Sunday, June 19, 2005

When Iraqi society lost its humanity

"Imagine Iraq teeming with Jewish life and culture, with Jews occupying high positions in government and comprising nearly half the population of Baghdad", reported the Toronto Star recently.

"That scenario seems almost imponderable in today’s Iraq, where anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism flourish and a mere 22 Jews call the embattled country home. But it was the reality less than a century ago.

"The story of what happened to this dynamic community is the subject of a new documentary film titled The Last Jews of Baghdad: End of an Exile; Beginning of a Journey, which was screened recently at the Toronto Jewish Film Festival.

“It’s very interesting to delve into what happens when you take a whole group of people out of a society,” said Carole Basri, who co-directed and produced the film with Adriana Davis and Bryan Durr.“I think [that society] loses some of its humanity.”

"Human rights in the Middle East is the main issue explored in the film, which provides first-person reflections of Jews who experienced both peaceful and fruitful times in Iraq, as well as persecution and exile.

“I try to build bridges so that everybody can understand all the pain that’s occurred in the Middle East,” said Basri, a New York lawyer and scion of a well-known Iraqi Jewish family.

“I’ve shown this film to Arabs and Muslims who said, ‘We didn’t know this happened.’ When there is a feeling of common pain, then answers can be found.” Read article in full.

Further screenings of the Last Jews of Baghdad will take place in New York on 30 June and in Chicago on 21 August. For details please visit the film website.

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