Saved by "Operation Ali Baba"

After the case of the Baath regime hope exists for a new beginning of Jewish life in the Iraq. In the north a Jewish party already exists.

by Thomas Schmidinger

After release Bagdhads of the rule of Saddam Hussein remained the only remaining synagog to Pesach closed. After 35 years ba´thistischer rule the fear of the chaos of the first days and of remaining Ba´thisten, which could rächen themselves at the handful of remaining Jewesses and Jews, was too large.

Hardly more than 30 old humans remained today of a Jewish population, who constituted once a fifth of the population Bagdhads.

The Jewish municipalities Mesopotamiens can look back and form on one approximately 2,500 years old operational readiness level of the Judentums in the two-current country thereby one of the oldest groups of the ethnical and religious mosaic between Euphrates and Tigris. At the latest since the Babylonian exile there is today's Iraq a constant operational readiness level of Jewish municipalities in the area.

After the destruction of the Jewish state by the Romans and the increasing meaning exerted by it of the Jewish Diaspora Mesopotamien formed an important mental-cultural center of the Judentums.

The here living municipalities won in particular after the Islamic conquest, which extracted the Jewish population from the early Christian Antisemitismus of the eastRoman realm, larger weight for the entire Judentum.

The Islamic rule permitted to the Jewish population with the status of the Dhimma, the protection instructingness, a religious, cultural and to certain extent political autonomy, with simultaneous subordination under the Islamic requirement for rule.

In the Islamic Middle Ages flowered the Jewish municipalities Bagdhads, Basras, Mosuls and many other cities to today's Iraq and affected in cultural and religious regard in particular the arabischsprachige Judentum Syria, Palestine and Egypt.

Under Islamic sovereignty could in the Iraq also the Jewish sparkling wines of the Karäer develop, which from here into its later emphasis countries on the Krim and finally to Cairo, Lithuania, Jerusalem and Istanbul spread. A last karäische municipality existed in the Iraq up to the emigration of most Iraqi Jews in the fifties-years 20. Century in the rural town hit, northwest from Bagdhad.

Under osmanischer rule could do the Iraqi Jewesses and Jew of the Refomen late 19. Century profit and finally became an important cultural, political and economic element of the urbanen population. This upward trend continued also in the British protectorate time.

When the Iraq became to dismiss finally 1932 formally into independence, the economic situation of the Jewish municipalities could improve further, however worsened their political position parallel to the stabilization of the early Arab nationalism, which saw potential allied ones of the Zionismus also in for centuries the arabisierten Iraqi Jewesses and Jews, although the actual influence of the Zionismus under the Jewish population Iraq hardly a role played.

When the Arab nationalism allied itself in the thirties and forties-years increasingly with the German national socialism and its Antisemitismus, with the Mufti of Jerusalem Haj amine aluminium-Husseini of one the most prominent LV-Kollaborateure of the Arab nationalism after Bagdhad in the exile went and to this a number of nationalistic teachers and intellectual from Palestine and Syria followed, increased the pressure to the Jewish population Iraq.

Anti-Jewish LV propaganda fell increasingly on fruitful soil and led after the per-German Putsch Rashid Alis on 1 April 1941 to a ever more intolerable situation for the Jewish population.

To 23. May 1941 bezeichntete Hitler in an instruction „the Arab liberty movement " as „our natural confederate against England " and confessed in this connection „to the collection Iraq a special meaning " too: „You strengthens over the Iraqi borders the England-hostile forces in the middle Orient, disturbs the English connections and binds English troops. [...] I decided to drive the development in the middle Orient by support Iraq forward. “

The government Rashid Alis encountered the actually far beyond Iraq sympathies of the Arab nationalism. Michel Aflaq and Salah Bitar, the later founders of the Baath party created their own relief organization for the Iraq and enlisted Freiwillige for the Iraqi regime.

After the British began with military striking down of the regime Rashid Alis, rage unloaded itself of the trailers of the regime increasingly in the Jewish population, who flowed after the defeat of the regime into a Pogrom at the Jewish population Bagdhads.

In the power vacuum, which preceded occupation Bagdhads by the British, in this „Farhud " Pogrom mentioned over 170 Jewesses and Jews were murdered, hurt thousands and geplündert business of Jewish owners.

A British commission of inquiry called later the LV propaganda of the German message in Bagdhad and the agitation Haj amine aluminium-Husseinis and its trailer than causes for this anti-Semitic force outbreak. However under any circumstances the entire Muslim population Bagdhads did not take part to the Farhud.

There is also many cases from mixed quarters Bagdhads well-known, in which Muslims protected and against the anti-Semitic mobilization defended their Jewish neighbours.

The Farhud left deep traces in the Jewish population Bagdhads, however it came only to the Arab defeat into Palestine and a renewed anti-Jewish agitation in the Iraq, with which in the media of the still popular Arab nationalists of always open Jewesses and Jews with the Zionismus were equated, to a first large emigration wave of the Jewish population into the again-created State of Israel.

A large part of these Jewish refugees was not by any means zionistisch adjusted, but after the experiences of the Fahrud so much it traumatisiert that it in view of anti-Jewish propaganda and after several bomb attacks among other things on a coffee house on 8 April 1950, frequented by Jews, and on the Mas´uda Shemtov synagog to 14. Jänner 1951, escape-like the country left.

130.000 Iraqi Jewesses and Jews in the context of the operation Ali Baba over Cyprus to Israel were gone on a trip. Thus the predominant majority of the Jewish population had left the Iraq, however still active Jewish municipalities with some thousand members in the large cities, who beside the Antisemitismus of their environment also under a constant drift to Israel, remain, into which the USA suffered and to Europe, but nevertheless their municipality life to continue could. In the synagogs Bagdhads, Basras and Mossuls were held also after the Putsch Abd aluminium-Karim Qasims of services and Jewish holidays were committed.

The conflicts between Iraqi linking on the one hand and the Arab nationalist inside on the other hand and the succession of revolts, road fights, military Umstürzen and excesses of the Baathisten and other nationalists, resulting from it, against the left one led however also under the Jewish population increasing uncertainty and accelerated their emigration.

To one weitern emigration wave rope that remaining Jewesses and Jew should come it however only to the Arab defeat in the six-day war and the final seizure of power of the Baath party 1968.

The Baath had made and began never a make no secret from its anti-Semitic convicition apart from the bloody fight of the communist and Kurdish opposition with a campaign against alleged „zionistische agents ", who already experienced a half year after their seizure of power, in January 1969 with a looking process transferred in the television against 14 persons, under it nine Jews because of „espionage for Israel " and the following public execution of the accused ones of their first high point.

Further looking processes and an intensified anti-Semitic propaganda led to a mass escape of the majority of the remaining Jewish population and to the reduction on a small Jewish municipality in Bagdhad with a remaining synagog in the quarter Bataween.

The remaining Jews Bagdhads outward often hid their religious affiliation and tried to adapt to their Muslim environment.

While the young often tried on adventurous ways, the country to leave, stayed a handful of old people. The last Rabbiner deceased to in the middle of the 90's. After the Baathismus had sold nearly all Iraqi Jewesses and Jew, it placed it quasi under protection.

The government promoted the receipt of the synagog and stated the existence of a Jewish municipality again and again as proof for its tolerance opposite „good ", i.e. antizionistischen Jews. While the remaining 30 to 40 Jewesses and Jew Bagdhads only by obedience in relation to the regime could secure their surviving, it succeeded to the handful of Kurdish Jewesses and Jews in the Kurdish autonomy area in the north Iraq, released since 1991, again to organize itself independently.

Not least because also the Kurdish population Iraq at the own body experience must, what mörderische Konsquenzen the Arab nationalism have can, faced the large Kurdish parties PUK and KDP of the Jewish population very positively. Driving tenth out that out KurdInnen from the environment of Kirkuk by the regime of Saddam Hussein and the settlement of Arab Palestinian inside in the formerly Kurdish houses increased also the sympathies opposite Israel.

Baathisti media excited themselves in March 2000 about the education of a Jewish party (Yahud Kurdistan) in the autonomy area, while Jalal Talabani, which explained chairmen of the PUK this as a normal component of the Kurdish democracy, in which also assyrische and turkmenische parties gives it.

Hopes that also the Jewish municipality in Bagdhad could recover after the end of the Baath rule again, are for the time being however still very vague. Without the return of exilierter Iraqi Jewesses and Jews this will however not be possible, because a municipality, which consists only more of three dozen people, which are nearly everything over seventy, on itself alone also posed after its release to disappear. The last remaining synagog does not however only have the war, but also the plunderings projected.

The fact that calculated the Muslim neighbours of the synagog protected this forwards several times emerging Plünderern may be interpreted as indications of a better future. Whether however really individual Iraqi Jewesses and Jew want to return to Bagdhad will depend, very strongly on the political developments of the next months.

If those forces should become generally accepted, which like the Kurdish parties or the Iraqi national congress (Inc.), led by Ahmed Chalabi, aims at a rapid reconciliation with Israel and a comprehensive democratization of the country, again hope could exist also for the Jewish municipality in Bagdhad.

appeared in: “the Jewish” 14.05.2003

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