Mongols at the gates of Baghdad in 1258. (Photo: Alamy)
Have you noticed how Arab nationalism can never be held solely responsible for the ethnic cleansing of the Middle East's minorities? Those two betes noires of trendy western elites are invariably thrown into the same basket - colonialism and Zionism.
Here we have a classic example in the Guardian review by Christophe de Bellaigue of Justin Marozzi's book Baghdad.
De Bellaigue writes:
"There were 80,000 Jews in Baghdad before the first world war, and
they sat in the Istanbul parliament – halcyon days before the combined
effects of British colonisation, Zionism and Arab nationalism ended the
Jewish presence for good. When Marozzi arrived in Baghdad in 2004, the
community was seven-strong."
Not exactly correct. The Jews would
not have had representatives in the Istanbul parliament had the western
powers not brought pressure in the second half of the 19th century to
bear on the Ottoman empire to emancipate their 'dhimmi' non-Muslim subjects.
It is inaccurate to blame British colonialism for the end of the Jewish
community. Quite the contrary: the 1920s under British mandate were the
real halcyon days for the Jews - a time of great prosperity, when Jews
staffed the civil service and provided the backbone to Iraq's economy.
The country's first finance minister, Sasson Heskel, was a Jew.
is it accurate to blame Zionism. The Jews were largely non-Zionist.
Zionism was not the cause of their departure, but it provided a solution
to their precarious plight following the savage 1941 Farhud pogrom in which at least 180
Jews were murdered. After 1948, the Jews, even the Communists among
them, had somewhere to flee to - the new state of Israel.
Israel had not been established it is plausible that the Jews would
have been driven out of Iraq, in the same way as the Assyrians,
Chaldeans, Yazidis and Mandeans.
Virulent Arab nationalism must therefore
take the lion's share of the blame for the demise of the Jewish
community, as well as the persecution and exclusion of the other non-Muslim
That wave of nationalism has now been replaced by xenophobic, bloodthirsty, Jihadist Islamism.
We are now seeing the catastrophic consequences for Iraq's ancient Christian heartlands, whose inhabitants are fleeing in droves.
Crossposted at CiF Watch