We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

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We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 19 Feb 2024 05:08

My father and my mother had a strong sense of belonging and a deep emotional attachment to Iraq. They had extended families, many friends, a support network, wealth and a high social status. Before the birth of Israel and the first Arab–Israeli war, the thought of leaving the country for good would have been inconceivable.
...
At the tender age of fourteen, my father embarked on what gradually turned into a highly successful and lucrative career as a businessman. He had a Jewish partner of roughly the same age, named Shouwa’ Obaid. They bought and sold building tools and materials: cement, cement mixers, iron bars, doors, bricks, tiles, bathroom equipment and kitchen sets. They worked hard, developed their business, seized every opportunity that came their way and prospered.
..
[M]y father and his partner acquired a large circle of customers that included senior public figures and cabinet ministers. King Faisal I was their most illustrious customer; his aides ordered supplies from them to build the Qasr al-Zuhur.
This was the permanent residence that Faisal I had built for himself and his family after his temporary sojourn in Qasr Shashoua and this was where King Ghazi met his death. Government ministers would buy plots of land and build luxury villas on them for their families. They would get my father to supply the building materials for their homes, on their account. The credit facilities he extended were extremely generous and more often than not, the ministers failed to pay the money they owed or made only partial payments, but my father didn’t insist.

Supplying goods without insisting on payment was a form of bribe. In Iraq of those interwar years, the practice was common, based on the tacit understanding that ‘you scratch my back and I scratch yours’. The ministers would incur an obligation, and this disposed them to use their official position to return the favour when the opportunity arose. Return favours could take the form of purchasing supplies for their ministry at inflated prices, issuing import licences or granting exemption from certain categories of taxes.
According to my mother, many Jewish merchants resorted to this kind of subtle or not-so-subtle way of bribing Muslim ministers and senior officials.
...
On his own, my father continued to prosper. In 1939, he built for himself a large, well-appointed and strikingly elegant house. A German expatriate architect friend designed it for him. The house was near the YMCA and Orosdi-Back, the famous Jewish-owned upmarket department store, and opposite the Meir Taweig synagogue in the prosperous district of Bataween, which sprawls across central Baghdad. The house was located not far from the Tigris River which flows through the middle of the city and adds to Baghdad’s architectural beauty with its array of old-fashioned bridges.
The house had three floors, about ten rooms, three luxurious bathrooms and a large garden of manicured lawns, lush flower beds and tall palm trees.
Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab-Jew by Avi Shlaim
(to be continued)

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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 20 Feb 2024 23:27

The mentioned above upmarket department store in Bagdad:
orosdi-back-bagdad.jpg
The Orosdi-Back department store chain was created by two Jewish families in the middle of the 19th century. The stores were located in the Ottoman Empire's main cities and Europe - including Teheran, Beirut, and Vienna.
The descendants of the families were ennobled by the emperor Franz-Josef, and they say they are part of the old European aristocracy today.

The one in Cairo:
orosdi-back-cairo.jpg
(to be continued)
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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 21 Feb 2024 21:56

The previously mentioned (and still used) Meir Taweig synagogue today. There were 55 synagogues in Bagdad at that time.
Meir Taweig 1.jpg
Meir Taweig 2.jpg
(to be continued)
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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 24 Feb 2024 00:35

My mother was born in Baghdad on 31 July 1924. ... My mother’s maiden name was Mas’uda Obadiah, Saida (meaning joyful) for short.

Saida recalled her childhood in Baghdad with great nostalgia. She considered herself a lucky child, pampered by her extended family. As the only girl, she was the focus of much attention. Her father doted on her. She had three considerably older brothers and seven maternal uncles some of whom traveled on business and brought her sweets, all kinds of toys and fashionable clothes.

She was also encouraged to pursue any leisure activities she liked. As an infant, she would plunge into the water at every opportunity – the origin of her passion for swimming. At the age of five, she began to have swimming lessons with the teacher who had previously coached her brothers. She was increasingly adventurous in the waters of the Tigris, jumping off bridges, doing stunts and participating in competitions.
On top of this, she pursued horseback riding and dancing.
...
Saida received her education at the Laura Kadoorie School for Girls in Baghdad – the most renowned ‘Alliance’ school.
Alliance was the short name for the Alliance Israélite Universelle, a Paris-based Jewish organisation founded in 1860 by wealthy French Jews to bring the light of the West to their co-religionists in the East. It sought to combine heritage with modernity and to excel in both general and Jewish studies.
The motto of the organisation was the rabbinic injunction ‘All Jews bear responsibility for one another.’
Its schools emphasised European languages, especially French, and modern sciences. The main language of instruction was French, the language in which History, Geography, Maths and the sciences were taught. The Alliance used secular education as a vehicle for social mobility. It had an explicit ‘mission civilisatrice’: to lift the Jews from what some regarded as the backwardness of the Arab lands.

In 1864, the first Alliance school for boys was opened in Baghdad. In 1893 a school for girls was opened. The values of the organisation were openness, tolerance and equality of opportunity, and as such it did not exclude non-Jews. As the reputation of the Alliance went up, a few Muslims and Christians began to send their children to its schools. In this Westernised, cosmopolitan environment, Saida received her elementary and secondary education.

One of her early memories was a visit to the Laura Kadoorie school by King Faisal I in the company of the Chief Rabbi and other leaders of the Jewish community. Faisal made a point of visiting every Jewish school in Baghdad in his quest to embrace minorities and to forge a unified Iraqi nation.

In Saida’s recollection, the Alliance was a happy and progressive school with particularly high standards in languages: the French teachers came from Paris, the English teachers from London, and some of the Arabic teachers from Beirut, one of the cultural centres of the Arab world. Saida did not excel in her studies, however. She was more interested in sporting activities, dancing, clubs, parties and having fun. She left school at the age of seventeen with varying degrees of competence in four languages.
...
Her school promoted Iraqi patriotism like any other school, with the girls all singing a paean to the goodness of Faisal I as ‘the best king in the world’.
In 1933, when Faisal died in suspicious circumstances [during a routine medical check-up in Switzerland], she and her classmates all wept, calling for Bern to be burned to the ground and the destruction of Switzerland.
Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab-Jew by Avi Shlaim
Saida
Saida in Trafalgar Square.jpg
(to be continued)
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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 24 Feb 2024 23:44

The Laurie Kadoorie School for girls in Bagdad. At that time, about a third of Baghdad's total population was Jewish.
Laurie Kadoorie School for girls 1.jpg
Laurie Kadoorie School for girls 0.jpg
Laurie Kadoorie School for girls 2.jpg
Laurie Kadoorie School for girls 4.jpg
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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by COmentator » 03 Mar 2024 22:15

Well Babylon passed a law anyone having any contact with israel will die.

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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 04 Mar 2024 20:51

My parents had no friends who were openly Zionist. In a context where Zionism was punishable by death, this was hardly surprising.
In Israel, my mother reminisced nostalgically about the wonderful Muslim friends we had in Baghdad and the happy times we spent with them.
Among the qualities she singled out for praise were their many acts of selfless kindness and their unswerving loyalty even when the popular tide turned against the Jews.
One day I asked her whether we had any Zionist friends. My question took her by surprise.
‘No!’ she replied emphatically.
‘Zionism is an Ashkenazi thing. It had nothing to do with us!’
While insisting that the persecution of our community in Baghdad was orchestrated by the authorities, my mother admitted that many Jews greeted the Arab defeat in Palestine with barely concealed satisfaction and even glee.
Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab-Jew by Avi Shlaim

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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 04 Mar 2024 21:00

The most crucial turning point was not the war of 1967 but the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.
Until then the Jews of Iraq, among them my family, were just one of the several minorities that made up the country. We were not aliens; we were natives; and we were looked upon as natives. Unlike Europe, Iraq did not have a ‘Jewish problem’. We were not singled out for special treatment. We were a minority, not the minority. As Jewish Iraqis, our status was not fundamentally different to that of the other Iraqi minorities.

Until the rise of nationalism in the interwar period, the main criterion for differentiating between Jews and Arabs in Iraq was religion, and only as an identifying characteristic, not as a divisive one.
Zionism changed all that.
By endowing Judaism with a territorial dimension that it did not have previously, it accentuated the difference between Jews and Muslims in Arab spaces. Whether they liked it or not, from now on Jews were identified with the Jewish state.
The displacement of three quarters of a million Palestinians by Israel intensified Muslim hostility not only towards the Zionist movement but also towards the Jews in their own country.

Increasingly, the Jews were treated not as sons of Iraq but as part of an alien and usurping entity. Zionism not only turned the Palestinians into refugees; it turned the Jews of the East into strangers in their own land.
In 1947–49 it was not only the land of Palestine that was partitioned but also the past. The common past of Jews and Muslims in Iraq was superseded by the new reality of the Arab–Israeli conflict.
Three Worlds: Memoirs of an Arab-Jew by Avi Shlaim

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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 04 Mar 2024 21:12


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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by COmentator » 16 Mar 2024 13:47

The reality was quite different...Jews are hated aliens in "pure" Iraq
Dont Forget the Farhud 1-2 June 1941 180-1000 Jews killed
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farhud
Or 1948 arrest and execution of businessman Shafiq Ades, a Jewish automobile importer who was the single wealthiest Jew in the country. Ades, who had displayed no interest in Zionism, was arrested on charges of sending military equipment to Israel and convicted by a military tribunal. He was fined $20 million and sentenced to death. His entire estate was liquidated and he was publicly hanged in Basra in September 1948. The Jewish community's general sentiment was that if an assimilated and non-Zionist Jew as powerful and well-connected as Ades could be eliminated, other Jews would not be protected any longer
In late 1968, scores of Jews were jailed on charges of spying for Israel, culminating in the 1969 public hanging of 14 men, 9 of them Jews, who were accused of spying for Israel. Other suspected spies for Israel died under torture. After Baghdad Radio invited Iraqi citizens to "come and enjoy the feast", half a million people paraded and danced past the scaffolds where the men were hanged, which resulted in international criticism. An Iraqi Jew who later left wrote that the stress of persecution caused ulcers, heart attacks, and breakdowns to become increasingly prevalent in the Jewish community. A further 18 Jews were hanged in secret from 1970 to 1972, and in April 1973 five members of a single Jewish family were killed on the orders of the head of the Iraqi secret police in retaliation for an Israeli assassination of a Palestinian leader.


Nearly all Jews are gone from Iraq-yet the hatred of Jews is still strong....as of 2022 only 3 Jews are still living in Iraq...and the same year Iraqs have passed a law that anyone having any contact with israel will be killed
https://www.state.gov/the-iraqi-parliam ... ation-law/
it should be not be too suprsing after all Iraq aka Babylon was the home of Nebuchadnezzar II
across the Tigris River Iran equally hates the Jews Persia was the home of Haman....


there are Jews who still remember what the Farhud did to their community
https://www.jewishrefugees.org.uk/2024/ ... arhud.html

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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 07 Apr 2024 12:51

Saida's Story
The participants:
Saida - the author’s mother,
Haskell Saltoun -Saida’s prodigal maternal grandfather,
Isaac Shalom Yusef Obadiah - Saida’s prodigiously wealthy paternal grandfather,
Meir - Isaac’s son, Saida’s father,
Mouzli - Haskell’s daughter, Saida’s mother,
Menashe Mani - Meir’s "righteous" uncle.
---
Haskell Saltoun, hailed from a rich family of landlords, inheriting from his father a small fortune in the shape of forty keys to forty houses. The father told Haskell that their family should be able to live from the rent for these houses alone for seven generations without having to do any other work.
Unfortunately, the patriarch failed to anticipate that his eldest son and heir would develop a taste for gambling.

Haskell’s gambling habit began following the death of his father. He used to play cards in the evenings in his palatial home with members of the prominent Muslim families in Baghdad such as the Pachachis and the Haidaris. His friends liked him because his pockets usually bulged with money.

Whenever he ran short of money, he would sell a house. Ultimately there were no houses left. He was forced to earn a living and became a saraf, a moneylender. Despite the decline in his fortunes, Haskell retained his extravagant lifestyle and his easy-going disposition.
...
Meir, Saida’s father and my grandfather … was born in Bombay on 16 September 1882. His full name was Meir Isaac Shalom Obadiah. Having made his fortune and lived in India for over fifty years, Isaac decided to sell his business, realise his assets and return to Baghdad to retire.
His wife was especially keen to return to Baghdad to rejoin her family.
When Isaac died, he bequeathed to his four children his enormous wealth [his family - the Sassoons were global merchants and manufacturers].

As the eldest son, Meir managed the inheritance.
My mother depicted the sons as feckless, indolent and gluttons to boot. For a fair number of years, Meir and his brothers led a life of leisure. They lived in the large parental home, kept a pleasure boat on the river, ate well and consumed large quantities of Arak, a distilled Levantine spirit of the anise drinks family with an alcohol content of 40–63%. They threw parties for which they hired famous singers and spent money prodigally.
According to one apocryphal story the brothers spent their days lying in hammocks tied to trees in the garden, and every now and again a servant would come around with a bottle of Arak to refill their glasses.

During this carefree phase of his life, Meir met and rather reluctantly married Mouzli Haskell Saltoun.
He was an eligible bachelor, well-educated and wealthy, and most Jewish parents would have been thrilled to have him as their son-in-law.
Many young women were presented to him by matchmakers, but none satisfied his exacting requirements. One day they introduced him to Mouzli, a tall girl with curly black hair, not particularly pretty but clever, lively and amusing. He was informed that Mouzli came from a good home and would be a devoted wife and mother. Meir had just come from his boat where he enjoyed singing, playing the accordion and sipping Arak. Drunk, he didn’t judge Mouzli by his previous high standards.
By chance, he knew her father, Haskell Saltoun – a great boon. Haskell, as noted earlier, was a genial, easy-going and malleable character. ... He assumed that Mouzli would be as sweet-natured and mild-mannered as her father and he was persuaded to get engaged to her.

Meir soon realised he had made a terrible mistake. His fiancée was difficult and argumentative. He informed the Rabbi that he had had second thoughts and wanted to annul the engagement.
The Rabbi panicked: in Baghdad in those days an engagement entailed a signed document, analogous to a marriage contract.
He ruled that if Meir wanted to annul the engagement, he would need to pay Mouzli’s family five hundred gold coins, as specified in the document, to compensate them for the disgrace.
Reluctantly, Meir took out five hundred gold coins, gave them to his maternal uncle, Menashe Mani, and asked him to hand them over to the Rabbi with a curse.

Walking along the river towards the Rabbi’s home, Menashe passed a man on a boat in the river, shouting ‘One dinar to Basra! One dinar to Basra!’ Menashe reflected: ‘Am I building a home or destroying one? This money is not for a marriage but for a divorce.’
Instead of delivering the money with a curse, he bought a ticket to Basra whence he went by boat to India and disappeared.
Meir did not have another five hundred gold coins to spare, so he went ahead with the marriage to Mouzli.

Following the birth of three sons in rapid succession, fifteen years into the marriage, Mouzli gave birth to a baby girl whom they named Mas’uda.

Mas’uda (‘Saida’) née Obadiah
Mas’uda (‘Saida’) née Obadiah.png
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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by wm » 08 Apr 2024 10:30

COmentator wrote:
16 Mar 2024 13:47
there are Jews who still remember what the Farhud did to their community

The Farhud happened during an (ineptly-led) anti-colonial uprising (against the British).
As result, in Bagdad, social order collapsed so the lumpenproletariat began looting and robbing.
Lots of non-Jews lost their lives during the uprising, too btw.

The oldest and most effective tool in the Jewish chauvinists' propaganda tool-chest is removing all historical background information and proclaiming they did it because they are evil.

This is what the author has to say about it. He describes the Farhud but doesn't believe it was especially important:
Until then [1948] the Jews of Iraq, among them my family, were just one of the several minorities that made up the country. We were not aliens; we were natives; and we were looked upon as natives.
...
We were a minority, not the minority. As Jewish Iraqis, our status was not fundamentally different to that of the other Iraqi minorities.
...
The displacement of three-quarters of a million Palestinians by Israel intensified Muslim hostility not only towards the Zionist movement but also towards the Jews in their own country.
Increasingly, the Jews were treated not as sons of Iraq but as part of an alien and usurping entity.
Zionism not only turned the Palestinians into refugees; it turned the Jews of the East into strangers in their own land.

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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by COmentator » 08 Apr 2024 12:43

The January 27,1969 hanging of Jews =8 Shevat 5729
saddam Hussien was hanged 30 December 2006 =9 Tevet 5767;
Saddam was buried at his birthplace of Al-Awja in Tikrit, Iraq, on 31 December 2006 = 10 Tevet: 2 Kings 25 tells us Nebuchadnezzar began Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem on the 10th day of Tevet (a fast day known as Asarah B’Tevet). Ironically, the Jewish people adopted the name “Tevet” during the Babylonian exile. It is believed to connote “sinking” or “immersing.”
ref:https://www.fusionglobal.org/hebrew-cal ... ths/tevet/
In the Arab world, Saddam is well regarded, especially for his support of the Palestinian cause. A memorial dedicated to Saddam was built in Qalqilya, "{PLO] Palestine"

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Re: We wept when we remembered Babylon - the lives of Arab Jews

Post by michael mills » 13 Apr 2024 06:36

Saddam was buried at his birthplace of Al-Awja in Tikrit, Iraq, on 31 December 2006 = 10 Tevet: 2 Kings 25 tells us Nebuchadnezzar began Babylon’s siege of Jerusalem on the 10th day of Tevet (a fast day known as Asarah B’Tevet)
That is just Jewish superstitious nonsense. There is obviously no connection between the date of Saddam's burial and an event that occurred almost 2.600 years ago.

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