Living in fear: Iraq's last Jews

Iraq's remaining Jews live in the shadow of rising Islamic extremism and daily terror attacks.

David Rosenberg,

Iraqi security forces in Baghdad (file)
Iraqi security forces in Baghdad (file)
Reuters

As Sunni and Shi’ite militias slaughter one another across the city, in the heart of terror-ridden Baghdad there are eight residents hiding a dangerous secret.

Eight Baghdadi Jews are believed to be the last Jews in Iraq, a community that once numbered well over 130,000 and was one of the oldest Jewish Diaspora communities in the world.

Today the remnants of Iraq’s Jewish community live in constant fear as terrorism rages throughout Baghdad and Islamic extremism is on the rise.

"We live in fear every day,” one 60-year-old woman told the Hebrew NRG news site. The woman, who works as a dentist, described the frightening reality of terrorism in Baghdad. “Terrorism is running rampant in the streets,” she said.

Those who remain in Iraq are elderly and single, with no family to care for them. Seven of the eight are women.

The woman noted that while conditions are difficult in Iraq, they are able to survive thanks to their neighbors and with the help of one member of the Iraqi parliament.

The Iraqi Parliament Member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, met with Israeli Knesset Member Ayoub Kara (Likud), a member of the Druze community, during a trip to New Delhi.

Along with working to ensure the safety of Iraq’s surviving Jews, the MP is also working to restore Iraq’s Jewish institutions and protect Jewish-owned property.

“I discovered that the last remaining Jewish institutions in Iraq haven’t been maintained, they’re in ruins. That includes the great synagogues and Jewish cemeteries; which is very different from [the situation with] institutions belonging to other minority groups, notably the Christian community, whose buildings were rebuilt and cared for well since Saddam Hussein was in power.”

While Iraq was home to one of the largest Jewish communities in the Middle East, the vast majority fled following the establishment of the State of Israel. Today, the descendants of Iraq’s Jewish community number some 900,000, most of whom live in Israel.




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