NEW YORK - Iraqi Jews who fled their homeland in the 1950s will receive compensation for the insurance policies they purchased when they were still Iraqi citizens and still owners of assets and property there, Jewish officials in New York told Haaretz yesterday.
The officials said that the Iraqi case was the first time that Jews who fled an Arab country were being recognized as eligible for compensation and that they would receive payment in the coming days.
"This is a breakthrough and justice has been done in an area that has been neglected for years," Ilan Steinberg, the director-general of the World Jewish Congress said yesterday.
The compensation will be paid out to three Jews who live in Israel and who are the owners of insurance policies they took out when they were Iraqi citizens. The three left Iraq during the exodus of Jews, who were forced out of their homes and who lost their property.
The policies were purchased from an insurance company that was operating on behalf of a branch owned by the French insurance company, Axa. The compensation to be paid to the three by Axa amounts to $130,000. The company has also announced that four other Jews who left Iraq and who had taken out insurance policies with Axa were also eligible for compensation.
The existence of policies owned by Jews who were expelled from Iraq was discovered as a result of a check run by the Justice Ministry in Israel. The ministry has completed work on 12,000 files that include information on property and assets owned by Jewish residents of Arab countries who were expelled or who were forced to leave after the State of Israel was established.
Among the 12,000 files, some 200 cases have been found of Iraqi Jews whose insurance policies were never honored because they were forced out of the country. The list of 200 was published in newspapers in October last year.