According to Wikipedia, Operation Yakhin was an operation to secretly emigrate Moroccan Jews to Israel, conducted by Israel's Mossad between November 1961 and spring 1964.
Friday, January 15, 2021
According to Wikipedia, Operation Yakhin was an operation to secretly emigrate Moroccan Jews to Israel, conducted by Israel's Mossad between November 1961 and spring 1964.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Monday, January 11, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Saturday, January 09, 2021
Friday, January 08, 2021
Was Weinberg the one who brought cinema to the Ottomans? Yes, he was one of the people who brought this technology in his era, but he was not the only one. From the first quarter of the 1900s, cinema gradually became an important part of entertainment life in Istanbul, with longer and more extensive film screenings.
The organizers of film screenings in these years were Istanbul’s artisans, Ottoman merchants who followed the technologies of the period and businessmen from abroad. Among those who were instrumental in the introduction of cinema to the Ottomans were Weinberg, French painter Henri Delavallee, music hall and circus operator Ramirez, French palace illusionist Bertrand, engineer and film equipment manufacturer Pierre-Victor Continsouza and Yıldız Palace’s interpreter Sabuncuzade Louis Alberi.
The first film was screened in 1896 by a Frenchman named Bertrand who organized cultural and artistic activities at Yıldız Palace. Sultan Abdülhamid II watched the film with his family and took great interest in it.
In 1897, Weinberg started to show films to the people of Istanbul as the Istanbul representative of Pathé Film. These screenings were short but engaging pastimes attended by families, including children. From that year onward, film screenings continued to increase.
The machine used in this screening was brought by Weinberg from France. It was a projection machine that produced light through oxygen, used in early cinema technologies of the pre-electric era. He projected minute-long films on a 2-meter-wide screen.
After carrying out screenings in various places, Weinberg in 1908 opened the Pathé cinema, the first established cinema hall in Istanbul. He operated this hall until 1916.
Weinberg produced films of historical importance as well as operating the movie house and broadcasting and distributing films. In October 1899, he wrote a letter to the sultan in order to film the Ottoman army. He also presented the sultan with a catalog of cinematographers, which are motion picture film cameras also serving as film projectors and printers.
The French Pathé is one of the film companies that operated in the early years of cinema in the Ottoman Empire. As in many countries, they opened a representative office in Istanbul.
Nearly all of the films screened from 1902-1913 belonged to Pathé. The company was the sole dominator of the Ottoman market with its distribution network. It did not limit its investments to Istanbul and opened movie theaters in Izmir and Thessaloniki, two of the most cosmopolitan cities.
Weinberg also made records in the name of Pathé film that were watched in Ottoman territory. Thanks to him, many historical happenings were recorded on film. He filmed one of Sultan Abdülhamid II's Cuma Selamlığı, a tradition practiced by Ottoman sultans on their way to Friday prayers, in the Hamidiye Mosque in 1908. He also recorded other important events of the period, such as the election held in November 1908 and the opening of the Assembly in Istanbul.
Weinberg also filmed Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, who ascended to the throne after Sultan Abdülhamid II. He recorded the parade of the Ottoman navy at a ceremony at which Sultan Mehmed V Reşad was present in 1910. Documentary films, which he took by approaching the sultan as close as 5 meters away with special permission from the sultanate, were screened in various halls.
Additionally, he shot occupied Istanbul and filmed many current cases. These included sports competitions, the funeral of Greek Orthodox Patriarch Joachim of Constantinople and some large fires in Istanbul. He was documenting history with both films and photographs.
Weinberg was a figure with supreme commercial acumen, foreseeing the future of all kinds of innovation. Between 1885 and 1889, his shop both assumed representation of various foreign companies and imported photographic material.
By the time of World War I, the film industry had developed considerably. Thus, it was used as one of the most effective means of propaganda. The government of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which dragged the Ottomans into the war, wanted to use it well.
During this period, Weinberg was appointed head of the Central Army Cinema Department (MOSD), which was established by the order of Enver Pasha, minister of war and acting commander-in-chief. He was ordered to film the Romanian and Galician fronts. These important images were shown in the Palas Cinema on June 9, 1917.
However, the government of CUP, which cooperated with the Germans in the war, dismissed Weinberg. Surely, the ultra-nationalist CUP officers who cooperated with the Germans would not trust a Jew who was the representative of a French company. Romania was also a hostile force, and Weinberg descended from a Romanian family.
What did Weinberg do after the founding of the Republic of Turkey? Information about him is scarce as he was pacified during the war years. His wife Caroline moved to Tel Aviv in 1927, with her son-in-law Josef and daughter Regina. Weinberg continued to live in Istanbul after 1927.
He died in 1936, and at the initiative of his other daughter Elsa and son-in-law Harry, who lived in Romania at the time, his body was brought to Bucharest and was buried there.
Thursday, January 07, 2021
Wednesday, January 06, 2021
Here is the final part of the report by Marvin Goldfine of the American Jewish Committee into the status of Iraqi Jews after Israel was declared in May 1948. (For Parts 1 and 2, see here and here). The crowning act of Iraq's expropriation of the Jews was the much publicized case of Shafiq Ades, of Syrian origin, who became one of the wealthiest residents and business men of Iraq. Ades was hanged in front of his family house in Basra in September 1948. The hanging sent shock waves through the Jewish community.
The city of Basra where he lived had a record of more intense anti-Jewish activity, due in part to the personal bias of its chief of police. Prison sentences against Jews there during the period in question were more frequent and severe. That there took place a subsequent flight of Jews from Basra to Baghdad involving a very large part of its Jewish community clearly marks the difference in degree of treatment meted out in these two centers, This is further borne out by the fact that the brother and partner of Ades who lives in Baghdad was simply put under surveillance. Otherwise, he was not molested nor was his property touched.
Ades was charged with complicity with the enemy in selling arms to the Israeli forces in Palestine, Military equipment which he had purchased from British surplus stock two years ago and which he claimed to have sold in Italy was discovered during the Arab-Israeli battle in Palestine,
Curing the initial period after his arrest, Ades threatened he would expose several high government leaders. His trial was thus held huis-clos, only one witness was heard, and the court refused to admit into the chamber the defense counsel composed of three prominent Moslem attorneys.
Shafiq Ades: his close connections with Muslims did not save him
For some time previous to the trial of Shafiq Ades in September, demonstrations and threats had been directed against him. As one whose close connections and business interests with the highest Moslem leaders were well known, his arrest came as a shock to many. Furthermore, the Jews did not immediately sense the incident as a threat against themselves, since Ades had never been part of their community. He neither identified himself with them nor helped their institutions.
The circumstances surrounding the hanging of Ades and the barbarities which accompanied it have already been told to the world. His assets valued at 20,000, 000 dinars were officially confiscated, although it is claimed that he succeeded in disposing.of the title of much of it before his execution.
None of Ades' Moslem business associates, involved as much as he was in the same deal in question, were arraigned before the law. That this represented a deliberate attempt by the Government to deal at one and the same time a coup against the wealthiest Jew — because he was a Jew —» and to get some easy capital for its empty Treasury, is a matter no longer questioned.
In October there were some indications that the fury was abating. As one Iraqian testified, it seemed as though the thirst was assuaged after the Ades incident, '»/hat is more probable is that it became only too clear that the policy was leading the government headlong into confusion at an accelerated pace. The Minister of Defense, whose nationalistic policy was attacked as directly responsible for the chaos, had to resign.
He pleaded in his statement that he had merely carried out the directives of the government. That some Jewish businesses were then encouraged to resume operations, and that a few Jewish officials, particularly accountants, were taken back into their old civil service -19- jobs reveal that the government felt it had carried matters too far for its own good.
Whatever the motives, the trend during the past three months has unmistakably been towards a less violent course. In the debate in the lower house on the reply to the Speech from the Threw, one of the prominent members described the "staff reductions" as an "oppressive measure," and added, "we cannot fight communism by police, but by raising the social standard of the country." (The Iraq Times, December 20, 1948). Jews have come out of their hiding places and shops are beginning to reopen.
The application of martial law has been eased and there is no longer the same fear of riots. By no means does this mean that tension has dissipated. On the contrary, arrests and arbitrary judgments seem to be almost as prevalent as before.
The following excerpts from Iraqian newspapers give some idea of the steady pace with which these trials are proceeding? "The court nartial rules that Shaoul Yahya must deposit a guarantee of 200 dinars as it is alleged that he has committed acts which disturbed the public order." (Sawt al Ahrar, Dec. 19, 1948, liberal daily). "Shaoua Bekhar has been sentenced to one year of hard labor as the court martial rules that he is a Zionist, having quarreled with the witness, Mr. Thomas, when the latter insulted the Zionists and Moshe Shertok." (El Shaab, December 30, 1948, pro-Government paper).
"It is ruled that R. Sasson Ghazale and Nissam Rahim must pay a 500 dinar guarantee assuring their good conduct and the maintenance of order, as it is alleged to the court that Nissam Rahim had received a letter from his aunt, Theresa Rabin, who is now in Palestine.
It is further ruled to indict the latter, Theresa Rabin, in absentia." (El Shaab, December 30, 1948). "Ezra Hanania was fined 100 dinars for propagating false news and disturbing the public." (El Shaab, December 30, 1948). "Moshe Ezra was fined 100 dinars for propagating false news." (Liwa al Istiklal, November 30, 1948, extreme rightist}. "Youssef Khedouri was fined 50 dinars for propagating false news thus disturbing public order." (El Shaab, January 6, 1949)
"It is ruled that Ezra Heskel and Murad Abraham must each pay 1,000 dinars as a guarantee that they will observe good conduct and maintain public order during the next two years. If they cannot pay the guarantee they will be imprisoned for two years as it is alleged to the court that they were involved in the smuggling of Jews to Palestine and such actions are dangerous to the security of the State." (El Shaab, January 6, 1949.)
Furthermore, the general situation is such that the Jews cannot at all be sure that further trouble does not lie ahead. The growth of the Istaklal (Independence) Party is cause for much anxiety. Composed of pro-Nazi elements whom the British confined during the war, it is now receiving British support.
Nationalistic, militaristic and anti-Semitic in temper, it is playing a more vocal role both in the government chambers and in framing public opinion. With the dissolution of the Democratic and Liberal parties during the past year, the Istaklal remains the only one of consequence officially permitted to operate. With the most recent change in Government of January, I949 ushering back into office the pro-British Prime Minister, Nuri es Said Pasha, one wonders whether this will mean further development of this group.
England's Role in Iraq
England's influence in the direction of the Government itself is said to be far-reaching and decisive. Through her Embassy and Consulate, her British Institutes, the oil companies and business firms, her presence is felt in shaping all official policy matters. That this included a share in the anti-Jewish activity is affirmed quite categorically by many who follow events closely. It was explained that her motive is identical with that of the Arab leaders — namely, to divert attention from opposition both to the government and to Britain, and to channel the wrathful emotions of the discontented toward a vulnerable and powerless minority.
It is said that England has been encouraging the development of the Moslem business firms as opposed to the Jewish ones, and that her Embassy has a blacklist of about 100 business establishments, practically all of which are Jewish-owned, It is from this list that the names were - supposedly - taken for the arrests made last July on the trumped-up charges of trading with Russia,
Thus, the Jewish community hardly looks to Britain as a source of protection in her present plight.Iraqian Jews also pointed out that American influence has not been relatively significant, and particularly now that the United States is considered pro-Zionist. Even though Iraq was one of the three countries which did not vote for the Human Rights Declaration, they feel that the drawing of the United Nations' attention to their plight would have positive results.
The main hope for an improvement in the situation rests on a speedy settlement of the Palestine conflict and the re-establishment of relations between Moslem and Jew. Iraqian Jews are well aware that renewed relations will not automatically take place because of the intense anti-Jewish sentiment which has recently become so current. But they know the Arabs to be fickle and gullible, easily stirred to commit violence, but as quickly prone to forget their animosity.
Even the leaders of the Government who carried out the oppressive measures are not considered basically intolerant, and are capable of dealing fairly under a different set of circumstances. The Iraqian Government is conscious of world opinion and. very sensitive to pressure and newspaper publicity. But the Jews caution, however, that such revelations as are made should not be in the nature of attacks, but rather should appeal to the traditional harmony that has characterized Arab-Jewish relations in the past.
Tuesday, January 05, 2021
Here is Part 2 of a report on the situation of the Jews of Iraq after 14 May 1948 by the American Jewish Committee's representative Marvin Goldfine. (For Part 1, see here). By July, 1948, the trials and prison sentences of ordinary Jews gave way to trials of the wealthier Jewish citizens. These were hauled before military courts, usually with the set purpose of extorting from them vast sums of money by way of fines for the benefit of the depleted Treasury.
A banquet in Iraq
The following examples speak for themselves: In Baghdad, the Jewish millionaire and banker, Salman Zilkah, owner of the Zilkah bank which has branches all over Iraq, was brought before a military court on charges of 'smuggling money abroad and assisting Zionists'.
The Baghdad millionaire Nathanel, whose employees had already been arrested on June 14, 1948, had at one time been the entrepreneur of a cross country automobile service, linking Baghdad with Aleppo, Damascus, Nazareth and Tel-Aviv.
At the moment of the invasion of Palestine he happened to be in Aleppo, Syria. There he was arrested by the Syrian authorities, as a fugitive, at the request of the Iraqi government, and extradited to Iraq. He was detained for some time, and later hauled before a military court on unknown charges. In addition to his travelling agency and car service, this man was also the leading Iraqi agent of several European and U.S. automobile manufacturers.
Another wealthy Jew, Salman Shamoun, was brought before a military court. He was sentenced on a charge of 'connection with bandits of the imaginary state of Israel', to a fine of one million dinars and one year imprisonment.
When this wave of arrests of the rich was at its height, a number of them tried to get away. But the borders of Iraq had been tightly sealed before all Jews on May 15.
The granting of special exit permits was introduced. This applied to Jews only, as by the Iraqi Constitution everyone is free to emigrate. By special decree it was made a condition for the granting of such exit permit to a Jew that he deposit 2,000 dinars as guarantee for his return at the time specified in the permit.
In spite of the deposit, which was usually forfeited to the government with extra promptitude as soon as the date, or any other condition of the permit happened to be unobserved - only about 20 Jews were let out in the four months since May I4.
The zealous forfeiture of the deposit went so far however,' that by analogy, families, of whom a member had gone abroad, were threatened with the sequestration of their entire property, if he did not return. But the number of those preferring return with probable arrest to forfeiting property by staying abroad, was rather small.
During these months, when every Jew could be suspected as a fifth column-'ist and subject to arrest, he seldom ventured forth into the streets. Commerce in general was severely curtailed despite the frantic efforts to channel it through Moslem hands. Forty leading Jewish businessmen in Iraq were suddenly arrested early in July on the charge of trading with Russia and thus supporting a Communist regime. This could hardly be an offense when some of their transactions were the direct result of a Soviet-Iraqian trade arrangement, or else carried on semi-officially through the back door of the Russian Legation, with the assurance that the Government would keep one eye closed. All Iraqian commercial firms, Moslem and Jewish, engaged in this kind of trade.
The real reason for the arrests of the Jews only became apparent when the trials revealed the conditions for their release — payment of sums up to 10, 000 dinars or else imprisonment, A number of 'spy trials' were also staged. In August, I948, a military court in Baghdad sentenced Joseph Kadourie Beibi to four years' imprisonment for 'spying and transmitting information to the Zionists'.
Mr. Shohat, a Jew, and Deputy Director of Railways in Iraq, was accused of participation with others in smuggling military surplus stores out of Iraq. The result of his trial, if any, is not known.
This wave of arrests and sentences was crowned in October, I948, by the arrest of the Chief Rabbi of Iraq, Rabbi Sassoon Kedourie, for having on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) "in the course of his sermon in the synagogue exhorted the Jews to do acts contrary to the safety of the state."
Displacement of Officials
The government also undertook a 'purge'of all Jewish officials and civil servants. This, of course, had no purpose other than to deprive Jewish officials of their position and livelihood, and to put in their stead Moslems, usually proteges of those who had these posts in their gift.
In September, for instance, it was reported that the following, who had worked in the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, had been dismissed; Khouji Yishak, Salman Youseph, Haikh Khouji, Tsyinn Halali, Saleh Shabath, Salim Zion Jacob, Elias Jacob Haboub, Abraham Rejwan, and Nissim Aaron.
Following this, a general Government order was issued to all government departments on October 18, 19U8, to the effect that all Jewish employees are to be dismissed in order 'to ensure the better -guarding of state secrets'. In accordance with this order, most Jewish public servants were dismissed outright, without pension or compensation.
Some of the senior officials, whom it was found too difficult to dispose of in this summary way, were retired on pension; and a few were merely suspended from actual service, by means of long leave, and the like. Among those retired on a pension was Ibrahim el-Kebir, the Jewish Comptroller-General of the Treasury, the man who only two months earlier had been one of three Iraqi delegates to London to negotiate new financial arrangements.
In Parliament, too, a resolution was adopted to 'purge' all departments of 'Zionist elements'. Furthermore, this system of exclusion and discrimination was extended to government schools: whereas in former years a high percentage of Jews attended the Government High School for Trade and Commerce, none of the 100 new pupils admitted in 1948 was a Jew. In the result, the government services, once largely managed by Jews, are today virtually depleted of all their Jewish staff, and these are going about in search of new occupations, which in the present state of anti-semitism in Iraq they cannot find in the general community, and which by virtue of the state of depression in the Jewish community, they cannot find there either.
Plundering of Jewish Property
So much for the attack on the person of the Jews, and their freedom. The assault on their property was, if anything, a much better organized effort, pursued with much greater zest and promise of personal reward. Like Egypt, so Iraq had right from the day of the U.N. partition decision permitted and encouraged a wave of official, semi-official and unofficial blackmailing of Jews.
Jews were forced to contribute immense sums to the various fighting and refugee funds to buy peace and stave off accusations of lack of patriotism, they spent vast sums in this way.
For instance, Shafik Ades, of Basra, who was later tried and executed by a military court, contributed in March, I948, on one occasion 300,000 dinars to the Arab Liberation Army. But, it did not help him in the end.
In Iraq, as well as in Egypt, there was a sufficiently large number of Jews to make their contributions to these funds a major part of the total donations. In Iraq, even more so than in Egypt, the Jews formed the leading class of bankers, financiers, and big merchants. They were a readily available and traceable source of funds. By their voluntary contributions earlier they had shown how much money they could voluntarily afford to throw away for the sake of appeasement.
The Iraqi Government, and a number of officials and others learnt from this the great object lesson that it was possible and worthwhile to force the Jews to pay for the war in Palestine, in which Iraq had found herself engaged, and at the same time to tap these sources in order to replenish the impoverished State Treasury, as well as several private pockets.
Fantastic as this may sound, it was not new. It was merely the lesson learned by the Orient from the Nazis, who had controlled Iraq seven years ago, and had never been forgotten. In addition to the trials of wealthy Jews, already referred to above, the following are some authentic details, which have leaked out, of steps taken to exact Jewish money: In Baghdad, a fresh fund raising campaign was begun after May 15. It is reliably reported that the majority of the contributions were from Jews, to the tune of half a million dinars. The Government also started a fund campaign to help the 20,000 Palestine refugees, who had gathered in Baghdad.
Every night in May and June, 1948, Radio Baghdad broadcast a long list of Jews who had contributed to the fund, thereby exerting strong pressure on all Jews to contribute. Another, and much more effective form of obtaining funds from the Jews was by sequestering and 'attaching' their property, mobile and immobile.
In May, 1948, the Government requisitioned a great number of Jewish-owned houses in Baghdad in order to 'house in them Palestine refugees'. Many Jews were thus rendered homeless. Even schools, including the Baghdad Alliance School and the Kadourie School, were requisitioned for refugees, as well as synagogues, Jewish clubs, and Jewish hospitals.
As far as banking was concerned, the Iraqi Defense Minister Sadek el Bassam Pasha, published a decree on July 17 1948 v/hereby all Jewish-owned banks, such as the Zilkah bank and the Credit Bank, were prohibited from doing any financial transactions or business, 'in order to avoid Jewish banks smuggling Iraqi capital out of the country'.
The various political parties in Iraq gave their full support to these anti-Jewish measures of theft and plunder by confiscation. At a secret session of the Iraqi Senate and Chamber of Deputies on July 12, 1948, to which no Jewish member was invited, Hussein Jamil, a member of the National Democratic Party demanded "confiscation of all Jewish property in order to use it for building a concentration camp for the Jews", and to undertake various 'purges' against Jews.
The right-wing Istiklal Party supported this proposal. This latter party is known to have planned and organized a full scale assault on the Baghdad Jewish quarter on Friday, May14 in order (to quote their own words) "to liquidate the Jewish quarter." The plan was foiled when details leaked out to the Jews who alarmed the police.
On the other hand, the fact that all Iraqi parties agreed in persecuting and impoverishing the Jews is abundantly clear from a joint letter which all the Iraqi parties sent to all foreign-owned banks, business houses, and to Government departments in June 1948, demanding the immediate dismissal of all their Jewish personnel. In order to facilitate the easier disposal over Jewish property, and particularly of laying hand on it, the Government of Iraq by special decree ordered all District Governors to arrange lists of all property belonging to Jews who had left Iraq.
An informed source estimates the amount of money extracted from Iraqi Jews by blackmail and intimidation between May and November 1948 alone, at 4 million dinars. The climax of property sequestrations from Jews, and the refilling of the war-depleted State Treasury, and of private pockets came in 'the wake of the trial of Shafik Ades, a Jewish millionaire who had settled in Basra some years before.
After being accused, of actively assisting the Zionists, and found guilty by a military court in Basra, he was hanged, and all his property to the tune of 5 million dinar was sequestered. (The trial of Ades is dealt with in Part 3 - ed). There is every ground .for believing however, that the conviction and execution were merely a means of bringing about the sequestration and actual cashing in of 5 million dinars.
Other instances, of a slightly less extreme nature, though in every respect alike in type, were reported from all over Iraq, In the township of Amara, a score of Jewish families had been residing for a long time, and had held honorable positions. When the storm broke in Iraq, these people fled the town from an instigated mob and went to Baghdad until the storm blew over.
The local municipality, however, seized the occasion, and after a short time sequestered the property, which was considerable, of all those Jews who had fled and, not yet returned. A little later, the same pretext for sequestration was adopted by the Iraqi Treasury. In October, 1948, the Treasury issued an order to the effect that all Jews living abroad must return to Iraq at once. Those remaining abroad by the end of October would have their property in Iraq forfeited. It is to be especially noted that just as in the case of Ades property, and of several others, forfeiture was to the Ministry of Defense, and not to the Treasury, thereby emphasising the fact that Jewish property was directly being used to pay for the Iraqi army in Palestine.
The sequestration of Ades' 5 million was by no means an isolated instance. Several days after his execution, the authorities acquired the taste for large scale penalty forfeitures. They proceeded to arrest some 60 of the wealthiest Jews in Iraq, the heads of the Jewish community, for the 'offense' of Zionist leanings.
Later, 400 more Jews were arrested and sent to a concentration camp, because they had property in Palestine and had sent out of the country large sums of money. It is reliably known that in a large number of these arrests without trial, and particularly of the wealthy Jews, which were the vast majority, release was effected only by paying colossal bribes and ransom money.
These organized persecutions and excesses have had two public repercussions, and justify reproduction: After his return to the Senate sittings, from which he had apparently been absent during the rise of the storm, the only Jewish senator, Ezra Menahem Daniel, made a speech which is a sad but typical apologia for Iraq Jewry's attitude toward Zionism.
It is also an example of the dignified manner in which Iraqi Jewry is bearing the humiliations and assaults upon it. Senator Daniel delivered an expose on the development of Zionism in Iraq, pointing out that both Emir Feisal I, former King, as well as the British authorities, had encouraged the movement. He indicated that the Jews of Iraq were not Zionist-minded, and that they chose to remain in the country where they dwelt for so many centuries, unless provoked by starvation or terror to leave.
Other Iraqian Jews have supported this general view advanced by Mr, Daniel. They claim that most of the Jews of Iraq, particularly the wealthy class, are primarily Iraqian in spirit and temper. Zionism never attracted a large follow ing even before its interdiction. It is contended by some that of those who went to settle in Palestine, some have returned to their homes in Iraq, while many who remained feel a closer kinship to the Palestinian Arab than to their westernized co-religionists.
Only within the past one-and-a-half years has a strong urge to leave the country developed among the youth. About 1000 have already succeeded in crossing the border, often at great risk to themselves and with the hired help of some Arabs. It is paradoxical that the very action taken against Zionism has only served to generate it.
On the other side of the line, among the persecuting government authorities, a no less symptomatic event needs recording. The Iraqi Defense Minister, Sadel el Bassam, resigned his post on September 27, 1948. Apart from his failure to prosecute the war in Palestine successfully, one of the principal reasons for the resignation was disagreement between him and some of his Cabinet colleagues over his extreme anti-semitic policy.
In his letter of resignation to the Prime Minister he said alia: "...and considering the attitude taken by some ministers towards steps taken by the military courts against Zionism, and especially Zionist officials, I find it imperative to resign.'
This reason was publicly confirmed by the Prime Minister in Parliament on September 28. The resignation has, however, not brought about any basic changes in the Government's declared policy against the Jews. True, the wave of arrests subsided to a certain extent. But, the Jews who were imprisoned by military courts on trumped up charges have not been released.
Nor were any Jewish civil servants or merchants reinstalled in the positions from which they were ousted. Furthermore, in the field of sequestration and confiscation, no restitution whatever has been made. The reasons are near at hand: the political climate in Iraq regarding Palestine and the Jews has not changed in the least.
Iraq having disengaged herself from the hapless Palestine affair by quiet withdrawal of her troops, the home population remain as keyed up as ever over the Palestine issue. The Iraqi state funds are too low to permit any restitution, even if there were the will to make it. This will is, however, as absent as before, and the Jews dare not raise a voice in that direction. They are anxiously content if no further apocalypse descends upon them.
The present position is, however, that Iraqi Jewry has been excluded from commerce and industry and from most income sources. It is therefore quickly descending the slope of poverty, and large sections of the community are in urgent need of material assistance. In the spiritual sphere, the assaults and degradation as well as the poverty, are creating growing decay and ruination.
The right to travel in and out of the country was one of the first measures adopted after the war which drew new distinctions between Moslems and Jews. Already in I946 no Jew could leave the country without guaranteeing the sum of 2,000 dinars that he would not go to Palestine and that he would return to Iraq. The provision was not the result of legislation but merely represented an administrative order by the Chief of the Passport Department.
A Jew, Dr, Samuel, after giving his guarantee, did in fact visit Palestine in I946 and returned to Iraq to take up the matter as a test case but without any positive result. After November 29, 1947, the provision for a simple guarantee was changed to the requirement of an actual deposit of the same sum. The final step was taken on May 15, 1948 when no Jew could succeed in procuring a passport or exit visa to leave the country. Conversely, no Jew of whatever nationality can secure a visa to enter Iraq, The Jews are virtually trapped and have become veritable hostages in the hands of the authorities.
Coming soon: Part 3: The trial of Shafik Ades
Monday, January 04, 2021
What happened to Iraqi Jews after the state of Israel was declared on 14 May 1948? Iraq declared martial law and imposed severe restrictions of the 150,000-strong Jewish community. It then extorted thousands of dinars from Jewish individuals, arraigned them before military courts and sentenced dozens of Jews to prison terms for Zionism. Marvin Goldfine of the American Jewish Committee paints a vivid picture of their predicament in 1948. His report is worth reprinting in full. (I have kept the original spelling) . Here is Part 1 of three : subsequent Parts will appear over the next few days.
State of Siege
On May 14, 1948, the government declared a state of siege and emergency in the country. The Iraqi Parliament passed a measure classing Zionist activities as treason, and according it capital punishment, and a minimum punishment of seven years. The term 'Zionist' received the widest interpretation. This was in fact merely an amendment of a law which existed since the 1930's, by which Zionist activities in Iraq were prohibited and persecuted.
In order to carry out the policy of 'suppressing Zionist activities' and enforcing the state of emergency, special military courts were set up all over Iraq, to try people for such offences as possessing firearms, and 'endangering the security of the state', which latter crime too had the widest definition. These military courts were composed of army officers. They had exclusive jurisdiction over this vague and wide range of 'offences'. There lay no appeal from their sentences, nor any re-trial before a proper civil court.
The New York Times of 16 May 1948 warned that Jews all over Muslim lands were in grave danger
In the Iraq Parliament the declaration of the state of emergency, according special powers to the government, at once aroused the suspicious disapproval of certain members. They feared the government might also use it to suppress and persecute the opposition. In reply to this criticism, Prime Minister Al Pajaji Pasha promised that the emergency laws would be used against Jews only and only, for the effective prosecution of the war in Palestine.
This turned out to be no mere paper measure. It was immediately translated into the most ruthless language of application. With the open invasion of Palestine, all Jews in Iraq were immediately regarded and treated as enemy aliens; but not as normal enemy aliens: they had neither the protection of an investigating Red Gross, nor the restraining, because retributive, power of a foreign state. No foreign consulate took over the affairs of the 120,000 'aliens' thus rendered outlaws in their own home.
A resident of Bagdad vividly described the temper of those first few days of martial law. "Suspecting trouble, many Jews had been purchasing arms in order to be prepared to defend themselves on May 10. It is possible that the Government, knowing this, was cautious, allowing the day to pass with no announcement of any kind. Its silence created grave fears among the Jews and not knowing what to expect, many began leaving their homes. Those who lived in the old Jewish quarter, which is surrounded on all sides by Moslems, joined their fellow Jews 'in the newer Jewish section which is farther removed from the center of the city. At 10 P.M.'the Government established martial law. No demonstrations were permitted.
It was clear that the Government wanted to avoid any sort of trouble because of the numerous groups and tribes which would take advantage of anti-Jewish disturbances to give vent to their anti-Government feelings. After a day or two of calm when, with martial law established, the Government felt itself secure enough to embark upon its program, many arrests were made on the pretense of rounding up oppositionists, Communists and Zionists. Most of those arrested, however, were Jews. The police searched most of the Jewish homes in Baghdad and made arrests on the slightest pretext, such as the discovery of a single letter from Palestine, or a Hebrew book. Those in whose homes arms were found were likewise arrested. However, the majority were released but only upon the payment of arbitrary sums, and once released, were kept under surveillance. Jews were imprisoned on the simple testimony of a Moslem.
The following is a list of activities tolerated, encouraged or initiated by the Iraqi government:
Arrests and Trials
A large series of searchers after arms were arranged in mid-May especially among the Jews of Baghdad. This proved a welcome opportunity for many Moslems to settle old feuds with Jews, neighbors or competitors. The method was to prefer baseless accusations, against them, which at once led to arrest and prolonged detention pending investigation.
No arms were found at the time. But mass arrests of Jews took place nevertheless. All in all 310 persons were arrested by the Iraqi military authorities in the early days of the state of emergency, 160 of them were released after questioning, during varying periods of detention. xx were held for further investigation and/or trial. Early in June the first trials by military courts began to take place. On June 3, 19148, six Jews were sentenced by a special military court in Baghdad to three years' imprisonment each for 'being in possession of arms'. On June 6, Baghdad radio boasted the arrest and sentencing of a number of 'Communists and Jews' to terms of imprisonment ranging from one to ten years.
It should here be explained that wherever the authorities desired to prosecute a rich Jew, they labelled him Zionist. If he was poor they labelled him Zionist and Communist. The few people of non-Jewish extraction who were also persecuted at this time, in accordance with opposition fears, and not quite in keeping with the government promise, were for convenience sake called just 'communist'.-
On June 14, all the employees of the Jewish-owned travelling agency Nathanel were arrested, as suspects, no doubt due to the firm's connections overseas. In Baghdad itself, a Jewish driver was killed by a mob on May 15, on the wild accusation having been spread that Jews had offered poisoned candies to Moslem children in the al-Kharjah quarter.
In Basra, about the same time, a Jewish carpenter named Eliahu Daniel, was sentenced to life imprisonment for' 'having possessed a quantity of arms'. Early in June, a number of high Jewish officials of the port of Basra were arrested and detained for periods of 2-3 years on the fantastic charge of 'having handed the plans of the port of Basra to the Zionists'.
A Jewish merchant, Eliahu Rajwan, of Basra, was sentenced to 12 months for "connections with the Zionists." In Basra again, a young Jew named Menashe, received a 20 -year sentence, when in the course of a search a booklet was found in his possession, containing first aid instructions in Arabic. The police said he had received the booklet from Russia. His brother, a local lawyer, received a 10-year sentence, for having a revolver without a license.
Named among others arrested in Basra at that time wore: Sali Sassoon Sameh, Naji Menahem, Morris, and the brothers Sedaka, In July 1948, a wealthy Jew, Salim Senah, who had been detained in a Baghdad prison since the end of May, was reported to have died in detention, in unexplained circumstances. In Karkouk, 12 Jews were arrested, accused of 'connection with the Zionists'.
In the township of Falujah, between Baghdad and Om'an, a mob attacked two Jewish merchants, injuring one of them severely. The police did not intervene. Later in the day, (May 15) the mob attacked and stormed the Jewish quarter in that township, damaging, destroying and pillaging Jewish real and mobile property. The community was forced to flee for their lives, and to seek refuge in the larger surroundings of Baghdad. In the 3rd military district of Iraq, a military court sentenced one Joseph Aaron to three years' hard labor and a 3,000 dinar (3,000 sterling ) fine, which was to be confiscated to the Treasury from his property, plus further police surveillance for two years, after release.
One Jacob Joseph was sent by the same court to two years' hard labor, no details of the offense being given in either case, A number of Jews were also arrested and tried on charges of having bought land in Palestine, of course prior to May 15, 1948. Those sentenced for this 'crime' included one Shems, and Stanley Shashouah, to a fine of 10, 000 dinars each. Their offense was detected by the authorities by means of postal censorship. In Basra, a whole family, which received a letter from their son informing them that he had joined the Haganah in Palestine, was sent to be detained for three years, including their infant children.
Similarly, a young man, who received a letter from his sister in the U,S., enclosing a press cutting of President Truman's de facto recognition of Israel, was sentenced to three years' detention. Generally all letters received by Iraqi Jews since the middle of May, especially those coming from Palestine, were opened by the censorship, and the recipients prosecuted as if they were responsible for the news and sentiments uttered therein.
Postal censorship was one of the military emergency measures enforced on May 14, I9I48. By July, 1948, the trials and prison sentences of ordinary Jews gave way to trials of the wealthier Jewish citizens. These were hauled before military courts, usually with the set purpose of extorting from them vast sums of money by way of fines for the benefit of the depleted Treasury.
To be continued.
Sunday, January 03, 2021
Morocco was one of the options considered for Herzl's Jewish state in 1903, although the idea was soon dismissed as 'illusory'. A Jewish warlord named Haroun ibn Mishal also had a plan for a Jewish domain in 17th century Morocco. Report in the Moroccan news medium Yabiladi:
Friday, January 01, 2021
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Tuesday, December 29, 2020
It's that time of the year again - time to review the highlights and lowlights of 2020.
In the 15 years since Point of No Return has been collecting information on Jews from Arab and Muslim countries, there have been 5,940 posts. This year achieved 426,000 views.
This year will be remembered as the year of COVID-19. It was certainly not the first time that plagues have swept through the Middle East. This year's plague took a heavy toll of Jewish communities (see here and here).
This year gave Iraqi Jews an excuse to celebrate the 50th anniversary of their airlift to Israel.
But the highpoint of 2020 must be surely the historic peace accords achieved with four Arab countries: the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. This is a teachable moment - to educate about Jewish refugees from the Arab world and Iran. (Some Arabs have already absorbed the lesson. )
For the first time, the rights of Jewish refugees were explicitly mentioned in the Trump Middle East peace plan announced in January. Unfortunately, the media still refuse to give the issue the coverage it deserves.
Numbers of Jews continued to dwindle in Arab countries, except in Dubai, which holds out the promise of an expanding Jewish community, serviced by three rabbis. It was a good year for one particular Jewish family from Yemen, who were given refuge in the UAE.
As for Jewish heritage, Morocco led the way in memorialising Jewish culture and history `at Bayt Dhakira, a converted Essaouira synagogue. It was a bad year for Jewish memory in Aden, where the cemetery has been razed for urban development. As for Ezekiel's shrine, we received reports of the ongoing erosion of its Jewish character, with a trellis being erected around the prophet's tomb and the adjoining synagogue dismantled. It was not a good year for the shrine of Rabbi Abuhatseira at Damanhour in the Nile Delta, which was stripped of its protected status. An Egyptian court banned Jewish pilgrims from visiting it.
However, for 180 Jewish visitors, the high point of the year was the February inauguration of the Nebi Daniel synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt, restored at a cost of $4 million. Sadly, the community in Egypt is on the verge of extinction and the synagogue will not be more than a tourist attraction.
Deaths: the Iraqi-Jewish community went down to four with the passing of Sitt Marcelle, who administered the community's assets. Lebanese-born banker Joseph Safra passed away in Brazil. Egyptian-born Esther Webman of Tel Aviv University is mourned by researchers into Middle East politics. Leftwing Tunisian-born lawyer Gisèle Halimi passed away in France. But the greatest loss to the Sephardi/Mizrahi community was arguably the death of the great thinker and author Albert Memmi, six months short of his 100th birthday.
Best articles of the year:
Reviews of Past Years
WISHING ALL BLOG READERS A VERY HAPPY and HEALTHY NEW YEAR!
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has become a household name as a manufacturer of the COVID-19 vaccine. But how many know that its CEO is a Sephardi Jew, Albert Bourla? The Jewish Voice reports (with thanks: Ambrosine):
Albert BourlaAs the announcement of a vaccine that is 90% effective in preventing the novel coronavirus has dominated the headlines and given hope to people in every corner of the globe, we pause at this juncture to pay tribute to Albert Bourla, the chairman and CEO of pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Founded in 1849 in New York City by Charles Pfizer, the eponymously named pharmaceutical company is one of the world’s largest of its kind and it ranked 57 on the 2018 Fortune 500 list of the largest United States corporations by total revenue. Pfizer develops and produces medicines and vaccines for a wide range of medical disciplines, including immunology, oncology, cardiology, endocrinology, and neurology. Its products include the blockbuster drug Lipitor (atorvastatin), used to lower LDL blood cholesterol; Lyrica (pregabalin) for neuropathic pain and fibromyalgia; Diflucan (fluconazole), an oral antifungal medication; Zithromax (azithromycin), an antibiotic; Viagra (sildenafil) for erectile dysfunction; and Celebrex (also Celebra, celecoxib), an anti-inflammatory drug.
Currently, Pfizer is under the dynamic and innovative leadership of a man who came from humble beginnings and who rose to prominence in the medical field through his remarkable diligence and his tireless desire to help people.
Born in October of 1961 in Thessaloniki, Greece, Albert Bourla was raised in a Sephardic Jewish family. Bourla is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and holds a Ph.D. in the Biotechnology of Reproduction from the Veterinary School of Aristotle University. He left Greece with his wife when he was 34 and since then he has lived in seven different cities, in four different countries.
In 2020, he was ranked as America’s top CEO in the Pharmaceuticals sector by Institutional Investor magazine. He is on the executive committee of The Partnership for New York City, a director on multiple boards – Pfizer, Inc., The Pfizer Foundation, PhRMA, and Catalyst – and a Trustee of the United States Council for International Business. In addition, Bourla is a member of the Business Roundtable and the Business Council.
Bourla began his career at Pfizer in 1993 in the Animal Health Division as Technical Director of Greece. He held positions of increasing responsibility within Animal Health across Europe, before moving to Pfizer’s New York Global Headquarters in 2001. From there, Bourla went on to assume a succession of leadership roles within the Animal Health Division, including US Group Marketing Director (2001-2004), Vice President of Business Development and New Products Marketing (2004-2006), and Area President of Animal Health Europe, Africa and the Middle East (2006-2009). In 2009, he assumed additional responsibilities for the Asia and Pacific regions.
From 2010-2013, Bourla was President and General Manager of Pfizer’s Established Products business from 2010-2013, leading the development and implementation of strategies and tactics related to Pfizer’s off-patent portfolio, (including legacy brands and generics).
From January 2014 to January 2016, Bourla served as Group President of Pfizer’s Global Vaccines, Oncology, and Consumer Healthcare business, where he was instrumental in building a strong and competitive position in oncology and expanding the Company’s leadership in vaccines.
Previously, from February 2016 to December 2017, Bourla served as Group President of Pfizer Innovative Health, which comprised the Consumer Healthcare, Inflammation & Immunology, Internal Medicine, Oncology, Rare Disease and Vaccines business groups. In addition, he created the Patient and Health Impact Group, dedicated to developing solutions for increasing patient access, demonstrating the value of Pfizer’s medicines, and ensuring broader business model innovation.
Bourla became Pfizer’s chief operating officer (COO) on January 1, 2018, overseeing the company’s drug development, manufacturing, sales, and strategy, as stated in a Wikipedia profile. He restructured Pfizer and spun-off the consumer health care business during his tenure as COO. He was promoted to the chief executive officer (CEO) role in October 2018, effective January 1, 2019, succeeding Ian Read.
Moderna's chief medical officer Tal Zaks is Jewish too (Atlanta Jewish Times)