Operation Ezra and Nehemiah
|Jewish exodus from
Arab and Muslim
From 1951 to 1952, Operation Ezra and Nehemiah airlifted between 120,000 and 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel via Iran and Cyprus. The massive emigration of Iraqi Jews was among the most climactic events of the Jewish exodus from Arab and Muslim countries.
The operation is named after Ezra and Nehemiah, who led the Jewish people from exile in Babylonia to return to Israel in the 5th century BC, as recorded in the books of the Hebrew Bible that bear their names.
A change in Iraqi Jewish identity occurred after the violent Farhud against the Jews of Baghdad, on June 1–2, 1941 following the collapse of the pro-Nazi Golden Square regime of Rashid Ali al-Kaylani, during which at least 180 Jews were killed during two days of riots. In some accounts the Farhud marked the turning point for Iraq's Jews. Other historians, however, see the pivotal moment for the Iraqi Jewish community much later, between 1948–51, since Jewish communities prospered along with the rest of the country throughout most of the 1940s, and many Jews who left Iraq following the Farhud returned to the country shortly thereafter and permanent emigration did not accelerate significantly until 1950–51. Either way, the Farhud is broadly understood to mark the start of a process of politicization of the Iraqi Jews in the 1940s, primarily among the younger population, especially as a result of the impact it had on hopes of long term integration into Iraqi society. In the direct aftermath of the Farhud, many joined the Iraqi Communist Party in order to protect the Jews of Baghdad, yet they did not want to leave the country and rather sought to fight for better conditions in Iraq itself. At the same time the Iraqi government that had taken over after the Farhud reassured the Iraqi Jewish community, and normal life soon returned to Baghdad, which saw a marked betterment of its economic situation during World War II.
In the first half of the 1940s, Mossad LeAliyah Bet began sending emissaries to Iraq to begin to organize emigration to Israel, initially by recruiting people to teach Hebrew and hold lectures on Zionism. In late 1942, one of the emissaries explained the size of their task of converting the Iraqi community to Zionism, writing that "we have to admit that there is not much point in [organizing and encouraging emigration].... We are today eating the fruit of many years of neglect, and what we didn't do can't be corrected now through propaganda and creating one-day-old enthusiasm." In addition, the Iraqi people were incited against Zionism by propaganda campaigns in the press, initiated by Nuri al-Said. The Iraqi Jewish Leaders, had declared anti Zionist statements during the 1930, but in 1944 they now boldly and vehemently refused a similar request. They did so as a protest against the authorities treatment of Jewish community and not because they had changed their minds about Zionism. The situation of the Jews was perceived by some to be increasingly risky as the decision on the fate of Palestine approached, and after 1945, there were frequent[vague] demonstrations in Iraq against the Jews and especially against Zionism.
Following Israeli independence
In 1947, with the affirmation of the 1947 Partition Plan for Palestine, and Israeli Independence in 1948, the Jews began to feel that their lives were in danger. Immediately after the establishment of the State of Israel, the Iraqi government adopted a policy of anti-Jewish discrimination, mass dismissals from government service, and arrests. The Jews felt the ground burning under their feet. Jews working in government jobs were dismissed, and hundreds were arrested for Zionist or Communist activity, both real and imagined, tried in military courts, and were given harsh prison sentences or heavily fined. Nuri al-Said admitted that the Iraqi Jews were victims of bad treatment.
On October 23, 1948, Shafiq Ades, a respected Jewish businessman, was publicly hanged in Basra on very dubious charges of selling weapons to Israel and the Iraqi Communist Party, an event that increased the sense of insecurity among Jews. During this period, the Iraqi Jewish community became increasingly fearful. The Jewish community general sentiment was that if a man as well connected and powerful as Shafiq Ades could be eliminated by the state, other Jews would not be safe any longer.
Like most Arab League states, Iraq initially forbade the emigration of its Jews after the 1948 war on the grounds that allowing them to go to Israel would strengthen that state. However, by 1949 the Iraqi Zionist underground was smuggling Jews out of the country to Iran at about a rate of 1,000 a month, from where they were flown to Israel. At the time, the British believed that the Zionist underground was agitating in Iraq in order to assist US fund-raising and to "offset the bad impression caused by the Jewish attitudes to Arab refugees".
The Iraqi government took in only 5,000 of the c.700,000 Palestinians who became refugees in 1948–49 and refused to submit to American and British pressure to admit more. In January 1949, the pro-British Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Said discussed the idea of deporting Iraqi Jews to Israel with British officials, who explained that such a proposal would benefit Israel and adversely affect Arab countries. According to Meir-Glitzenstein, such suggestions were "not intended to solve either the problem of the Palestinian Arab refugees or the problem of the Jewish minority in Iraq, but to torpedo plans to resettle Palestinian Arab refugees in Iraq". In July 1949 the British government proposed to Nuri al-Said a population exchange in which Iraq would agree to settle 100,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq; Nuri stated that if a fair arrangement could be agreed, "the Iraqi government would permit a voluntary move by Iraqi Jews to Palestine." The Iraqi-British proposal was reported in the press in October 1949. On 14 October 1949 Nuri Al Said raised the exchange of population concept with the economic mission survey. At the Jewish Studies Conference in Melbourne in 2002, Philip Mendes summarised the effect of al-Saids vacillations on Jewish expulsion as: "In addition, the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri as-Said tentatively canvassed and then shelved the possibility of expelling the Iraqi Jews, and exchanging them for an equal number of Palestinian Arabs."
Reversal: permitting Jewish emigration
In March 1950, the Iraqi government reversed their earlier ban on Jewish emigration to Israel and passed a special bill of one-year duration permitting Jewish emigration on condition that Jews renounce their Iraqi citizenship. According to Abbas Shiblak, many scholars state that this was a result of British, American and Israeli political pressure on Tawfiq al-Suwaidi's government, with some studies suggesting there were secret negotiations. According to Ian Black, 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." At first, few would register, as the Zionist movement suggested they not do so until property issues and legal status had been clarified. After mounting pressure from both Jews and the Government, the movement relented and agreed to registrations.
Immediately following the March 1950 Denaturalisation Act, the emigration movement faced significant challenges. Initially, local Zionist activists forbade the Iraqi Jews from registering for emigration with the Iraqi authorities, because the Israeli government was still discussing absorption planning. However, on 8 April, a bomb exploded in a Jewish cafe in Baghdad, and a meeting of the Zionist leadership later that day agreed to allow registration without waiting for the Israeli government; a proclamation encouraging registration was made throughout Iraq in the name of the State of Israel. However, at the same time immigrants were also entering Israel from Poland and Romania, countries in which Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion assessed there was a risk that the communist authorities would soon "close their gates", and Israel therefore delayed the transportation of Iraqi Jews. As a result, by September 1950, while 70,000 Jews had registered to leave, many selling their property and losing their jobs, only 10,000 had left the country. According to Esther Meir-Glitzenstein, "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." The delay became a significant problem for the Iraqi government of Nuri al-Said (who replaced Tawfiq al-Suwaidi in mid-September 1950), as the large number of Jews "in limbo" created problems politically, economically and for domestic security. "Particularly infuriating" to the Iraqi government was the fact that the source of the problem was the Israeli government.
As a result of these developments, al-Said was determined to drive the Jews out of his country as quickly as possible. On 21 August 1950 al-Said threatened to revoke the license of the company transporting the Jewish exodus if it did not fulfill its daily quota of 500 Jews,[not in citation given] and in September 1950, he summoned a representative of the Jewish community and warned the Jewish community of Baghdad to make haste; otherwise, he would take the Jews to the borders himself. On 12 October 1950, Nuri al-Said summoned a senior official of the transport company and made similar threats, justifying the expulsion of Jews by the number of Palestinian Arabs fleeing from Israel.
According to Gat, it is highly likely that one of Nuri as-Said's motives in trying to expel large numbers of Jews was the desire to aggravate Israel's economic problems (he had declared as such to the Arab world), although Nuri was well aware that the absorption of these immigrants was the policy on which Israel based its future. The Iraqi Minister of Defence told the U.S ambassador that he had reliable evidence that the emigrating Jews were involved in activities injurious to the state and were in contact with communist agents.
The emigration law was to expire on March 1951, one year after the law was enacted. At first, the Iraqi emigration law allowed the Jews to sell their property and liquidate their businesses. On 10 March 1951, 64,000 Iraqi Jews were still waiting to emigrate, the government enacted a new law which extended the emigration period whilst also blocking the assets of Jews who had given up their citizenship. Departing Jews were permitted to take no more than $140 and 66 pounds of luggage out of the country, and were also prohibited from taking jewelry with them.
Between April 1950 and June 1951, Jewish targets in Baghdad were struck five times. Iraqi authorities then arrested 3 Jews, claiming they were Zionist activists, and sentenced two — Shalom Salah Shalom and Yosef Ibrahim Basri—to death. The third man, Yehuda Tajar, was sentenced to 10 years in prison. In May and June 1951, arms caches were discovered that allegedly belonged to the Zionist underground, allegedly supplied by the Yishuv after the Farhud of 1941. There has been much debate as to whether the bombs were planted by the Mossad to encourage Iraqi Jews to emigrate to Israel or if they were planted by Muslim extremists to help drive out the Jews. This has been the subject of lawsuits and inquiries in Israel.
|Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel|
|To Ottoman Palestine|
|To Mandatory Palestine|
|To the State of Israel|
|Persons and organizations|
In March 1951, the Israeli government organized an airlift operation. Waiting in Baghdad was a tense and difficult period. Some 50,000 Jews signed up in one month, and two months later there were 90,000 on the list. This mass movement stunned the Iraqi Government, which had not expected the number of immigrants to exceed 8,000, and feared that administrative institutions run by Jews might collapse. At the same time, the Zionist movement issued a manifesto calling on the Jews to sign up for immigration. It started with the following: "O, Zion, flee, daughter of Babylon," and concluded thus: "Jews! Israel is calling you — come out of Babylon!".
The operation was conducted by the Near East Transport Company and the Israeli national airline El Al. The flights began in mid-May 1951, when Iraqi Jews were airlifted to Cyprus, from where they were flown to Israel. Several months later, a giant airlift operated directly from Baghdad to Lod Airport. Operation Ezra and Nehemiah ended in early 1952, leaving only about 6,000 Jews in Iraq. Most of the 2,800-year-old Jewish community immigrated to Israel.
After the initial emigration, the number of Jews in Baghdad decreased from 100,000 to 5,000. Although they enjoyed a brief period of security during the reign of Abdul Karim Qassim, later regimes would seriously increase the persecution of Iraqi Jews. In 1968 there were only about 2,000 Jews still living there. On January 27, 1969 nine Jews were hanged on charges of spying for Israel causing most of the remaining community to flee the country. Today fewer than 100 Jews remain.
Until Operation Ezra and Nehemiah there were 28 Jewish educational institutions in Baghdad, 16 under the supervision of the community committee and the rest privately run. The number of pupils reached 12,000 and many others learned in foreign and government schools. About 400 students studied medicine, law, economics, pharmacy, and engineering. In 1951 the Jewish school for the blind was closed; it was the only school of its type in Baghdad. The Jews of Baghdad had two hospitals in which the poor received free treatment, and several philanthropic services. Out of sixty synagogues in 1950, there remained only seven after 1970. Most public buildings were seized by the government for paltry or no compensation. Those Jewish refugees have been fed, housed and absorbed by Israel.
- Pasachoff, Naomi E.; Robert J. Littman (2005). ""Operation Magic Carpet" and "Operation Ezra and Nehemiah"". A Concise History of the Jewish People. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 301. ISBN 0-7425-4366-8. Retrieved June 28, 2008.
- "Operations Ezra & Nechemia: The Aliyah of Iraqi Jews". Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise. Retrieved June 27, 2008.
- Szulc 1991, p. 208c:"Avlgur kept Schwartz informed of this enterprise and the Joint was able to finance the lions share of the airlift - $4 million - which in the end brought 120,000 Jews from Iraq to Israel. It was the Joint's largest - but not the last - immigration operation after Israeli independence.”
- Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World ("Either way, the farhūd was a significant turning-point for the Jewish community. In addition to its effect on relations between Iraqi Muslims and Jews, it exacerbated the tensions between the pro-British Jewish notables and the younger elements of the community, who now looked to the Communist Party and Zionism and began to consider emigration.")
- The Jews of the Middle East and North Africa in Modern Times, p. 350
- Esther Meir-Glitzenstein's book on zionism in Iraq, p. 213
- Bashkin 2012.
- Moshe Gat, The Jewish Exodus from Iraq, 1948–1951, quote(1): "[as a result] of the economic boom and the security granted by the government.... Jews who left Iraq immediately after the riots, later returned." Quote(2): "Their dream of integration into Iraqi society had been dealt a severe blow by the farhud but as the years passed self-confidence was restored, since the state continued to protect the Jewish community and they continued to prosper." Quote(3): Quoting Enzo Sereni: "The Jews have adapted to the new situation with the British occupation, which has again given them the possibility of free movement after months of detention and fear."
- London Review of Books, Vol. 30 No. 21 • 6 November 2008, pages 23–25, Adam Shatz, "Yet Sasson Somekh insists that the farhud was not 'the beginning of the end'. Indeed, he claims it was soon 'almost erased from the collective Jewish memory', washed away by 'the prosperity experienced by the entire city from 1941 to 1948'. Somekh, who was born in 1933, remembers the 1940s as a 'golden age' of 'security', 'recovery' and ‘consolidation', in which the 'Jewish community had regained its full creative drive'. Jews built new homes, schools and hospitals, showing every sign of wanting to stay. They took part in politics as never before; at Bretton Woods, Iraq was represented by Ibrahim al-Kabir, the Jewish finance minister. Some joined the Zionist underground, but many more waved the red flag. Liberal nationalists and Communists rallied people behind a conception of national identity far more inclusive than the Golden Square's Pan-Arabism, allowing Jews to join ranks with other Iraqis – even in opposition to the British and Nuri al-Said, who did not take their ingratitude lightly."
- World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC): History and Purpose, 17 October 2012, Heskel M. Haddad, "The turning point for the Jews in Iraq was not the Farhood, as it is wrongly assumed."
- Mike Marqusee, "Diasporic Dimensions" in If I am Not for Myself, Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew, 2011
- Bashkin 2012, p. 141–182.
- Gat, Moshe (1997). The Jewish exodus from Iraq: 1948–1951 (1. publ. ed.). London [u.a.]: Cass. pp. 23–24. ISBN 071464689X.
- Friedman, Shlomo Hillel ; translated by Ina (1988). Operation Babylon. London: Collins. ISBN 978-0002179843.
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 64–65: Sereni's letter stated "If we thought before we came here and when we started our work that our main task would be to organize and encourage — today we have to admit that there is not much point in either of these activities.... We are today eating the fruit of many years of neglect, and what we didn't do can't be corrected now through propaganda and creating one-day-old enthusiasm.... We have to prepare for the future, to educate a generation of young people, to prepare a young guard that can do our work here. Forming a Zionist organization, a youth movement, a vanguard are the main tasks of the hour."
- Esther Meir-Glitzenstein (2 August 2004). Zionism in an Arab Country: Jews in Iraq in the 1940s. Routledge. p. 14. ISBN 978-1-135-76862-1.
In the first half of the 1940s, the Iraqi people were incited against Zionism by propaganda campaigns in the press, initiated by Nuri al-Said himself
- Esther Meir-Glitzenstein (2 August 2004). Zionism in an Arab Country: Jews in Iraq in the 1940s. Routledge. p. 19. ISBN 978-1-135-76862-1.
(In 1944) The Jewish Leaders, who had issued anti Zionist statements in the 1930, now boldly and vehemently refused a similar request. They did so not not because they had changed their minds about Zionism but as a protest against the authorities treatment of Jewish community
- Gat Moshe (1998). "The Immigration of Iraqi Jewry to Israel as Reflected in Literature". Revue européenne de migrations internationales lien 14 (14-3): 45–60.
Fear of a renewed outburst of this kind (of the Farhud ) menaced over the community until its eventual dissolution. The Farhud shocked the community to the core, and in effect marked the beginning of a process which was to end with the emigration of the vast majority of Iraqi Jews. … The situation of the Jews grew increasingly grave as the decision on the fate of Palestine approached. Immediately after the establishment of the State of Israel, the Iraqi government adopted a policy of anti-Jewish discrimination, mass dismissals from government service, and arrests. …. The Jews felt the ground burning under their feet. At the end of 1949, Jews began to flee to Iran, and thence to Israel, in such large numbers that all efforts by the Iraqi government to halt their flight proved fruitless. … the Denationalization Law on March 1950…. The Jews took advantage of the law, and by the end of 1952, most of them had emigrated to Israel, practically bringing to a close the history of the community.
- Baghdad, Yesterday: The Making of an Arab Jew, Sasson Somekh
- UNITED NATIONS CONCILIATION COMMISSION FOR PALESTINE ,A/AC.25/SR/G/9, 19 February 1949,MEETING BETWEEN THE CONCILIATION COMMISSION AND NURI ES SAID, PRIME MINISTER OF IRAQ, retrieved 2013-10-15,
It would also be necessary to put an end to the bad treatment that the Jews had been victims of in Iraq during the recent months. The Prime Minister referred to the increasing difficulty of assuring the protection of the Jews resident in Iraq, under the present circumstances. In answer to an observation by Mr. de Boisanger, who wondered whether Tel Aviv was interested in the fate of the Jews of Iraq, the Prime Minister explained that he was not thinking in terms of persecution; he did not wish the Commission to receive a false impression with regard to his personal sentiments towards the Jews. But if the Jews continued to show the bad faith that they had demonstrated until the present moment, events might take place. (The Prime Minister did not clarify this warning)
- Moshe Gat (4 July 2013). The Jewish Exodus from Iraq, 1948-1951. Routledge. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-135-24654-9.
- Eugene L. Rogan; Avi Shlaim (2001). The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948. Cambridge University Press. p. 142. ISBN 978-0-521-79476-3.
During this time, the Iraqi Jewish community became increasingly fearful
- Orit Bashkin (12 September 2012). New Babylonians: A History of Jews in Modern Iraq. Stanford University Press. p. 90. ISBN 978-0-8047-8201-2.
the general sentiment was chat if a man as well connected and powerful as Adas could he eliminated by the state, other Jews would not be protected any longer.
- Simon, Reguer, and Laskier, p. 365
- 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
- Shiblak 1986: "In a confidential telegram sent on 2 November 1949, the British ambassador to Washington explained ... the general view of officials in the State Department is that the [Zionist] agitation has been deliberately worked up for two reasons:
(a) To assist fund-raising in the United States
(b) To create favourable sentiments in the United Nations Assembly to offset the bad impression caused by the Jewish attitudes to Arab refugees. They suggest that the Israeli Government is fully aware of the Iraqi Jews, but is prepared to be callous towards the community, the bulk of which, as Dr Elath admitted, has no wish to transfer its allegiance to Israel."
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 296: "Throughout that time (1948–1949), Iraq took in only about 5,000 refugees and consistently refused to admit any more, despite British and American efforts to persuade Iraq and Syria to do more to solve the problem."
- Shenhav 1999, p. 610: "Shortly after his government assumed power in January 1949, Nuri al-Said toyed with the idea of deporting the Iraqi Jews to Israel. However, the British ambassador in Palestine warned him that such an act could have serious unanticipated repercussions. Israel, the ambassador explained, would welcome the arrival of cheap Jewish labor and would demand that in return the Arab states assimilate Palestinian refugees. In February 1949, the Foreign Office instructed the British ambassador in Baghdad, Sir Henry Mack, to caution Nuri al-Said against expelling the Jews, as this would adversely affect the position of the Arab states."
- Gat 2013 p. 119,124 , 125,127
- Morris 2008, p. 413
- Tripp 2002 p. 125
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 297a: "Nuri's proposals for a forced population exchange were not intended to solve either the problem of the Palestinian Arab refugees or the problem of the Jewish minority in Iraq, but to torpedo plans to resettle Palestinian Arab refugees in Iraq. He knew that Britain and the United States would not condone the deportation of Iraqi Jews to Israel."
- Shenhav 1999, p. 613: "In July 1949, the British, fearing the decline of their influence in the Middle East, put forward a proposal for a population transfer and tried to persuade Nuri al-Said to settle 100,000 Palestinian refugees in Iraq. A letter sent by the British Foreign Office to its legations in the Middle East spoke of an "arrangement whereby Iraqi Jews moved into Israel, received compensation for their property from the Israeli government, while the Arab refugees were installed with the property in Iraq". The British Foreign Office believed that "the Israeli government would find it hard to resist an opportunity of bringing a substantial number of Jews to Israel." In return, Nuri al-Said demanded that half the Palestinian refugees be settled in the territory of Palestine and the rest in the Arab states. If the refugee arrangement were indeed fair, he said, the Iraqi government would permit a voluntary move by Iraqi Jews to Palestine. Under the terms of the plan, an international committee was to assess the value of the property left behind by the Palestinian refugees who would be settled in Iraq, and they would receive restitution drawn from the property of the Iraqi Jews who would be sent to Palestine.... In October 1949, the world and Israeli press reported the Iraqi-British plan for a population exchange (e.g., Davar, 16 October 1949). The publicity embarrassed the other Arab leaders and caused a stir in the refugee camps of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In a message to the Foreign Office, Henry Mack, the British ambassador to Iraq, said that the Palestinian refugees would not agree to settle in Iraq."
- "Anglo U.S split on policy aggravated by Iraq offer". The Palestine Post, Jerusalem. 19 Oct 1949.
- Jacob Tovy (5 March 2014). Israel and the Palestinian Refugee Issue: The Formulation of a Policy, 1948–1956. Routledge. p. 163. ISBN 978-1-317-81077-3.
On Oct 1949 ... Al Said raised the exchange of population concept with them (ther economic mission survey)
- Philip Mendes (2002). "The Forgotten Refugees: the causes of the post-1948 Jewish Exodus from Arab Countries - The Case of Iraq". 14th Jewish Studies Conference, Melbourne.
- Shiblak 1986, p. 79: "Many studies, however, while not rejecting all the official Iraqi justifications out of hand, see the law as the result of continuous pressure on Iraq from the British, American, and Israeli governments. Some studies go further, regarding Law 1/1950 as the culmination of secret negotiations involving these parties together with the al-Suwaidi government."
- 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."
- 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."
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 202a.
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 202: "For the first few weeks after the enactment of the law, the Zionist activists forbade registration; they were waiting for a clarification of the aliyah routes and a decision by the Israeli government as to its willingness to take in the Jews of Iraq. This ban heightened the tension in the Jewish community. On 8 April 1950, the Zionist leadership (that is, the leaders of Hehalutz and the Haganah, along with the emissaries) convened and discussed the registration issue in view of the pressure from huge numbers of people who wanted to sign up. At the end of the meeting the leadership decided to instruct the people to register and not to wait for instructions from Tel Aviv. A bomb had blown up that day in a Jewish cafe, wounding four people, and the two events were presumably related… The activists' faith in the Zionist ideal and their zeal to implement it, combined with their confidence that Israel would not ignore the aliyah needs of Iraqi Jewry, paved the way to this decision. To inform the Jews of the decision, the leadership issued a proclamation... The fact that the proclamation was written in the name of the State of Israel lent it added force and gave the Jews the impression that the State of Israel and the Israeli government were calling on them to leave Iraq and move to Israel."
- 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."
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 205a.
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 205: "But soon the delay in evacuating the Jews became the problem of the Iraqi state and not just that of the would-be emigrants and the emissaries. The condition of the Jews had ramifications for the overall political situation, domestic security and the Iraqi economy. The Iraqi government found that the problems of instability and turmoil not only remained unsolved but had become worse. Particularly infuriating was the awareness that the source of the problem was the Israeli government, which held the key to the volume and rate of departure of Iraqi Jewry.
These developments changed Iraq's attitude towards the Jews. From now on Iraq sought to get rid of everyone who had registered immediately and at almost any price. This policy was exacerbated when, in mid-September 1950, Nuri al-Said replaced Tawfiq aI-Suwaydi, who had initiated the Denaturalization Law, as prime minister. Nuri was determined to drive the Jews out of his country as quickly as possible, and when he discovered that Israel was unwilling to increase immigration quotas he suggested various ideas for expelling the Jews."
- 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...
- Bashkin 2012, p. 277: "By 1951 Sa'id realized that the Jews were about to leave Iraq, and wanted to see them depart immediately regardless of the Palestinian question. The British report that he asked the Jordanians to stop deceiving refugees on the possibility of their being admitted to Israel and for all Arab countries to take steps to resettle them. FO 371/91635, 15 January 1951, from Sir A. Kirkbride (Amman) to Foreign Office (London) (a report on Nuri Sa'id's visit to Jordan)."
- Kirkbride, Alec (1976), From the Wings: Amman Memoirs, 1947-1951, Psychology Press, pp. 115–117, ISBN 9780714630618,
It arose from a decision of the Iraqi government to retaliate for the expulsion of Arab refugees from Palestine by forcing the majority of the Jewish community of Iraq to go to Israel. Nuri Said, the Prime Minister of Iraq, who was on a visit to Amman, came out with the astounding proposition that a convoy of Iraqi Jews should be brought over in army lorries escorted by armed cars, taken to the Jordanian-Israeli frontier and forced to cross the line. Q... the passage of the Jews through Jordan would almost certainly have touched off serious trouble amongst the very disgruntled Arab refugees who were crowded into the country. Either the Iraqi Jews would have been massacred or their Iraqi guards would have had to shoot other Arabs to protect the lives of their charges. ... I replied at once that the matter at issue was no concern of His Majesty's Government. Samir refused his assent as politely as possible, but Nuri lost his temper at being rebuffed and he said: 'So. you do not want to do It, do you?' Samir snapped back, 'Of course I do not want to be party to such a crime', Nuri there upon exploded with rage
- 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
- Moshe Gat (4 July 2013). The Jewish Exodus from Iraq, 1948-1951. Routledge. pp. 123–125. ISBN 978-1-135-24654-9.
He declared to the Arab world that the despatch of large numbers of Jews was intended to expedite the collapse of the infant state of Israel, since its capacity was limited, and it could not absorb the flood of immigrants. One cannot ignore this aspect of the situation. It is highly likely that one of Nuri as-Said's motives in trying to expel large numbers of Jews was the desire to aggravate Israel's economic problems. At the same time, however, he was well aware of Israel's absorption policy, namely her capacity for absorbing immigrants on which she based her future
- Gat 2013 p. 119
- Gat 2013 p. 128
- Meir-Glitzenstein 2004, p. 206 #2: "On 10 March 1951, precisely one year after the Denaturalization Law had come into effect, when 64,000 people were still waiting to emigrate, the Iraqi legislature enacted a law blocking the assets of Jews who had given up their citizenship."
- Operation Ezra & Nehemiah
- Hirst, David (2003-08-25). The gun and the olive branch: the roots of violence in the Middle East. Nation Books. p. 400. ISBN 1-56025-483-1. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
- Fischbach 2008.
- Fischbach, Michael R. (Fall 2008). "Claiming Jewish Communal Property in Iraq". Middle East Report. Retrieved 2010-04-05.
- Nissim Kazaz, the end of an exile, life of Jews after the exodus, 1951–2000
- David J Goldberg (28 Aug 2010). "A book review of: In Ishmael's House: A History of Jews in Muslim Lands by Martin Gilbert". The Guardian.
while it is pertinent to point out that 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands have been fed, housed and absorbed by Israel since 1948 while 750,000 Palestinian refugees languish in camps, dependent on United Nations handouts
- Mordechai Ben-Porat To Baghdad and Back: The Miraculous 2,000 Year Homecoming of the Iraqi Jews, Gefen Publishing House, 1998. ISBN 965-229-195-1
- Mahir Ünsal Eriş, Kürt Yahudileri – Din, Dil, Tarih, (Kurdish Jews) In Turkish, Kalan Publishing, Ankara, 2006
- Shlomo Hillel, Operation Babylon Fontana, Collins Press, 1988/89, translated from the Hebrew by Ina Friedman.
- Szulc, Tad (1991). The Secret Alliance: The Extraordinary Story of the Rescue of the Jews Since World War II. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-24946-5.
- To Baghdad and Back – Book review from Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center web site
- Iraqi Jews who left Baghdad in the 1960's and 1970's – Jews who chose to stay in Iraq during Operation Ezrah and Nehamiah
-  The Jews of Iraq By Naeim Giladi.
- The Forgotten Refugees: the causes of the post-1948 Jewish Exodus from Arab Countries (focuses on Iraq)