Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Suarez book blaming Zionism for Iraqi exodus rubbished

It was to counter a book, State of Terror by Thomas Suarez, a collection of distortions and calumnies aiming to blame Zionism for antisemitism, that two UK researchers, David Collier and Jonathan Hoffman, have produced a 22-000 word report called 'Hate and Errors'. They spent weeks at the National Archives at Kew checking original sources. Chapter 9 deals with Suarez's lies about the exodus of the Jews of Iraq. Point of No Return reproduces the relevant extract: 

Suarez’s description of the flight of Jews from Iraq (page 282) is downright dishonest, there is no other word for it[1]: ‘Until its ethnic cleansing of 300,000 more Palestinians in 1967, Israel’s most precipitous post-1948 ethnic cleansing was of Jews from North Africa and the Middle East’

Thus victim is turned into perpetrator!

He writes that Israel destroyed the Iraqi Jewish community and blocked other countries from helping Jews who wanted to leave Iraq. And he says that the anti-Jewish violence in Iraq was a ‘false flag’ operation.  This is a
pure fabrication.[2] Iraq destroyed the Iraqi Jewish Community. It began with the Farhud in 1941. The Farhud was the Holocaust-era massacre by Arab nationalists in coordination with the Nazis, which occurred on June 1-2, 1941 in Baghdad, killing hundreds of innocent Jews and brutalising thousands more, and pillaging their property.  The Farhud was a major step in the process which resulted in the forced exodus of 850,000 to 900,000 Jewish refugees from centuries of peaceful existence in Arab countries. Two Arabs have gone on record to explain the Farhud[3] (Saudi journalist Turki al-Dakhil and Iraqi scholar Rashid al-Khayoun, 1 February 2014).
The Jewish Senator Ezra Menahem Daniel [4]appealed after the Farhud against the discriminatory practices introduced in 1948-9. Jews could not work, attend university or travel. Jews were arrested on the slightest pretext. Money was extorted from them to pay for war in Palestine. In March 1950, Jews were given permission to able to leave but were stripped of their nationality.  In 1951 the property of departing Jews was frozen by law.

When Suarez does mention the Farhud, he goes to extreme lengths not to report it as an act of antisemitic violence. In fact, he absurdly implies it was the British, adducing a 12-year-old (at the time) anti-Zionist Jew (Naeim Giladi) in his support (page 71). This type of rewriting of history highlights how desperate Suarez is to create a one-sided fictional tale that condemns the Jewish Zionists at every juncture and absolves everyone else of everything, including violent massacres of Jews.

Another example of distortion comes at the bottom of page 28, where Suarez suggests that Hanna Braun was ‘a Hagana member, involved with bringing them (Iraqi Jews) to Israel.’
He cites page 82 and 83 of her book (op cit; cited in endnote #26, page 343). Yet on those pages Braun merely describes her new military role, which was to teach new immigrants in Eilat. It is typical of the way Suarez distorts, that he has described a language teacher in such a way that we are left to believe she is some type of spy with inside knowledge. As a side note, it is absurd he would describe Braun as a ‘Hagana member’ over activity she conducted as part of the IDF in 1952. Hanna Braun’s book describes her personal struggles, and she clearly suffered from some deep-rooted psychological battles.  At times, it is a depressing read. A reliable source though - she is not. On page 46, Braun says this:
‘From our balcony in Acre at the other end of the bay and on other clear days, the mountains of Lebanon covered with a layer of snow all year round’.
"Snow, in Lebanon in summer? Visible from Akko? No further comment ……….
When relying on Braun’s input, and the difficulties some of these new Jewish refugees faced in Israel Suarez also writes (page 29)
a punitive exit tax and loss of original citizenship kept many from returning home once the deceit was exposed’
That sentence contains several distortions:
1.     Israel accepted more than its own population in refugees in the first three or four years of the State.[5] It is proportional to the United Kingdom absorbing 70,000,000 (seventy million) refugees in the next forty months. It is impossible to overstate the strain such an influx imposes upon every facet of society. Nor how it might damage the economy, nor how difficult the absorption process is. No doubt there were refugees who did not settle in Israel. There are entire departments in rich Western nations devoted to assisting the first difficult years of a refugee.  It is sickening that Suarez abuses such issues, piggybacking on the suffering of others, to attack Israel. These refugees are often used as weapons by anti-Israel revisionists. It highlights the hypocrisy of self-declared ‘humanitarians’, refusing to allow ‘periods of adjustment’ only when they are focusing on Jewish victims.[6]
2.     The denial of citizenship was not an Israeli measure, but rather that of the Arab states who evicted and expelled their Jews. Additionally, Israel permits dual citizenship, so Suarez is blaming Israel for the illiberal and punitive measures of Arab states.
3.     The ‘exit tax’, was an economic measure in existence in Israel until the early 1990’s. In the first years of the State, as Israel experienced a major economic crisis (due to conflict and absorbing more than one immigrant per citizen), it also suffered a severe shortage of foreign currency. It set high exit taxes (many nations have some exit or travel tax – leaving Heathrow on a flight to New York can currently cost over £75).[7] Further, in a complete rejection of what Suarez is arguing, ‘permits were relatively easily granted to new immigrants who did not acclimatize well to life in Israel and requested to leave the country permanently’.[8] To describe it as some type of ‘penalty tax’ -created to dissuade potential emigrants based on their nation of origin - is ludicrous.
Each sentence in the book can be dissected in this fashion: A pile of distortions, incidents removed from context and fictions, all shaped together to demonise Israel.
Returning from this slight digression to the Iraq section, Suarez accessed C0 733/275/4 but failed to mention that it describes anti-Jewish agitations against Iraqi Jews in 1929 and 1933 (letter from Sir F Humphreys to Sir John Simon, 13 December 1934).
File FO 371/27861 (not accessed by Suarez) discusses a bomb outrage against a Jewish club in Baghdad in 1938. A letter in August of 1938 speaks of ‘two cases of bomb throwing at Jewish clubs’. A telegram on November 28 discusses an attack on a coffee house that seems to have targeted Jews.
These actions were not occurring in a vacuum. In the mid 1930’s, an Iraqi newspaper (al-Alam al-arabi) published daily extracts from Mein Kampf in Arabic. Pro-Nazi movements began to appear and anti-Jewish printed material was handed out by youth groups. This all before the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini arrived in Iraq.[9]
FO 371/27099 (not accessed by Suarez) in a telegram on 23 February 1941, discusses an attack by Kurds on a Jewish village three months prior to the Farhud.
In 1948 the hanging of the wealthy Jew Shafik Ades[10] shook the Iraqi Jewish community to its core.

It is not true (page 283) that in 1950, Israel blocked other countries from helping Jews who wanted to leave Iraq.  Near East Air Transport was a partnership between El Al and Alaskan Airlines, but the airlift was a joint venture with senior Iraqi Muslim officials (Iraq Tours) and the charter was negotiated with Iraqi Airways, in which the Iraqi Prime Minister Tawfiq al-Suweidy had an interest.  Edwin Black confirms[11] that British Airways and BOAC were also involved. 

Read report in full 

[1] We are very grateful to Lyn Julius for her help on this section. Lyn is a journalist and co-founder of Harif, an association of Jews from the Middle East and North Africa in the UK
[8] Rozin, Orit Israel and the Right to Travel Abroad, 1948–1961 Israel studies 15.1 (2010), page 147-176.
[9] Martin Gilbert, In Ishmael's house: a History of Jews in Muslim Lands, page 176

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