April 23, 2012 Special Dispatch No. 4669

PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas: Israel Forced the Iraqi Jews to Emigrate

April 23, 2012
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 4669

In early April 2012, PA President Mahmoud 'Abbas published an article on Iraqi Jews, in which he wrote that Israel had forced them to emigrate from Iraq by threatening them with violence and murder. The following are excerpts.[1]

Iraqi Jews Were Relocated to Palestine As Part of a "Tripartite Zionist-British-Iraqi Conspiracy"

"On a summer's day in 1979, Israeli radio aired [an episode of] the program 'Leta'ami,' hosted by Zaki Al-Mukhtar. The program featured interviews with academics, authors and [other] public figures, both Jewish and Arab. That day's guest was the Iraqi-Jewish [poet] Avraham Ovadia, previously named Ibrahim 'Awwad. He talked about early Arabic poetry and about prominent [Arab] poets, both ancient and modern. Then the host asked him how he had started writing poetry and developing his talent as a poet, and he replied: 'I was a pupil at a junior high school in Basra, and my teacher noticed I had a talent for poetry. The teacher was a Christian from Palestine. He was a member of [one of the] educational delegations that the Arab Higher Committee[2] used to send to various Arab countries like Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman to study at the Committee's expense. This teacher, Hana, advised me to memorize the Koran in order to gain a good command of the Arabic language. I did so, and also began to write poetry. I published my first collection of poems in Baghdad in 1948, and sent a copy to my teacher in Jerusalem, as a token of my gratitude. Unfortunately, the copy never reached him, because of the war. He was forced to immigrate to Jordan at the same time that I was forced to immigrate to Palestine on the pretext of reuniting Jewish families.' Here the program ended.

"This story contains several interesting points. First, [the fact] that, despite the difficulties faced by the Palestinians due to their struggle against imperialism and against the Israeli settlements, the Arab Higher Committee still sent delegations to study in the Arab countries for free. Another [interesting point] is the harmony and brotherhood that prevailed in the Arab countries among people of different religions and sects – to the extent that a Christian teacher could advise a Jewish pupil to memorize the Holy Koran, without either of them feeling uncomfortable. The third interesting point is the bitterness with which the Israeli poet described the predicament of his 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."

European White-Collar Jews Needed A Menial Labor Force, So They Used Violent Methods to Force Iraqi Jews to Emigrate

"Some among the Jewish public remember the role played by Mordechai Ben Porat, [who later became] a minister in the Likud government, and by Shlomo Hillel, [who later became] a minister in the Labor government. They headed a secret Zionist organization and planned operations of throwing hand grenades into [Jewish] homes, synagogues and places of business. The Jewish public still remembers that a member of one of these gangs, who had lost his leg, sued Ben Gurion for sending him on the operation in which he was crippled.

"Initially, the Zionist movement did not want the Jews of the Arab countries to immigrate to Palestine, because it wanted to create an [exclusively] Ashkenazi state with a West-European character, though it did demand political, financial and media support from the [Jews in the Arab world]... The situation changed following the establishment of the state [of Israel], after the Israeli army occupied larger territories than had been allotted [to the Jews] in the partition plan, and after the Zionists were disappointed [to discover] that the European Jews did not flock to Israel en masse after the end of World War II. [The Zionists] had hoped that these [Jews] would come due to the oppression and suffering inflicted upon them by the Nazis and fascists.

"Having no other choice, 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 Iraq, for example, after the declaration of the constitution in 1908... the Jew Sassoon Eskell became the first minister of finance in 1921, and held this position for several consecutive terms. Article Two of Iraq's Founding Assembly Law, of 1922, stipulated that [five] members of the assembly must be Jews: two from Baghdad and one each from Mosul, Al-Basra and Kirkuk. Parliamentary Elections Law No. 11, from 1946, stipulated that the Jews would be represented [in parliament] by [six Jewish] MPs: three from Baghdad, two from Al-Basra, and one from Mosul, in addition to a [Jewish] representative in the Senate.

"Consequently, it was difficult or even impossible to convince this community to leave. [So] the Zionist movement used violent methods, in conspiracy with certain local authorities, and also [in conspiracy] with foreign elements who held the reigns of government and who, for political reasons, wanted the Jews to leave so as to provide the necessary manpower for building the Jewish state. Moreover, the expulsion of the Palestinians from their towns and villages created vast empty areas, and an urgent need for people who would perform jobs that the white-collar European Jews considered beneath them. For all these reasons, [the Zionists] advanced the cause of Jewish emigration from the Arab countries, including the [emigration of] the Iraqi Jews."[3]


[2]The central political organ of the Arab community of Mandatory Palestine.

[3] 'Abbas claims that Ben Gurion called for strong, clever, loyal and motivated young men to visit Arab countries, impersonate extremist Arabs and voice antisemitic slogans, in order to prompt local Jews to flee. He adds: "Ben Gurion voiced this wish, [but] concealed his actions. He realized [his plan] by sending envoys to Iraq and Morocco in order to expel the Jews through violence and killing, thus [uprooting] hundreds of thousands of Jews who had lived there for centuries."

'Abbas also quotes from a book by late Israeli author Yitzhak Bar-Moshe, which describes the hardships experienced by the Iraqi Jews upon their arrival in Israel and the humiliating treatment they suffered at the hands of the establishment. He concludes by saying: "Fifty years later, do the Iraqi Jews feel any different? Has their situation changed, or the attitude towards them? I don't think so."

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