1950–51 Baghdad bombings

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1950–1951 Baghdad bombings
Location Baghdad, Kingdom of Iraq
Date April 1950 - June 1951
Target Iraqi Jews
Attack type
Bombings
Deaths 3-4 Iraqi Jews killed
Non-fatal injuries
dozens wounded
Perpetrators

Alleged:

1950–1951 Baghdad bombings refers to the bombing of Jewish targets in Baghdad, Iraq, between April 1950 and June 1951.

Two confirmed activists in the Iraqi Zionist underground were found guilty by an Iraqi court for the bombing, and were sentenced to death. Another was sentenced to life imprisonment and seventeen more were given long prison sentences.[2] The allegations against Israeli agents had "wide consensus" amongst Iraqi Jews in Israel.[3][4][5][6][7] Many of the Iraqi Jews in Israel who lived in poor conditions blamed their ills and misfortunes on the Israeli Zionist emissaries or Iraqi Zionist underground movement.[8] The allegations against the Zionist agents were viewed as "more plausible than most" by the British Foreign Office.[9][10][11][7][4][5]

Israeli involvement has been consistently denied by the Israeli government, including by a Mossad-led internal inquiry,[12] even following the 2005 admission of the Lavon affair.[13][14][15][16][17]

Historians who assign responsibility for the bombings to an Israeli or Iraqi Zionist underground movement suggest the motive was to encourage Iraqi Jews to immigrate to Israel,[18][19][14][20] as part of the ongoing Operation Ezra and Nehemiah. Those historians who have raised questions regarding the guilt of the convicted Iraqi Zionist agents with respect to the bombings have raised other possible culprits such as a nationalist Iraqi Christian army officer, [21] and those who have raised doubt regarding Israeli involvement claimed that it is highly unlikely the Israelis would have taken such measures to accelerate the Jewish evacuation given that they were already struggling to cope with the existing level of Jewish immigration.[22]

Background[edit]

Before the exodus of Jews to Israel, there were about 140,000 Iraqi Jews. Most lived in Baghdad, of which Jews made up a sixth of the city's population. High Jewish populations also existed in the towns of Basra and Mosul.[23]

Iraqi Jews constitute one of the world's oldest and most historically significant Jewish communities. By 1936, there was an increased sense of insecurity among the Jews of Iraq. The rise of pan-Arab nationalism coincided with the second King Faisal's admiration of Nazism. In 1941 after the government of pro-Nazi Rashid Ali was defeated, his soldiers and policemen, aided by the Arab mob, started the Farhud ("violent dispossession").[24] A government commission later reported that at least 180 Jews had been killed and 240 wounded, 586 Jewish businesses pillaged, and 99 Jewish homes burned.[25] Jewish sources claimed much higher casualties.

In the summer of 1948, the Iraqi government declared Zionism a capital offense and fired Jews in government positions.[26] In his autobiography, Sasson Somekh, a Baghdadi Jew, wrote:

Emigration until 1946 or 1947 was infrequent, despite the growing feeling among Iraqi Jews that their days in the Land of the Two Rivers were numbered. By the time war broke out in Palestine in 1948, many civil servants had been dismissed from their governmental jobs. Commerce had declined considerably, and the memory of the Farhud, which had meanwhile faded, returned.[27]

At this time, he writes, "hundreds of Jews... were sentenced by military courts to long prison sentences for Zionist and Communist activity, both real and imagined. Some of the Baghdadi Jews who supported the Zionist movement began to steal across the border to Iran, from where they were flown to Israel."[28]

Elie Kedourie writes that after the 1948 show trial of Shafiq Ades, a respected Jewish businessman, who was publicly hanged in Basra,[28] Iraq Jews realized they were no longer under the protection of the law and there was little difference between the mob and Iraqi court justice.[29]

The immigration to Israel was banned Since 1948,[30] and by 1949, the Iraqi Zionist underground was smuggling Iraqi Jews out of the country at the rate of 1,000 a month.[31] In March 1950, Iraq passed a law which temporarily allowed immigration to Israel, limited to one year only, and stripping Jews who emigrated of their Iraqi citizenship.[32][33] The law was motivated by economic considerations (the property of departing Jews reverted to the state treasury) and a sense that Jews were a potentially troublesome minority that the country would be better off without. [34] At first, few would register, as the Zionist movement suggested they not do so until property issues had been clarified. After mounting pressure from both Jews and the Government, the movement relented and agreed to registrations.[35] Israel was initially reluctant to absorb so many immigrants, (Hillel, 1987) but in March 1951[citation needed] organized Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, an airlift to Israel, and sent in emissaries to encourage Jews to leave.

In April 1950, an activist of Mossad LeAliyah Bet, Shlomo Hillel, using the alias Richard Armstrong, flew from Amsterdam to Baghdad as a representative of the American charter company Near East Air Transport, to organize an airlift of Iraq Jews to Israel via Cyprus. Earlier, Hillel had trained Zionist militants in Baghdad under the alias Fuad Salah.[citation needed] Near East Air Transport was owned by the Jewish Agency.[26] The first flight of "Near east airlines" with immigrating Iraqi Jews arrived at Israel on 20 May 1950, when 46000 Jews already registered under the De-naturalization law.[36]

Israel could not cope with so many immigrants and limited the rate of the flights from Iraq. by early January 1951, the number of Jews who registered to leave was up to 86,000, only about 23,000 of whom had left.[37][38]

According to Adam Shatz, the Mossad had been promoting Jewish emigration since 1941 and used stories of Jewish mistreatment to encourage the Jews to leave.[26] Nuri al-Said had warned the Jewish community of Baghdad to accelerate their flights out of the country, otherwise, he would take the Jews to the Borders himself.[39] Nuri al-Said's threats encouraged Iraqi officials to abuse the departing Jews before they boarded the planes and to destroy their baggage.[40]

Bombing incidents[edit]

According to the Baghdad police who gave evidence at the trial, the weapon used was a British-made World War II hand grenade "No. 36".[41] Between April 1950.-June 1951 five explosions had occurred in Baghdad:[42][43]

  • On 19 March 1950,On 5 June 1950,[citation needed] a bomb went off a bomb exploded in the American Cultural Center and Library wounding some of the Jewish intellectuals using the facilities.[44]
  • In April, 1950, a bomb was thrown into El-Dar El-Bayda Coffee shop in Baghdad. Four Jews were injured in the blast.[45]
  • On 10 May 1950, a grenade was thrown at Beit-Lawi Automobile company building, a company with Jewish ownership.[44][citation needed]
  • On 3 June 1950, a grenade exploded in El-Batawin, then a Jewish area of Baghdad, with no casualties.[citation needed]
  • On 5 June 1950,[citation needed] a bomb went off next to the Jewish Stanley Sashua building on El Rasjid Street. Nobody was injured.[44]
  • On 14 January 1951, a grenade damaged a high-voltage cable outside Masouda Shem-Tov Synagogue. Three,[45] or four[10] Jews were killed, including a 12-year old boy, and ten were wounded.[10]
  • In 19 March 1951, the US legation's information office was attacked.[45][46]
  • In May 1951, a Jewish home was attacked.[45]
  • 5-6 June 1951 against the offices of Stanley Shaashua, a Jew .[47]

Trial[edit]

The pro-Western Iraqi government of Faisal II and Nuri al-Said prosecuted the alleged Jewish perpetrators in court, in a trial which began in October 1951. Two confirmed activists in the Zionist underground, Shalom Salah Shalom, a 19-year-old weapons expert, and Yosef Ibrahim Basri, a lawyer active in collecting intelligence material, were executed after being convicted of the bombings. Whilst their involvement in the underground movement and holdings of weapons caches were not disputed, both denied involvement in the bombings.[48] Salah's testimony under torture indirectly allowed the Iraqi police to find large weapons caches of the Zionist underground in three synagogues (Mas'uda Shemtov, Hakham Haskal and Meir Tuweik) and in private homes, including 436 hand-grenades, 33 machine-guns, 97 machine-gun cartridges, 186 pistols.[49] Shlomo Hillel, also once a member of the Iraqi Zionist underground, noted that the last words of the executed defendants were "Long live the State of Israel".[50] The British Foreign Office noted in a file note "Trial of Jews at Baghdad, 20 December 1951" that they had “no reason to suppose that the trials were conducted in anything but a normal manner.”[51]

Baghdad police officers who gave evidence at the trial appear to have been convinced that the crimes were committed by Jewish agents, claiming that "anyone studying the affair closely will see that the perpetrator did not intend to cause loss of life among the Jews" and that each grenade was "thrown in non-central locations and there was no intention to kill or injure a certain person".[52][53]

Historian Esther Meir-Glitzenstein, in her book, Zionism in an Arab Country: Jews in Iraq in the 1940s states that the charges in the Iraqi trial were "groundless for several reasons," because many thousands of Iraqi Jews had already registered to leave by the time of the later bombings, and the charges related only to these later bombings.[54]

Responsibility for the bombings[edit]

There has been debate over whether the bombs were in fact planted by the Mossad or the Iraqi Zionist underground in order to encourage Iraqi Jews to immigrate to the newly created state of Israel or whether they were the work of Arab anti-Jewish extremists in Iraq. The issue has been the subject of lawsuits and inquiries in Israel.[55]

Claims for Israeli or Iraqi Zionist involvement[edit]

Historian Abbas Shiblak, Iraqi Jew Naeim Giladi and CIA agent Wilbur Crane Eveland[20] have argued that Jews were involved in the bombings.

In 1949, Zionist emissary Yudka Rabinowitz complained that the complacency of the Iraqi Jews was "hampering our existence" and proposed to the Mossad "throwing several hand-grenades for intimidation into cafes with a largely Jewish clientele, as well as leaflets threatening the Jews and demanding their expulsion from Berman", using the code name for Iraq.[56] The Mossad forbade him to conduct negotiations about or carry out any acts of terror, an order which he reported that he had "confirmed and accepted".[56]

According to Moshe Gat, as well as Meir-Glitzenstein,[7] Samuel Klausner,[3] Rayyan Al-Shawaf[57] and Yehouda Shenhav, there is "wide consensus among Iraqi Jews that the emissaries threw the bombs in order to hasten the Jews' departure from Iraq";[5] Shenhav noted an Israeli Foreign Ministry memo which stated that Iraqi Jews reacted to the hangings of Salah and Basri with the attitude: "That is God's revenge on the movement that brought us to such depths."[58]

The British Embassy in Baghdad assessed that the bombings were carried out by Zionist activists trying to highlight the danger to Iraqi Jews, in order influence the State of Israel to accelerate the pace of Jewish emigration. Another possible explanation offered by the embassy was that bombs were meant to change the minds of well-off Jews who wished to stay in Iraq.[10][9]

In a 1954 operation by Israeli military intelligence, known as the Lavon Affair after the defence minister Pinchas Lavon, a group of Zionist Egyptian Jews attempted to plant bombs in an US Information Service library, and in a number of American targets Cairo and Alexandria. According to Teveth, they were hoping that the Muslim Brotherhood, the Communists, 'unspecified malcontents' or 'local nationalists' would be blamed for their actions[59] and this would undermine Western confidence in the existing Egyptian regime by generating public insecurity and actions to bring about arrests, demonstrations, and acts of revenge, while totally concealing the Israeli factor. The operation failed, the perpetrators were arrested by Egyptian police and brought to justice, two were sentenced to death, several to long term imprisonment.

The Israeli government has denied any link to the Baghdad bombings, and blamed Iraqi nationalists for the attacks on the Iraqi Jews. However, according to Shalom Cohen, when the Lavon affair broke in Israel, Lavon remarked, "This method of operating was not invented for Egypt. It was tried before in Iraq."[60]

The Iraqi Jewish anti-Zionist[61] author Naeim Giladi maintains that the bombings were "perpetrated by Zionist agents in order to cause fear amongst the Jews, and so promote their exodus to Israel."[19] This theory is shared by Uri Avnery,[62] who wrote in My friend, the enemy that "After the disclosure of the Lavon Affair... the Baghdad affair became more plausible"[14] and Marion Wolfsohn.[62]

Palestinian historian Abbas Shiblak believes that the attacks were committed by Zionist activists and that the attacks were the pre-eminent reason for the subsequent exodus of Iraqi Jews to Israel.[18] Shiblak also argues that the attacks were an attempt to sour Iraq-American relations, saying "The March 1951 attack on the US Information Centre was probably an attempt to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and to gain more support for the Zionist cause in the United States".[23]

According to Gat, Avnery wrote "without checking the facts...Marion Woolfson ... goes on to distort the dates of the explosions and the number of registrees, in order to prove her contention...Avnery’s article and Marion Woolfson’s book served as the basis for the arguments of the Palestinian author Abbas Shiblak".[63]

Giladi claims that it is also supported by Wilbur Crane Eveland, a former senior officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), in his book Ropes of Sand.[20] According to Eveland, whose information was presumably based on the Iraqi official investigation, which was shared with the US embassy,[45] "In an attempt to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and to terrorize the Jews, the Zionists planted bombs in the U.S. Information Service library and in the synagogues. Soon leaflets began to appear urging Jews to flee to Israel... most of the world believed reports that Arab terrorism had motivated the flight of the Iraqi Jews whom the Zionists had 'rescued' really just in order to increase Israel’s Jewish population."[20]

Shimon Mendes wrote in Ha'aretz that: "Someone had to act, and he took the appropriate action at the right time. For only an act like the explosions would have brought them to Israel. Anyone who understood politics and developments in Israel was long aware of that."[64]

Yehuda Tajar, who spent ten years in Iraqi prison for his alleged involvement in the bombings, was interviewed in Arthur Neslen's 2006 book "Occupied Minds". According to Tajar, the widow of one of the Jewish activists, Yosef Beit-Halahmi, implied he had organized attacks after his colleagues were arrested for the Masuda Shemtov synagogue bombing, to prove that those on trial were not the perpetrators.[10]

Claims of no Israeli involvement[edit]

Moshe Gat's analysis[edit]

According to historian Moshe Gat, "not only did Israeli emissaries not place the bombs at the locations cited in the Iraqi statement, but also that there was in fact no need to take such drastic action in order to urge the Jews to leave Iraq for Israel".[65]

  • Gat relates to the alleged Israeli motivation to accelerate the Jewish registration to leave Iraq: "just over 105,000 Jews had registered by 8 March, of whom almost 40,000 had left the country. Some 15,000 more left illegally before and after the law was passed. Since the number of Jews living in Iraq before emigration began has been estimated at 125,000 this means that about 5,000 Jews were left, who had preferred to remain in Iraq. Why, then, would anyone in Israel have wanted to throw bombs? Whom would they have wanted to intimidate?""[66]
  • Gat wrote that frantic Jewish registration for denaturalisation and departure was driven by knowledge that the denaturalisation law was due to expire in March 1951. He also noted the influence of further pressures including the property-freezing law and continued anti-Jewish disturbances, which raised the fear of large-scale pogroms.[67] According to Mendes, it was highly unlikely that the Israelis would have taken such measures to accelerate the Jewish evacuation given that they were already struggling to cope with the existing level of Jewish immigration.[22]
  • Gat also raised a number of questions about the trial and guilt of the alleged Jewish bomb throwers:
    • An Iraqi army officer known for his anti-Jewish views was originally arrested for the offenses, but never charged, after explosive devices similar to those used in the attack on the Jewish synagogue were found in his home.[citation needed]
    • The 1950–1951 bombings followed a long history of anti-Jewish incidents in Iraq and the prosecution was not able to produce a single eyewitness.[citation needed]
    • Shalom Salah told the court that he had confessed after being severely tortured.[68] There were no other evidence which directly related the accused to the bombing, but only circumstantial evidence concerning the discovery of explosive devices and weapons.[69]
    • The 8 April 1950 bomb incident, in which 4 Jews were injured, was omitted from the charge sheet against the members of the underground, although it appeared in the government statement.[70] The prosecutor "claimed that the perpetrators had planned to cause injury but not loss of life. The grenade, however, had claimed five lives at the synagogue (or four, according to the charges) and injured more than 20 people. This did not prevent the prosecutor, in his concluding address, from including this incident in the list of charges against the underground, although this contradicted the evidence of the two witnesses."[69] Nevertheless, they were not accused for the Synagogue bombing.

Gat suggests the perpetrators could have been members of the anti-Jewish Istiqlal Party.[22][23][71] Yehuda Tajar, one of the alleged bombers, said the bombing were carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood.[10]

According to Gat, "The British Foreign Office, which could hardly be suspected of proZionist tendencies, never stated explicitly that it was the defendants who had thrown the bombs" and "US Embassy reports also cast considerable doubt as to whether the two men convicted were in fact guilty of throwing the bombs. ".[72]

Other claims of no Israeli involvement[edit]

Mordechai Ben Porat, founder and chair of the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center, who was coordinating Jewish emigration at the time, was accused of orchestrating a bombing campaign to speed up the Jewish exodus from Iraq by Israeli journalist Baruch Nadel in 1977. Ben Porat sued the journalist for libel, ending in an out-of-court compromise, where Nadel retracted all the accusations against the Israeli emissaries, and apologized [73][55]

In his 1996 book "To Baghdad and Back," Ben-Porat published the full report of a 1960 investigation committee appointed by David Ben-Gurion, which "did not find any factual proof that the bombs were hurled by any Jewish organization or individual" and was "convinced that no entity in Israel gave an order to perpetrate such acts of sabotage."[74]

Effects on Iraqi Jewish emigration[edit]

Displaced Iraqi Jews arrive in Israel, 1951

In March 1950 the government of Iraq passed the Denaturalisation Act that allowed Jews to emigrate if they renounced their Iraqi citizenship.[75] Iraqi prime minister Tawfiq al-Suwaidi expected that 7,000–10,000 Jews out of the Iraqi Jewish population of 125,000 would leave.[26] A few thousand Jews registered for the offer before the first bombing occurred.[23] The first bombing occurred on the last day of Passover, 8 April 1950. Panic in the Jewish community ensued and many more Jews registered to leave Iraq. The law expired in March 1951 but was extended after the Iraqi government froze the assets of departing Jews, including those who had already left. Between the first and last bombing almost the entire Jewish community bar a few thousand had registered to leave the country.[23][26] The emigration of Jews was also due to the deteriorating status of Jews in Iraq since the 1948 Arab-Israeli war as they were suspected of being disloyal to Iraq. They were treated with threats, suspicion and physical assaults and were portrayed by the media as a fifth column.[26] By 1953, nearly all Jews had left the country.[26] In his memoir of Jewish life in Baghdad, Sasson Somekh writes: "The pace of registration for the citizenship waiver was slow in the beginning, but it increased as tensions rose between Jews and their neighbors and after acts of terror were perpetrated against Jewish businesses and institutions – especially the Mas'uda Shem-Tov Synagogue...This was the place to which emigrating citizens were required to report with their luggage before leaving for Israel."[76]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gat, 2013, p. 174
  2. ^ Morris & Black, 1992, p. 91
  3. ^ a b Klausner, Samuel (1998), The Jewish Exodus from Iraq 1948-1951, Contemporary Jewry 19 (1): 180–185, "Most of the 120,000 Iraqi Jews, transported to lsrael through Operation Ezra and Nemehiah in 1950-1, believed they had been stampeded into fleeing by the Israeli Mossad. Many still believe that when registration for emigration slowed, members of the Zionist underground tossed hand grenades into Jewish institutions. This suspicion has contributed to the alienation of Iraqi immigrants from successive Labor governments." 
  4. ^ a b Al-Shawaf 2006, p. 72a.
  5. ^ a b c Gat 1997, p. 177: "The belief that the bombs had been thrown by Zionist agents was shared by those Iraqi Jews who had just reached Israel. These Jews were convinced that the bombs had been thrown in order to expedite their departure. If the incidents had not occurred they would have been able to remain safe and sound in their comfortable homes in Baghdad. The difficulties they encountered in Israel early in 1952 were the direct consequence of this act. When the immigrants learned of the hanging of the two Jews sentenced for throwing the bombs, many reacted by saying that this was divine retribution against the underground movement which had brought them to Israel... (Footnote) There is wide consensus among Iraqi Jews that the emissaries threw the bombs in order to hasten the Jews' departure from Iraq"
  6. ^ Shenhav 1999, p. 605a.
  7. ^ a b c Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 257.
  8. ^ Ian Black (1991). Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services. Grove Press. pp. 92–. ISBN 978-0-8021-3286-4. "As for Salah and Basri, many of the Iraqi Jewish immigrants in Israel, who lived for long periods in shabby tent camps with poor services, expressed either indifference or pleasure at their fate. This is God's revenge on the movement that brought us here,' some said. Many continued to believe that Salah and Basri had thrown the bombs 'in order to encourage the emigration from Iraq" 
  9. ^ a b British Embassy in Baghdad, FO371, EQ1571, Baghdad to FO, 27 June 1951, "one theory which is more plausible than most is that certain Jews have endeavoured, by throwing bombs at certain buildings, to focus the attention of the Israel Government on the plight of the Jews in Iraq so that they would keep the airlift moving quickly, and, possibly as a second object, to induce those well-to-do Jews who had decided to remain in Iraq to change their mind and emigrate to Israel."
  10. ^ a b c d e f Segev, Tom (4 June 2006). "Now it can be told". Haaretz. Archived from the original on 4 May 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  11. ^ Shiblak 1986, p. 153.
  12. ^ To Baghdad and Back
  13. ^ Gat 1997, p. 186: "At the height of the public debate in Israel about the so-called 'Mishap' (Esek Bish) - the throwing of bombs by Jews in Egypt in 1954 - the question of the 1950-51 bombing incidents in Baghdad was also raised."
  14. ^ a b c Avnery, Uri (1986), My Friend the Enemy, L. Hill, p. 135–6, ISBN 9780882082127, "'Then something mysterious happened. Bombs started exploding in synagogues and elsewhere at places frequented by Jews, Panic occurred, and the number of those seeking to leave grew overnight... After the disclosure of the Lavon Affair... the Baghdad affair became more plausible." 
  15. ^ Al-Shawaf 2006, p. 73.
  16. ^ Shiblak 1986, p. 159.
  17. ^ Cohen, p111
  18. ^ a b Shiblak, Abbas (July 1986). The Lure of Zion: The Case of the Iraqi Jews. Al Saqi. pp. 123–4 and 196. ISBN 978-0-86356-033-0. Retrieved 5 April 2010. "It is clear that the explosions came at a critical time, when other factors seem insufficient to ensure mass emigration . . . Whenever the fears abated, a new explosion shattered the sense of security, and the chances of remaining in Iraq appeared bleaker." 
  19. ^ a b Giladi, Naeim (April–May 1998), The Jews of Iraq, Americans for Middle East Understanding, retrieved 5 April 2010 
  20. ^ a b c d Eveland, Wilbur Crane (1980). Ropes of Sand, America's Failure in the Middle East. W W Norton & Co Inc. p. 48. "In an attempt to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and to terrorize the Jews, the Zionists planted bombs in the U.S. Information Service library and in the synagogues. Soon leaflets began to appear urging Jews to flee to Israel. The Iraqi police later provided our embassy with evidence to show that the synagogue and library bombings, as well as the anti-Jewish and anti-American leaflet campaigns, had been the work of an underground Zionist organization, most of the world believed reports that Arab terrorism had motivated the flight of the Iraqi Jews whom the Zionists had “rescued” really just in order to increase Israel’s Jewish population." 
  21. ^ Gat 1997, p. 180: "It should be pointed out in this context that the Hebrew daily Davar wrote on 28 January two weeks after the incident, that Major Jamil Mamo, a Christian officer in the Iraqi army, had been arrested on suspicion of perpetrating the crime in the Mas'uda Shemtov synagogue. A search of his home revealed three explosive devices of the kind thrown into the synagogue. The officer, according to rumours spread in the Iraqi community in Israel at the time, was a member of the Istiqlal party..."
  22. ^ a b c Mendes, Philip. The Forgotten Refugees: the causes of the post-1948 Jewish Exodus from Arab Countries, Presented at the 14th Jewish Studies Conference Melbourne March 2002. Retrieved June 12, 2007. "Historian Moshe Gat argues that there was little direct connection between the bombings and exodus. He demonstrates that the frantic and massive Jewish registration for denaturalisation and departure was driven by knowledge that the denaturalisation law was due to expire in March 1951. He also notes the influence of further pressures including the property-freezing law, and continued anti-Jewish disturbances which raised the fear of large-scale pogroms. In addition, it is highly unlikely the Israelis would have taken such measures to accelerate the Jewish evacuation given that they were already struggling to cope with the existing level of Jewish immigration. Gat also raises serious doubts about the guilt of the alleged Jewish bomb throwers. Firstly, a Christian officer in the Iraqi army known for his anti-Jewish views was arrested, but apparently not charged, with the offenses. A number of explosive devices similar to those used in the attack on the Jewish synagogue were found in his home. In addition, there was a long history of anti-Jewish bomb-throwing incidents in Iraq. Secondly, the prosecution was not able to produce even one eyewitness who had seen the bombs thrown. Thirdly, the Jewish defendant Shalom Salah indicated in court that he had been severely tortured in order to procure a confession. It therefore remains an open question as to who was responsible for the bombings, although Gat suggests that the most likely perpetrators were members of the anti-Jewish Istiqlal Party. Certainly memories and interpretations of the events have further been influenced and distorted by the unfortunate discrimination which many Iraqi Jews experienced on their arrival in Israel."
  23. ^ a b c d e Al-Shawaf.
  24. ^ The terror behind Iraq's Jewish exodus Julia Magnet (The Telegraph, 16 April 2003)
  25. ^ Black, Edwin (Winter 2004). "Dispossessed: How Iraq's 2,600-year-old Jewish community was decimated in one decade". Volume 23. Reform Judaism Online. Retrieved 10 April 2010. 
  26. ^ a b c d e f g Shatz, Adam (6 November 2008), Leaving Paradise, London Review of Books 30 (21), retrieved 5 April 2010 
  27. ^ Baghdad, Yesterday:The Making of an Arab Jew, Sasson Somekh, Ibis, 2003, p. 150
  28. ^ a b Baghdad, Yesterday:The Making of an Arab Jew, Sasson Somekh, Ibis, 2003, p. 152
  29. ^ The terror behind Iraq's Jewish exodus Julia Magnet (The Telegraph, 16 April 2003)
  30. ^ Gat 2013 , p. 55
  31. ^ R. S. Simon, S. Reguer, M. Laskier, The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times (Columbia University Press, 2003), p. 365
  32. ^ Gat, 2013, p. 183
  33. ^ Matthew Elliot (15 August 1996). Independent Iraq: British Influence from 1941-1958. I.B.Tauris. pp. 81–. ISBN 978-1-85043-729-1. "Iraqi Jews. These had been prevented from leaving the country during the period of martial law, which made it difficult for other Iraqis to distinguish (should they have wanted to) between loyal Jews and those sympathetic to Israel. By means of the bill Iraq could answer international criticism of its restrictions on Jewish emigration and at the same time give those who chose to remain an opportunity of demonstrating their loyalty" 
  34. ^ Ian Black (1991). Israel's Secret Wars: A History of Israel's Intelligence Services. Grove Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-8021-3286-4. "the Iraqi government was motivated by "economic considerations, chief of which was that almost all the property of departing Jews reverted to the state treasury", and also that "Jews were seen as a restive and potentially troublesome minority that the country was best rid of."" 
  35. ^ Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 204: "As stated above, this situation was a consequence of the Israeli immigration and absorption policy. Throughout this period, Israel refused to instruct its emissaries in Baghdad to limit registration for emigration and instead expressed willingness to take in all Iraqi Jews who wished to leave. But immigrants were also flooding into Israel at the time from Poland and especially from Romania, where the exit gates had unexpectedly been re-opened, and Israel was unwilling to limit aliyah from there either. Israel could not afford the initial absorption of such large numbers of immigrants and therefore set quotas based on priorities. And Poland and Romania were given priority over Iraq... The reason given for according priority to immigration from eastern Europe was concern that the communist regimes there would close their gates and put an end to the exodus… Ben-Gurion maintained that the Iraqi leaders were determined to get rid of the Jews who had signed up to emigrate and assumed that delaying their departure would not put an end to the process. In contrast, he was afraid that aliyah from Romania would be terminated suddenly by an order from high up, and aliyah from Poland was expected to stop at the beginning of 1951."
  36. ^ ""IRAQ JEWS MAKE THEIR EXODUS BY 'FLYING CARPET'". The chicago tribune. 22 May 1950. "IRAQ JEWS MAKE THEIR EXODUS BY 'FLYING CARPET' ... This time Iraqi's Jews Are traveling in four engine Skymasters [C-54sl of the Near East Airlines" 
  37. ^ Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 203: "The change began as a result of the immigration policy of the Israeli government: the pace of aliyah lagged far behind registration and revocation of the registrants' citizenship.
    By September 1950, only 10,000 Jews had left; 60,000 of the 70,000 registrants were still in Iraq. The problem grew worse. By mid-November only 18,000 of 83,000 registrants had left. Matters had not improved by early January 1951: the number of registrants was up to 86,000, only about 23,000 of whom had left. More than 60,000 Jews were still waiting to leave! According to the law, Jews who had lost their citizenship had to leave Iraq within 15 days. Although in theory, only 12,000 Jews still in Iraq had completed the registration process and had their citizenship revoked, the position of the others was not very different: the Iraqi government was in no hurry to revoke their citizenship only because the rate of departure was already lagging behind the revocation of citizenship, and it did not want to exacerbate the problem.
    Meanwhile, thousands of Jews had been fired from their jobs, had sold their property, and were waiting for Israeli aircraft, using up their meagre funds in the meantime. The thousands of poor Jews who had left or been expelled from the peripheral cities, and who had gone to Baghdad to wait for their opportunity to emigrate, were in an especially bad state. They were housed in public buildings and were being supported by the Jewish community. The situation was intolerable."
  38. ^ Esther Meir-Glitzenstein (2 August 2004). Zionism in an Arab Country: Jews in Iraq in the 1940s. Routledge. p. 205. ISBN 978-1-135-76862-1. "in mid September 1950, Nuri al-Said replaced...as prime minister. Nuri was determined to drive the Jews out of his country as quickly as..." 
  39. ^ Devorah Hakohen (2003). Immigrants in Turmoil: Mass Immigration to Israel and Its Repercussions in the 1950s and After. Syracuse University Press. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-8156-2990-0. "Said had warned the Jewish community of Baghdad to make haste; otherwise, he would take the Jews to the Borders himself" 
  40. ^ Glitzenstein, 2004, p. 206
  41. ^ Quoted in Gat, 1997, "it was clear that in each case a hand-grenade of high-explosive type No. 36 was used: these are available in Iraq only to the armed forces."
  42. ^ Gat, 2013, p. 172
  43. ^ Ian Black, 1991, p. 91
  44. ^ a b c Giladi, Naeim (1990). Discord in Zion: conflict between Ashkenazi & Sephardi Jews in Israel. Scorpion Publishing. 
  45. ^ a b c d e Black and Morris, 1992, p. 91
  46. ^ Gat, 2013, p. 179
  47. ^ Gat, 2013, p. 185
  48. ^ One of the defendants admitted responsibility under torture, although he rescinded this admission in court.
  49. ^ Gat 1997, p. 172: "Basri, a lawyer, was active in collecting intelligence material... Shalom Salah was a cobbler and a weapons expert. He was busy preparing arms caches... As a result [of Salah giving away details of the cache in Habaza's home], caches were uncovered in three synagogues - Mas'uda Shemtov, Hakham Haskal and Meir Tuweik and in several homes. The weapons found, according to police sources, included 436 hand-grenades, 33 machine-guns, 97 machine-gun cartridges, 186 pistols, and so on."
  50. ^ Shenhav 1999"According to the account of Shlomo Hillel, a former Israeli cabinet minister and Zionist activist in Iraq, their last words, as they stood on the gallows, were "Long live the State of Israel."'
  51. ^ Bejtullah Destani, ed. (2005), Minorities in the Middle East, Jewish Communities in Arab Countries 1841-1974, Cambridge University Press, p. 563 
  52. ^ Abdul Rahman al-Samrai, Baghdad police, evidence at the trial, quoted in "Gat, The Exodus from Iraq":"It was clear to me mat these crimes had been perpetrated against Jews, but anyone studying the affair closely will see that the perpetrator did not intend to cause loss of life among the Jews; we did not gain the impression that the perpetrator felt any resentment or hatred of the Jews. There were also signs that the crimes were to the advantage of the Jews or of their institutions in Palestine. Each incident sparked off rumours and a wave of propaganda, originated by the Jews, with the aim of demonstrating that the Iraqi government and people were persecuting the Jews and that the bombings were manifestations of hatred of the Jews. Rumours and propaganda were also spread, outside Iraq as well. in order to show that the Jews were being persecuted in Iraq . . ."'
  53. ^ Salem Jasem al-Kiryati, Baghdad police, evidence at the trial, quoted in "Gat, The Exodus from Iraq": "it was made clear to us from the outset in principle that the three explosions were carried out in places and times where Jews were present. Secondly, it was clear that in each case a hand-grenade of high-explosive type No. 36 was used: these are available in Iraq only to the armed forces. Thirdly, the crimes were perpetrated by similar methods the material was thrown in non-central locations and there was no intention to kill or injure a certain person. Fourthly, each incident caused commotion and panic among the Jews and a wave of propaganda conceding their persecution by the government and the Iraqi people. Fifthly, the events recurred after the enactment of the Denaturalization Law. From all this, we concluded that the crimes were committed by the same people and for the same purpose . . ."
  54. ^ Glitzenstein 2004, p. 208-209: "As the aliyah operation, officially named Operation Ezra and Nehemiah - drew to a close, several Hehalutz and Haganah activists, Israeli emissaries and Muslim Iraqis were put on trial in Iraq. The affair began in mid-May 1951, when the Iraqis managed to capture two Israeli emissaries - the aliyah emissary Mordechai Ben-Porat and the intelligence emissary Yehuda Tajer. Soon afterwards, dozens of Hehalutz and Haganah members and intelligence personnel were arrested. In a series of trials held in late 1951, two of the detainees, Yosef Basri, an attorney who headed an Israeli intelligence network in Iraq, and Saleh Shalom, who had been in charge of an arms cache for the Haganah, were charged with throwing the grenade at the Mas’uda Shemtov synagogue in January 1951 and several subsequent bombs at Jewish and other centres in order to sow panic and spur Jews to move to Israel. Basri and Shalom were executed in January 1952, Tajer was sentenced to life imprisonment, others were sentenced to various jail terms, but Ben-Porat managed to escape from jail. The charges were groundless for several reasons.
    Firstly, by 13 January 1951, close to 86,000 Jews had registered, and about 23,000 of them had left for Israel. Hence, neither the synagogue incident in January 1951 nor the other bombs in the course of 1951 were what hastened the Jews' departure. The acts of terrorism that were likely to influence large numbers of Jews to emigrate were those in April and June 1950.Throughout this period the British painstakingly monitored events in the Jewish street and reported on moods, but they did not mention the two bombs of April and June 1950 at all. It is hard to believe that the British would have neglected to mention these incidents if such a major impact on registration to leave Iraq had been ascribed to them.Also, the two bombs in April and June were not mentioned in the trials conducted by the Iraqi government either. The charges focused on the incident in the Mas'uda Shemtov synagogue."
  55. ^ a b Fischbach, Michael R. (Fall 2008). "Claiming Jewish Communal Property in Iraq". Middle East Report. Archived from the original on 14 July 2010. Retrieved 5 April 2010. 
  56. ^ a b Gat 1997, p. 64, quoting from correspondence in the Haganah Archives: "One of the Zionist emissaries Yudka Rabinowitz complained in April 1949 that "the complacency among the Jews of Berman is unbelievable" .. He therefore proposed to the Mossad 'throwing several hand-grenades for intimidation into cafes with a largely Jewish clientele, as well as leaflets threatening the Jews and demanding their expulsion from Berman. This is simple and easy to carry out because of the size of the place. In my opinion there is no better way of persuading the Jews of Berman to become Jews than such action.'"
  57. ^ Al-Shawaf, p. 72: "As mentioned, most Iraqi Jews believed that Zionist emissaries were behind the bombs. This belief is well-known and attested to by both Shiblak and Gat."
  58. ^ Shenhav 1999, p. 605"It would have been only natural for Iraqi Jews in Israel to have reacted with outrage to news of the hanging. But on the contrary, the mourning assemblies organized by leaders of the community in various Israeli cities failed to arouse widespread solidarity with the two Iraqi Zionists. Just the opposite: a classified document from Moshe Sasson, of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East Division, to Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett maintained that many Iraqi immigrants, residents of the transit camps, greeted the hanging with the attitude: "That is God's revenge on the movement that brought us to such depths." The bitterness of that reaction attests to an acute degree of discontent among the newly arrived Iraqi Jews. It suggests that a good number of them did not view their immigration as the joyous return to Zion depicted by the community's Zionist activists. Rather, in addition to blaming the Iraqi government, they blamed the Zionist movement for bringing them to Israel for reasons that did not include the best interests of the immigrants themselves."
  59. ^ S. Teveth, Ben-Gurion's spy: the story of the political scandal that shaped modern Israel. Columbia University Press, 1996, ISBN 0-231-10464-2, p. 81.
  60. ^ Shalom Cohen (February 22, 1978). "Donnez-nous les corps des juifs et gardez leurs biens". Jeune Afrique (894): 74–77. "Lorsque, quelques années plus tard, éclata en Israël le scandale de l’affaire Lavon, concernant l’activité du réseau qui avait placé des bombes à Alexandrie et au Caire, le ministre israélien de la Défense lui-même remarqua : « Ce mode d’action n’a pas été inventé pour l’Egypte. On l’a essayé d’abord en Irak. »" 
  61. ^ "Anti-Zionist writer Naeim Giladi dies" Queens Chronicle. March 11, 2010.Zwire.com, Retrieved 2010-10-20.
  62. ^ a b Gat 1997, p. 178
  63. ^ Gat 1997, p. 178
  64. ^ "The Immigration from Iraq and the Government of Israel", Ha'aretz , 22 May 1966, "Whether they did not know what to do or whether they did not wish to risk any initiative, the community leaders remained silent. Someone had to act, and he took the appropriate action at the right time. For only an act like the explosions would have brought them to Israel. Anyone who understood politics and developments in Israel was long aware of that. But not everyone sees it as a mishap, and those who called it this do injustice to David Ben-Gurion and to the memory of Shalom Salah and Yosef Basri, whose names should be remembered alongside those who gave their lives for the country."; Quoted in Gat, page 179, footnote 64.
  65. ^ Moshe Gat,Middle Eastern Studies,Vol. 24, No. 3, Jul., 1988, pp. 312-329,The Connection between the bombing in Baghdad and the emigration of the Jews from Iraq: 1950-51,[1]: "However in light of documents which have been made available by the National Archives in Washington, the British Public Record Office, the Haganah Archive, the Israel State Archive, and documents from the private records of Mordechai Ben-Porat, who was in charge of Jewish emigration in Iraq, we shall see that not only did Israeli emissaries not place the bombs at the locations cited in the Iraqi statement, but also that there was in fact no need to take such drastic action in order to urge the Jews to leave Iraq for Israel."
  66. ^ Gat 1997, p. 185: "62,000 Jews were still waiting in Iraq and it was not clear how long it would take to rescue them. The Mossad emissaries in Iraq were under heavy pressure from these prospective immigrants, and in the months before the bomb-throwing incident, their reports stressed their frustration at their inability to ease their plight. As Ben-Porat wrote:'Everything we built has been destroyed... The emissaries never imagined that so large a number of Jews would decide to renounce their nationality and leave the country... neither the Israeli authorities nor the emissaries were interested in registration on this scale. The stampede to register stemmed mainly from awareness of the Jews themselves that it was important to do so before the law expired. As noted above, just over 105,000 Jews had registered by 8 March, of whom almost 40,000 had left the country.87 Some 15,000 more left illegally before and after the law was passed. Since the number of Jews living in Iraq before emigration began has been estimated at 125,000 this means that about 5,000 Jews were left, who had preferred to remain in Iraq.88 Why, then, would anyone in Israel have wanted to throw bombs? Whom would they have wanted to intimidate?"
  67. ^ Gat 2013, p. 186
  68. ^ The Quagmire, Emil Murad, p. 182-183
  69. ^ a b Gat 2013, p. 180
  70. ^ Gat, 2013, p.183
  71. ^ Gat 1997, p. 224
  72. ^ Gat, 2013, p. 181
  73. ^ Gat 1991, p. 187: "In April 1977 an interview with Baruch Nadel was published in the periodical Bama’arakha (a journal of the Sephardic community). In the interview, Nadel accused the Israeli emissaries of placing the bombs in order to hasten the departure of the Jews from Iraq. He was sued for libel by Ben-Porat. In the settlement between the parties, Nadel retracted all his accusations against the Israeli emissaries, and apologized for the injustice of the publication. Civilian file 8/63, 3.11.81, Magistrates' court, Herzlia."
  74. ^ To Baghdad and Back
  75. ^ Howard Adelman; Elazar Barkan (13 August 2013). No Return, No Refuge: Rites and Rights in Minority Repatriation. Columbia University Press. pp. 237–. ISBN 978-0-231-52690-6. 
  76. ^ Baghdad, Yesterday:The Making of an Arab Jew, Sasson Somekh, Ibis, 2003, p. 153

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