Some 'experts' seem to feel the need to whitewash the crimes of the Nazi-supporting Arab regime, writes Hen Mazzig in this harrowing Jerusalem Post account of his grandmother's experience of the 1941 Farhud, whose 75th anniversary falls today. It is time we spoke up, he says. (With thanks: Imre)
the persecution of my family in Iraq, she doesn’t speak a lot about her
past. It is challenging to get any negative stories from Iraq out of
her. She prefers to tell me stories about how great it was, how
beautiful Baghdad is, and how they always felt safe – until the two days
of horror: June 1-2, 1941, known as the Farhud. To me, this event
signifies the days of catastrophe; the start of a Jewish “Nakba”
(catastrophe) that no one wants to acknowledge. These two days led to my
family becoming refugees.
“Farhud” means brutal intimidation of a
population by its ruler, but it seemed more than just the rulers turned
on the Jewish population of Iraq during those days in 1941. My
grandmother always told me the story of the cafe that she spent her days
at, a beautiful little shop, she said. On the first day of the farhud
she was there. She tells me how she saw an Iraqi Muslim man screaming
“kill the Jews,” and a Jewish woman walking across the street with her
seven young children, one in her arms. The man pointed the gun at the
woman and began shooting her kids. One by one they were murdered, as the
mother screamed. Only after he murdered all of her children did he kill
her. Quickly, the cafe owner hid my grandmother in the back of the
store, until her father came to take her, running back home.
night, she couldn’t sleep. She and her family hid at her Muslim
neighbor’s home. The terrible noises from outside – screams, cries,
shattering glass – made it into one of the most terrible nights of her
life. When morning came, they were all relieved, thinking that the
horror was over. They were wrong.
At noon, she was sitting on the
porch at her house while her mother was out getting food and her father
was at the neighbor’s home. Suddenly she saw Dalia, a Jewish teen with
mental disability, walking down the street. She called out to her from
above, urging her to go back home. Dalia didn’t listen.
after, an Iraqi Muslim man saw Dalia and walked over to her. When he
realized that she was mentally disabled, he started raping her. My
grandmother was paralyzed by shock and fear as she witnessed the attack.
The young girl was screaming. After he was done with his sickening act,
he took a glass bottle, broke the bottom half on the floor, and wounded
her genitals. My grandmother, inconsolable, couldn’t speak to anyone
that day. Though she survived the bloody massacre that day, the Farhud
reminded the Jews in Iraq of “their place” in Iraqi society.
two days in 1941 led directly to the violent expulsion of 120,000 Iraqi
Jews from their land, the confiscation of their property and
possessions, valued at an estimated $300 million, and the denial of
their basic human rights and dignity. My family was part of 850,000 Jews
from the Middle East and North Africa that were forced out of their
countries following the rebirth of Israel. They are the forgotten
refugees that returned home, to Israel.
Zionism was always in the background of my family’s life, they prayed every day to return to Jerusalem – but not this way.
seems like when it comes to the systemic persecution of Jews in Iraq
and the Arab world, some “experts” feel the need to whitewash the crimes
of the Nazi-supporting Arab regime. This is why I write this: I ask you
Speak about the crimes of the Farhud, be the voice of
Dalia and of the Jewish mother and her seven children. Be the voice of
the 200 Iraqi Jews that were killed in these two days of catastrophe.
the voice of the 250 Jewish children that lost their parents that day,
and of the 2,100 Jews that were wounded and over 50,000 that lost their
property. It doesn’t matter of what faith you are or your background;
this is not an exclusive issue for Iraqi Jews, or just for Jews, it is
an issue for all people of conscience.
Today, as a 26-year-old Israeli, I see how many groups of refugees are embraced by the international community.
see young activists rallying for them, and mainstream media covering
their struggle. I see even how those who are descendants of refugees are
internationally acknowledged as “refugees” despite the fact they do not
fit the definition of refugees in the slightest.
Arab-Israeli conflict, the Jewish refugees from Arab countries were
never compensated and not one of the Arab states which committed these
crimes has owned up to their despicable actions. These refugees were
never even acknowledged as refugees by the international community. For
my grandmother, I will continue talking about it whenever I can, because
where there is no acknowledgment, there will be no justice. Where there
is no true justice, there will never be real peace.
Read article in full
On Thursday 2 June 2016 Harif will be livestreaming the Official London Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Farhud. Tune in to the Harif Facebook page at approx 7. 45 pm (BST).
How the expulsion of its Jews backfired on Iraq
The demons of the Farhud are with us still