Month: October 2016

Jewish MP: ‘Iran not seeking war with Israel’

Update: Oops! Moreh Sedgh is now denyingever having spoken to the ‘Zionist entity”s radio station.

Perhaps it’s the Iranian regime’s attempt to influence the US election:  it is saying that the regime is rational and President Obama’s nuclear deal is working so there is no need for the electorate to endorse Donald Trump’s view that it was ‘one of the worst deals ever made.’ Iran’s lone Jewish MP Siamak Moreh Sedgh gives an interview on Israel Radio, reported in The Times of Israel (with thanks: Lily):  

 Jewish Iranian MP Siamak Moreh Sedgh (photo credit: CNN screen capture)

Iran’s sole Jewish parliamentarian said the
Islamic Republic is not seeking war with Israel and asserted that Tehran
knows that launching an attack on the Jewish state would amount to

does not want to start a war against Israel, because they know that
everyone who starts a war in the Middle East is doing suicide,” Siamak
Moreh Sedgh told Israel Radio in an English-language interview aired
Sunday morning.

Sedgh said he believed the Iranian leadership to be “healthy and wise enough to avoid a war with Israel.”

“Relations between Iran and Israel [are] more
stable than ever before since the signing of the nuclear agreement last
year,” he said.

“Two, three years ago I was suspicious about
[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, I think he is crazy enough to start
a war, but today, the condition of the world after the agreement is
better, and the Middle East is more stable,” Sedgh said.

Read article in full

‘Syrian Jewish’ refugee lands in UK

 A UN-run camp for Syrian refugees: minorities avoid them for fear of persecution

A Syrian child refugee with ‘Jewish heritage’ has arrived in the UK, reported this week’s Jewish News.The unidentified English-speaking boy said that his Jewish heritage was ‘important’ to him. A Jewish foster family is being sought for him.

Such reports surface from time to time and must be treated with scepticism:  the known Jewish community in Syria numbers less than 20 people and there are no children among them.

In August,a report that three Syrian-Jewish families had escaped to Sweden posing as Christians and had finally joined a Louisville Jewish congregation in the US was denied by community leaders.

A young manclaiming to be of Jewish descent was profiled in a Swedish newspaper, but the presence of his family members in Lebanon and his stated aim to return to Syria to rebuild the country casts doubt on how genuine he is.  

While it is possible that there are Syrian families of mixed parentage it is unlikely that refugees identifying as Jewish would have left Syria with the great mass of Muslim refugees. Christian and Yazidi refugees avoid the main camps for fear of persecution by Muslims.

The individuals themselves may feel that they have a better chance of being given asylum in the West if they claim to be Jewish.

Iraq UN bid boasts of non-existent Jewish life

Update: Iraq (together with Saudi Arabia) has been elected to the Human Rights Council.

a bid ( as reported by JNS) to land a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council
(UNHRC) the Iraqi government is touting thousands of years of Jewish
life in its country, ignoring the destruction of Iraqi Jewry. (Only five Jews remain out of a community of 150, 000.) Iraq’s strategy is in line with that of several countries, who boast of their ‘tolerance’ of non-existent Jews by restoring synagogues or set up representative organisations, in order to gain PR points with the international community. (With thanks: Sarah)

Jewish scribes outside the tomb of Ezekiel in 1932. The tomb has now been converted into a mosque.

In a brochure posted online, Iraq promoted its human-rights record
ahead of the annual election for the 47-seat UNHRC, being held Friday.
“Jewish Iraqis have lived in the region for thousands of years, as early
as the Sassanians of the Talmudic era,” it boasts. (…)

Encouraged and empowered by the recent UNESCO resolution that rejects Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall,…“Iraq’s UNHRC election brochure says, ‘Jews have lived in Iraq for
thousands of years;’ right — but were all chased out decades ago,”
tweeted Hillel C. Neuer of UNWatch, an advocacy group highly critical of
the diplomatic organization.

“Iraq’s absurd @UN_HRC election campaign brochure also cites the
happy condition of their #Christian minority — who have been decimated,”
Neuer continued, citing the Iraqis’ statement that Mosul — currently
being held by the Islamic State —  “has the highest proportion of
Christians of all the Iraqi cities.”

Likewise, the brochure speaks about the country’s Yazidi minority,
but does not mention that ISIS has launched a mass murder campaign
against them in recent years.

Further, representatives of the Iraqi-Jewish emigre community have
recently been protesting Baghdad’s claim of ownership over atrove of Jewish books and documents uncovered after Saddam Hussein’s fall. They
argue that Iraq has appropriated their Jewish history, after expelling

Read article in full

Harassed campus speaker hails from Iraq and Tunisia

 Hen Mazzig: family experienced Arab antisemitism

By now many will have been shocked to hear what happened on a London university campuson the evening of 27 October, when the audience for a talk by an Israeli speaker were harassed and bullied by an anti-Israel mob screaming “intifada, intifada!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” The police were called to University College London as the protest  appeared to degenerate into violence.

The Israeli speaker was Hen Mazzig, who had served in the IDF for five years and had toured US campuses speaking on behalf of his country. What is unusual about Hen is that his parents hail from Tunisia and Iraq.  He is able to bring to the fore his family’s experience of Arab antisemitism.

Among several articles Hen has written, one recalls his grandmother’s horrific experience of the Farhud in Iraq. Here is an extract:

“Despite the persecution of my family in Iraq, she doesn’t speak a lot
about her past. It is challenging to get any negative stories from Iraq
out of her. She prefers to tell me stories about how great it was, how
beautiful Baghdad is, and how they always felt safe – until the two
days of horror: June 1-2, 1941, known as the Farhud. To me, this event
signifies the days of catastrophe; the start of a Jewish “Nakba”
(catastrophe) that no one wants to acknowledge. These two days led to
my family becoming refugees.

“Farhud” means brutal intimidation
of a population by its ruler, but it seemed more than just the rulers
turned on the Jewish population of Iraq during those days in 1941. My
grandmother always told me the story of the cafe that she spent her
days at, a beautiful little shop, she said. On the first day of the
farhud she was there. She tells me how she saw an Iraqi Muslim man
screaming “kill the Jews,” and a Jewish woman walking across the street
with her seven young children, one in her arms. The man pointed the
gun at the woman and began shooting her kids. One by one they were
murdered, as the mother screamed. Only after he murdered all of her
children did he kill her. Quickly, the cafe owner hid my grandmother in
the back of the store, until her father came to take her, running back

Read article in full

Torah scrolls smuggled out from hostile places

This Torah scroll from Iraq was rededicated in 2015 (photo: MFA)


 The Jerusalem Post reveals the unbelievable tales of Torah scrolls smuggled out of places hostile to Jews. It mentions two scrolls taken out of Iraq and one from Yemen in recent times. (with thanks: Lily)

The Torah scroll being used by Israel’s diplomats is one that enraged
another country – Iraq. Last year, the Foreign Ministry dedicated a
Torah for use at its office synagogue in Jerusalem, that was smuggled
out of Baghdad.

The scroll, estimated to be 150 to 200 years
old, is believed to be from the region of Kurdistan. When most of the
country’s Jews fled to Israel after 1948, the scroll was left behind.

The Iraqi government banned them from taking their property and seized assets from those who left.

ministry would not say just how the scroll arrived in Israel, but in
2006 or 2007 it ended up in the Israeli Embassy in Jordan. When, in
September 2011, the Israeli Embassy in Cairo was attacked by a huge
mob, the ministry decided to remove all extraneous items from its
embassy in Amman in case of similar incidents. Among those items was
the Iraqi Torah scroll, which was brought to the ministry in Jerusalem.

November 2013, Amnon Israel, the new manager of storage and supplies
for the ministry, noticed the scroll in a storage room on his first
day. He sought out an expert in Torah restoration, and after six months
of work it was ready for use. The government selected a case for the
scroll that originally belonged to the Jewish community of Aleppo,
Syria, and was itself over 100 years old. The special dedication at the
Foreign Ministry took place in January 2015 in front of Sephardi Chief
Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.

Read article in full

Iraqi Torah scroll finds a new home 

Nineeteen Jews brought to Israel from  Yemen


This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

Point of No Return

Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

One-stop blog on the Middle East's
forgotten Jewish refugees - updated daily.