An Iraqi top news presenter, Ahmed al-Hamdani, called for Iraq to make an apology to Iraqi Jews (and other minorities) recently and called on the Iraqi foreign minister to ‘rectify that historic error’. MEMRI has now posted the full transcript of his broadcast. (However, Al-Hamdani’s solution is for Iraqi Jews to return. It is not to recognise that Iraqi Jews are now irrevocably Israeli, but to say that many ‘refused to go to the Israeli entity’.) Nevertheless, al-Hamdani’s call is historic. In contrast, an Algerian politician conjures up anti-Jewish conspiracy theories while rejecting their ‘hellish plan’ to ‘return’ to Algeria, a prelude to their takeover of the world. (With thanks: Lily)
Al Hamdani: “Some seventy years have passed since our honorable Jewish Iraqi community fell victim to a human tragedy and to reckless behavior, when they were taken prisoner and subjected to forced deportation. The consecutive Iraqi governments that followed the monarchic era realized that this had been an error of historic proportions.
All those governments maintained that the property of the Jews was off-limits. That property remained frozen because of the sense that an historic mistake had been made. If such [non-democratic] regimes have acknowledged the tragedy, it is our duty, after seventy years, to rectify that historic error.
It is the same historic error that has been suffered by the Christians, our loyal compatriots, who were banished or killed. It is the same historic error that has been suffered by the Sabaeans, our loyal and honorable compatriots, who were also banished or killed. And it is the same thing that has happened to our loyal and honorable Yazidi compatriots, whose girls, our sisters and our compatriots, have been abducted, which is a crime of honor, a crime [against] humanity.
Hence, seventy years later and from our studio here, I would like to go on record and say that it is our duty to apologize to our Iraqi Jewish compatriots for the tragedy that befell them. (My emphasis) We should indeed apologize to them, and those who have remained loyal to Iraq should regain their property. Many of them refused to go to the Israeli entity, and have remained loyal to Iraq in the U.S., in Europe, in Britain…
On the Facebook page of the Iraqi Jews, I saw a story about an Iraqi woman called Majdoleen. She talked about the tragedy of being driven out of Iraq with her family. But to this day, she continues to love and respect Iraq and to be loyal to it. Let’s listen to what she has to say.
Majdoleen: The Jews lost all their property. Everything. My father sold our home and put the money in the bank. Then [the bank accounts] were frozen, and he couldn’t withdraw a single penny. We came here [to Israel], and lived for two and a half years in a tent in a refugee absorption camp – two and a half years in a tent, after having a house in Iraq. My father used to be an accountant for the Iraqi airline.
(Majdoleen here seems to be having a flashback to the 1941 Farhud): Some two thousand Arabs came, and burst open the huge iron door [of the market] with knives and axes. They shattered the door, and within one hour, they had cleared out the Salem Shimon market.
We closed the door to grandma’s home and peeped through the windows. One of the thieves said about grandma’s home: “This is a Jewish house”. We placed all kind of things up against the door so that they couldn’t open it, but two thousand people just gave it two or three blows and broke down the door.
They beat up my grandma. She was overweight and could not go upstairs, so she stayed downstairs. They beat her up. They made an “orange”. Do you know what an “orange” is? A stick with a ball of tar. This hurts! They beat her on the head, asking: “Where are the girls?” They were looking for girls. Each time she screamed, I would cry and say: “They killed grandma”.
Hajj Moussa was a prominent businessman, and we went to him. When we walked in – may they rest in peace… When they saw us, the mother and her two daughters began to cry. The mother was cursing the people who had done this.
The first thing the two girls did was to open the sewing machines. They brought some material and sewed dresses for us. They said: “Here you have new clothes, and you can cook for yourselves, since you do not eat the food of the Muslims”. They gave us a roof. In Iraq, we used to sleep on the roof in the summer. They gave us a roof for ourselves, and they slept on another roof. They brought food from their fields. I heard that they had handed out food to all the Jews in the neighborhood. They gave food to all the Jews, who were left without anything.
It was not like in Europe, where there were camps and ghettoes for the Jews. Our neighbors were just like me. We used to eat at each other’s home.
We have come here, but Iraq is dear to our hearts. We grew up and studied there, and we have friends there. What is happening in Iraq is painful to us.
Al-Hamdani: I salute all of our people who have suffered injustice, including the Iraqi Jews who remained loyal to Iraq, despite the seventy years that have passed since the tragedy. I salute them wherever they may be in the world. Someone asked me what about the [Shiite] Feyli Kurd minority. Well, I salute them just as I salute all the others. People, if we do not care about the tragedies of others, nobody will care about our own tragedy.
If I were the foreign minister, I would invite Majdoleen and say to her: “Here is a plane ticket. Come and see your country after seventy years”. I would give her an official welcome, thus sending a positive message to the world. But where can we find a reasonable person who would understand that? If [Foreign Minister] Ibrahim Jaafari has brains, he should do it. We should get him a doctor to see whether he has brains in his head or something else.
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Meanwhile, Algerian MP Naima Salhi, Secretary-General of the Parti de l’équité et de la proclamation, warned of a “hellish plan to create a second Zionist entity – a so-called ‘Israeli state ‘ in the Maghreb,” and to restore the Jews from Arab countries to their countries of origin. “By now [they] have taken over the world financially,” she said. “[Their state] in Algeria will spread to Tunisia, Morocco, Mali, and Mauritania,” she warned.