‘Exilarch’ Sir Naim Dangoor dies, aged 101

Point of No Return is saddened to learn of the passing of Sir Naim Dangoor, CBE, aged 101.

Born in Baghdad in 1914, Sir Naim – he was knighted in June 2015 – was a great philanthropist and entrepreneur. He introduced Coca Cola in Iraq, but  also pioneered the promotion of the issue of Jewish refugees from Iraq and their fight for justice after he was forced to leave in 1963. He re-established a thriving business in the UK and for 35 years, he published the journal, The Scribe – a vehicle for documenting the rich history of the Iraqi Jewish community. 

 Sir Naim Dangoor z”l

On the occasion of the 100th birthday which Sir Naim shared with the Coca Cola bottle, the US multinational published this tribute.

 His Wikipedia entry reads as follows:

“In the 1930s Sir Naim made the five-day journey from Baghdad to
London, at the age of 17, in order to enrol in an engineering degree at
the University of London.[3]
After graduating he returned to Iraq where he was conscripted to the
army and became an officer. It was during his army training that he met
his future business partner Ahmed Safwat.[4]

Naim Dangoor with his partner (right) Ahmed Safwat in Nice

Initially on leaving the army he had hoped to become an engineer on
the railways, but due to restrictions imposed upon Jews this was not
possible, so he and Ahmed, a Muslim, decided to go into business
together, setting up Eastern Industries in 1949.

Their first contract was to supply new windows to all Iraqi
government buildings, and soon their portfolio grew to include property
development and letting.[5] In 1950, Eastern industries secured the first contract to bottle Coca Cola in Iraq.[6] Alongside Eastern Industries, Sir Naim also ran factories producing matches and furniture.

In November 1947 Sir Naim married Renée Dangoor (who had been crowned Miss Baghdad earlier that year).[7] They went on to have four sons.

With the rise of the Ba’ath party
in Iraq, the situation for Jews in the country worsened and in 1959 Sir
Naim took the difficult decision to take his family out. He continued
travelling back and forth for business until 1963, when he decided that
the worsening political situation made it too risky for him to return.
As a result of laws specific to Jews, he lost his Iraqi citizenship, and
his property and business interests were taken by the government.[8]
He was eventually permitted to settle in the UK where he set about
rebuilding his life, setting up a property business that his four sons
went on to join.[9]

In order to preserve the heritage of the community he had left
behind, soon after settling in the UK, he founded a community centre in
West Kensington
for new Iraqi Jewish immigrants, and in 1971 began editing and
publishing “The Scribe”, a “Journal of Babylonian Jewry”, with 4000
subscribers in 25 countries which continued to be published for 35

In 1970 he revived the title of Exilarch – an ancient title held by
the supreme leader of all the Jewish communities in Babylonia, up until
the 13th Century.[11]

In 2003 he demanded £12 billion ($20 billion) from Iraq’s leaders as
compensation for what the Iraqi-Jewish community had lost in Iraq after
the Second World War.[1]

As his business in the UK grew, he wanted to give back to the country
that had taken him in. In 1980 he set up the Exilarch’s Foundation, a
chairty that has made numerous donations to causes relating to education
and health.[12]

In 2004 he created the Dangoor Scholarships to help one thousand
undergraduate students who had no family history of further education,
at the 1994 Group of universities.[13]

A few years later in 2009 he created the Eliahou Dangoor
Scholarships, in honour of his father. These were awarded to four
thousand undergraduate students, with limited means, studying STEM
(science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects. [14]

In the same year Sir Naim was made Honorary President for the Association of Jewish Academics from Iraq.[15]”

His first cousin and wife Renee pre-deceased him in 2008. He leaves four sons,  seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. 

 Renee Dangoor was crowned Miss Baghdad in 1947


One Comment

  • الله يرحمه ويسكنه الجنات النعيم

    Just two things I would like to comment on:
    1- "As a result of laws specific to Jews, he lost his Iraqi citizenship, and his property and business interests were taken by the government.[8]"

    ينقل الدكتور عدنان الباجة جي في كتابه (سيرة وذكريات) عن أحد الأعضاء اليهود في مجلس الأعيان العراقي، (وهو عزرا مناحين دانيا) كلمته خلال جلسة المجلس المنعقدة في 18 يوليو/تموز عام 1948م، حيث قال فيها:
    "…. إلا أنني أرى من واجبي الآن أن أستعرض تاريخ غرس الصهيونية في العراق، والعوامل التي اعتمدتها لغاية تنوير المجلس العالي، وليتخذ منها عبرة في المستقبل عند توجيه سياستنا العراقية،
    ففي أواسط سنة 1925ميلادية، أي بعد تشكيل الحكومة بقليل حضر إلى العراق مندوب من قبل الجمعية الصهيونية في فلسطين لغرض تأسيس وكالة صهيونية ونادي ومدرسة في هذا البلد، لترويج مبادئ الصهيونية لدى الجيل الناشئ، وبث الدعاية للهجرة إلى فلسطين.
    هال هذا الأمر الطائفة الإسرائيلية فاجتمع وجهاؤها وتباحثوا فيما يؤول إليه الأمر من إنشاء هذه الفكرة من النتائج الوخيمة، وقرروا واعتمدوا وفداً لدى المراجع ذات الشأن لأجل منع هذه، وراجع الوفد دائرة السامي البريطاني بالنظر لما كان معروضاً أن إشارة خفيفة من هذا الجانب تكون كافية لمنع هذه التشكيلات، وبالنظر لما كان ينتظر من هذا الجانب من العطف على هذه الدولة الفتية التي لم تلبث أن شكلها وأن سكانها من العرب واليهود عاشوا متحابين مطمئنين الواحد من الثاني في عصور عديدة تتجاوز الألفين سنة.
    ولكن فضلاً عن أنه لم تثمر هذه الجهود بأي نتيجة، رأينا مندهشين أن الحكومة العراقية ذاتها تبنت هذا المشروع، مشروع غرس نواة الصهيونية في العراق بسماحها بتأسيس وكالة صهيونية ونادي ومدرسة بإجازة من المعارف ذاتها، بدأت هذه المؤسسات ببث الدعاية لترويج وتحبيذ الصهيونية في العراق، وتشجيع الهجرة إلى فلسطين تحت رعاية الحكومة وحمايتها.

    أن المعتمد الذي عينته الوكالة الصهيونية في فلسطين للعراق كان معترفاً به رسمياً وكانت دائرة السفر والجنسية لا تعطي جواز سفر إلى فلسطين إلا أن يصادق على هذا الجواز المعتمد المذكور، بالوقت ذاته اتخذت الحكومة العراقية تدابير معاكسة في نشر الدعاية الصهيونية في المدارس الرسمية وفي وحدات الجيش وفي المطبوعات، وعندما قامت المظاهرات (ضد السر الفرد موند) عند قدومه للعراق في 1928م باعتباره أحد أقطاب الصهيونية، لم تفكر بإلغاء إجازة المدرسة الصهيونية الممنوحة من قبلها، بل استثمرت هذه المدرسة والمؤسسات الأخرى في أعمالها، ولم تقدم الحكومة على إلغائها إلا بعد أن قامت الطائفة الإسرائيلية باحتجاج شديد لدى أولياء الأمر على هذه الأعمال ذات الوجهين، وكان ذلك في العام 1934م، أي بعد اثنتي عشرة سنة من تأسيس هذه التشكيلات، ويشهد على ذلك من كان في مسؤولية الحكم في ذلك التاريخ".(10)

    2-In 2003 he demanded £12 billion ($20 billion) from Iraq's leaders as compensation for what the Iraqi-Jewish community had lost in Iraq after the Second World War.[1]

    What the outcome for his demand? Was paid or Not?


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