US major relives family history in Baghdad

 The curious tale of a US army major with roots in Baghdad: Elan Carr, 45, was sent to Iraq in 2003, a country his mother’s family had left as Jewish refugees 50 years earlier. The Times of Israel has the story (with thanks: Michelle; Lily):

A lawyer with degrees from Berkeley and
Northwestern, Carr landed in Baghdad as an anti-terrorism officer,
serving in a unit that reported to US Central Command. In addition to
assessing threats and recommending responses, Carr served as a judge
advocate in the US military’s legal system, prosecuting insurgents
before Iraqi judges at the Central Criminal Court.

Maj. Elan Carr lights Hanukkah candles in late 2003 in a Baghdad palace formerly inhabited by Saddam Hussein. (Courtesy of Elan Carr)

Elan Carr lights Hanukkah candles in late 2003 in a Baghdad palace
formerly inhabited by Saddam Hussein. (Courtesy of Elan Carr)

Now 45, Carr wasn’t the first member of his
family to enter an Iraqi courtroom. His grandfather, once a prominent
leader of Baghdad’s Jewish community, also appeared repeatedly in legal
settings — but in his case as an unwilling participant in show trials,
staged as part of Iraq’s anti-Semitic response to the establishment of
Israel in May 1948.

Carr grew up hearing stories about his grandfather, a descendant of Abdallah Somekh,
a chief rabbi of Baghdad in the 19th century. Despite Iraq’s long
history as home to a large, flourishing Jewish community, the country
was roiled by anti-Semitic violence in the years leading up to Israel’s
founding, and Carr’s grandfather was already planning the family’s
escape to Australia when he was imprisoned.

“My mother remembers him coming to the door
with shaving cream on his face when they arrested him,” Carr says. A
young girl at the time, she “remembers vividly the hysteria.”

Convicted on false charge of distributing
communist propaganda, Carr’s grandfather received a sentence of three
years in prison — plus an additional two for “calling Muslim witnesses
liars.” In 1950, as he remained behind bars, the rest of his family
immigrated to Israel, where he was eventually able to join them.

In Israel, Carr’s mother performed her army
service in intelligence, then pursued a graduate degree in Middle
Eastern and Islamic studies in New York City, where she met Carr’s

Despite a childhood that was in many ways typical for Jewish New Yorkers, “I was always Iraqi,” Carr recalls.

Read article in full


  • Both circumstances are equally tragic, regardless of the occupation of the victims.

  • my ancestors also come from Iraq but nothing so glamorous as this American
    they were simply wholesalers for fabrics.
    When they decided to leave it was because of that GREAT ILLnESS: the Jews' fault for everything that went wrong. And that was a very long time before the FARHUD And that is how they ended in Egypt.


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