Elder of Ziyon):
According to retailers working in the shops in the vicinity of the Jewish synagogue
in Basra on Saturday, the building, which for years has been a warehouse, is on the verge of collapse. Meanwhile the
provincial council has unveiled a proposal for the synagogue's restoration.
A shopkeeper in the Ali Mohammed market told Alsumaria News, "the Jewish synagogue is on the verge of collapse. There is a wide gap in the roof. The cracks in
the walls are obvious and if the building is not restored it is likely that it will collapse."
Another vendor named Abbas Radhi told Alsumaria News: "Some shops adjacent to the synagogue belong to the
Jews. Rent is paid annually by residents to a lawyer acting for the shop owners," adding that "the collapse of the synagogue will lead to damage nearby and the possible collapse of adjoining buildings."
Chairman Bijari of the Development and Reconstruction Committee of the provincial council told Alsumaria News: "The project to restore the synagogue and
keep it as a heritage site will hopefully be implemented in the next year, with
funding from the provincial budget." He added: "the project faces
an obstacle: we do not know who owns the synagogue. This has been confirmed to us
by the Inspectorate of Antiquities and Heritage. "
Earlier Bijari, as chairman of the Council's Committee of Tourism and Antiquities, had stated that "the synagogue renovation project proposed within the project plan in 2014 may not be implemented in the
event unless it is adopted by the end of this year." He argued that
"heritage buildings mission in the province, including the Jewish synagogue, should be preserved before it is too late. "
The marketplace synagogue was built in 1915 with contributions from the elders of
the Jewish community for religious purposes. It consists of seven rooms and the ark, surrounded by
shops belonging to Jews. Hebrew phrases engraved on the
walls are the only indicator of the place's identity. It was a
sub-headquarters of the Baath Party during the 90s. After the fall
of the former regime in 2003, it was stormed by persons unidentified who looted its
contents, then turned the synagogue into goods warehouse.
Perhaps the synagogue site is the best proof of the peaceful coexistence that
prevailed in Basra. It is located about 30 meters from the mosque, used
primarily by Shiite Muslims. (..)The harmony
did not last long: the Jews in the province to were subject to assaults and
harassment when Israel was created in 1948, leading to displacement and
looting of their property. These coincided with the
government decision to prevent the Jews from leaving Iraq. It then
allowed immigration, provided the Jews abandoned Iraqi
nationality and property. Within
two years most Iraqi Jews were transferred to Israel in Operation Ezra and Nehemia by the Jewish Agency. The Iraqi government decided to again prevent Jews from travelling in
1952. (...) The last of the Basra Jews left only in 2003: an elderly woman who lived alone
in an apartment adjacent to the synagogue.
Read TV News report (Arabic)
The (Basra) man who escaped the Baghdad gallows