Moving to the Kurdistan Region was the best decision of Levi Meir Clancy’s life. It was the fulfilment of a dream – until he was warned that there was a plot afoot to kill him. The reason? He stood in the way of the ambitions (amply documented on Point of No Return) of a group of conspirators posing as Jews. Clancy tells his story in the Times of Israel:
Even without a Saddam Hussein or an Adolph Hitler in power, there are still people with the mentality of a collaborator. That was how the conspirators behind my attack seemed to behave. They were all driven by personal gain. After one conspirator was allegedly convicted of homicide and locked away, the rest continued to collaborate with his associates in their pursuit of antisemitic legends about Jewish wealth and Jewish privilege.
Unfortunately, officials in the Kurdistan Region seemed to believe that antisemitic attacks must involve someone whose primary goal is the “cleansing” of Jewish people from society. Frankly, this is a ridiculous perspective because there are no Jewish people remaining, except a few expatriates who are countable on one hand. There is no Jewish community being “rounded up” like a scene from the Holocaust, because there is no Jewish community.
This outdated perspective on antisemitic violence in the 21st century has created a tremendous blind spot. Without any vigilance, the potential for violence has festered. The conspirators simply had to choose a course of action that avoided the most crude and sophomoric stereotypes of antisemitic behavior.
It was not just the Kurdistan Region’s officials who were unprepared. With the rise in visitation to the Kurdistan Region, many foreigners (and even Jewish people and Israelis) have come to the Kurdistan Region for short periods, experienced no serious problems, and then returned to their homes abroad. As a result, based on their own brief but enjoyable visits, many people shunned the possibility that someone in Erbil might be hunted for their Jewishness. Yet here I am, forced to wake up every morning with the possibility that I will not live to see the next day.
But still, for many people, the idea that an antisemitic plot is underway in the Kurdistan Region is beyond the limits of comprehension — or, perhaps, beyond the limits of compassion. (…)
The people behind the plot against me were a network of men who had emerged over the last few years with false claims of being long-lost Jews, with two of them even securing roles as representatives in the Kurdistan Region’s government. Additionally, they received support from outside of the Kurdistan Region from those who had their own motives as well.
Smartly, the conspirators did not publicly disagree with the popular narrative about coexistence. In fact, they decided to harness it by claiming that they themselves were in fact are long-lost Jews. They ran to the media and made many headlines. It was a catchy story. This opened many doors for them, and provided a level of impunity for increasingly disastrous behavior because well-intentioned people were shy about seeming hesitant regarding supposed Jewish affairs.
At every opportunity, the conspirators issued false but self-perpetuating claims to the media that there was a very large Jewish community in the Kurdistan Region that hovered around 400 families — but which was, in fact, non-existent. The motives were fairly limited,
- Most of these men just wanted to be in the business of organizing hotly-desired visas, either for aliyah to the State of Israel, or asylum to Europe, which they thought would be very easy to obtain by claiming to be Jewish.
- Many of them wanted control over real estate connected to Jewish heritage sites, or thought that there was a vault somewhere containing piles of Jewish gold. They would break into Jewish heritage sites to stage photo opportunities, and follow YouTube recordings that played in the background to reenact occasional holidays for the press.
- A few thought that claiming to be Jewish would help them obtain one-off opportunities such as scholarships from Jewish organizations or some sort of entry into a Masonic cabal.
The whole thing reeked of antisemitic stereotypes, but it was impossible to get any sort of official response on these grounds alone. To my shock, trying to kill me for my Jewishness was still insufficient. At that point, I realized how violence was enabled — there was no point where any official attending to religious issues simply said “that is enough” and got to work.