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jews of iraq

Looking for info on the Jews of Iraq and some decent history on the same.
This piece below is typical of what little I have found.
Sadly I was in Baghdad in october and failed to find a way to see the
little community. 
Maybe reply off list as this relates to the sanctions for me but is not
central to the purpose of the list I would guess
The Jews of Iraq
By Mitchell Bard


1948 Jewish population: 150,000
2000: Approximately 100*

The 2,700-year-old Iraqi Jewish community has suffered horrible persecution
in modern-day Iraq. In June 1941, the Mufti-inspired, pro-Nazi coup of
Rashid Ali sparked rioting and a pogrom in Baghdad. Armed Iraqi mobs, with
the complicity of the police and the army, murdered 180 Jews and wounded
almost 1,000. Additional outbreaks of anti-Jewish rioting occurred between
1946-49. After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionism became a
capital crime.

In 1950, Iraqi Jews were permitted to leave the country within a year
provided they forfeited their citizenship. A year later, however, the
property of Jews who emigrated was frozen and economic restrictions were
placed on Jews who chose to remain in the country. From 1949 to 1951,
104,000 Jews were evacuated from Iraq in Operations Ezra & Nechemia;
another 20,000 were smuggled out through Iran.1 In 1952, Iraq's government
barred Jews from emigrating and publicly hanged two Jews after falsely
charging them with hurling a bomb at the Baghdad office of the U.S.
Information Agency.

With the rise of competing Ba'ath factions in 1963, additional restrictions
were placed on the remaining Iraqi Jews. The sale of property was forbidden
and all Jews were forced to carry yellow identity cards. After the Six-Day
War, more repressive measures were imposed: Jewish property was
expropriated; Jewish bank accounts were frozen; Jews were dismissed from
public posts; businesses were shut; trading permits were cancelled;
telephones were disconnected. Jews were placed under house arrest for long
periods of time or restricted to the cities.

Persecution was at its worst at the end of 1968. Scores were jailed upon
the discovery of a local "spy ring" composed of Jewish businessmen.
Fourteen men—eleven of them Jews—were sentenced to death in staged trials
and hanged in the public squares of Baghdad; others died of torture. On
January 27, 1969, Baghdad Radio called upon Iraqis to "come and enjoy the
feast." Some 500,000 men, women and children paraded and danced past the
scaffolds where the bodies of the hanged Jews swung; the mob rhythmically
chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to all traitors." This display brought
a world-wide public outcry that Radio Baghdad dismissed by declaring: "We
hanged spies, but the Jews crucified Christ."2 Jews remained under constant
surveillance by the Iraqi government. An Iraqi Jew (who later escaped)
wrote in his diary in February 1970:

Ulcers, heart attacks, and breakdowns are increasingly prevalent among the
Jews...The dehumanization of the Jewish personality resulting from
continuous humiliation and torment...have dragged us down to the lowest
level of our physical and mental faculties, and deprived us of the power to

In response to international pressure, the Baghdad government quietly
allowed most of the remaining Jews to emigrate in the early 1970's, even
while leaving other restrictions in force. Most of Iraq's remaining Jews
are now too old to leave. They have been pressured by the government to
turn over title, without compensation, to more than $200 million worth of
Jewish community property.4

Only one synagogue continues to function in Iraq, "a crumbling buff-colored
building tucked away in an alleyway" in Baghdad. According to the
synagogue's administrator, "there are few children to be bar-mitzvahed, or
couples to be married. Jews can practice their religion but are not allowed
to hold jobs in state enterprises or join the army."5

In 1991, prior to the Gulf War, the State Department said "there is no
recent evidence of overt persecution of Jews, but the regime restricts
travel, (particularly to Israel) and contacts with Jewish groups abroad."

More recently, a Jerusalem Post (Dec. 13, 1997) report noted that 75 Jews
have fled Iraq in the past five years, most relocating to Holland or
England. About 20 emigrated to Israel.

At one time, Baghdad was one-fifth Jewish and other communities had first
been established 2,500 years ago. Today, approximately 61 Jews are left in
Baghdad and another 200 or so are in Kurdish areas in the north. Only one
synagogue remains in Bataween, — once Baghdad's main Jewish neighborhood.—
The rabbi died in 1996 and none of the remaining Jews can perform the
liturgy and only a couple know Hebrew. The last wedding was held in 1980.6

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