December 12, 2019

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Israel TV interviews survivors of the pro-Nazi Farhud

With thanks: Yoel, Doug

This evening marks the start of Yom Hashoah, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Day, a sombre day when  the entire country grinds to a halt as its citizens observe two minutes of silence. In anticipation, the Israeli TV channel 11 (Kan) has broadcast a short documentary (Hebrew) about the Farhud, the June 1941 massacre of Jews in Iraq.

An Iraqi gives the Nazi salute. Jewish schoolchildren were taught to follow suit

To see the 12 -minute video click here.

Nissim Kazzaz’s father disappeared from a bus where Jews were being selectively murdered. He himself, a child aged 11,  jumped out of a window as the driver sped off. Sami Michael had a lucky escape, as he was wearing clothes resembling the uniform worn by the Futuwwa pro-Nazi youth group. Another witness told how her father was pushed over the family’s balcony. A fourth said she had seen a child’s mutilated arm in the street, despite her mother’s best efforts to shield her eyes from the terrible sight.

The film is remarkable for featuring hitherto rarely-seen footage of street life in Baghdad, rampaging mobs, a man making the Nazi salute and the pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, meeting Hitler. Survivors argued that the two days of unspeakable violence, including rape, murder, mutilation and looting, were caused by continuous incitement over Nazi radio by Yunus Bahri.

In recent years there has been pressure from Israel’s 2,000 Farhud survivors to have the 1941 massacre, which claimed 179 identified victims, recognised as a Nazi-related event. The government granted survivors stipends and medical discounts.Two petitioners went to court in Israel to argue that the survivors were eligible for reparations as much as other Holocaust survivors from Europe. But in March 2019, Israel’s High Court ruled that the Jews of Iraq were not directly impacted by the Nazis. However, it left the door open for the Knesset to pass a new law permitting the Farhud survivors to be compensated.

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