JEWS OF IRAQ
Courtesy The Link, Volume 31, Issue 2, April-May 1998
The author, Naeim Giladi
I write this article
for the same
reason I wrote my book:
to tell the American people,
and especially American Jews,
that Jews from Islamic lands did not emigrate
willingly to Israel; that, to force them to leave,
Jews killed Jews; and that,
to buy time to confiscate ever more Arab lands,
Jews on numerous occasions
rejected genuine peace initiatives
from their Arab neighbors.
I write about what the first prime minister of Israel called "cruel
I write about it because I was part of it.
ABOUT THIS ARTICLE:
The Link interviewed Naeim Giladi, a Jew from Iraq, for three hours
on March 16, 1998, two days prior to his 69th birthday. For nearly
two other delightful hours, we were treated to a multi-course Arabic
meal prepared by his wife Rachael, who is also Iraqi. "It's our
Arab culture," he said proudly.
In our previous Link, Israeli historian Ilan Pappe looked at the
hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians whose lives were
uprooted to make room for foreigners who would come to populate
confiscated land. Most were Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe.
But over half a million other Jews came from Islamic lands. Zionist
propagandists claim that Israel "rescued" these Jews from
their anti-Jewish, Muslim neighbors. One of those "rescued"
Jews-Naeim Giladi-knows otherwise.
In his book, Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad
Eliminated Jews, Giladi discusses the crimes committed by Zionists
in their frenzy to import raw Jewish labor. Newly-vacated farmlands
had to be plowed to provide food for the immigrants and the military
ranks had to be filled with conscripts to defend the stolen lands.
Mr. Giladi couldn't get his book published in Israel, and even in
the U.S. he discovered he could do so only if he used his own money.
The Giladis, now U.S. citizens, live in New York City. By choice,
they no longer hold Israeli citizenship. "I am Iraqi,"
he told us, "born in Iraq, my culture still Iraqi Arabic, my
religion Jewish, my citizenship American."
John F. Mahoney
Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU)
Of course I thought I knew it all back then. I was young, idealistic,
and more than willing to put my life at risk for my convictions.
It was 1947 and I wasn't quite 18 when the Iraqi authorities caught
me for smuggling young Iraqi Jews like myself out of Iraq, into
Iran, and then on to the Promised Land of the soon-to-be established
I was an Iraqi Jew in the Zionist underground. My Iraqi jailers
did everything they could to extract the names of my co-conspirators.
Fifty years later, pain still throbs in my right toe-a reminder
of the day my captors used pliers to remove my toenails. On another
occasion, they hauled me to the flat roof of the prison, stripped
me bare on a frigid January day, then threw a bucket of cold water
over me. I was left there, chained to the railing, for hours. But
I never once considered giving them the information they wanted.
I was a true believer.
My preoccupation during what I refer to as my "two years in
hell" was with survival and escape. I had no interest then
in the broad sweep of Jewish history in Iraq even though my family
had been part of it right from the beginning. We were originally
Haroons, a large and important family of the "Babylonian Diaspora."
My ancestors had settled in Iraq more than 2,600 years ago-600 years
before Christianity, and 1,200 years before Islam. I am descended
from Jews who built the tomb of Yehezkel, a Jewish prophet of pre-biblical
times. My town, where I was born in 1929, is Hillah, not far from
the ancient site of Babylon.
The original Jews found Babylon, with its nourishing Tigris and
Euphrates rivers, to be truly a land of milk, honey, abundance-and
opportunity. Although Jews, like other minorities in what became
Iraq, experienced periods of oppression and discrimination depending
on the rulers of the period, their general trajectory over two and
one-half millennia was upward. Under the late Ottoman rule, for
example, Jewish social and religious institutions, schools, and
medical facilities flourished without outside interference, and
Jews were prominent in government and business.
As I sat there in my cell, unaware that a death sentence soon would
be handed down against me, I could not have recounted any personal
grievances that my family members would have lodged against the
government or the Muslim majority. Our family had been treated well
and had prospered, first as farmers with some 50,000 acres devoted
to rice, dates and Arab horses. Then, with the Ottomans, we bought
and purified gold that was shipped to Istanbul and turned into coinage.
The Turks were responsible in fact for changing our name to reflect
our occupation-we became Khalaschi, meaning "Makers of Pure."
I did not volunteer the information to my father that I had joined
the Zionist underground. He found out several months before I was
arrested when he saw me writing Hebrew and using words and expressions
unfamiliar to him. He was even more surprised to learn that, yes,
I had decided I would soon move to Israel myself. He was scornful.
"You'll come back with your tail between your legs," he
|About 125,000 Jews left Iraq for Israel in the
late 1940s and into 1952, most because they had been lied to
and put into a panic by what I came to learn were Zionist bombs.
But my mother and father were among the 6,000 who did not go
to Israel. Although physically I never did return to Iraq-that
bridge had been burned in any event-my heart has made the journey
there many, many times. My father had it right.
Jews left Iraq for Israel in the late 1940s and into 1952,
most because they had been lied to and put into a panic
by what I came to learn were Zionist bombs.
I was imprisoned at the military camp of Abu-Greib, about 7 miles
from Baghdad. When the military court handed down my sentence of
death by hanging, I had nothing to lose by attempting the escape
I had been planning for many months.
It was a strange recipe for an escape: a dab of butter, an orange
peel, and some army clothing that I had asked a friend to buy for
me at a flea market. I deliberately ate as much bread as I could
to put on fat in anticipation of the day I became 18, when they
could formally charge me with a crime and attach the 50-pound ball
and chain that was standard prisoner issue.
Later, after my leg had been shackled, I went on a starvation diet
that often left me weak-kneed. The pat of butter was to lubricate
my leg in preparation for extricating it from the metal band. The
orange peel I surreptitiously stuck into the lock on the night of
my planned escape, having studied how it could be placed in such
a way as to keep the lock from closing.
As the jailers turned to go after locking up, I put on the old
army issue that was indistinguishable from what they were wearing-a
long, green coat and a stocking cap that I pulled down over much
of my face (it was winter). Then I just quietly opened the door
and joined the departing group of soldiers as they strode down the
hall and outside, and I offered a "good night" to the
shift guard as I left. A friend with a car was waiting to speed
Naeim Giladi in 1947
Later I made my way to the new state of Israel, arriving in May,
1950. My passport had my name in Arabic and English, but the English
couldn't capture the "kh" sound, so it was rendered simply
as Klaski. At the border, the immigration people applied the English
version, which had an Eastern European, Ashkenazi ring to it. In
one way, this "mistake" was my key to discovering very
soon just how the Israeli caste system worked.
They asked me where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do. I was
the son of a farmer; I knew all the problems of the farm, so I volunteered
to go to Dafnah, a farming kibbutz in the high Galilee. I only lasted
a few weeks. The new immigrants were given the worst of everything.
The food was the same, but that was the only thing that everyone
had in common. For the immigrants, bad cigarettes, even bad toothpaste.
Everything. I left.
Then, through the Jewish Agency, I was advised to go to al-Majdal
(later renamed Ashkelon), an Arab town about 9 miles from Gaza,
very close to the Mediterranean. The Israeli government planned
to turn it into a farmers' city, so my farm background would be
an asset there.
When I reported to the Labor Office in al-Majdal, they saw that
I could read and write Arabic and Hebrew and they said that I could
find a good-paying job with the Military Governor's office. The
Arabs were under the authority of these Israeli Military Governors.
A clerk handed me a bunch of forms in Arabic and Hebrew. Now it
dawned on me. Before Israel could establish its farmers' city, it
had to rid al-Majdal of its indigenous Palestinians. The forms were
petitions to the United Nations Inspectors asking for transfer out
of Israel to Gaza, which was under Egyptian control.
I read over the petition. In signing, the Palestinian would be
saying that he was of sound mind and body and was making the request
for transfer free of pressure or duress. Of course, there was no
way that they would leave without being pressured to do so. These
families had been there hundreds of years, as farmers, primitive
artisans, weavers. The Military Governor prohibited them from pursuing
their livelihoods, just penned them up until they lost hope of resuming
their normal lives. That's when they signed to leave.
I was there and heard their grief. "Our hearts are in pain
when we look at the orange trees that we planted with our own hands.
Please let us go, let us give water to those trees. God will not
be pleased with us if we leave His trees untended." I asked
the Military Governor to give them relief, but he said, "No,
we want them to leave."
I could no longer be part of this oppression and I left. Those
Palestinians who didn't sign up for transfers were taken by force-just
put in trucks and dumped in Gaza. About four thousand people were
driven from al-Majdal in one way or another. The few who remained
were collaborators with the Israeli authorities.
Subsequently, I wrote letters trying to get a government job elsewhere
and I got many immediate responses asking me to come for an interview.
Then they would discover that my face didn't match my Polish/Ashkenazi
name. They would ask if I spoke Yiddish or Polish, and when I said
I didn't, they would ask where I came by a Polish name. Desperate
for a good job, I would usually say that I thought my great-grandfather
was from Poland. I was advised time and again that "we'll give
you a call."
Eventually, three to four years after coming to Israel, I changed
my name to Giladi, which is close to the code name, Gilad, that
I had in the Zionist underground. Klaski wasn't doing me any good
anyway, and my Eastern friends were always chiding me about the
name they knew didn't go with my origins as an Iraqi Jew.
I was disillusioned at what I found in the Promised Land, disillusioned
personally, disillusioned at the institutionalized racism, disillusioned
at what I was beginning to learn about Zionism's cruelties. The
principal interest Israel had in Jews from Islamic countries was
as a supply of cheap labor, especially for the farm work that was
beneath the urbanized Eastern European Jews. Ben Gurion needed the
"Oriental" Jews to farm the thousands of acres of land
left by Palestinians who were driven out by Israeli forces in 1948.
And I began to find out about the barbaric methods
used to rid the fledgling state of as many Palestinians as
possible. The world recoils today at the thought of bacteriological
warfare, but Israel was probably the first to actually use
it in the Middle East. In the 1948 war, Jewish forces would
empty Arab villages of their populations, often by threats,
sometimes by just gunning down a half-dozen unarmed Arabs
as examples to the rest. To make sure the Arabs couldn't return
to make a fresh life for themselves in these villages, the
Israelis put typhus and dysentery bacteria into the water
Uri Mileshtin, an official historian for the Israeli Defense
Force, has written and spoken about the use of bacteriological
According to Mileshtin, Moshe Dayan, a division commander
at the time, gave orders in 1948 to remove Arabs from their
villages, bulldoze their homes, and render water wells unusable
with typhus and dysentery bacteria.
put typhus bacteria into the water going to Acre, the people
got sick, and the Jewish forces occupied Acre. This worked
so well that they sent a Haganah division dressed as Arabs
into Gaza, where there were Egyptian forces, and the Egyptians
caught them putting two cans of bacteria, typhus and dysentery,
into the water supply in wanton disregard of the civilian
Acre was so situated that it could practically defend itself with
one big gun, so the Haganah put bacteria into the spring that fed
the town. The spring was called Capri and it ran from the north
near a kibbutz. The Haganah put typhus bacteria into the water going
to Acre, the people got sick, and the Jewish forces occupied Acre.
This worked so well that they sent a Haganah division dressed as
Arabs into Gaza, where there were Egyptian forces, and the Egyptians
caught them putting two cans of bacteria, typhus and dysentery,
into the water supply in wanton disregard of the civilian population.
"In war, there is no sentiment," one of the captured Haganah
men was quoted as saying.
My activism in Israel began shortly after I received a letter from
the Socialist/Zionist Party asking me to help with their Arabic
newspaper. When I showed up at their offices at Central House in
Tel Aviv, I asked around to see just where I should report. I showed
the letter to a couple of people there and, without even looking
at it, they would motion me away with the words, "Room No.
8." When I saw that they weren't even reading the letter, I
inquired of several others. But the response was the same, "Room
No. 8," with not a glance at the paper I put in front of them.
So I went to Room 8 and saw that it was the Department of Jews
from Islamic Countries. I was disgusted and angry. Either I am a
member of the party or I'm not. Do I have a different ideology or
different politics because I am an Arab Jew? It's segregation, I
thought, just like a Negroes' Department. I turned around and walked
out. That was the start of my open protests. That same year I organized
a demonstration in Ashkelon against Ben Gurion's racist policies
and 10,000 people turned out.
There wasn't much opportunity for those of us who were second class
citizens to do much about it when Israel was on a war footing with
outside enemies. After the 1967 war, I was in the Army myself and
served in the Sinai when there was continued fighting along the
Suez Canal. But the cease-fire with Egypt in 1970 gave us our opening.
We took to the streets and organized politically to demand equal
rights. If it's our country, if we were expected to risk our lives
in a border war, then we expected equal treatment.
We mounted the struggle so tenaciously and received so much publicity
that the Israeli government tried to discredit our movement by calling
us "Israel's Black Panthers." They were thinking in racist
terms, really, in assuming the Israeli public would reject an organization
whose ideology was being compared to that of radical blacks in the
United States. But we saw that what we were doing was no different
than what blacks in the United States were fighting against-segregation,
discrimination, unequal treatment. Rather than reject the label,
we adopted it proudly. I had posters of Martin Luther King, Malcolm
X, Nelson Mandela and other civil rights activists plastered all
over my office.
With the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Israeli-condoned Sabra
and Shatilla massacres, I had had enough of Israel. I became a United
States citizen and made certain to revoke my Israeli citizenship.
I could never have written and published my book in Israel, not
with the censorship they would impose.
Even in America, I had great difficulty finding a publisher because
many are subject to pressures of one kind or another from Israel
and its friends. I ended up paying $60,000 from my own pocket to
publish Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad
Eliminated Jews, virtually the entire proceeds from having sold
my house in Israel.
I still was afraid that the printer would back out or that legal
proceedings would be initiated to stop its publication, like the
Israeli government did in an attempt to prevent former Mossad case
officer Victor Ostrovsky from publishing his first book.
Ben Gurion's Scandals had to be translated into English from two
languages. I wrote in Hebrew when I was in Israel and hoped to publish
the book there, and I wrote in Arabic when I was completing the
book after coming to the U.S. But I was so worried that something
would stop publication that I told the printer not to wait for the
translations to be thoroughly checked and proofread. Now I realize
that the publicity of a lawsuit would just have created a controversial
interest in the book.
I am using bank vault storage for the valuable documents that back
up what I have written. These documents, including some that I illegally
copied from the archives at Yad Vashem, confirm what I saw myself,
what I was told by other witnesses, and what reputable historians
and others have written concerning the Zionist bombings in Iraq,
Arab peace overtures that were rebuffed, and incidents of violence
and death inflicted by Jews on Jews in the cause of creating Israel.
THE RIOTS OF 1941
If, as I have said, my family in Iraq was not persecuted personally
and I knew no deprivation as a member of the Jewish minority, what
led me to the steps of the gallows as a member of the Zionist underground?
To answer that question, it is necessary to establish the context
of the massacre that occurred in Baghdad on June 1, 1941, when several
hundred Iraqi Jews were killed in riots involving junior officers
of the Iraqi army. I was 12 years of age and many of those killed
were my friends. I was angry, and very confused.
What I didn't know at the time was that the riots most likely were
stirred up by the British, in collusion with a pro-British Iraqi
With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire following WW I, Iraq came
under British "tutelage." Amir Faisal, son of Sharif Hussein
who had led the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman sultan, was brought
in from Mecca by the British to become King of Iraq in 1921. Many
Jews were appointed to key administrative posts, including that
of economics minister. Britain retained final authority over domestic
and external affairs.
Britain's pro-Zionist attitude in Palestine, however, triggered
a growing anti-Zionist backlash in Iraq, as it did in all Arab countries.
Writing at the end of 1934, Sir Francis Humphreys, Britain's Ambassador
in Baghdad, noted that, while before WW I Iraqi Jews had enjoyed
a more favorable position than any other minority in the country,
since then "Zionism has sown dissension between Jews and Arabs,
and a bitterness has grown up between the two peoples which did
not previously exist."
King Faisal died in 1933. He was succeeded by his son Ghazi, who
died in a motor car accident in 1939. The crown then passed to Ghazi's
4-year-old son, Faisal II, whose uncle, Abd al-Ilah, was named regent.
Abd al-Ilah selected Nouri el-Said as prime minister. El-Said supported
the British and, as hatred of the British grew, he was forced from
office in March 1940 by four senior army officers who advocated
Iraq's independence from Britain. Calling themselves the Golden
Square, the officers compelled the regent to name as prime minister
Rashid Ali al-Kilani, leader of the National Brotherhood party.
The time was 1940 and Britain was reeling from a strong German
offensive. Al-Kilani and the Golden Square saw this as their opportunity
to rid themselves of the British once and for all. Cautiously they
began to negotiate for German support, which led the pro-British
regent Abd al-Ilah to dismiss al-Kilani in January 1941. By April,
however, the Golden Square officers had reinstated the prime minister.
This provoked the British to send a military force into Basra on
April 12, 1941. Basra, Iraq's second largest city, had a Jewish
population of 30,000. Most of these Jews made their livings from
import/export, money changing, retailing, as workers in the airports,
railways, and ports, or as senior government employees.
On the same day, April 12, supporters of the pro-British regent
notified the Jewish leaders that the regent wanted to meet with
them. As was their custom, the leaders brought flowers for the regent.
Contrary to custom, however, the cars that drove them to the meeting
place dropped them off at the site where the British soldiers were
Photographs of the Jews appeared in the following day's newspapers
with the banner "Basra Jews Receive British Troops with Flowers."
That same day, April 13, groups of angry Arab youths set about to
take revenge against the Jews. Several Muslim notables in Basra
heard of the plan and calmed things down. Later, it was learned
that the regent was not in Basra at all and that the matter was
a provocation by his pro-British supporters to bring about an ethnic
war in order to give the British army a pretext to intervene.
The British continued to land more forces in and around Basra.
On May 7, 1941, their Gurkha unit, composed of Indian soldiers from
that ethnic group, occupied Basra's el-Oshar quarter, a neighborhood
with a large Jewish population. The soldiers, led by British officers,
began looting. Many shops in the commercial district were plundered.
Private homes were broken into. Cases of attempted rape were reported.
Local residents, Jews and Muslims, responded with pistols and old
rifles, but their bullets were no match for the soldiers' Tommy
Afterwards, it was learned that the soldiers acted with the acquiescence,
if not the blessing, of their British commanders. (It should be
remembered that the Indian soldiers, especially those of the Gurkha
unit, were known for their discipline, and it is highly unlikely
they would have acted so riotously without orders.) The British
goal clearly was to create chaos and to blacken the image of the
pro-nationalist regime in Baghdad, thereby giving the British forces
reason to proceed to the capital and to overthrow the al-Kilani
Baghdad fell on May 30. Al-Kilani fled to Iran, along with the
Golden Square officers. Radio stations run by the British reported
that Regent Abd al-Ilah would be returning to the city and that
thousands of Jews and others were planning to welcome him. What
inflamed young Iraqis against the Jews most, however, was the radio
announcer Yunas Bahri on the German station "Berlin,"
who reported in Arabic that Jews from Palestine were fighting alongside
the British against Iraqi soldiers near the city of Faluja. The
report was false.
On Sunday, June 1, unarmed fighting broke out in Baghdad between
Jews who were still celebrating their Shabuoth holiday and young
Iraqis who thought the Jews were celebrating the return of the pro-British
regent. That evening, a group of Iraqis stopped a bus, removed the
Jewish passengers, murdered one and fatally wounded a second.
About 8:30 the following morning, some 30 individuals in military
and police uniforms opened fire along el-Amin street, a small downtown
street whose jewelry, tailor and grocery shops were Jewish-owned.
By 11 a.m., mobs of Iraqis with knives, switchblades and clubs were
attacking Jewish homes in the area.
The riots continued throughout Monday, June 2. During this time,
many Muslims rose to defend their Jewish neighbors, while some Jews
successfully defended themselves. There were 124 killed and 400
injured, according to a report written by a Jewish Agency messenger
who was in Iraq at the time. Other estimates, possibly less reliable,
put the death toll higher, as many as 500, with from 650 to 2,000
injured. From 500 to 1,300 stores and more than 1,000 homes and
apartments were looted.
Who was behind the rioting in the Jewish quarter? Yosef Meir, one
of the most prominent activists in the Zionist underground movement
in Iraq, known then as Yehoshafat, claims it was the British. Meir,
who now works for the Israeli Defense Ministry, argues that, in
order to make it appear that the regent was returning as the savior
who would reestablish law and order, the British stirred up the
riots against the most vulnerable and visible segment in the city,
the Jews. And, not surprisingly, the riots ended as soon as the
regent's loyal soldiers entered the capital.
My own investigations as a journalist lead me to believe Meir is
correct. Furthermore, I think his claims should be seen as based
on documents in the archives of the Israeli Defense Ministry, the
agency that published his book. Yet, even before his book came out,
I had independent confirmation from a man I met in Iran in the late
His name was Michael Timosian, an Iraqi Armenian. When I met him
he was working as a male nurse at the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
in Abadan in the south of Iran. On June 2, 1941, however, he was
working at the Baghdad hospital where many of the riot victims were
brought. Most of these victims were Jews.
Timosian said he was particularly interested in two patients whose
conduct did not follow local custom. One had been hit by a bullet
in his shoulder, the other by a bullet in his right knee. After
the doctor removed the bullets, the staff tried to change their
blood-soaked cloths. But the two men fought off their efforts, pretending
to be speechless, although tests showed they could hear. To pacify
them, the doctor injected them with anesthetics and, as they were
sleeping, Timosian changed their cloths. He discovered that one
of them had around his neck an identification tag of the type used
by British troops, while the other had tattoos with Indian script
on his right arm along with the familiar sword of the Gurkha.
The next day when Timosian showed up for work, he was told that
a British officer, his sergeant and two Indian Gurkha soldiers had
come to the hospital early that morning. Staff members overheard
the Gurkha soldiers talking with the wounded patients, who were
not as dumb as they had pretended. The patients saluted the visitors,
covered themselves with sheets and, without signing the required
release forms, left the hospital with their visitors.
Today there is no doubt in my mind that the anti-Jewish riots of
1941 were orchestrated by the British for geopolitical ends. David
Kimche is certainly a man who was in a position to know the truth,
and he has spoken publicly about British culpability. Kimche had
been with British Intelligence during WW II and with the Mossad
after the war. Later he became Director General of Israel's Foreign
Ministry, the position he held in 1982 when he addressed a forum
at the British Institute for International Affairs in London.
In responding to hostile questions about Israel's invasion of Lebanon
and the refugee camp massacres in Beirut, Kimche went on the attack,
reminding the audience that there was scant concern in the British
Foreign Office when British Gurkha units participated in the murder
of 500 Jews in the streets of Baghdad in 1941.
THE BOMBING OF 1950-1951
The anti-Jewish riots of 1941 did more than create a pretext for
the British to enter Baghdad to reinstate the pro-British regent
and his pro-British prime minister, Nouri el-Said. They also gave
the Zionists in Palestine a pretext to set up a Zionist underground
in Iraq, first in Baghdad, then in other cities such as Basra, Amara,
Hillah, Diwaneia, Abril and Karkouk.
Following WW II, a succession of governments held brief power in
Iraq. Zionist conquests in Palestine, particularly the massacre
of Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin, emboldened the anti-British
movement in Iraq. When the Iraqi government signed a new treaty
of friendship with London in January 1948, riots broke out all over
the country. The treaty was quickly abandoned and Baghdad demanded
removal of the British military mission that had run Iraq's army
for 27 years.
Later in 1948, Baghdad sent an army detachment to Palestine to
fight the Zionists, and when Israel declared independence in May,
Iraq closed the pipeline that fed its oil to Haifa's refinery. Abd
al-Ilah, however, was still regent and the British quisling, Nouri
el-Said, was back as prime minister. I was in the Abu-Greib prison
in 1948, where I would remain until my escape to Iran in September
Six months later-the exact date was March 19, 1950-a bomb went
off at the American Cultural Center and Library in Baghdad, causing
property damage and injuring a number of people. The center was
a favorite meeting place for young Jews.
The first bomb thrown directly at Jews occurred on April 8, 1950,
at 9:15 p.m. A car with three young passengers hurled the grenade
at Baghdad's El-Dar El-Bida Café, where Jews were celebrating
Passover. Four people were seriously injured. That night leaflets
were distributed calling on Jews to leave Iraq immediately.
The next day, many Jews, most of them poor with nothing to lose,
jammed emigration offices to renounce their citizenship and to apply
for permission to leave for Israel. So many applied, in fact, that
the police had to open registration offices in Jewish schools and
On May 10, at 3 a.m., a grenade was tossed in the direction of
the display window of the Jewish-owned Beit-Lawi Automobile Company,
destroying part of the building. No casualties were reported.
On June 3, 1950, another grenade was tossed from a speeding car
in the El-Batawin area of Baghdad where most rich Jews and middle
class Iraqis lived. No one was hurt, but following the explosion
Zionist activists sent telegrams to Israel requesting that the quota
for immigration from Iraq be increased.
On June 5, at 2:30 a.m., a bomb exploded next to the Jewish owned
Stanley Shashua building on El-Rashid street, resulting in property
damage but no casualties.
On January 14, 1951, at 7 p.m., a grenade was thrown at a group
of Jews outside the Masouda Shem-Tov Synagogue. The explosive struck
a high-voltage cable, electrocuting three Jews, one a young boy,
Itzhak Elmacher, and wounding over 30 others. Following the attack,
the exodus of Jews jumped to between 600-700 per day.
Zionist propagandists still maintain that the bombs in Iraq
were set off by anti-Jewish Iraqis who wanted Jews out of
their country. The terrible truth is that the grenades that
killed and maimed Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were
thrown by Zionist Jews.
Among the most important documents in my book, I believe,
are copies of two leaflets published by the Zionist underground
calling on Jews to leave Iraq. One is dated March 16, 1950,
the other April 8, 1950.
truth is that the grenades that killed and maimed Iraqi
Jews and damaged their property were thrown by Zionist Jews.
The difference between these two is critical. Both indicate the
date of publication, but only the April 8th leaflet notes the time
of day: 4 p.m. Why the time of day? Such a specification was unprecedented.
Even the investigating judge, Salaman El-Beit, found it suspicious.
Did the 4 p.m. writers want an alibi for a bombing they knew would
occur five hours later? If so, how did they know about the bombing?
The judge concluded they knew because a connection existed between
the Zionist underground and the bomb throwers.
This, too, was the conclusion of Wilbur Crane Eveland, a former
senior officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), whom I
had the opportunity to meet in New York in 1988. In his book, Ropes
of Sand, whose publication the CIA opposed, Eveland writes:
In attempts to portray the Iraqis
as anti-American and to terrorize the Jews, the Zionists planted
bombs in the U.S. Information Service library and in synagogues.
Soon leaflets began to appear urging Jews to flee to Israel.
. . .
Although the Iraqi police later
provided our embassy with evidence to show that the synagogue
and library bombings, as well as the anti-Jewish and anti-American
leaflet campaigns, had been the work of an underground Zionist
organization, most of the world believed reports that Arab terrorism
had motivated the flight of the Iraqi Jews whom the Zionists
had "rescued" really just in order to increase Israel's
Eveland doesn't detail the evidence linking the Zionists to the
attacks, but in my book I do. In 1955, for example, I organized
in Israel a panel of Jewish attorneys of Iraqi origin to handle
claims of Iraqi Jews who still had property in Iraq. One well known
attorney, who asked that I not give his name, confided in me that
the laboratory tests in Iraq had confirmed that the anti-American
leaflets found at the American Cultural Center bombing were typed
on the same typewriter and duplicated on the same stenciling machine
as the leaflets distributed by the Zionist movement just before
the April 8th bombing.
Tests also showed that the type of explosive used in the Beit-Lawi
attack matched traces of explosives found in the suitcase of an
Iraqi Jew by the name of Yosef Basri. Basri, a lawyer, together
with Shalom Salih, a shoemaker, would be put on trial for the attacks
in December 1951 and executed the following month. Both men were
members of Hashura, the military arm of the Zionist underground.
Salih ultimately confessed that he, Basri and a third man, Yosef
Habaza, carried out the attacks.
By the time of the executions in January 1952, all but 6,000 of
an estimated 125,000 Iraqi Jews had fled to Israel. Moreover, the
pro-British, pro-Zionist puppet el-Said saw to it that all of their
possessions were frozen, including their cash assets. (There were
ways of getting Iraqi dinars out, but when the immigrants went to
exchange them in Israel they found that the Israeli government kept
50 percent of the value.) Even those Iraqi Jews who had not registered
to emigrate, but who happened to be abroad, faced loss of their
nationality if they didn't return within a specified time. An ancient,
cultured, prosperous community had been uprooted and its people
transplanted to a land dominated by East European Jews, whose culture
was not only foreign but entirely hateful to them.
THE ULTIMATE CRIMINALS
From the start they knew that in order to establish a Jewish state
they had to expel the indigenous Palestinian population to the neighboring
Islamic states and import Jews from these same states.
the architect of Zionism, thought it could be done by social engineering.
In his diary entry for 12 June 1885, he wrote that Zionist settlers
would have to "spirit the penniless population across the border
by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying
it any employment in our own country."
Prime Minister Netanyahu's ideological progenitor, frankly admitted
that such a transfer of populations could only be brought about
David Ben Gurion,
Israel's first prime minister, told a Zionist Conference in 1937
that any proposed Jewish state would have to "transfer Arab
populations out of the area, if possible of their own free will,
if not by coercion."
After 750,000 Palestinians were uprooted and their lands confiscated
in 1948-49, Ben Gurion had to look to the Islamic countries for
Jews who could fill the resultant cheap labor market. "Emissaries"
were smuggled into these countries to "convince" Jews
to leave either by trickery or fear.
In the case of Iraq, both methods were used: uneducated Jews were
told of a Messianic Israel in which the blind see, the lame walk,
and onions grow as big as melons; educated Jews had bombs thrown
A few years after the bombings, in the early 1950s, a book was
published in Iraq, in Arabic, titled Venom of the Zionist Viper.
The author was one of the Iraqi investigators of the 1950-51 bombings
and, in his book, he implicates the Israelis, specifically one of
the emissaries sent by Israel, Mordechai Ben-Porat. As soon as the
book came out, all copies just disappeared, even from libraries.
The word was that agents of the Israeli Mossad, working through
the U.S. Embassy, bought up all the books and destroyed them. I
tried on three different occasions to have one sent to me in Israel,
but each time Israeli censors in the post office intercepted it.
Britain always acted in its best colonial interests. For that reason
Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour sent his famous 1917 letter to Lord
Rothschild in exchange for Zionist support in WW I. During WW II
the British were primarily concerned with keeping their client states
in the Western camp, while Zionists were most concerned with the
immigration of European Jews to Palestine, even if this meant cooperating
with the Nazis. (In my book I document numerous instances of such
dealings by Ben Gurion and the Zionist leadership.)
After WW II the international chessboard pitted communists
against capitalists. In many countries, including the United
States and Iraq, Jews represented a large part of the Communist
party. In Iraq, hundreds of Jews of the working intelligentsia
occupied key positions in the hierarchy of the Communist and
Socialist parties. To keep their client countries in the capitalist
camp, Britain had to make sure these governments had pro-British
leaders. And if, as in Iraq, these leaders were overthrown,
then an anti-Jewish riot or two could prove a useful pretext
to invade the capital and reinstate the "right"
Moreover, if the possibility existed of removing the communist
influence from Iraq by transferring the whole Jewish community
to Israel, well then, why not? Particularly if the leaders
of Israel and Iraq conspired in the deed.
had to make sure these governments had pro-British leaders.
And if, as in Iraq, these leaders were overthrown, then
an anti-Jewish riot or two could prove a useful pretext
to invade the capital and reinstate the "right"
The Iraqi Leaders.
Both the regent Abd al-Ilah and his prime minister Nouri el- Said
took directions from London. Toward the end of 1948, el-Said, who
had already met with Israel's Prime Minister Ben Gurion in Vienna,
began discussing with his Iraqi and British associates the need
for an exchange of populations. Iraq would send the Jews in military
trucks to Israel via Jordan, and Iraq would take in some of the
Palestinians Israel had been evicting. His proposal included mutual
confiscation of property. London nixed the idea as too radical.
El-Said then went to his back-up plan and began to create the conditions
that would make the lives of Iraqi Jews so miserable they would
leave for Israel. Jewish government employees were fired from their
jobs; Jewish merchants were denied import/export licenses; police
began to arrest Jews for trivial reasons. Still the Jews did not
leave in any great numbers.
In September 1949, Israel sent the spy Mordechai Ben-Porat,
the one mentioned in Venom of the Zionist Viper, to Iraq.
One of the first things Ben-Porat did was to approach el-Said
and promise him financial incentives to have a law enacted
that would lift the citizenship of Iraqi Jews.
Soon after, Zionist and Iraqi representatives began formulating
a rough draft of the bill, according to the model dictated
by Israel through its agents in Baghdad. The bill was passed
by the Iraqi parliament in March 1950. It empowered the government
to issue one-time exit visas to Jews wishing to leave the
country. In March, the bombings began.
Sixteen years later, the Israeli magazine Haolam Hazeh, published
by Uri Avnery, then a Knesset member, accused Ben-Porat of
the Baghdad bombings. Ben-Porat, who would become a Knesset
member himself, denied the charge, but never sued the magazine
for libel. And Iraqi Jews in Israel still call him Morad Abu
al-Knabel, Mordechai of the Bombs.
1949, Israel sent the spy Mordechai Ben-Porat to Iraq. One
of the first things Ben-Porat did was to approach el-Said,
the prime minister of Iraq, and promise him financial incentives
to have a law enacted that would lift the citizenship of
As I said, all this went well beyond the comprehension of a teenager.
I knew Jews were being killed and an organization existed that could
lead us to the Promised Land. So I helped in the exodus to Israel.
Later, on occasions, I would bump into some of these Iraqi Jews
in Israel. Not infrequently they'd express the sentiment that they
could kill me for what I had done.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR PEACE
After the Israeli attack on the Jordanian village of Qibya in October,
1953, Ben Gurion went into voluntary exile at the Sedeh Boker kibbutz
in the Negev. The Labor party then used to organize many buses for
people to go visit him there, where they would see the former prime
minister working with sheep. But that was only for show. Really
he was writing his diary and continuing to be active behind the
scenes. I went on such a tour.
We were told not to try to speak to Ben Gurion, but when
I saw him, I asked why, since Israel is a democracy with a
parliament, does it not have a constitution? Ben Gurion said,
"Look, boy"-I was 24 at the time-"if we have
a constitution, we have to write in it the border of our country.
And this is not our border, my dear." I asked, "Then
where is the border?" He said, "Wherever the Sahal
will come, this is the border." Sahal is the Israeli
Ben Gurion told the world that Israel accepted the partition
and the Arabs rejected it. Then Israel took half of the land
that was promised to the Arab state. And still he was saying
it was not enough. Israel needed more land. How can a country
make peace with its neighbors if it wants to take their land?
How can a country demand to be secure if it won't say what
borders it will be satisfied with? For such a country, peace
would be an inconvenience.
I know now that from the beginning many Arab leaders wanted
to make peace with Israel, but Israel always refused. Ben
Gurion covered this up with propaganda. He said that the Arabs
wanted to drive Israel into the sea and he called Gamal Abdel
Nasser the Hitler of the Middle East whose foremost intent
was to destroy Israel. He wanted America and Great Britain
to treat Nasser like a pariah.
I asked why, since Israel
is a democracy with a parliament, does it not have a constitution?
Ben Gurion said, "Look,
boy if we have a constitution, we have to write in it
the border of our country. And this is not our border,
I asked, "Then where
is the border?"
He said, "Wherever
the Sahal will come, this is the border."
Sahal is the Israeli army.
In 1954, it seemed that America was getting less critical of Nasser.
Then during a three-week period in July, several terrorist bombs
were set off: at the United States Information Agency offices in
Cairo and Alexandria, a British-owned theater, and the central post
office in Cairo. An attempt to firebomb a cinema in Alexandria failed
when the bomb went off in the pocket of one of the perpetrators.
That led to the discovery that the terrorists were not anti-Western
Egyptians, but were instead Israeli spies bent on souring the warming
relationship between Egypt and the United States in what came to
be known as the Lavon Affair.
Ben Gurion was still living on his kibbutz. Moshe Sharett
as prime minister was in contact with Abdel Nasser through
the offices of Lord Maurice Orbach of Great Britain. Sharett
asked Nasser to be lenient with the captured spies, and Nasser
did all that was in his power to prevent a deterioration of
the situation between the two countries.
Then Ben Gurion returned as Defense Minister in February,
1955. Later that month Israeli troops attacked Egyptian military
camps and Palestinian refugees in Gaza, killing 54 and injuring
many more. The very night of the attack, Lord Orbach was on
his way to deliver a message to Nasser, but was unable to
get through because of the military action. When Orbach telephoned,
Nasser's secretary told him that the attack proved that Israel
did not want peace and that he was wasting his time as a mediator.
In November, Ben Gurion announced in the Knesset that he
was willing to meet with Abdel Nasser anywhere and at any
time for the sake of peace and understanding. The next morning
the Israeli military attacked an Egyptian military camp in
the Sabaha region.
In 1954 several terrorist
bombs were set off at the United States Information Agency
offices in Cairo and Alexandria. An attempt .. failed
when the bomb went off in the pocket of one of the perpetrators.
That led to the discovery that the terrorists were Israeli
spies bent on souring the warming relationship between
Egypt and the United States...
Although Nasser felt pessimistic about achieving peace with Israel,
he continued to send other mediators to try. One was through the
American Friends Service Committee; another via the Prime Minister
of Malta, Dom Minthoff; and still another through Marshall Tito
One that looked particularly promising was through Dennis Hamilton,
editor of The London Times. Nasser told Hamilton that if only he
could sit and talk with Ben Gurion for two or three hours, they
would be able to settle the conflict and end the state of war between
the two countries. When word of this reached Ben Gurion, he arranged
to meet with Hamilton. They decided to pursue the matter with the
Israeli ambassador in London, Arthur Luria, as liaison. On Hamilton's
third trip to Egypt, Nasser met him with the text of a Ben Gurion
speech stating that Israel would not give up an inch of land and
would not take back a single refugee. Hamilton knew that Ben Gurion
with his mouth had undermined a peace mission and missed an opportunity
to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Nasser even sent his friend Ibrahim Izat of the Ruz El Yusuf weekly
paper to meet with Israeli leaders in order to explore the political
atmosphere and find out why the attacks were taking place if Israel
really wanted peace. One of the men Izat met with was Yigal Yadin,
a former Chief of Staff of the army who wrote this letter to me
on 14 January 1982:
Dear Mr. Giladi:
Your letter reminded me of an event which I nearly forgot
and of which I remember only a few details.
Ibrahim Izat came to me if I am not mistaken under the request
of the Foreign Ministry or one of its branches; he stayed in
my house and we spoke for many hours. I do not remember him
saying that he came on a mission from Nasser, but I have no
doubt that he let it be understood that this was with his knowledge
When Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal in spite of opposition
from the British and the French, Radio Cairo announced in Hebrew:
If the Israeli government is not influenced by the British
and the French imperialists, it will eventually result in greater
understanding between the two states, and Egypt will reconsider
Israel's request to have access to the Suez Canal.
Israel responded that it had no designs on Egypt, but at that very
moment Israeli representatives were in France planning the three-way
attack that was to take place in October, 1956.
All the while, Ben Gurion continued to talk about the Hitler of
the Middle East. This brainwashing went on until late September,
1970, when Gamal Abdel Nasser passed away. Then, miracle of miracles,
David Ben Gurion told the press:
A week before he died I received an envoy from Abdel Nasser
who asked to meet with me urgently in order to solve the problems
between Israel and the Arab world.
The public was surprised because they didn't know that Abdel Nasser
had wanted this all along, but Israel sabotaged it.
Nasser was not the only Arab leader who wanted to make peace with
Israel. There were many others. Brigadier General Abdel Karim Qasem,
before he seized power in Iraq in July, 1958, headed an underground
organization that sent a delegation to Israel to make a secret agreement.
Ben Gurion refused even to see him. I learned about this when I
was a journalist in Israel. But whenever I tried to publish even
a small part of it, the censor would stamp it "Not Allowed."
Now, in Netanyahu, we are witnessing another attempt by an Israeli
prime minister to fake an interest in making peace. Netanyahu and
the Likud are setting Arafat up by demanding that he institute more
and more repressive measures in the interest of Israeli "security."
Sooner or later I suspect the Palestinians will have had enough
of Arafat's strong-arm methods as Israel's quisling-and he'll be
killed. Then the Israeli government will say, "See, we were
ready to give him everything. You can't trust those Arabs-they kill
each other. Now there's no one to even talk to about peace."
Alexis de Tocqueville once observed that it is easier for
the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth. Certainly
it has been easier for the world to accept the Zionist lie
that Jews were evicted from Muslim lands because of anti-Semitism,
and that Israelis, never the Arabs, were the pursuers of peace.
The truth is far more discerning: bigger players on the world
stage were pulling the strings.
These players, I believe, should be held accountable for
their crimes, particularly when they willfully terrorized,
dispossessed and killed innocent people on the altar of some
I believe, too, that the descendants of these leaders have
a moral responsibility to compensate the victims and their
descendants, and to do so not just with reparations, but by
setting the historical record straight.
That is why I established a panel of inquiry in Israel to
seek reparations for Iraqi Jews who had been forced to leave
behind their property and possessions in Iraq. That is why
I joined the Black Panthers in confronting the Israeli government
with the grievances of the Jews in Israel who came from Islamic
lands. And that is why I have written my book and this article:
to set the historical record straight.
..it is easier for the
world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.
Certainly it has been
easier for the world to accept the Zionist lie that Jews
were evicted from Muslim lands because of anti-Semitism,
and that Israelis, never the Arabs, were the pursuers
The truth is far more
discerning: bigger players on the world stage were pulling
We Jews from Islamic lands did not leave our ancestral homes because
of any natural enmity between Jews and Muslims. And we Arabs-I say
Arab because that is the language my wife and I still speak at home-we
Arabs on numerous occasions have sought peace with the State of
the Jews. And finally, as a U.S. citizen and taxpayer, let me say
that we Americans need to stop supporting racial discrimination
in Israel and the cruel expropriation of lands in the West Bank,
Gaza, South Lebanon and the Golan Heights.
||Mileshtin was quoted by the Israeli daily, Hadashot,
in an article published August 13, 1993. The writer, Sarah Laybobis-Dar,
interviewed a number of Israelis who had knowledge of the use
of bacteriological weapons in the 1948 war. Mileshtin said bacteria
was used to poison the wells of every village emptied of its
||On Sept. 12, 1990, the New York State Supreme
Court issued a restraining order at the request of the Israeli
government to prevent publication of Ostrovsky's book, "By
Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer."
The New York State Appeals Court lifted the ban the next day.
||Marion Woolfson, "Prophets in Babylon: Jews
in the Arab World," p. 129
||Yosef Meir, "Road in the Desert," Israeli
Defense Ministry, p. 36.
||See my book, "Ben Gurion's Scandals,"
||Wilbur Crane Eveland, "Ropes of Sand: America's
Failure in the Middle East," NY; Norton, 1980, pp. 48-49.
||T. Herzl, "The Complete Diaries," NY:
Herzl Press & Thomas Yoncloff, 1960, vol. 1, p. 88.
||Report of the Congress of the World Council of
Paole Zion, Zurich, July 29-August 7, 1937, pp. 73-74.