Tributes to Shaul Haddad may signal normalisation

From left, Yeheskel Fattal,Shaul Haddad’s daughter Osnath Avrahami, Shaul Haddad and Shmuel Moreh, all members of the Board of the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraq

The death a few days ago in Israel of Professor Shaul Haddad, aged 101, a prominent educator and author, has stirred great interest in the Arab media.

Shaul Haddad was born in Iraq but fled to Israel along with the great majority of Iraq’s Jews. He published two books and finished a third just before he was taken to hospital, where he died five days later. A leading cultural figure, he played an important part in the intellectual life of Iraq in the 1920s and 30s. Later he worked to ease the absorption and resettlement of Iraqi Jews in Israel.

A Shi’i politician has sent a tribute to the Haddad family, and articles on Arabic websites have elicited sympathetic comments from readers in Iraq and Syria. Here is one, from Ali Husam:

“It is sad to see such wonderful scholars who left Iraq and died abroad. May God Bless his soul and I hope all Iraqi Jews come back to Iraq as dual citizens. I also hope they will get all their rights as Iraqis, especially their properties and compensation for all the suffering they endured”.

However, Professor Shmuel Moreh of the Association of Academics from Iraq in Israel has detected a new phenomenon in the responses to one obituary: for the first time, a talkback comment in Hebrew expressing condolences was allowed to remain. Whether or not the moderator understood the Hebrew, Professor Moreh believes it is a small sign of cultural normalisation between Israel and Arab countries.

All those who are rushing to join the DBS movement (Divest, Boycott and Sanctions against Israel) please note!

Obituary by Professor Shmuel Moreh published in Irakna (Arabic)and Tabee’i


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