With thanks: Lily
It is hard to understand why the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has suddenly decided to rewrite the history of the Jews of Iraq. His bare-faced lies are on display for all to see in The Palestinian newspaper Ma'an in a translation by MEMRI. Here is a taste, for those with a strong stomach:
The third interesting point is the bitterness with which the Israeli poet described the predicament of his (Palestinian) teacher, who left Jerusalem because of the war, as well as his own [fate] of being forced to leave Iraq, his homeland and the homeland of his fathers, on the pretext of reuniting families. This statement precludes any [possibility that there was a] Zionist or religious motive for his immigration to Palestine. He was forced and compelled to leave, against his will. This is what happened to the Iraqi Jews, who were relocated to Palestine as the result of a tripartite Zionist-British-Iraqi conspiracy. The role played by Ben Gurion in this [conspiracy] has already been exposed: he sent his emissaries [to Iraq] to intimidate the Jews, and they harmed and killed [Jews]. Then they left it to the media to spread rumors that extremist Arabs had been behind the despicable acts."
Better blogs than mine have already deconstructed Abbas's revisionist rantings. Elder of Ziyon quotes from the American Jewish Yearbook:
"The Arab League boycott of "Zionist goods," in which Iraq had already distinguished itself in 1946, furnished a ready pretext for commercial discrimination. The boycott was against all goods coming from and via Palestine. Typical of the stupidly blind fanaticism was a case reported in October, 1947, when Swiss goods arriving in Baghdad by an airplane which had landed at a Palestinian airport were confiscated and burned at once.
"When the UN partition decision was announced, a storm broke out in Iraq as in all other Arab states. Nevertheless, the Iraqi government did not allow any serious bloodshed or pillage to develop. It contented itself with nonviolent economic pressure. To protect Iraqi Jews, Chief Rabbi Sassoon Kedmi of Baghdad was compelled to declare to the Iraqi press the "complete solidarity of Iraqi Jews with other Iraqis in the denunciation of Zionism and in their determination to continue living in brotherly Iraq, as they have lived for hundreds of years."
"However, the fury had been let loose. After December 1, 1947, no Jews were permitted to leave Iraq, and those who had not yet left could not now escape. At first the Iraqi assault on local Jewry was financial, Jews being forced to contribute large sums to the fighting fund for the Palestinian Arabs. From January to May, 1948, life in Iraq was extremely unpleasant. Anti-Jewish feeling ran high, especially as Iraqi troops were defeated and the Arab refugees began arriving from Palestine. However, there was an outward calm. There were no pogroms in Iraq then, at least none that received any publicity abroad.
"The storm really broke on May 15. Then, Jews were treated in Iraq as enemies within the gate, spies, agents provocateurs. Iraqi Jewry's only hope for the future lay in emigration.
"When Iraq joined the other Arab nations in the war against Israel in May, 1948, the antagonism and bitterness, which had been stored up against the Jews of Iraq during the six months that followed the United Nations decision to partition Palestine, found an outlet. There were demonstrations by angered mobs and riots in some of the smaller towns in Iraq which resulted in some loss of life and damage to property. But for the most part Iraqi Jewry suffered from forms of official persecution, such as travel restrictions, dismissal of Jewish government officials, excessive taxation, and "voluntary contributions" to "general welfare" causes.
"All Jews were classed as enemy aliens, and all Zionist activities were characterized as treason. Imposing martial law, the government embarked on a program of searching Jewish homes "for illegal weapons," since, under martial law, arrests or searches could be made on the sole basis of suspicion. Many Iraqis found this a convenient way of settling long-standing personal feuds with their Jewish neighbors. All in all, 310 Jews were arrested in Bagdad alone during the initial period of the war; about half of these were released after questioning, and the rest were held for trial. Similar acts occurred in other towns and villages."The anti-Jewish repressions also served as a lucrative source of income for the government, which imposed heavy fines upon arrested Jews, thus replenishing its treasury and helping to finance the cost of the war. In addition, the government requisitioned buildings owned by the Jewish community, as well as some Jewish-owned private buildings, to house Arab refugees from Palestine. The sequestration of Jewish property and business, and blackmail, official and unofficial, proved profitable undertakings."
Read post in full
Elliott Abrams unpacks Abbas' 'narrative' in his Weekly Standard blog:
"Why did the wicked Zionists do this? Because European Jews were not coming to Israel in sufficient numbers. So, he recounts, “the Zionist movement turned to the Jewish communities in Iraq, Yemen, North Africa, Egypt and Syria, urging them to emigrate, though these [communities] had no motivation to leave, for they all enjoyed high standards of living, as well as civil and political rights that the European Jews had not even dreamt of for centuries.”
"In this context it is probably impolite to mention Abbas’s 1982 doctoral dissertation in Moscow, in which he argued with respect to the Holocaust that “the number of Jewish victims might be 6 million and might be much smaller – even less than 1 million.”
"Nor perhaps is it charitable to harp on his assumption that the Jews in Arab lands “all enjoyed high standards of living.” In any event it should not be necessary to go over the well-known history of what happened to Jewish communities in Arab countries after the establishment of the state of Israel: the riots and pogroms, the theft of property, the anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist legislation, which led a million Jews to flee to Israel."
I have little to add, except to emphasise that the trials and tribulations suffered by the Jews of Iraq began well before the establishment of Israel. A major factor in their exodus was the fear that the 1941 Farhud might be repeated. No doubt Abbas will write an article telling us Zionist agents were behind that too.