The Passing of One of Iraq’s Last Jews
Sunset over Baghdad. (Pixabay)

The Passing of One of Iraq’s Last Jews

Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egypt, April 23

 Last week, Dr. Dhafar Fouad Eliyahu, a Jewish doctor living in Baghdad, passed away. With his death, there are now believed to be only three Iraqi Jews still left in Baghdad. One could probably count the Jews left in all of Iraq on one hand! This remarkable figure reminds us that even in Egypt there are only a handful of Jews left, led by Ms. Magda Shehata Haroun, who serves as the president of the Egyptian Jewish community. When the “Islamic” State started taking over Iraqi territory, the administration of the city of Mosul announced that the city had been successfully emptied of Christians and that ISIS will find those left behind and pursue them until they flee. I put the word “Islamic” in quotation marks because what ISIS represents isn’t part of Islam. The name “the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” is invalid, since Islam never called to persecute members of other religions. Islam was never about killing Jews or chasing Christians. When Pope Francis visited Iraq two months ago, he made sure to visit the city of Ur in the South, where Abraham, peace be upon him, was born. The pope’s goal was to send a clear message that Iraq can be the home for all Abrahamic faiths, not just Muslims. Throughout Egypt’s history, Jews have been highly involved in culture, society and politics. Yusuf Aslan Qattawi Pasha, for example, was a notable leader of Cairo’s Jewish community who was appointed to the Egyptian Senate by King Fuad. Jews were involved in drafting the constitution of 1923, and had been integral members of Egyptian society for many decades. During the days of the Khedive Isma’il Pasha, the noble Al-Azhar Sheikh maintained a close relationship with Egypt’s Coptic Patriarch and the Chief Rabbi. Granted, it is important to make the distinction between Arab Jews who were loyal to their nations and called for peace and coexistence, and the Zionist Jews who called for aggression and occupation of Arab lands. However, most Jews who lived in the Arab world were patriotic citizens of their respective countries. And their presence in our societies was a source of strength; not a weakness. – Suleiman Jawdah (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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