Monday, January 23, 2017

Intellectual and journalist Menashe Somekh dies

Menashe Somekh: modest and honest

Iraqi Jews are mourning the passing last week of Menashe Somekh, a prominent intellectual and journalist. He died in Jerusalem aged 91 from cancer.

Somekh, a descendant of Rabbi Abdullah Abraham Somekh,  worked as a journalist in Iraq until his family fled to Israel in the great exodus of 1951. He then worked as director of Israel's Arabic Radio service for 30 years.

Menashe Somekh was born in Baghdad in 1926. He finished his studies at Shamash School in 1944. In 1946, he worked in journalism in Sawt Al-Ahali newspaper, the mouthpiece of the National Democratic Party led by Kamal Al-Jadraji, where he was responsible for the translation of foreign press articles from English to Arabic. Menashe moved to work at Al-Shaab newspaper, owned by Yahya Qasim, where he was his close associate and wrote articles in the newspaper.

In Israel Menashe Somekh was a fount of knowledge about Iraqi history, heritage and music and was the 'go-to' person for writers and researchers. 

Emile Cohen, who collaborated with him on a book about the life and music of the al-Kuwaity brothers, praises him as 'a wonderful person'. He was modest, honest, free of ego, kind-hearted and generous with his time.  

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