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Thursday, September 08, 2011

The last Jews of Baghdad (Wikileaks)

From Wikileaks:

On October 10, Poloff met with one of the last remaining Jews in Iraq, XXXXXX (strictly protect), to discuss the current state of the Iraqi Jewish community. XXXXXX stated that there are now eight remaining members of the Iraqi Jewish community in Baghdad including herself (a complete biographical breakdown of the community is contained in reftel). She stated that the community had numbered 20 persons in 2003, but that the number has declined as a result of old age, immigration, and sectarian violence. XXXXXXX noted that her mother, XXXXXXXXX, had passed away in the past year and that her husband had been kidnapped by AQI in 2005 and had most likely been murdered. (Note: Since the kidnapping, the Embassy's Office of Hostage Affairs has attempted to assist XXXXXXX in locating her husband or his remains. End note.) For her own part, XXXXXXX expressed continued interest in immigrating to the Netherlands where two of her brothers are currently living. At present, XXXXXXX works as a dentist in an orphanage and conceals her religious identity to her co-workers by claiming to be Christian, although she attends weekly Jewish services held at the Embassy.

Asked about the community's religious sites, XXXXXXXX stated that there was a synagogue and a Jewish cemetery in Baghdad that had remained closed since 2004 with the keys entrusted to two separate Muslim families. She believed that the synagogue remained in good condition and noted that the Jewish community is able to pay the caretakers of the synagogue and cemetery a modest stipend from the rental income that they receive from their commercial properties. XXXXXXX was not as optimistic about the Jewish synagogue located in Basra, which has been turned into a local warehouse. She also noted that the community had a strong interest in the grave of Ezekiel, which has become a religious site for Muslims as well. Asked about the possibility for Iraqi Jews living abroad to visit the country or attempt to reestablish connections, XXXXXXXX was pessimistic saying that latent anti-Semitism within Iraqi society would prevent this from happening anytime soon.
There are Jewish services in the US embassy in Baghdad?

(h/t Bataween)