Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Operations Ezra & Nechemia: The Aliyah of Iraqi Jews

This tells the story of the evacuation of 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel in 1951-2.

Always intrigued me because these Iraqi Jews' ancestors were exiled from Israel 2,500 years ago. The story of their importance to modern Iraq has been told many times.

The Jewish community of Baghdad


Michael J Totten has articles on Lebanon, Syria and Libya, which can be accessed from his website.

I used to live in Libya, or rather my parents did, between 1960-70, when it was a Kingdom. It probably was a police state under the King, but obviously nothing like what it now is. It is a vaste, oil rich country with a small population, which is presumably kept happy on state hand-outs.
Strange how the European country which has close ties with Libya, mostly to do with gas, is the one which as Libya's colonial master under Mussolini, treated the Libyans so abominably. I think Ghaddafi's son is a footballer in an Italian club, or was.

Under more normal circumstances Libya would be a touristt hotspot, making the country a fortune, with its fantastic beaches and Roman ruins at Sabratha and Lleptis Magna.

Chronology of Libyan history


Ahmadinejad: Europe created Israel to complete Holocaust

It doesn' really matter what he says in detail. He just has to keep saying Zionism to prime everyone for what he fears may come, especially his own population.

From OpinionJournal (=Wall Street Journal) :

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, Europe has 2.3 million Jews, and 11 of the 20 countries with the biggest Jewish populations are in Europe: Russia, France, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Germany, Belarus, Hungary, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and Moldova.

By contrast, among predominately Muslim countries, the one with the biggest Jewish population is Iran itself, which places 25th with an estimated 20,405 Jews. This is less than one-fifth of Germany's Jewish population, and other estimates (such as this one) have the number much smaller.

The only other majority-Muslim countries to crack the top 50 are Turkey (17,415 Jews), Azerbaijan (7,911), Morocco (5,236) and Kazakhstan (4,100). The depopulation of Jews from the Arab and Muslim worlds is largely a postwar phenomenon; according to the JVL, Iraq's Jewish population had declined to around 100 by 2003 from 150,000 in 1948:

After the establishment of Israel in 1948, Zionism became a capital crime.

In 1950, Iraqi Jews were permitted to leave the country within a year provided they forfeited their citizenship. A year later, however, the property of Jews who emigrated was frozen and economic restrictions were placed on Jews who chose to remain in the country. . . .

In 1952, Iraq's government barred Jews from emigrating and publicly hanged two Jews after falsely charging them with hurling a bomb at the Baghdad office of the U.S. Information Agency.

With the rise of competing Ba'ath factions in 1963, additional restrictions were placed on the remaining Iraqi Jews. The sale of property was forbidden and all Jews were forced to carry yellow identity cards. After the Six-Day War, more repressive measures were imposed: Jewish property was expropriated; Jewish bank accounts were frozen; Jews were dismissed from public posts; businesses were shut; trading permits were cancelled; telephones were disconnected. Jews were placed under house arrest for long periods of time or restricted to the cities.

Persecution was at its worst at the end of 1968. Scores were jailed upon the discovery of a local "spy ring" composed of Jewish businessmen. Fourteen men--eleven of them Jews--were sentenced to death in staged trials and hanged in the public squares of Baghdad; others died of torture. On January 27, 1969, Baghdad Radio called upon Iraqis to "come and enjoy the feast." Some 500,000 men, women and children paraded and danced past the scaffolds where the bodies of the hanged Jews swung; the mob rhythmically chanted "Death to Israel" and "Death to all traitors." This display brought a world-wide public outcry that Radio Baghdad dismissed by declaring: "We hanged spies, but the Jews crucified Christ."

The Jews of Iran have not fared as badly as their Iraqi counterparts, but the mad mullahs have hardly been good for the Jews:

Under the Phalevi Dynasty, established in 1925, the country was secularized and oriented toward the West. This greatly benefited the Jews, who were emancipated and played an important role in the economy and in cultural life. On the eve of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, 80,000 Jews lived in Iran. In the wake of the upheaval, tens of thousands of Jews, especially the wealthy, left the country, leaving behind vast amounts of property.

So it would be more accurate to say that Arab countries since 1948, joined by Iran since 1979, have been following the lead of the Germans of the Nazi era and depopulating themselves of Jews.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Iran Means What It Says

Michael Rubin, 2 January 2006

Iran must worry me if I am reading and taking note of articles from a Fellow of the AEI {2}, but there it goes. If I find information and/or opinion from centre/left sources to add to this, I will.

Although MR is saying this is consistent and this is ideology, I think it is also based on an Iranian fear of what the Israelis and or the U.S. might do if it all goes too far. "The idiocy is in the ideology" to loosely paraphrase Marshall Mcluhan: once you become sucked into impractical ideology - knowingly or unknowingly - you end up making speeches like the current president of Iran. This is what the Nazi propaganda machine did. Goebbels made speeches where he explained clearly what he thought propoganda was and was not, which are extremely enlightening in todays terms. Knowledge and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels, 9 January 1928.

Even if we stick simply to Holocaust denial, we have a distinct problem in the fact and fantasy department. The Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Jonathan Sacks, has gone on air on the BBC to worry about the growth of anti-semitism. My instinct is to say, in the European context, this is inevitable: for example,the rise of neo-Nazi parties in the part of Germany that was the GDR (disaffected unemployed youg men who ar ethe children of people brain-washed by the so-called communist state they grew up in) is well known. And there is the internet. There has been an increasing amount of desecration of synagogues and Jewish graves across europe in recent years. I guess this is orchestrated rather than piece-meal. It also becomes fashionable. A meme. I heard someone on the radio saying Muslims will be blamed but it is probably skin heads.

In the wider contect, the point however, is to clearly distinguish between Zionism (which version are you against? SEE Wiki entry on AntiZionism) and anti-semitism. The technique seems to be to get at Zionists through anti-semitism. Hit at the weakest spot. Holocaust denial is an integral part of this technique. In a rational world it should be possible to be anti-zionist without being accused of (or actually being) being anti-semitic. A writer such as Robert Thompson, a catholic, is earnestly anti-zionist, but often so determined to put an anti-zionist case (which version is he, for example against?) he appears to be anti-semitic. Or can we say, the words of anti-zionists can be denigrated and negated by the accusation of covert anti-semitism, if need be. So its very important to say which zionism you are against. Knowing the sensitivity (=guilt) of non-Jews to the Holocaust, some Jews often shout down anyone who even mentions Zionism. Reading this
Wiki: anti-zionism (links to wiki:zionism) makes it clear to the novice on this subject that this a much more complicated problem than at first meets the eye.

The two basic perspectives: (1) the propaganda value of conflation by those against the state of Israel, (2) the understandable sensitivity of many Jews who by default see attacks on zionism as soon turning to attacks on them if they don't defend themselves, in the light of this knowledge is then seen to be far too simplistic. More people therefore in the mainsteam media should be writing articles about the varieties of Zionism, and asking questions about which one could be criticised, if any, without the accusation of ant-semitism being true.


I do not agree with the settlements in post 1967 Israel. So I fall into a category of anti-zionism. Though I see why they were put there: demography war.

My view is that the emotional displays of the settlers who were recently removed from Gaza, if it was genuine and not a show for the media (we know they are being compensated for their losses), are only fueling the hatred of Israel by those who do not want it to exist. The people who are shall we say blanket anti-semitic, are then able to point at this small minority of religion cranks and say they represent what Israelis as a whole feel.

The religious ideology of the die-hard Zionist settlers of Gaza and others in West Bank settlements (who perhaps ought to be distinguised, in a way, from the Zionists of 1948), shows how unrealistic they are about what in essence must be a political problem, not a millenarian fantasy. They indeeed subsume true morals and ethics in their bid to defend their unrealistic, historo-religious position.

This all shows shows how devilish politics can be. The settlers (there are many varieties but more or less all hav had their living subsidised by the Israelis state) have been used by the state in its war of demographics for decades. When things change, as they did with Ariel Sharon's decision to pull out of Gaza, they are unceremonially dumped, Zionism or not.

It is understandable why they should be upset. But not understandable why they can't see, and admit, they were pawns in a nasty, cynical game, and to have removed themselves from Gaza without tears and wailing. The tears and wailing, it might be argued, show how they rely more on their fantasies than real world events. Or, maybe are cynically manipulating the media themselves.

The settlements were only possible too, because settlers were feather-bedded into these communities by the Isreali state. Very few of them could have walked into these places and set up what they did set up (at a standard in stark contrast to the squalour of Arab lives around them) without financial handouts and an infrastructure. Few of them could have stayed there without the Israelis government support. Indeed, without incentives to settle, despite their professed Zionism, we must ask how many would have taken on the task of settling in such hostile places. At the same time, though having been in Gaza for example, for going on decades, they always had the fact they could retreat to Israel proper, if things got tough.
Compensation for Jews Who Lose Homes in Disengagement shows there is always a bottom line. Although therewas a logic to the settlements in Israeli government terms as can be seen form Wiki: anti-zionism (links to wiki:zionism), we can see under Wiki: Israeli settlement there are/were a variety of motivations for settling.

For someone outside the issue, for whom it has no impact on his own life, the destruction of perfectly good housing, which could have been used for Gazans to live in (no of course they will not live in houses once occupied by Jews, and yes they do have big families which could not fit into these small houses, but what a sorry state of affairs when the houses are demolished, then Palestinians are employed to clear up the rubble! It is the same category of moral and ethical bindness which condones (allows) the thorwing away of perfectly edible food from supermarkets by the skip full every day of the week, all round the world.


In the process of reading around this topic have come across Maxime Rodinson, discussed here in a valedictory to both him and Jacques derrida who died in 2004.


My view has progressively been since it is difficult for the ordinary individual to know what is fact and what propoganda, and even to know what are real as opposed to bogus debates (whose agenda for what why and when?), it is often better to go to the heart of a problem, as here, by seeing what the people at the heart of the difficulty think of their own problem. I picked up two sites, produced by, through this entry in the Peace Encyclopedia: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Zionists with the questions: "
Is anti-Zionism the same thing as anti-semitism? Is an anti-Zionist also an anti-semite? " answered in part by reference to a variety of quotes. There is also an entry: Anti-Semitism.

The Centre of Ethic Jewish Studies have created the Peace Encyclopedia and Famous Jews Interactive. This intro gives a flavour of the thinking.

memories of a childhood in Iraq in the 1950s * thoughts on events in the Middle East

Location: United Kingdom

expatriot in Middle East as child, retired teacher.

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