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August 29, 2015 / 14 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Baghdad’

ISIS ‘Preserving’ Ancient Artifacts by Selling Them [video]

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

All of the historians worried that the Islamic State (ISIS) is destroying ancient artifacts can relax. It turns out that the ISIS is selling them.

The ISIS has justified destroying ancient statues and artifacts because they are idolatrous and are reprehensible to Islam, but it seems that blasphemy does not enter the picture when money is involved.

The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris reported that ISIS-controlled territory includes more than 4,500 ancient sites.

“They steal everything that they can sell, and what they can’t sell, they destroy,” Qais Hussein Rasheed, Iraq’s deputy minister for antiquities and heritage,” told the newspaper.

Videos of the ISIS destroying ancient statues were misleading, Morris reported, because they actually were only replicas of the originals that are safely stored in Baghdad.

If they had value, the ISIS would not destroy them, and the sale of anything that fetches a good price is more evidence that like most if not all terrorist regimes, their religion is money.

The Islamic State is so well-organized that it grants licenses for excavating ancient stress, Morris reported.

Profiting from excavations is increasingly important for the ISIS because of loss of revenues from oil fields that have been bombed the U.S.-led strike force.

Below, at 1:00, is a news report with a video of ISIS destroying statues, probably replicas.

At Least 10 Killed in Baghdad Hotel Bombings [video]

Friday, May 29th, 2015

Two or three car bombs exploded in Baghdad, Iraq after midnight on Friday, next to two hotels, the Babylon and the Cristal Grand Ishtar (Sheraton).

At least a dozen people are reported to have been killed in the attacks, just minutes apart, and another 30 are wounded.

The hotels are very popular with government officials and westerners. Some foreign media outlets use the Cristal hotel.

It is suspected that at least one car bomb also involved a suicide bomber.

No group has taken responsibility yet for the attack.

From Baghdad to Israel: Actor Aryeh Elias, Passes Away at Age 94

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

Israeli film legend, Aryeh Elias passed away at age 94 today on Thursday, May 7. The veteran stage, television and movie actor, who was born in Kurdistan in 1921, was the first Jew to be accepted to the drama faculty in Baghdad’s Academy of Fine Arts in Iraq in 1941.  He started his long acting career around age 10 thanks to his uncle’s theater house in Kurdistan.

In an interview with Israel’s Hinuchit 23 TV three years ago, Elias said that there was a huge uproar in the northern Iraqi Jewish community when he was accepted to the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad.  “No one understood how I was accepted because the academy examiners were Israel haters. But my name being Albert Elias, no one could tell by my name that I was Jewish.”

Elias’s delivery of the famous monologue by Shylock from Shakepeare’s The Merchant of Venice in Arabic won the judges over at the academy and he recalled that his acting skills stood out among the other actors.

Following the bloody Nazi-inspired pogrom, known as the Farhud against the Jewish population of Baghdad in 1941 after the British victory in the Anglo-Iraqi war, which left nearly 180 Jews dead, thousands injured and hundreds of Jewish business looted, and hostilities thereafter, Elias made aliyah to Israel in 1947.

“I had just got the role of my life, Shylock,” recalled Elias. “But following all the hostilities, the Zionist underground members came to the rehearsal and took me away.”  At night, the members had arranged for Elias to hide in a truck on its way to deliver Baghdad dates to Haifa. “We would drive at night and hide during the day. At night the date honey would freeze and during the day, it would melt,” recalled Elias.

“I was so sad that I had to leave that big role of Shylock behind. My Muslim director back in Baghdad told me about the Habima theater [Israel’s national theater], but he didn’t know of the problem of the accent in Israeli theater then.”

In Israel, Elias’s Middle Eastern (Mizrahi) accent in Hebrew in the European dominated theater was deemed unacceptable for the Israeli stage at the time.

After he fought in Israel’s War of Independence, Elias received minor roles in The Kameri Theater but later he reached out to Arab towns across Israel, and performed on stage in Arabic in front of audiences including in Kfar Yasif, Kfar Kassem and Nazareth.

His big break came in 1965 with the role of the unemployed and alcoholic father, Levi, in the movie, “HaYeled Me’ever LaRechov, (The Boy Across the Street), an Israeli film that dealt with the difficult social issues facing Israel  at the time.  The movie was a nationwide success and was noted in international film festivals held in Venice as well as in Teheran.

Other movies for which Elias became famous for, included “The Police Man” (Ha’shoter Azoulai), “Snooker” (Hagigah B’snooker), “Kazablan,” “James’ Journey to Israel,” “Bonjour Monsieur Shlomi,” among many others.

In 2013, Elias received a lifetime achievement award from the Israeli Artists’ association for his lifetime work at age 92. In addition to his acting career, he also worked to help disadvantaged and at-risk Israeli youth.

Syrian Rebels Claim They Overran Golan Spy Post Backed by Russians [video]

Saturday, October 11th, 2014

Syrian rebels have posted a YouTube claiming that they overran a spy post on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights that was partially manned by Russians.

The video, picked up by The Daily Beast shows includes insignia and other signs that the post was run by Syrian intelligence with help from Russia. The post probably was used to monitor communications between rebel forces but also might have been used to tune in on the Israeli side of the strategic Golan Heights.

Photos of the location of IDF units were found bit the Free Syrian Army (FSA), confirming reports from Israel earlier this year that Russia is even more deeply involved in the Assad regime than previously estimated. Russian insignia were seen in the YouTube.

An FSA official told The Daily Beast that its fighters spotted more than dozen Russians in the area before the FSA overran the post.

Mark Galeotti, an expert on Russia’s military and intelligence services at New York University was quoted as saying that Russian advisers probably were “running an operation for detailed radio technical intelligence; we are not talking about intercepting telemetry and aircraft.”

With the ISIS advancing in northern Syria and closing in on cities in Iraq, including Baghdad, it is safe to assume that Israel would have preferred that Assad forces, even with the presence of Russian personnel, man a spy post across from the Israeli border instead of its being operated by rebels who just as easily could be overrun by Al Qaeda or ISIS jihadists.

First Time: US Bombs ISIS Near Baghdad to Support Iraqi Troops

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

For the first time, U.S. warplanes this week bombed terrorists from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operating near Baghdad.

The air strikes were coordinated with Iraqi forces and came in support of ground troops fighting to defend that nation’s capital.

Six ISIS vehicles were destroyed near Sinjar, along with a ISIS position southwest of Baghdad that had been the source of gunfire directed at Iraqi troops.

Thus far, the United States has carried out 162 air strikes against the terror group in Iraq since it began missions early last month.

But this is the first time American warplanes have carried out a bombing mission in direct support of Iraqi troops.

“U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIS (IS) terrorists in Iraq, employing attack and fighter aircraft to conduct two air strikes Sunday and Monday in support of Iraqi security forces near Sinjar and southwest of Baghdad,” US Central Command said in a statement.

“The air strike southwest of Baghdad was the first strike taken as part of our expanded efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions to hit ISIS targets as Iraqi forces go on offense, as outlined in the president’s speech last Wednesday.”

Nevertheless, President Barack Obama’s administration has harshly criticized Israel for carrying out similar actions against Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist organization in this summer’s counter terror Operation Protective Edge.

The U.S. State Department attacked Israel last week at a briefing in which spokesperson Marie Harf said, “We were horrified by the strikes that hit UNWRA facilities.”

UNWRA is the United Nations Work and Relief Agency that provides humanitarian aid in Palestinian Authority territories. The agency operates some 200 schools and food storage warehouses in Gaza, along with other facilities. More than a few were discovered to have been used by terrorists during the war as missile storage hideouts; others served as convenient human shields in and around which the terrorists were able to launch rocket and missile attacks against Israeli civilians, assuming there would be no return fire due to the displaced Gazans sheltering within the “neutral” buildings they used for cover.

The situation made a very juicy, deliberate photo op for the terrorists, as noted in a terrorist training manual captured earlier in the summer by the IDF. All this has been documented and published in the media as well as submitted to international authorities.

Nevertheless, Harf scored Israel for returning fire to the source of attacks on its civilians and soldiers — even though it was not even clear that any Israeli shells actually hit UNRWA facilities while they were occupied. In fact, satellite imagery and video documentation exists showing that the buildings were empty at the time that a lone Israeli shell struck an UNWRA building. Other shells that struck around UNRWA buildings and in a courtyard and were aimed directly with surgical precision at the terrorists who were being targeted precisely because they were firing rockets at Israeli civilians, and at Israeli soldiers.

Pot calling the kettle black? No way to know because oddly enough, unlike with Israel, the United States has not seen fit to share any information about collateral damage from its own air strikes in Iraq. And the international media has been equally silent on the matter. How odd.

Al Qaeda Eyes Baghdad After Taking Northern Iraq

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

The Al Qaeda-linked terror organization that earlier this week captured northern Iraq is now eyeing Baghdad.

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), also known in Syria as ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), earlier this week captured the major northern Iraqi city of Mosul – and then took Tikrit, the hometown of former dictator Sadaam Hussein.

The forces also control a large swathe of territory in the western and central regions of the country, and in eastern Syria — leading to wide speculation about whether an emirate may soon follow. Iraq’s lucrative oil fields in the north are especially vulnerable — and profitable.

Now, the group is vowing to march on Baghdad, as the country’s parliament meets in an emergency session to vote on a request by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to declare a state of emergency.

Up to half a million residents so far have fled Mosul, according to the BBC.

The UN Security Council said in a statement, meanwhile, that it “deplores in the strongest terms the recent events in the city of Mosul” and expressed concern for the hundreds of thousands who have since fled their homes. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on “the international community to unite in showing solidarity with Iraq as it confronts this serious security challenge”.

Faith in any help from the international community, however, is probably about as strong as that in help from America, which promised when it pulled out two and a half years ago to help Iraqi leaders “help push back against this aggression.” And then left them to twist in the wind.

 

Is Iraq Entitled to the ‘Jewish Archive?’

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Ben Cohen has a dream: in a JNS article – already re-published in the Arabic press – he wishes he could take his family to visit the National Archives Museum in Baghdad to see the ‘Jewish archive’along with Iraqi schoolchildren. However, he recognises that so deep is Iraq’s hatred for Jews that his dream will never be realized. My dream is more ambitious: that Iraqi schoolchildren should be allowed to see the archive in the Babylonian Heritage Center in Israel where most Iraqi Jews now live.

A few years ago, in response to a Palestinian critic who made a disparaging remark about the fact that I don’t speak Arabic, I felt compelled to write an article explaining why that is the case. I said that under different circumstances, I could have been born in an Arab country and grown up speaking Arabic. My father’s family had been settled in Iraq for generations, but they fled to England in 1941, the same year that Baghdad’s Jews were convulsed by a June pogrom known as the farhud, presaging a much larger exodus of Iraqi Jews over the next decade.

Among my father and his relatives, there was little nostalgia for the old country, and therefore no reason, as they saw it, to ensure that their children born outside Iraq learned Arabic. It’s not that they didn’t appreciate the centrality of Iraq to Jewish history; this was the land where the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud) was completed, where scholarship flowed from the Jewish academies of Sura and Pumbedita (now the city of Fallujah, site of some the most brutal fighting during the war in Iraq), and where, in modern times, Jewish merchants flourished alongside Jewish writers and musicians.

Yet there were also more recent memories of Iraq, uglier and sharper. The farhud, a word which Edwin Black, the author of a fine book on the  subject, translates as ‘violent dispossession’ cast a pall over relations between the Jews and their Muslim neighbors, and the mistrust deepened because of the support of many ordinary Arabs for Hitler’s Nazi regime. During the 1950s, anti-Semitic legislation and property confiscation forced the departure of the majority of Iraq’s Jews, but the small remnant who stayed were not immune from persecution. In 1969, the Ba’ath Party fascists ruling Iran executed 11 Jews on trumped-up charges of spying, transporting Iraqis from all over the country to Baghdad to watch the gruesome spectacle of a public hanging.

Since these images are seared into the minds of Iraqi Jews, it doesn’t take a huge leap of the imagination to understand why the vast majority wouldn’t consider returning there even if they could, and therefore why there are vibrant Iraqi Jewish communities in cities like Tel Aviv, New York, and London, but not Baghdad or Basra. Indeed, the break with the mother country is so irreparable that Iraqi Jews are of one mind when it comes to the current controversy over whether the United States should return an archive of Iraqi Jewish treasures to the Iraqi government: it absolutely should not do so.

A letter sent in 1918 by the British military governor to the Chief Rabbi of Baghdad. This "Jewish archive" document is among thousands recently restored in the US and slated for return to Iraq.

A letter sent in 1918 by the British military governor to the Chief Rabbi of Baghdad. This “Jewish archive” document is among thousands recently restored in the US and slated for return to Iraq.

The archive of books, photographs, scrolls, writings and communal documents, including one item that dates back to 1568, was discovered by American troops in Baghdad in 2003, as they combed through the flooded basement in the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s much-feared secret police.

Lyn Julius, a London-based writer and advocate on behalf of Jewish communities from the Arab world, has noted that the archive was seized by Saddam’s henchmen from the Bataween synagogue in Baghdad, in 1984. If the archive was stolen from its Jewish guardians at gunpoint, why on earth would the State Department, which has spent millions of dollars lovingly restoring its contents, return it to the Iraqi government? Simply because that government has suddenly decided that the archive constitutes, as one Iraqi representative put it, “part of our identity and history”? Or because the U.S. feels duty-bound to respect an agreement it made at the time to return the archive?

Julius and other advocates on behalf of Iraqi Jews make a strong case that returning the archive essentially involves restoring stolen property to those who stole it. Instead,they say, the archive should sit with its rightful owners themselves, the close-knit Iraqi Jewish communities spread around Israel and the countries of the West. On moral and legal grounds,I cannot counter this position. But here is a confession: I wish I could.

I wish I could envisage the sight of the archive on display in a Baghdad museum, much as it will be at the National Archives in Washington next month, with crowds of schoolchildren gathering to learn about the great community that lived among their great-grandparents. I wish I could organize a family trip to Iraq to see that hypothetical exhibition, safe in the knowledge that what is being shown belongs to our community, and that we are sharing it with the other ethnic and religious groups among whom we lived.

Visit Point of No Return.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/guest-blog/is-iraq-entitled-to-the-jewish-archive/2013/09/24/

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