Menashe Somekh: modest and honest
Iraqi Jews are mourning the passing last week of Menashe Somekh, a prominent intellectual and journalist. He died in Jerusalem aged 91 from cancer.
Somekh, a descendant of Rabbi Abdullah Abraham Somekh, worked as a journalist in Iraq until his family fled to Israel in the great exodus of 1951. He then worked as director of Israel’s Arabic Radio service for 30 years.
Menashe Somekh was born in Baghdad in
1926. He finished his studies at Shamash School in 1944. In 1946, he
worked in journalism in Sawt Al-Ahali newspaper, the mouthpiece of the
National Democratic Party led by Kamal Al-Jadraji, where he was
responsible for the translation of foreign press articles from English
to Arabic. Menashe moved to work at Al-Shaab newspaper, owned by Yahya Qasim, where he was his close associate and wrote articles in the newspaper.
In Israel Menashe Somekh was a fount of knowledge about Iraqi history, heritage and music and was the ‘go-to’ person for writers and researchers.
Emile Cohen, who collaborated with him on a book about the life and music of the al-Kuwaity brothers, praises him as ‘a wonderful person’. He was modest, honest, free of ego, kind-hearted and generous with his time.