Mr. Edwin Black at the
Magen David Sephardic Congregation

Sephardic Congregation Magen David

On November 14, 2004 a delegation from the ISFSP met Mr. Edwin Black at the Magen David Sephardic Congregation in Rockville, Maryland for an event organized by of Magen David Sephardic Congregation. This event was televised on December 27, 2004 on C-Span.

Audio Clips of the Lecture (Low Quality for Fast Loading)

Audio Clip 1 Explaining Ottoman land rights; Berlin to Baghdad Railroad; oil rights; Relations between Sultan and Germans; Britain wanting to convert navy from coal to oil; Oil had been found in Iraq; oil concessions; WWI breaks out 1914; British takes Iraq for oil, announce: "Our armies come not as conquerors but liberators." 5,902KB WAV

Audio Clip 2 Anglo-Persian oil grabbed small German oil company called British Petroleum; creating the Arab nations (for oil); Arabs wanted Damascus; British promised them Damascus, but France took it; July 24, 1920 it was announced Arabs do not get Damascus; same day July 24, 1920 jihad against the west started and continues today in our modern day. Oil pipeline across Syria; July 24, 1920 French kick Arabs out of Syria; July 24, 1920 8,000 Arabs on camels killed by French machine guns; Arabs consider 1920 "year of the catastrophe"; Arabs conflated oil, Christian Europeans and Jews as the Great Satan. 4,878KB WAV

Audio Clip 3 Mufti of Jerusalem works hand in hand with Hitler to seek the Arab nationalism which British did not give them and to kill all Jews in exchange for Iraqi oil. 2,088KB WAV

Audio Clip 4 Background on the Jews of Iraq, 2,600 year old community; June 1, 1941: Jews returning from the Baghdad airport to greet the returning Regent Abdul al-Ilah, ruler of Iraq, was all the excuse an Iraqi mob needed to unleash its vengeance. 1,128KB WAV

Audio Clip 5 The attack began at 3 p.m., as the Jewish delegation crossed Baghdad’s Al Khurr Bridge. Violence quickly spread to the Al Rusafa and Abu Sifyan districts. The frenzied mob murdered Jews openly on the streets. Women were raped and infants were killed as their horrified families looked on. Torture and mutilation followed. Jewish shops were looted and torched. A synagogue was invaded, burned, and its Torahs destroyed in classic Nazi fashion; Anti-Zionists to Zionists; Jews leave Iraq. 1,912KB WAV

Audio Clip 6 Israel absorbs Iraqi Jews; explains present situation of Jews in Israel is linked to the history discussed. 1,126KB WAV

Mr. Black spoke of how for 2,600 years the Jews of Iraq had dwelled successfully in the land of Babylon, achieving as much acceptance and financial success as a non-Muslim group could in an Islamic society that despised infidels. He told how Iraqi Jews were well entrenched at all levels of farming, banking, commerce and the government bureaucracy. How they virtually invented the modern Iraqi monetary and financial system after that nation emerged from the British mandate in 1932 and how Jews contributed vibrantly to the arts and were the heart of Iraq's international commerce. He went on to discuss how with the outbreak of World War II, it all began to change. On Oct. 13, 1939, just six weeks after the war began, the mufti of Jerusalem slipped into Baghdad to make Iraq his new base. From Baghdad, the mufti repeated his Palestine incitements, launching a venomous and unrelenting campaign against Iraq's Jewish community, accusing them of a Zionist plot to dominate Iraq and the wider Middle East. Although Zionism was never defined, every Jew was thought to be a Zionist, thereby criminalizing every Jew. Hundreds of Jews were arrested, tortured until they confessed, and sentenced to long jail terms. By October 1948, all Jews holding government positions -- an estimated 1,500 -- were summarily dismissed. There followed an organized boycott and systematic expulsion of Jews from Iraq's commercial and cultural mainstream. Many purged Jewish government employees, highly skilled and well paid. Now destitute, they were reduced to selling matches on the streets to avoid being arrested for vagrancy. Mr. Black told how an estimated 130,000 Jews lived in the Iraq of 1949, half in Baghdad. The Baghdad Chamber of Commerce listed 2,430 member companies; a third were Jewish. In fact, a third of the chamber's board and almost all its employees were Jewish. In his lecture, Black told how the Iraqi Jewish community was all but destroyed by the Iraqi Muslim relations with Germany.

In the audience were many notable personalities including Carole Basri of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries. Ms. Basri is a well known advocate for Arab Jewry, known worldwide for her activities which have supported the Iraqi Jewish community. A descendant of the esteemed Iny and Dangoor families of Baghdad, Carole Basri is the Alternative Representation to the United Nations of the World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC), a group dedicated to raising awareness for the nearly one million Jewish refugees from Arab lands.

Many Iraqi Jews were in the audience and praising Mr. Black they appreciated his discussion which spoke of their plight which has been essentially lost to history. Together with Mrs. Shirazi, the members of Magen David Sephardic Congregation put together a fabulous event which served the purpose of educating the community and bringing hot issues of the day into historic context.

Photo 1: Edwin Black speaking to the audience. Photo 2: Edwin Black speaking to the audience.

 Banking on Baghdad by Edwin Black


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