Are there thousands of secret Iraqi Jews queuing to come to Israel? A tantalising thought. But the Jewish Agency has been at pains to play down the aliyah of an Iraqi family with Jewish relatives in Israel as an isolated case. Haviv Rettig of The Jerusalem Post reports:
“An Iraqi family that reportedly immigrated to Israel this week is not the beginning of a “wave of aliya,” a Jewish Agency official familiar with the case told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.
“An intermarried family of Muslims and Jews from Baghdad made aliya recently, with the quiet help of the Jewish Agency, according to media reports, part of a trickle of olim from the war-torn country whose Jews – though many conceal their identity – number in the thousands.
“The media gave contradictory information on the case, and Agency officials have been loath to clarify what happened, seeking to protect the family’s privacy.
“It wasn’t an accurate presentation of what happened,” the official said. “This was a non-Jewish family with Jewish relatives in Israel who are eligible for aliya under the Law of Return,” he said. “Their Jewish relatives in Israel came to the Jewish Agency asking us to bring them to Israel, so we did.”
“But, the official added, “This was an isolated case; there isn’t a queue of Iraqi Jews in Baghdad lining up to make aliya.”
“Furthermore, the attention “puts the lives of innocent people in Baghdad” – the Muslim extended family – “in jeopardy, something we absolutely don’t want to do,” the official said.”