One-stop blog on Jews from Arab and Muslim Countries and the Middle East's forgotten Jewish refugees, updated daily
Sunday, August 07, 2016
Tourism ministry fought demolition of Heskel House
Update to the update: official confirmation has come of the demolition, which Iraqi intellectuals have greeted with dismay.
What is left of Sasson Heskel's house. This video clip records what the building looked like (from 4:45 minutes).
Update: Point of No Return has seen conclusive video footage that the house of Sir Sasson Heskel has been demolished after all, contrary to what this Times of Israel article suggests. However, the piece points to an interesting clash between Iraq's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, which wanted to preserve the site, while the Baghdad municipality decided to pull the building down. Too late now. (With thanks: Imre):
Baghdad municipality announced Friday it would demolish and then give
to a developer the 100-year-old home of Iraq’s first finance minister,
Sir Sassoon Eskell, while an official in Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and
Antiquities slammed the decision as a “violation” of the law.
Sir Sasson Eskell (Heskel), Iraq's well-regarded first finance minister
who was born into an aristocratic Baghdadi Jewish family in 1860, was
instrumental in founding the Iraqi government’s laws and financial
municipality of the Iraqi capital said in the press release that
Eskell’s home “is not a heritage site according to the book of the
heritage department,” the Iraqi site Assabah al-Jadeed reported
home was constructed 100 years ago on Rashid Street, in central
Baghdad, and is presently granted to a citizen to invest in,” the
statement continued, stressing that “the investment is done in
accordance with the law.”
Sa’id Hamza, head of the investigation department of heritage sites
within the ministry, accused the municipality of “violating the law” by
giving away Eskell’s home for investment.
in Baghdad’s municipality considered the home to not be a heritage
site?” he reportedly wondered, suggesting there may have been
added that Eskell’s home is composed of two parts: one that is meant to
be handed over to the Finance Ministry, and another that is supposed to
be returned to his grandson Albert Sassoon Eskell. (Sasson Eskell never married - 'grand nephew'? - ed)
In just 50 years, almost a million Jews, whose communities stretch back up to 3,000 years, have been 'ethnically cleansed' from 10 Arab countries. These refugees outnumber the Palestinian refugees two to one, but their narrative has all but been ignored. Unlike Palestinian refugees, they fled not war, but systematic persecution. Seen in this light, Israel, where some 50 percent of the Jewish population descend from these refugees and are now full citizens, is the legitimate expression of the self-determination of an oppressed indigenous, Middle Eastern people. This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, which can never return to what and where they once were - even if they wanted to. It will attempt to pass on the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution. Awareness of the injustice done to these Jews can only advance the cause of peace and reconciliation. (Iran: once an ally of Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran is now an implacable enemy and numbers of Iranian Jews have fallen drastically from 80,000 to 20,000 since the 1979 Islamic revolution. Their plight - and that of all other communities threatened by Islamism - does therefore fall within the scope of this blog.)