Sunday, January 31, 2021
Saturday, January 30, 2021
Friday, January 29, 2021
With thanks: MichelleAn unprecedented Zoom meeting brought together an audience of 200 Emiratis, Bahrainis, Moroccans 15 Saudis and even a Syrian woman to listen to a Shoah survivor tell her story. Report on Israel's Channel 12.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
Italo-German occupied Libya was a story of deportation persecution. Even after the Allied victory, a November 1945 pogrom in Tripoli killed 130 Jews (36 of them children), destroyed five synagogues and plundered most remaining homes and businesses.
In brief, the Jews of French North Africa, Syria and Lebanon and the British mandates of Palestine and Iraq, and even – until the British/Soviet invasion – the millennial community of Persia (Iran) were all in danger. On June 1, the United Nations will mark the 80th anniversary of the Farhud (violent dispossession in Arabic) in Iraq. The pogrom was orchestrated by Rashid Ali al Gaylani, a pro-Nazi antisemite, who fled to Germany after the return of British forces. Hitler dubbed him “head of the Iraqi government in exile.”
Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Monday, January 25, 2021
Sunday, January 24, 2021
Friday, January 22, 2021
The synagogue was looted and everything inside was destroyed. The siddurim were torn, and the Sefer Torah was taken out by a Pakistani man, thrown to the ground and desecrated. He was recognised by a family that lived very nearby, and family members witnessed the event.
Rabbi Shimon Cohen, who was the Rabbi of the community at the time, was beaten up in a street on his way home. He managed to flee from his attackers and found refuge in a bank, and later received treatment in hospital. His house was looted too, and he and his family lost everything. He organised a flight for all his family and made aliyah.
The looters were almost all Persians; among them there were a number of women; very few were Arabs. Some Arabs shielded Jews.
In the evening one of the Sheikhs went with Sir Charles Belgrave to visit some of the Jewish houses. It was a tragic sight, with some huddled in corners.
The rioters and looters were sentenced to prison terms between three and nine months in length.
Many years later, some people tried to sell bits of the Torah scroll to a couple of prominent Jewish businessmen. The sellers were told that the fragments were not useable in their state. Another man just wanted to return the piece in his possession because his family had experienced bad luck since it had fallen into their hands.
Thursday, January 21, 2021
Elan Carr, the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, and El Mehdi Boudra, president of the Morocco-based Association Mimouna, signing an MOU to combat anti-Semitism on Jan. 18, 2021. (Twitter/Elan Carr.)
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
One of Israel's greatest Arabic-speaking spies, Isaac Shoshan, has died aged 96. Shoshan, who was one of the subjects of Matti Friedman's book, Spies of No Country, was born to a poor Aleppo family and smuggled into Israel in the 1940s. Yvette Alt Miller takes up the story for Aish:
Monday, January 18, 2021
Sunday, January 17, 2021
The 70th anniversary of the Tasqeet - the mass airlift of the Jews of Iraq to Israel - is an opportunity for New York university professor Ella Shohet to examine the causes in Jaddaliyya. From the start, her article obfuscates the reasons for leaving: it's because the Jews were 'caught in a vortex of political forces and conflicting ideologies' - an unsavoury soup of colonialism, monarchism, communism, Zionism and Iraq/ Arab nationalism.
Somehow she seems to miss the one 'ism' that overrode all the others: antisemitism.
'A new world order could not accommodate Jewishness and Arabness', she declares. And so she might, as Shohat effectively patented the antonym 'Arab Jew'. But what was fatefully conflated was not Jew and Arab, but Jew and Zionist. And it was not a new world order, it was a deliberate policy specific to Arab League countries. The criminalisation of Zionism in Arab countries permitted arbitrary dispossession, arrest, trial and execution. It turned every Jew into an enemy alien deserving of collective punishment, although they were not citizens of that enemy state. Yes, Arabs who remained in their hundreds of thousands in Israel were subject to limitations at first, but Zionism did not scapegoat them in this way.Ella Shohat
Although she recognises their suffering, Shohat cannot bring herself to call Iraqi Jews 'refugees' - only Palestinians can be refugees. Jews are neither refugees nor immigrants returning to their ancestral homeland. To Shohat, the campaign for justice for Jewish refugees from Arab countries is 'narrative envy' - an appropriation of the sacred Arab nakba.
The 1941 Farhud, now recognised as a Holocaust event, was the decisive break between Jews and Muslims in Iraq, but Shohat only mentions the massacre in order to suggest that Arabs were not Nazis. Did Arabs not save Jews in the Farhud? she complains, ignoring the part played by Iraq's pro-Nazi government.True, the history of Jews under Muslim rule should not be 'farhudised', but neither should one forget that Jews were second-class dhimmi until the colonial era.
While Iraq stole from Iraqi Jews, Israel 'betrayed' Iraqi Jews by 'excluding, rejecting and otherising them as Arabs orientals'. Shohat meanders into an inexplicable digression about the leader of the Iraqi Jewish community, Rabbi Sasson Khaduri, 'much maligned' in Israel for his declarations of loyalty to Iraq' - and his son Shaul, who spent a year in the fearsome prison ' The Palace of the End'. But loyalty did not save the Jews.
Shohat's invective sounds embittered and out of touch with today's Israel, where Iraqi Jews have made their mark on economy, society and culture. She may have a following in the sociology departments of US universities, but few Iraqi Jews would recognise themselves or their experiences in her writings.
Friday, January 15, 2021
According to Wikipedia, Operation Yakhin was an operation to secretly emigrate Moroccan Jews to Israel, conducted by Israel's Mossad between November 1961 and spring 1964.
Thursday, January 14, 2021
Wednesday, January 13, 2021
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Monday, January 11, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
Saturday, January 09, 2021
Friday, January 08, 2021
Was Weinberg the one who brought cinema to the Ottomans? Yes, he was one of the people who brought this technology in his era, but he was not the only one. From the first quarter of the 1900s, cinema gradually became an important part of entertainment life in Istanbul, with longer and more extensive film screenings.
The organizers of film screenings in these years were Istanbul’s artisans, Ottoman merchants who followed the technologies of the period and businessmen from abroad. Among those who were instrumental in the introduction of cinema to the Ottomans were Weinberg, French painter Henri Delavallee, music hall and circus operator Ramirez, French palace illusionist Bertrand, engineer and film equipment manufacturer Pierre-Victor Continsouza and Yıldız Palace’s interpreter Sabuncuzade Louis Alberi.
The first film was screened in 1896 by a Frenchman named Bertrand who organized cultural and artistic activities at Yıldız Palace. Sultan Abdülhamid II watched the film with his family and took great interest in it.
In 1897, Weinberg started to show films to the people of Istanbul as the Istanbul representative of Pathé Film. These screenings were short but engaging pastimes attended by families, including children. From that year onward, film screenings continued to increase.
The machine used in this screening was brought by Weinberg from France. It was a projection machine that produced light through oxygen, used in early cinema technologies of the pre-electric era. He projected minute-long films on a 2-meter-wide screen.
After carrying out screenings in various places, Weinberg in 1908 opened the Pathé cinema, the first established cinema hall in Istanbul. He operated this hall until 1916.
Weinberg produced films of historical importance as well as operating the movie house and broadcasting and distributing films. In October 1899, he wrote a letter to the sultan in order to film the Ottoman army. He also presented the sultan with a catalog of cinematographers, which are motion picture film cameras also serving as film projectors and printers.
The French Pathé is one of the film companies that operated in the early years of cinema in the Ottoman Empire. As in many countries, they opened a representative office in Istanbul.
Nearly all of the films screened from 1902-1913 belonged to Pathé. The company was the sole dominator of the Ottoman market with its distribution network. It did not limit its investments to Istanbul and opened movie theaters in Izmir and Thessaloniki, two of the most cosmopolitan cities.
Weinberg also made records in the name of Pathé film that were watched in Ottoman territory. Thanks to him, many historical happenings were recorded on film. He filmed one of Sultan Abdülhamid II's Cuma Selamlığı, a tradition practiced by Ottoman sultans on their way to Friday prayers, in the Hamidiye Mosque in 1908. He also recorded other important events of the period, such as the election held in November 1908 and the opening of the Assembly in Istanbul.
Weinberg also filmed Sultan Mehmed V Reşad, who ascended to the throne after Sultan Abdülhamid II. He recorded the parade of the Ottoman navy at a ceremony at which Sultan Mehmed V Reşad was present in 1910. Documentary films, which he took by approaching the sultan as close as 5 meters away with special permission from the sultanate, were screened in various halls.
Additionally, he shot occupied Istanbul and filmed many current cases. These included sports competitions, the funeral of Greek Orthodox Patriarch Joachim of Constantinople and some large fires in Istanbul. He was documenting history with both films and photographs.
Weinberg was a figure with supreme commercial acumen, foreseeing the future of all kinds of innovation. Between 1885 and 1889, his shop both assumed representation of various foreign companies and imported photographic material.
By the time of World War I, the film industry had developed considerably. Thus, it was used as one of the most effective means of propaganda. The government of the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP), which dragged the Ottomans into the war, wanted to use it well.
During this period, Weinberg was appointed head of the Central Army Cinema Department (MOSD), which was established by the order of Enver Pasha, minister of war and acting commander-in-chief. He was ordered to film the Romanian and Galician fronts. These important images were shown in the Palas Cinema on June 9, 1917.
However, the government of CUP, which cooperated with the Germans in the war, dismissed Weinberg. Surely, the ultra-nationalist CUP officers who cooperated with the Germans would not trust a Jew who was the representative of a French company. Romania was also a hostile force, and Weinberg descended from a Romanian family.
What did Weinberg do after the founding of the Republic of Turkey? Information about him is scarce as he was pacified during the war years. His wife Caroline moved to Tel Aviv in 1927, with her son-in-law Josef and daughter Regina. Weinberg continued to live in Istanbul after 1927.
He died in 1936, and at the initiative of his other daughter Elsa and son-in-law Harry, who lived in Romania at the time, his body was brought to Bucharest and was buried there.
Thursday, January 07, 2021
Wednesday, January 06, 2021
Here is the final part of the report by Marvin Goldfine of the American Jewish Committee into the status of Iraqi Jews after Israel was declared in May 1948. (For Parts 1 and 2, see here and here). The crowning act of Iraq's expropriation of the Jews was the much publicized case of Shafiq Ades, of Syrian origin, who became one of the wealthiest residents and business men of Iraq. Ades was hanged in front of his family house in Basra in September 1948. The hanging sent shock waves through the Jewish community.
The city of Basra where he lived had a record of more intense anti-Jewish activity, due in part to the personal bias of its chief of police. Prison sentences against Jews there during the period in question were more frequent and severe. That there took place a subsequent flight of Jews from Basra to Baghdad involving a very large part of its Jewish community clearly marks the difference in degree of treatment meted out in these two centers, This is further borne out by the fact that the brother and partner of Ades who lives in Baghdad was simply put under surveillance. Otherwise, he was not molested nor was his property touched.
Ades was charged with complicity with the enemy in selling arms to the Israeli forces in Palestine, Military equipment which he had purchased from British surplus stock two years ago and which he claimed to have sold in Italy was discovered during the Arab-Israeli battle in Palestine,
Curing the initial period after his arrest, Ades threatened he would expose several high government leaders. His trial was thus held huis-clos, only one witness was heard, and the court refused to admit into the chamber the defense counsel composed of three prominent Moslem attorneys.
Shafiq Ades: his close connections with Muslims did not save him
For some time previous to the trial of Shafiq Ades in September, demonstrations and threats had been directed against him. As one whose close connections and business interests with the highest Moslem leaders were well known, his arrest came as a shock to many. Furthermore, the Jews did not immediately sense the incident as a threat against themselves, since Ades had never been part of their community. He neither identified himself with them nor helped their institutions.
The circumstances surrounding the hanging of Ades and the barbarities which accompanied it have already been told to the world. His assets valued at 20,000, 000 dinars were officially confiscated, although it is claimed that he succeeded in disposing.of the title of much of it before his execution.
None of Ades' Moslem business associates, involved as much as he was in the same deal in question, were arraigned before the law. That this represented a deliberate attempt by the Government to deal at one and the same time a coup against the wealthiest Jew — because he was a Jew —» and to get some easy capital for its empty Treasury, is a matter no longer questioned.
In October there were some indications that the fury was abating. As one Iraqian testified, it seemed as though the thirst was assuaged after the Ades incident, '»/hat is more probable is that it became only too clear that the policy was leading the government headlong into confusion at an accelerated pace. The Minister of Defense, whose nationalistic policy was attacked as directly responsible for the chaos, had to resign.
He pleaded in his statement that he had merely carried out the directives of the government. That some Jewish businesses were then encouraged to resume operations, and that a few Jewish officials, particularly accountants, were taken back into their old civil service -19- jobs reveal that the government felt it had carried matters too far for its own good.
Whatever the motives, the trend during the past three months has unmistakably been towards a less violent course. In the debate in the lower house on the reply to the Speech from the Threw, one of the prominent members described the "staff reductions" as an "oppressive measure," and added, "we cannot fight communism by police, but by raising the social standard of the country." (The Iraq Times, December 20, 1948). Jews have come out of their hiding places and shops are beginning to reopen.
The application of martial law has been eased and there is no longer the same fear of riots. By no means does this mean that tension has dissipated. On the contrary, arrests and arbitrary judgments seem to be almost as prevalent as before.
The following excerpts from Iraqian newspapers give some idea of the steady pace with which these trials are proceeding? "The court nartial rules that Shaoul Yahya must deposit a guarantee of 200 dinars as it is alleged that he has committed acts which disturbed the public order." (Sawt al Ahrar, Dec. 19, 1948, liberal daily). "Shaoua Bekhar has been sentenced to one year of hard labor as the court martial rules that he is a Zionist, having quarreled with the witness, Mr. Thomas, when the latter insulted the Zionists and Moshe Shertok." (El Shaab, December 30, 1948, pro-Government paper).
"It is ruled that R. Sasson Ghazale and Nissam Rahim must pay a 500 dinar guarantee assuring their good conduct and the maintenance of order, as it is alleged to the court that Nissam Rahim had received a letter from his aunt, Theresa Rabin, who is now in Palestine.
It is further ruled to indict the latter, Theresa Rabin, in absentia." (El Shaab, December 30, 1948). "Ezra Hanania was fined 100 dinars for propagating false news and disturbing the public." (El Shaab, December 30, 1948). "Moshe Ezra was fined 100 dinars for propagating false news." (Liwa al Istiklal, November 30, 1948, extreme rightist}. "Youssef Khedouri was fined 50 dinars for propagating false news thus disturbing public order." (El Shaab, January 6, 1949)
"It is ruled that Ezra Heskel and Murad Abraham must each pay 1,000 dinars as a guarantee that they will observe good conduct and maintain public order during the next two years. If they cannot pay the guarantee they will be imprisoned for two years as it is alleged to the court that they were involved in the smuggling of Jews to Palestine and such actions are dangerous to the security of the State." (El Shaab, January 6, 1949.)
Furthermore, the general situation is such that the Jews cannot at all be sure that further trouble does not lie ahead. The growth of the Istaklal (Independence) Party is cause for much anxiety. Composed of pro-Nazi elements whom the British confined during the war, it is now receiving British support.
Nationalistic, militaristic and anti-Semitic in temper, it is playing a more vocal role both in the government chambers and in framing public opinion. With the dissolution of the Democratic and Liberal parties during the past year, the Istaklal remains the only one of consequence officially permitted to operate. With the most recent change in Government of January, I949 ushering back into office the pro-British Prime Minister, Nuri es Said Pasha, one wonders whether this will mean further development of this group.
England's Role in Iraq
England's influence in the direction of the Government itself is said to be far-reaching and decisive. Through her Embassy and Consulate, her British Institutes, the oil companies and business firms, her presence is felt in shaping all official policy matters. That this included a share in the anti-Jewish activity is affirmed quite categorically by many who follow events closely. It was explained that her motive is identical with that of the Arab leaders — namely, to divert attention from opposition both to the government and to Britain, and to channel the wrathful emotions of the discontented toward a vulnerable and powerless minority.
It is said that England has been encouraging the development of the Moslem business firms as opposed to the Jewish ones, and that her Embassy has a blacklist of about 100 business establishments, practically all of which are Jewish-owned, It is from this list that the names were - supposedly - taken for the arrests made last July on the trumped-up charges of trading with Russia,
Thus, the Jewish community hardly looks to Britain as a source of protection in her present plight.Iraqian Jews also pointed out that American influence has not been relatively significant, and particularly now that the United States is considered pro-Zionist. Even though Iraq was one of the three countries which did not vote for the Human Rights Declaration, they feel that the drawing of the United Nations' attention to their plight would have positive results.
The main hope for an improvement in the situation rests on a speedy settlement of the Palestine conflict and the re-establishment of relations between Moslem and Jew. Iraqian Jews are well aware that renewed relations will not automatically take place because of the intense anti-Jewish sentiment which has recently become so current. But they know the Arabs to be fickle and gullible, easily stirred to commit violence, but as quickly prone to forget their animosity.
Even the leaders of the Government who carried out the oppressive measures are not considered basically intolerant, and are capable of dealing fairly under a different set of circumstances. The Iraqian Government is conscious of world opinion and. very sensitive to pressure and newspaper publicity. But the Jews caution, however, that such revelations as are made should not be in the nature of attacks, but rather should appeal to the traditional harmony that has characterized Arab-Jewish relations in the past.