Friday, June 13, 2008

Iraqi Jewish abductee joins her Israeli family

A 76-year old Jewish woman from Iraq is finally immigrating to Israel to join her family some 55 years after a Muslim neighbour abducted her (With thanks: Jerusalem Posts, via Atlas Shrugs). Ynet News reports :

Hannah’s fascinating story begins in the 1950s, when her Baghdad-native family – parents and seven siblings – decided to immigrate to Israel. Hannah, already married to a Jewish Iraqi, was also planning to make aliyah, when fate struck: a Muslim neighbor, who was aware of the family’s plans to immigrate, kidnapped the striking Hannah to keep her by his side. Her siblings only have a vague recollection of that horrible day. They went looking for Hannah, they say, but the earth had swallowed her.

Decades passed, the siblings made aliyah and the family expanded, all the while keeping their bitter secret to themselves. Shortly after arriving in Israel, Hannah’s mother died at 37, her heart broken by losing her child.

Six months ago, out of the blue, the family received a surprising phone call. The woman on the other side of the line was Ravit Topol from the Ministry of Interior, with an extraordinary story she was looking to verify.

It turns out Hannah had been forced to become a Muslim and had raised her neighbor’s children for 50 years. No one in the Baghdad neighborhood knew about her secret or her Jewish roots, and she was afraid her husband would kill her if she tried to contact her siblings.

When her husband died a year ago, the now 76-year-old Hannah escaped Baghdad under the guise of being being a war refugee. She was able to reach Europe through an Arab country and decided to locate an Israeli embassy.

“I am Jewish, I want to go to Israel,” she said in fluent Arabic and with great excitement. The embassy found it hard to believe her story; but when she named her relatives in Israel, the embassy officials realized the truly incredible nature of the story unfolding before their very eyes and quickly contacted the Ministry of Interior’s population administration.

Read article in full

Watch the reunion between Hannah and her brother on TV (With thanks: Iraqijews)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. There should be a book deal in there somewhere. I wonder if her original husband is still alive.