For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Nothing convinced the ancient Jewish community of Iraq to emigrate en masse to Israel more than the terrible events of 1 - 2 June 1941 known as The Farhud. Philip Mendes wrote this review of Al-Farhud: The 1941 Pogrom in Iraq* edited by Shmuel Moreh and Zvi Yehuda for the Australian Journal of Jewish Studies ( Vol.24, 2010, pp.176-179):
To date, international concern with Middle East refugees has focused primarily on the approximately 700,000 Palestinian Arabs who left Israel during the 1947-48 war. Far less attention has been paid to the nearly one million Jews – known as Mizrahim - who left Arab countries in the decade or so following that war. Most moved to the newly-created Jewish State of Israel where today they constitute the majority of the Jewish population, and often lean towards the hawkish side of the political spectrum.
The mass exodus of the previously large and prosperous Jewish community of Iraq seems to have been a particularly sad example of Arab intolerance. A newly edited book by the Israeli academics Shmuel Moreh and Zvi Yehuda, Al-Farhud: the 1941 pogrom in Iraq, sheds new light on the causes of the Farhud which seems to have been a key factor in provoking the later exodus. This volume contains both new papers on the pogrom and reproductions of earlier published articles.
The Iraqi Jews were a well-integrated community who could date their heritage back to the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. However, the security and confidence of Iraqi Jews was shattered by the pro-German military coup of April 1941 headed by Rashid Ali al-Kaylani. The coup leaders were quickly defeated and exiled by a British army occupation, but their departure was followed by a large-scale Farhud or pogrom against the Jews of Baghdad.
Shmuel Moreh describes Farhud as an Arabized Kurdish word which means unrestrained massacre, burning, looting and rape by hooligans. Over 170 Jews were murdered, several hundred injured, and numerous Jewish properties, businesses and religious institutions damaged and looted. The Farhud was perpetrated by Iraqi officers, police, and gangs of young people including women (which was unusual for Arab society) influenced by religious and nationalist fanaticism, and the popular perception of a Jewish alignment with Britain. These groups rejected the presence of national or religious minorities in the Arab world, and regarded the Jews as a fifth column sympathetic to the Western powers.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"