Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Jewish property confiscated in Iraq 'worth $18 m'

Some $18 million worth of Jewish property has been confiscated in Iraq, a former adviser to the Iraqi president has told The Jerusalem Post. Quoting a German study by the university of Hanover, Mirzan Hassan Dinayi, a Kurdish Yazidi, said that the Iraqi government has ignored minority rights to compensation, while it has failed to protect minorities generally from Islamic radicalism.

Religious extremism is the biggest threat facing minorities in Iraq today and could ultimately see the war-torn country emptied of these populations, a former adviser to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

More than 40 percent of Christians are believed to have emigrated from Iraq since the fall of Saddam Hussein and Iraq was now seeing a mass migration of the Yazidi religious minority to Europe, said Mirzan Hassan Dinnayi, a Kurdish Yazidi who was Talabani's adviser on minorities in the first half of 2005, and now lives in Germany.

Just last month, large numbers of Christians were driven out of Mosul in northern Iraq and other cities, he said.

"The biggest danger for them is Islamic religious extremism in Iraq and the 'Islamization' of the street - this is what scares religious minority communities," Dinnayi said in an interview, before giving a lecture at the Hebrew University's Harry S. Truman Center for the Advancement of Peace.

The danger "is the killing based on [religious] identity," he said.

The worst-case scenario, he said, was "that the displacement that is happening will empty Iraq of its minority communities."

Other religious minorities in the country include the Mandaeans, the Shabaks and a small number of Jews. Roughly 60% of Iraqis are Shi'ites, and 34% are Sunnis.

The Yazidis, for example, who make up an estimated 2.5% of Iraq's population and practice one of the most ancient religions in the Middle East, were targeted in three large-scale attacks in 2007.

On February 15, 2007, in the Yazidi city of Shaikhan, "hundreds of radical Muslims" destroyed and burned the Yazidi temple, cultural centers, cars and shops, shot aimlessly at houses and citizens and demanded that the Yazidi people leave the area and emigrate, Dinnayi said in his lecture.

The next day, they beheaded a Yazidi mother of four children.

On April 22, 2007, 24 Yazidi workers were killed in Mosul by a group of gunmen. The attackers were aided by the police, whose headquarters ordered all checkpoints to move away from the area.

The next day, an intensifying anti-Yazidi movement caused 820 students to leave their faculties at the University of Mosul, where all Yazidi families have now left.

And in August 2007, extremists attacked in the Sinjar district, killing 311 people, wounding 800 and leaving 70 missing.

Not only was there a lack of laws to protect these minorities, Dinnayi said, there are few mechanisms to implement the laws that did exist.

While the Iraqi constitution protects the rights of all its citizens, "nothing from the constitution until now has been implemented regarding minorities," he said.

One solution was "international solidarity" for all minorities, he said. Another would be the stabilization of the security situation in Iraq and an eventual transition to a democratic state and "a state of laws."

In addition, one Kurdish official in northern Iraq has proposed establishing a "safe zone" in the Nineveh Plain for the Christian minority. The autonomous region, where Assyrian would be the official language, would have legislative and executive authorities.

However, Dinnayi said, there were many questions about the feasibility and even the wisdom of such a move.

"If this 'Islamization' of the street and radicalization in Iraq becomes stronger," something he expects, "which written law can protect this small island in an ocean of Islamic radicalism?"

Meanwhile, most of the minority members who suffered from "Arabization" measures imposed by Saddam Hussein's regime in northern Iraq, including displacement, forced relocation and confiscation of property, had still not been compensated, said attorney Said Pirmurat, a specialist in Iraqi criminal law who also lectured at the Truman Center on Tuesday.

While a solution to these policies was sought with the adoption of Article 140 of the Constitution of 2005, the measures have not been implemented.

In addition, Article 58 of the Iraqi Transitional Administrative Law of 2004 says that all confiscated lands must be returned to their owners or be compensated for, "but the Iraqi government has ignored this article," said Pirmurat, a Yazidi who also lives in Germany.

Both Yazidis and Jews had suffered from measures instituted by Saddam's regime, such as sequestration of property and displacement and destruction of villages. Yazidis in particular had suffered because they were both Kurds and members of a religious minority, he said.

One study from the University of Hanover in Germany estimated that some $18 billion worth of property was confiscated from the Jews, Pirmurat said.

"Article 58 leaves an opportunity also for Jews to claim what was confiscated from them during these years," he said.

Read article in full


Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

There's a pattern here of how jihadist Muslims drive out non-Muslims. Iraqi Christians have been threatened, robbed, murdered. The victims included their priests, while churches were also attacked. I'm referring to the last five 1/2 years.

Yazidis have been targets of major terrorist attacks. I read of one attack on Yazidis that murdered several hundred people, although Dinayi doesn't seem to mention that attack. Yazidis like Christians have fled in masses from Iraq.

Can we extrapolate from these recent events to the time when masses of Jews were fleeing Iraq, 9 years after the Farhud?? Doesn't there seem to be a regular modus operandi at work both concerning Jews and other Iraqi non-Muslims? Look at the persecution of Jews in 1941 & 1949-1950 and of other non-Muslims in the last five years. I think that with a little research we could find examples in other countries at other times and places, examples of this same procedure or strategy concerning Jews and/or other non-Muslims.

Look at Kashmir in the last 20 years whence 400,000 Hindus have been driven out. Look at Smyrna in 1922 whence Greeks were driven out and Armenians massacred, although Jews were largely left alone at that time. Look at Algeria in the summer of 1982 when, after the French army withdrew under the Evian accords which provided that civilians could stay in Algeria, massacres were employed by the new govt to terrorize the non-Muslims [French citizens of varied ethnic origins, including Jews] into fleeing. For instance, the new Algerian army brought machine guns to a park where non-Muslim women and children were resting, and opened fire on them. That was a pretty clear threat which just about everyone understood. In the last 17 years, with a very small non-Muslim population left there, Algerian Sunni Muslim Arabs have been slaughtering Algerian Sunni Muslim Arabs. The outside world doesn't seem to care very much. The Algerian massacres have been hardly reported in the USA, which has a press specializing in suppressing or "filtering" information.

Now, extrapolating to the charge made by Communists and British writers supporting Foreign Office policy, of bombs planted by Zionists to get Jews to flee, don't those bombs seem to fit in to the Muslim and Arab nationalist modus operandi and strategy?? Doesn't it seem unlikely therefore that those bombs were placed by Zionists, considering how Muslim Iraqis have behaved in other situations, not to mention Muslims elsewhere concerning other non-Muslim peoples??

bataween said...

You're quite right - but what is frightening is that even with the necessary laws in place (and even these are not adequate) the sitation of the minorities in the new free and democratic Iraq has never been worse.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

To continue with the treatment of Assyrians.
In 1933, the Iraqi general Bakr Sidqi carried out a massacre of Assyrians. Meanwhile, the govt in Baghdad aroused and incited "the indignation of the entire nation against the Assyrians" in the words of Iraqi Arab nationalist historian, Majid Khadduri. See link:


Now if the Iraqi masses could be aroused to a murderous rage against Assyrians, why not against Jews?? And this was in 1933.

Eliyahu m'Tsiyon said...

Yes, Bataween, you're sadly right.

Anonymous said...

Ezra Danin, Director of the Foreign Ministry's Middle East Department under Golda Meir, once estimated at the assets of Iraqi Jews as being $60,000,000 (USD) in land and $5,000,000 (USD) in gold and jewels.

According to S.P. Sasson of the Sephardic Association of Tel Aviv, Jews owned £176,150,000 (UK) in land, homes and communal property in Iraq.

But these are only 2 of many known sources of information.

/Shelomo Alfassa