"Not every Iraqi Jew feels that way. Sameer, 40, a construction contractor, said he could not quit his homeland, even though that might mean he never finds a Jewish woman to marry."This is my destiny. I am Iraqi. I am part of Iraq," he said. "It is okay for me to stay without a wife."
Sameer spoke on the condition that his last name not be printed because he fears for his life. His 33-year-old brother was kidnapped 10 months ago -- although it was not clear whether his religion played a role in his targeting -- and Sameer spends every day searching for him. He has fled his Baghdad home and lives outside the capital in a location he will not disclose for security reasons.
A tightly wound bundle of nerves, Sameer frantically fiddled with a pencil during a conversation with a reporter as his eyes darted around the room. He sat balanced precariously on the edge of a dusty couch.
"I must go now!" he said every few moments during a 20-minute interview. "It is very dangerous for me."
Sameer refused to discuss life under Saddam's regime, saying the topic itself was dangerous, but interviews with Levy and former Iraqi intelligence officials make clear that life was not particularly easy for Jews before the American-led invasion.
Kawan al-Qaisi, a former member of the state intelligence service, known as the Mukhabarat, said he was assigned to follow Sameer for a month in 2002 to see if he was a spy for Israel or involved in plots against the government.
"There was a file on every Jew in Iraq," Qaisi said. "Every Jew had an intelligence officer assigned to him."Qaisi said the surveillance meant the Jews were protected, and by some accounts, they were largely spared from torture and execution because Hussein did not consider the tiny community a political threat. "