Israel Forever

For the week ending 11 January 2003 / 8 Shevat 5763

Two Sides of Compensation

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Every time it seems that Israel and the Palestinians are on the verge of reaching an agreement which can bring peace to this part of the world there arises the problem of the demand for the resettlement of Arabs who fled their homes and compensation for the losses they suffered with the establishment of the State of Israel.

Those who make these demands are invited to recall a trial which took place over two millennia ago when Alexander the Great ruled over this region. The Egyptians brought before him a lawsuit against the Jews based on a passage in this weeks Torah portion which relates that on their way out of Egyptian bondage their ancestors borrowed gold and silver vessels from the Egyptians. They now demanded the return of those precious borrowed items.

Since the Egyptian claim was based on a Torah source the sage representing the Jews at this trial based his refutation as well on the Torah account of the enslavement of his entire people for so many years. He challenged them to calculate how much they owed the Jews for all the labor they forced them to do. Alexander gave them three days to respond to this challenge. Since they were unable to do so they fled their homes, abandoning their unharvested fields and vineyards to the Jews who were thus able to enjoy agricultural produce in that Sabbatical year when their own fields were left untended.

When those Arabs, who fled because their leaders urged them to do so in order to clear the country for a massacre of its Jewish inhabitants, make their claim for compensation we must remind the world of the countless millions of dollars worth of Jewish property which was confiscated when Jews were forced to leave the Arab countries in which they lived until the establishment of the State. Even if such a challenge fails to elicit the same flight of yesteryear it may at least silence the one-sided cry for compensation.

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