Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Survivors of Nazi-sponsored pogrom deserve reparations

 The Nazi-inspired Mufti's agitation against the Jews of Iraq, coupled with Nazi radio propaganda, were the prime causes of the devastating pogrom known as the 1941 Farhud. Its survivors therefore deserve Holocaust reparations - but have had to resort to the courts in order to convince the Israeli government. Academic researcher Dr Edy Cohen writes in The Tower:


German propaganda in the Arab world in general and Iraq in particular sought to create sympathy for Hitler and the Nazis. In order to do so, it engaged in wild anti-Jewish incitement—blaming the Jews for stealing Arab money and causing all the problems of the Arab world.

Nazi propaganda was also disseminated on the streets of Iraq, arousing hatred of the Jews until it caused a deadly explosion in the form of the Farhud. The investigative committee convened by the Iraqi government after the Farhud concluded that Nazi incitement was an enormous influence on Iraq and the central factor in the pogrom against the Jews.
Further evidence that supports the fact that the Mufti was responsible for the Farhud comes from the prime minister of Iraq Nuri al-Said. Details of this come from new evidence: the minutes of a meeting of Jewish Agency leaders in Jerusalem on July 27, 1941, 55 days after the Farhud. In it, Moshe Sharett, head of the political division and later prime minister of Israel, reports on a meeting with Nuri al-Said in Cairo shortly after the Farhud.
He began a serenade that lasted around 25 minutes, and didn’t give me a chance to open my mouth. He said, “This is the question of questions—Palestine is a bleeding wound in the body of the Arab people and with England, and it causes disasters to the Jews and the Arabs, and there will be no happiness if this question is not solved. We don’t understand this. Your entire movement is against nature, against history, against reality; it won’t succeed; it’s impossible.”

When I finally got a chance to speak, he would return to our “original sin”—that we didn’t agree to his offer. … I don’t remember at what point he started to talk about the riots in Baghdad and the rumor that that the Arabs were planning riots. … He said, “Pay attention to the fact that in every place the Jews lived in Arab neighborhoods, nothing happened to them. If there were attacks on the Jews, it was an organized thing, organized by Nazi agents, Arab Nazi agents, and not a spontaneous event that occurred by surprise.”
In other words, Nuri al-Said stated that the Arabs were not inclined to attack the Jews, and they did so because of an organization of Nazi agents. Moreover, Sharett recounted, Said also mentioned that “there was a large amount of Nazi propaganda” and that the instigators of the Farhud “returned to Berlin.”
“It was connected to the Mufti,” Sharett concluded. “He evaded my words because the Mufti was a guest of the Iraqi government.”
Sharett’s report shows that Nuri al-Said had confirmed less than two months after the Farhud that the riots were organized and executed by the Mufti and his entourage.
It is clear that the Farhud was a Nazi-sponsored event. The State of Israel has received millions of dollars from Germany as reparations for Nazi crimes against the Jews. Accordingly, the survivors of the Farhud deserve similar reparations. But they have not been recognized as survivors of Nazi crimes. For various reasons, Israel and the world in general have not paid nearly enough attention to the Jews of Arab lands. To this day, for example, the Farhud is not taught in schools.
For more than three years, attorney David Yadid has led a legal struggle with the Finance Ministry to recognize immigrants from Iraq as Holocaust survivors because of the Farhud, holding that they should be paid monthly reparations of at least 2,200 shekels ($570). Yadid has presented evidence of the collaboration between the Nazis and the Iraqi government, German military aid to Iraq, and anti-Semitic Nazi propaganda disseminated in the media both directly by the Nazis and by those who received support from them, all of which contributed to the Farhud.

In response, the Finance Ministry recommended that the survivors of the Farhud should receive 3,600 shekels ($940) per year and free medication from the Health Ministry, but this is offered on condition of ending the legal proceedings. The ministry’s goal is clear: To get the Farhud’s survivors to give up their rights. The State of Israel and the Finance Ministry’s Holocaust Survivors Rights Authority are conducting a struggle against recognizing the survivors of the Farhud as victims of Nazism and seek to run out the clock until all the survivors are dead.

Today, 75 years after the Farhud, it is necessary for justice to be done. I myself have aided Yadid’s efforts and presented a legal and historic opinion that Nazi activities led to the Farhud. Despite this, ironically, the State of Israel and the Finance Ministry have paid many academics to “prove” that only the Arabs were responsible for the Farhud and the Nazis were not connected to it. Shockingly, Israel has actually whitewashed the role of the Nazis in this tragedy in order to avoid paying the money required should this be proved. It is now necessary to wait for the results of the lawsuit.

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More articles by and about Edy Cohen

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