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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘iraqi’

The Difficult and Important Task of Commemorating Iraqi Jewry’s Farhud

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

Every Iraqi Jew has a tale to tell about the Farhud, the two-day pogrom that befell the Jews of Baghdad 75 years ago in June 1941. In the case of my own family, it was a matter of heeding the advice of a Muslim business colleague of my grandfather, who told him that dark days were looming for the Jews, and that he would be wise to get his family out of the country as quickly as possible — which my grandfather did.

But my grandfather was part of a fortunate minority. When the Farhud — which means, in Arabic, “violent dispossession” — erupted, there were around 90,000 Jews still living in the Iraqi capital, the main component of a vibrant community descended from the sages who, 27 centuries earlier, had made the land once known as Babylon the intellectual and spiritual center of Judaism.

By the time the violent mob stood down, at the end of the festival of Shavuot, nearly 200 Jews lay dead, with hundreds more wounded, raped, and beaten. Hundreds of homes and businesses were burned to the ground. As the smoke cleared over a scene more familiar in countries like Russia, Poland, and Germany, the Jewish community came to the realization that it had no future in Iraq. Within a decade, almost the entire community had been chased out, joining a total of 850,000 Jews from elsewhere in the Arab world summarily dispossessed from their homes and livelihoods.

That the Farhud is even remembered today is in large part down to a handful of scholars and activists who have committed themselves to publicizing this terrible episode. During the week of the Farhud’s 75th anniversary, some of them — like the American writer Edwin Black and Lyn Julius, the British historian of Middle Eastern Jewry — have been organizing memorial ceremonies in the US, the UK, and especially Israel, which absorbed the great majority of Iraqi-Jewish refugees. I myself was honored to address the memorial ceremony at New York City’s Safra Synagogue, where 27 candles — one for each century of the Jewish presence in Iraq — were lit and then promptly snuffed out, to symbolize the sudden extinction of Iraqi Jewry.

Commemorating the Farhud, and establishing its rightful place as an example of the persecution of the Jews during the Nazi era, has been a difficult task. For several decades after the Second World War, the importance of the Farhud was subsumed by the widely held notion that the Holocaust was something that consumed only European Jews. The truth was that the Nazis had both a direct presence and significant influence across the Arab world. So when, in 1941, the British had suffered a series of blows in southern Europe and North Africa, the time was right for a coup against the pro-British government in Baghdad. The strategic goal of the Nazis was to seize Iraq’s oil fields, thereby providing them with the fuel needed for the invasion of the Soviet Union.

In April, the month my grandfather and his family left Iraq, a local Nazi lackey, Rashid Ali al Ghailani, seized power, believing that an alliance with Hitler would create the conditions for Iraq’s national independence. Rashid Ali’s principal supporter was the pro-Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, who arrived in Baghdad in 1939 having escaped British arrest. Until then, the mufti’s main role had involved inciting genocidal violence against the Jewish community in British Mandatory Palestine, which was especially pronounced during the Arab revolt of 1936-39. Once in Iraq, the mufti solidified his Nazi loyalties, meeting with Hitler in Berlin in November 1941 and later organizing Bosnian and Albanian Muslims into the “Handzar” division of the SS.

The Farhud itself should not be seen as a spontaneous outburst. For days before the violence, a steady stream of anti-Jewish propaganda was broadcast on the radio. Members of what Lyn Julius describes as a “proto-Nazi youth movement,” the Futuwwa, began daubing Jewish homes and businesses with red paint in the shape of a palm, in order to make the passage of the rioters easier.

Their actions were, in common with all pogromists in all locations, unspeakable. In his memoir of the Farhud, “In the Alleys of Baghdad,” Salim Fattal recalled the “murderers and rapists…who abused their victims to their heart’s content, with no let or hindrance. They slit throats, slashed off limbs, smashed skulls. They made no distinction between women, children, and old people. In that gory scene, blind hatred of Jews and the joy of murder for its own sake reinforced each other.” Babies and young children were thrown into the Tigris river, some of them butchered with swords only moments before.

Ironically, the Farhud occurred a few days after Rashid Ali himself fled Iraq, following a failed attack on a Royal Air Force base. As the violence escalated, British troops, who were just eight miles from the city, could have intervened. But as the historian Tony Rocca explained to the BBC, “Sir Kinahan Cornwallis, Britain’s ambassador in Baghdad, for reasons of his own, held our forces at bay in direct insubordination to express orders from Winston Churchill that they should take the city and secure its safety. Instead, Sir Kinahan went back to his residence, had a candlelight dinner, and played a game of bridge.”

Thus began the process of making Iraq, like much of Europe, judenrein. It was a process that soon enveloped the rest of the Arab world. Six months after the war’s end, anti-Semitic riots broke out in Libya and Egypt. Those Jews who remained in Iraq, around 140,000 of them, endured a raft of discriminatory legislation reminiscent of the Nuremburg Laws. These led, during the early 1950s, to their complete expropriation.

As terrible as it is to say this, part of the reason that the Farhud remains a relatively obscure event is because the expelled Iraqi Jews became victims of their own subsequent success, creating new lives in Israel, the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Unlike the Palestinian Arabs, they were not permanently stamped with the mark of the refugee, meaning that their pleas for justice have always been regarded as a historical question, rather than a pressing geopolitical concern.

At the New York ceremony for the Farhud anniversary, many of the speakers invoked the post-Holocaust slogan “Never Again!” As noble as that idea is, when it comes to the Arab world, it is also a simple statement of fact. There will be no more Farhuds in that region, because, outside of the sovereign State of Israel, there are hardly any Jews remaining in the area upon whom to re-inflict the bestialities witnessed in June 1941.

Ben Cohen

Jordan Hangs 2 Terrorists at Dawn in Response to ISIS Killing of Pilot

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

As promised by Jordanian officials Tuesday night, initial punishment for the barbaric murder of its pilot was swift.

Two Al Qaeda prisoners on death row were executed by hanging at dawn on Wednesday, their bodies driven away in ambulances shortly after.

The speed of the response and its efficient directness is a message the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cannot ignore. It is a universal language understood in both Islam and the Arab world – and one that Israel and the Western world would do well to learn and emulate. Immediately.

Releasing terrorists from Gitmo back to their home countries – or neighboring countries – where they can simply repeat the same slaughter or worse, is ridiculous. Releasing convicted terrorists in prisoner exchanges, allowing them to return to their evil ways and worse, to teach those skills to others and organize political movements is stupid.

This writer salutes Israel’s decision to empower the Israel Defense Forces to teach officers to launch the Hannibal Protocol whenever necessary to prevent that from ever happening again. Israel should look closely at how Jordan is dealing with terrorists when attacks are aimed at its own country and study that response.

There should be no negotiations with any terrorists ever by anyone because terrorists do not negotiate in good faith. If there is no takeaway this week from any other news piece, let this bit of education at least be learned by the world’s population. Terrorists lie. They can never be trusted.

Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi female whose freedom was sought in negotiations with Jordan by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was awaiting execution on death row in the kingdom for her role in a triple 2005 suicide bombing at a hotel that killed 60 people.

Ziyad al-Karbouly, a senior Iraqi Al Qaeda operative convicted in 2008 for killing a Jordanian, also was sentenced to death for plotting to attack the Hashemite Kingdom, said government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani.

Jordan, to its eternal credit, executed both Wednesday at dawn at the Swaqa prison, some 50 miles south of Amman.

Family members of the pilot and their supporters gathered in the darkness at the Karak district tribal gathering chamber, in Muath al-Kasaesbeh’s hometown of Ai, following the news of their hero’s death in flames.

“We will avenge, we will avenge the blood of our son!” dozens of protesters chanted as they marched towards the palace waving a Jordanian flag following the announcement of the pilot’s killing.

The especially barbaric manner in which the pilot was murdered outraged not only Jordanians but also people around the world, drawing condemnation from international leaders as well.

The Jordanian government had negotiated with ISIS in good faith over the past week in response to an officer to exchange 26-year-old captive pilot for al-Rishawi, but had insisted first on proof that the pilot was still alive. ISIS had not provided the evidence and Jordan was unwilling to release the terrorist without it.

ISIS subsequently admitted in the announcement with its execution video of the pilot on Tuesday that he had been killed as long ago as January 3. That was only 10 days from the time of his capture when he had been forced to eject from his F-16 fighter jet, which crashed in a lake in northeastern Syria. Al-Kasaesbeh was the first Jordanian pilot to be captured while flying in the U.S.-led bombing raids against ISIS.

“Our punishment and revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians,” vowed Jordanian army spokesman Mamdouh al-Ameri upon hearing the news. King Abdullah told his nation to unite in the face of the ISIS threat in a brief address Tuesday night on national television. “It’s the duty of all of us to stand united and show the real values of Jordanians in the face of these hardships,” he said. The monarch took the time for a quick meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House and then cut short his visit to the United States and flew directly back to Amman.

Hana Levi Julian

Obama’s Cultural Rape

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Rape is an ugly word, an even uglier deed. I don’t use the word lightly or easily. Rape is a crime of violence, not passion; of destruction. The intent is to take the soul, destroy the body. It is an injustice beyond measure, a violation of humanity. No, I’ve never been raped but I know women who have been.

When someone uses the word “holocaust” – even without the capital letter, it bothers me because too often it is thrown around easily and rather than elevate the crime, it diminishes, just a bit, the Holocaust. I think rape is the same way – people use the word so freely, it takes away from when a real rape is inflicted on a person.

And yet…and yet, I’m going to use it here because it is the only word I can think of that applies, and the man ultimately responsible for this rape, this cultural rape – is Barack Hussein Obama – and yes, I’m using his middle name because he felt fine using it in Cairo and other places. And perhaps, just a little, that middle name plays a role in what he is about to do.

The full story, credit for it, comes from and goes to Caroline Glick in her article in the Jerusalem Post, “Our World: A miracle and an Outrage.” The gist of it is – by some miracle, 2,500 years of heritage, of holy books and more survived the devastation and the almost entire complete exile of the Iraqi Jewish community. Saddam Hussein (yeah, there’s that name again), stole over 2,700 Jewish books and writings from the Jewish community. He stored them in some basement to rot and by some miracle, invading US troops found the waterlogged remains.

Amazingly enough, the troops and leaders realized the magnitude of what they had found and the collection was taken to the States, refurbished, renewed, reclaimed at a cost of $3 million dollars. I don’t know how, but I’m willing to raise the money to pay the Americans back for this kindness.

But…here comes the outrage about which Caroline Glick wrote. The American government proudly put their accomplishment on display. Good for them. The exhibition at the National Archives runs through January – that is the scheduled date of the cultural rape about to take place. On or around that time, Obama and the State Department feel it is their responsibility to return the archive to its rightful owners. And I commend them for this decision as much as I condemn them for being too stupid to know who those rightful owners are. No, Mr. President

I believe that the Israeli Ambassador to the United States should request an immediate meeting with the United States President. I believe our Prime Minister must, in no uncertain terms, make it clear that the owners of the archives are the Iraqi Jews – who live primarily in Israel and that to send the archives, these holy books, “back” to Iraq is tantamount to destroying them. Obama might as well blow them up in Washington for all that sending them back to Baghdad will accomplish.

It is hard to believe that caring human beings would not do all in their power to stop a rape they know is about to take place – well, here’s our chance. We know where, we know when – now it is up to each of us to stop it.

Obama – what do you want to stop this travesty? Do you want 3 million dollars? We will raise it. You want a request from the Iraqi Jewish community – I’ll see to it. You want the Israeli government to request it – Bibi, please, do this before it is too late.

Just was what was stolen by the Nazis has long been recognized as belonging to the victims of the Holocaust, the archives belong to the Jews from whom Saddam Hussein stole them. They are not, and never were, the legacy of Iraq – rather, they are the legacy of a small community that was all but hounded into exile, only to re-establish themselves in Israel.

The archives should be donated to the community here in Israel, to a museum they established as a true legacy to what was once a thriving Jewish community. These holy books never belonged to the Iraqi government, Saddam Hussein, or the greater Iraqi people. To deny the rightful owners, to turn these books over to the Iraqis is an abomination, a cultural rape of 2,500 years.

Please help – write to Washington and demand that the archive be given to their rightful owners, the Iraqi JEWISH community, largely represented in Israel and no where else.

Please write to your Congress representatives and ask them to add their voices against this injustice.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula Stern

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/obamas-cultural-rape/2013/10/28/

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