its owners.”

Hundreds of thousands of Jews living in Arab countries and the Middle East already faced persecution on the eve of Israel’s establishment in 1948. Once Israel declared its independence, they had to flee.

According to Avi Cohen, director general of the Social Equality Ministry, which helps funnel support to the poorer sectors in Israeli society, Israel has already been acting clandestinely to restore some of the property that belonged to hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, investing millions of shekels to do so.

“Classified work is currently underway, in conjunction with the Foreign Ministry, in which we will invest millions to restore the property of Arab and Iranian Jewry,” Cohen said. “The work will come to fruition within four to six weeks. I cannot say more than that.”

Although Iran’s Jewish community did not face the same repercussions as Jews in Arab countries did in 1948, tens of thousands of Iranian Jews fled Iran following the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The officials at the meeting made other suggestions regarding restitution. Opposition leader and Zionist Union chairman MK Isaac Herzog hinted that a regional agreement would give Israel an opportunity to make the issue a top priority.

“The topic was mentioned explicitly in our elections platform,” Herzog said. “If there should be movement toward a regional agreement, the topic must definitely be placed on the agenda.”

Ze’ev Ben Yosef, a member of the World Likud executive committee, was skeptical of Herzog’s idea.

“It’s problematic to link the issue of restitution to a political agreement because the other side is in no hurry to reach such an agreement,” he said.

Others who were present argued that the issue of the lost or stolen property belonging to Jews who fled Arab and Muslim countries should gain more international recognition, especially since the UN gave refugee status to Palestinians and their descendants who fled their homes during Israel’s War of Independence.

“The moment that the UN supports refugees from Arab countries, it must recognize that there are Jewish refugees,” said Eli Gabbay, a former MK of the National Religious Party. “It must be guaranteed, through a political process, that just as the UN grants funds to the Arab refugees, it will make restitution to the Jewish refugees.”

MK Anat Berko (Likud), a descendant of Jewish refugees from Iraq, echoed Gabbay’s statement. “If you want to recognize Arab refugees, you must also recognize Jewish refugees,” she said. “I, too, see myself as a daughter of Iraqi-Jewish refugees.”

TPS / Tazpit News Agency

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israel-engaged-in-secret-efforts-to-obtain-restitution-for-jewish-refugees-from-arab-countries/2016/07/14/

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