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We don’t know how many Jewish People remain in Iraq. If there are any, they are alone in a country that is hostile to them…

We don’t know how many Jewish People remain in Iraq. If there are any, they are alone in a country that is hostile to them…

February 13th, 2014
Iraqi Jewish Archives

“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 recover.

These words were written in 1970, in the personal journal of an Iraqi Jew who later escaped Iraq. They give insight into the plight of Jewish People living in a land that had come to hate and persecute them. The persecution of Jewish People in Iraq has been very real and it has not been a light persecution. Jewish People were stripped of their jobs, property, and freedom. They were physically and socially harassed, beaten, falsely accused, subject to false trials, and murdered. They lived in fear for their lives. Those who were allowed to leave were stripped of their citizenship, sending them off into the world as refugees without a country.

Below is a chronological outline of some key events in the history of Jewish People in Iraq.

722 B.C.  – Assyria attacked northern tribes of Israel. Some Jews were taken to Iraq.

586 B.C. – Babylonians conquered the southern tribes of Israel and enslaved Jews.

1914 – One third of Baghdad’s population were Jews.

1922 – The British mandate began developing Iraq into “a modern nation-state.”

1932 – Iraq became an independent state with Jewish People participating extensively.

1936 – There were approximately 120,000 Jews in Iraq.

1941 – The Farhud Pogrom (violent dispossession) in Baghdad – 180 Jews murdered, nearly 1,000 wounded. Afterward, the British returned and the Jewish community thrived once again, building medical facilities, schools, and engaging in cultural activities.

1948 – Israel became a nation and Zionism became a crime punishable by death in Iraq.

1949-51 – Jews were allowed to leave Iraq but forced to abandon their citizenship. Their property was frozen and restrictions were placed on Jews who remained. Approximately 104,000 Jews were evacuated and another 20,000 were smuggled out.

1952 – Jews barred from emigrating out of Iraq. Two Jews falsely charged and publically hanged.

1963 – Jews were not allowed to sell property and they were forced to carry yellow identity cards.

1967 – The Six Day war won the young nation of Israel their beloved Jerusalem. Persecution increased in Iraq.  Jewish property was seized, bank accounts frozen, businesses shut down, permits cancelled, telephones disconnected, and Jews were fired from public positions. House arrests and restrictions were common.

1968-69 – Persecution intensified with false charges against 11 Jewish men and 3 others. Staged trials and public executions were followed by the half a million Iraqis dancing around the hanging bodies and chanting “Death to Israel.”

1970 – The Jewish Virtual Library documents the diary entry of an Iraqi Jew who wrote the following in 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 recover.”

Early 1970’s – Iraqi Jews were allowed to leave, thanks to the pressure of the international community on Iraq. Other restrictions on Jews remained in effect. “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.”

1996 – The Rabbi of the last synagogue in Iraq died leaving no one able to perform the liturgy

2004 – Only about 35 Jews lived in Baghdad.

2011 – The last seven Jewish People remaining in Baghdad were named. Most are elderly and poor, not daring to leave their homes “for fear of being kidnapped or executed” (Jewish Virtual Library). They feel they are simply too old to leave Iraq now.

Three years later, we don’t know how many Jewish People remain in Iraq. If there are any, they are alone in a country that is hostile to them and they need our prayers. Trapped, growing older, with no hope of escape, it appears they are simply surviving, waiting for a natural death to take them out of their persecution.

A way to honor them would be to protect their historical archive from returning to the hands of those who have taken so much from them.

What can I do to help?

1.  Pray with us that God would give this initiative favor and that the right thing will be done. The world will be watching what our government does in this matter, if they will honor Israel or not. God has promised to bless those that bless Israel and curse those that curse her (Genesis 12:3). We hope the United States will do the right thing in this matter.

2.  Sign the petition at www.RescueJewishProperty.org. We are trying to get 25,000 signatures to submit to the US government persuading them that it’s not right to return the Iraqi Jewish Archives to Iraq. Please, add your voice. Sign the petition today.

3. Spread the word! Share the RescueJewishProperty.org website on Facebook, Twitter and your other social media accounts.

4. Give. Your donations will help us spread the word! This project is not something we had budgeted for, but we simply cannot sit back and be silent about such an important matter.

To learn more about the Iraqi Jewish Archive, visit our website dedicated to the cause of returning it to the Jewish People to whom it belongs, RescueJewishProperty.org.

To learn more about Jewish Voice Ministries visit our website at JewishVoice.org.

 

[Sources: JewishVirtualLibrary.org, Wikipedia.org, The Daily Mail.co.uk]

 

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