By the Rivers of Babylon

Hot on the news that Saudi Arabia was banning Jewish tourists (since retracted) comes a report that the Iraqi Governing Council is appalled at the thought of the ancient Jewish Iraqi community returning to the land they fled from in the 1950s and 1960s:

Late last year, the council approved proposed legislation that would have allowed thousands of Iraqis who fled or were expelled from the country to reclaim their Iraqi citizenship — unless they were Jewish, council members said. The proposal did not specifically mention Jews, they said, but it contained language that would have kept in place the revocation of citizenship of tens of thousands of Jews by the Iraqi government in 1950.

Muhammad Bahaddin Saladin,  a member of the council, argues that “as long as the Palestinian problem exists, as long as there is a state of war, then we should not allow the Jews to return…The minister of defense in Israel is an Iraqi Jew. Should we let him return?”

Somehow I doubt that particular problem is likely to arise, and the idea that Jews in general (or even Israelis in general) are responsible for Israel’s actions is a depressingly common one in the region. To his credit, Paul Bremer has declined to sign off on the legislation, while one member of the council, an Assyrian Christian named Yonadam Kanna, had the guts and vision to say that “I think we should allow everyone to return. It should not matter that they are Jewish.”

Israel, of course, refuses to allow Palestinian refugees from 1948 to return to their homes in Israel proper, despite evidence from scholars such as the Israeli Ilan Pappe as to how their accomodation could be perfectly feasible. Allowing Jews to return to Iraq would not only be just, but would put pressure on Israel to treat the Palestinians more fairly. But I suppose that’s a bit too subtle for some.

One Response

  1. […] as I’ve noted before, was the only member of the Council to argue for exiled Iraqi Jews being allowed to come home – […]

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