BBC radio fails to mention Iraq’s Farhud

 The film Remember Baghdad has generated unprecedented publicity for the story of the demise of the Jewish diaspora’s oldest community. But it has also give the media carte blanche to distort the historical facts by minimising Arab antisemitism. BBC Watch examines the failure in a report on the Sunday programme to mention the 1941 Farhud:

The December 3rd edition of the BBC Radio 4 religious affairs programme ‘Sunday’ included an item (from 16:05 here) described as follows in the


“The story of
what happened to the last Jews of Iraq is the subject of a new
documentary “Remember Baghdad”. Edward talks to David Dangoor about his
great grandfather who was a former Chief Rabbi of Baghdad.”

However, as was the case in a previous BBC World Service radio item
on the same topic, listeners expecting to get an answer to the question
of what happened to the ancient Iraqi Jewish community would have been
disappointed. Presenter Edward Stourton introduced the item:

“The story of the last Jews of Baghdad is told in the documentary which
is being screened in selected cinemas from tomorrow to mark the 100th
anniversary of Britain’s seizing control of the city. It was one of the
great world centres of Judaism from the days of Nebuchadnezzar right up
to the 1940s and 50s. The film – Remembering [sic] Baghdad – explores
that history through the eyes of some of the Jews who left. David
Dangoor was one such and he told me how he remembers the city.”

Listeners heard Mr Dangoor’s portrayal
of a “good life” with a “rich cultural tapestry” before Stourton went on
to ask about “relations with the city’s Arabs” and to what extent Jews
were “integrated”. Mr Dangoor told of joint business ventures between
Jews and Arabs before saying that:

“During the troubles, many Jewish people were given refuge and protection by their Muslim friends.”

Listeners did not however hear what those “troubles” actually were.

After Stourton had asked questions about
Mr Dangoor’s great-grandfather and his mother – the first ‘Miss
Baghdad’ – he went on to inaccurately claim that the idyllic life
portrayed so far had ended because of the establishment of the State of

Stourton: “You, I think, were born in the year that the State of Israel came into being. What began to change then?”

Dangoor: “We
need to remember that Zionism, which is Jewish nationalism, grew at the
same time as Arab nationalism in the early part of the 20th
century. So it became a point of contention in many Arab countries
between Jewish people in Arab countries and their Muslim neighbours.
There were clashes from time-to-time and that began to become a bigger
problem until of course in 1948, as you say, the Jewish state was formed
and the enmity grew. Jews were seen as potential spies for what they
called the Zionist entity and there was some hostility.”

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