Don't forget, remember the Farhud - editorial

Published date02 June 2023
Publication titleJerusalem Post, The: Web Edition Articles (Israel)
This is particularly evident around this time of year, when the Palestinians and their supporters mark Nakba Day – commemorating the "catastrophe" of Israel's creation – and Naksa Day, the "upset" of Israel surviving the Six Day War that was meant to wipe it off the face of the earth. Shamefully, Nakba Day was even commemorated this year in the United Nations, to mark its 75th anniversary

There is, however, a gap in both knowledge and acknowledgment when it comes to the history of Jewish refugees from Arab lands. More than 850,000 Jews fled or were expelled from Arab and Muslim lands in 1948, upon Israel's establishment as a state. But this did not come out of the blue.

Remember the Farhud

One of the horrific incidents that preceded this mass flight of Jews is often overlooked. It is the Farhud – the onslaught or violent dispossession – which took place in Iraq on June 1 and 2, 1941, coinciding with the Shavuot festival. It was a pogrom in every sense. 179 Jews of all ages were killed in the two-day rampage, which was concentrated in Baghdad and Basra. They were slaughtered in their homes and on the streets – wherever they were found by the murderous gangs, whipped up by Nazi propaganda and the pro-German Iraqi leadership.

The lethal attacks, rapes, killing, looting and desecration of synagogues affected the entire community. It is estimated that more than 2,000 Jews were wounded and the property of more than 50,000 Jews was looted or destroyed. The dead were later buried in mass graves – and the illusion of peaceful coexistence was buried with them. Although Jews had lived in this ancient Babylonia and Mesopotamia region for some 2,500 years, it counted for nothing when the Farhud broke out.

There were, of course, some righteous people among the general Muslim population, courageous people who risked their own lives to save their Jewish neighbors and friends. But they were a minority.

The campaign of terror came against the backdrop of the power vacuum between the collapse of the pro-Nazi government of Rashid Ali al-Gaylani, who had seized control from the Iraqi monarchy, and the return of British forces to Baghdad. The interim Iraqi prime minister was an ardent supporter of Hitler and introduced the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin...

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