In our previous Link, Israeli
historian Ilan Pappe looked at the hundreds of thousands of
indigenous Palestinians whose lives were uprooted to make room for
foreigners who would come to populate confiscated land. Most were
Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe. But over half a million other
Jews came from Islamic lands. Zionist propagandists claim that
Israel "rescued" these Jews from their anti-Jewish, Muslim
neighbors. One of those "rescued" Jews-Naeim Giladi-knows
The Giladis, now U.S. citizens,
live in New York City. By choice, they no longer hold Israeli
citizenship. "I am Iraqi," he told us, "born in Iraq,
my culture still Iraqi Arabic, my religion Jewish, my citizenship
Of course I thought I knew it all back then. I was young, idealistic, and
more than willing to put my life at risk for my convictions. It was 1947
and I wasn't quite 18 when the Iraqi authorities caught me for smuggling
young Iraqi Jews like myself out of Iraq, into Iran, and then on to the
Promised Land of the soon-to-be established Israel.
I was an Iraqi Jew in the Zionist underground. My Iraqi
jailers did everything they could to extract the names of my
co-conspirators. Fifty years later, pain still throbs in my right toe-a
reminder of the day my captors used pliers to remove my toenails. On
another occasion, they hauled me to the flat roof of the prison, stripped
me bare on a frigid January day, then threw a bucket of cold water over
me. I was left there, chained to the railing, for hours. But I never once
considered giving them the information they wanted. I was a true believer.
My preoccupation during what I refer to as my "two
years in hell" was with survival and escape. I had no interest then
in the broad sweep of Jewish history in Iraq even though my family had
been part of it right from the beginning. We were originally Haroons, a
large and important family of the "Babylonian Diaspora." My
ancestors had settled in Iraq more than 2,600 years ago-600 years before
Christianity, and 1,200 years before Islam. I am descended from Jews who
built the tomb of Yehezkel, a Jewish prophet of pre-biblical times. My
town, where I was born in 1929, is Hillah, not far from the ancient site
The original Jews found Babylon, with its nourishing
Tigris and Euphrates rivers, to be truly a land of milk, honey,
abundance-and opportunity. Although Jews, like other minorities in what
became Iraq, experienced periods of oppression and discrimination
depending on the rulers of the period, their general trajectory over two
and one-half millennia was upward. Under the late Ottoman rule, for
example, Jewish social and religious institutions, schools, and medical
facilities flourished without outside interference, and Jews were
prominent in government and business.
As I sat there in my cell, unaware that a death
sentence soon would be handed down against me, I could not have recounted
any personal grievances that my family members would have lodged against
the government or the Muslim majority. Our family had been treated well
and had prospered, first as farmers with some 50,000 acres devoted to
rice, dates and Arab horses. Then, with the Ottomans, we bought and
purified gold that was shipped to Istanbul and turned into coinage. The
Turks were responsible in fact for changing our name to reflect our
occupation-we became Khalaschi, meaning "Makers of Pure."
I did not volunteer the information to my father that I
had joined the Zionist underground. He found out several months before I
was arrested when he saw me writing Hebrew and using words and expressions
unfamiliar to him. He was even more surprised to learn that, yes, I had
decided I would soon move to Israel myself. He was scornful. "You'll
come back with your tail between your legs," he predicted.
About 125,000 Jews left Iraq for Israel in the late
1940s and into 1952, most because they had been lied to and put into a
panic by what I came to learn were Zionist bombs. But my mother and father
were among the 6,000 who did not go to Israel. Although physically I never
did return to Iraq-that bridge had been burned in any event-my heart has
made the journey there many, many times. My father had it right.
I was imprisoned at the military camp of Abu-Greib,
about 7 miles from Baghdad. When the military court handed down my
sentence of death by hanging, I had nothing to lose by attempting the
escape I had been planning for many months.
It was a strange recipe for an escape: a dab of butter,
an orange peel, and some army clothing that I had asked a friend to buy
for me at a flea market. I deliberately ate as much bread as I could to
put on fat in anticipation of the day I became 18, when they could
formally charge me with a crime and attach the 50-pound ball and chain
that was standard prisoner issue.
Later, after my leg had been shackled, I went on a
starvation diet that often left me weak-kneed. The pat of butter was to
lubricate my leg in preparation for extricating it from the metal band.
The orange peel I surreptitiously stuck into the lock on the night of my
planned escape, having studied how it could be placed in such a way as to
keep the lock from closing.
As the jailers turned to go after locking up, I put on
the old army issue that was indistinguishable from what they were
wearing-a long, green coat and a stocking cap that I pulled down over much
of my face (it was winter). Then I just quietly opened the door and joined
the departing group of soldiers as they strode down the hall and outside,
and I offered a "good night" to the shift guard as I left. A
friend with a car was waiting to speed me away.
Later I made my way to the new state of Israel,
arriving in May, 1950. My passport had my name in Arabic and English, but
the English couldn't capture the "kh" sound, so it was rendered
simply as Klaski. At the border, the immigration people applied the
English version, which had an Eastern European, Ashkenazi ring to it. In
one way, this "mistake" was my key to discovering very soon just
how the Israeli caste system worked.
They asked me where I wanted to go and what I wanted to
do. I was the son of a farmer; I knew all the problems of the farm, so I
volunteered to go to Dafnah, a farming kibbutz in the high Galilee. I only
lasted a few weeks. The new immigrants were given the worst of everything.
The food was the same, but that was the only thing that everyone had in
common. For the immigrants, bad cigarettes, even bad toothpaste.
Everything. I left.
Then, through the Jewish Agency, I was advised to go to al-Majdal (later
renamed Ashkelon), an Arab town about 9 miles from Gaza, very close to the
Mediterranean. The Israeli government planned to turn it into a farmers'
city, so my farm background would be an asset there.
When I reported to the Labor Office in al-Majdal, they
saw that I could read and write Arabic and Hebrew and they said that I
could find a good-paying job with the Military Governor's office. The
Arabs were under the authority of these Israeli Military Governors. A
clerk handed me a bunch of forms in Arabic and Hebrew. Now it dawned on
me. Before Israel could establish its farmers' city, it had to rid
al-Majdal of its indigenous Palestinians. The forms were petitions to the
United Nations Inspectors asking for transfer out of Israel to Gaza, which
was under Egyptian control.
I read over the petition. In signing, the Palestinian
would be saying that he was of sound mind and body and was making the
request for transfer free of pressure or duress. Of course, there was no
way that they would leave without being pressured to do so. These families
had been there hundreds of years, as farmers, primitive artisans, weavers.
The Military Governor prohibited them from pursuing their livelihoods,
just penned them up until they lost hope of resuming their normal lives.
That's when they signed to leave.
I was there and heard their grief. "Our hearts are
in pain when we look at the orange trees that we planted with our own
hands. Please let us go, let us give water to those trees. God will not be
pleased with us if we leave His trees untended." I asked the Military
Governor to give them relief, but he said, "No, we want them to
I could no longer be part of this oppression and I
left. Those Palestinians who didn't sign up for transfers were taken by
force-just put in trucks and dumped in Gaza. About four thousand people
were driven from al-Majdal in one way or another. The few who remained
were collaborators with the Israeli authorities.
Subsequently, I wrote letters trying to get a
government job elsewhere and I got many immediate responses asking me to
come for an interview. Then they would discover that my face didn't match
my Polish/Ashkenazi name. They would ask if I spoke Yiddish or Polish, and
when I said I didn't, they would ask where I came by a Polish name.
Desperate for a good job, I would usually say that I thought my
great-grandfather was from Poland. I was advised time and again that
"we'll give you a call."
Eventually, three to four years after coming to Israel,
I changed my name to Giladi, which is close to the code name, Gilad, that
I had in the Zionist underground. Klaski wasn't doing me any good anyway,
and my Eastern friends were always chiding me about the name they knew
didn't go with my origins as an Iraqi Jew.
I was disillusioned at what I found in the Promised Land, disillusioned
personally, disillusioned at the institutionalized racism, disillusioned
at what I was beginning to learn about Zionism's cruelties. The principal
interest Israel had in Jews from Islamic countries was as a supply of
cheap labor, especially for the farm work that was beneath the urbanized
Eastern European Jews. Ben Gurion needed the "Oriental" Jews to
farm the thousands of acres of land left by Palestinians who were driven
out by Israeli forces in 1948.
And I began to find out about the barbaric methods used
to rid the fledgling state of as many Palestinians as possible. The world
recoils today at the thought of bacteriological warfare, but Israel was
probably the first to actually use it in the Middle East. In the 1948 war,
Jewish forces would empty Arab villages of their populations, often by
threats, sometimes by just gunning down a half-dozen unarmed Arabs as
examples to the rest. To make sure the Arabs couldn't return to make a
fresh life for themselves in these villages, the Israelis put typhus and
dysentery bacteria into the water wells.
Uri Mileshtin, an official historian for the Israeli
Defense Force, has written and spoken about the use of bacteriological
agents. According to Mileshtin, Moshe Dayan, a division commander at the
time, gave orders in 1948 to remove Arabs from their villages, bulldoze
their homes, and render water wells unusable with typhus and dysentery
Acre was so situated that it could practically defend
itself with one big gun, so the Haganah put bacteria into the spring that
fed the town. The spring was called Capri and it ran from the north near a
kibbutz. The Haganah put typhus bacteria into the water going to Acre, the
people got sick, and the Jewish forces occupied Acre. This worked so well
that they sent a Haganah division dressed as Arabs into Gaza, where there
were Egyptian forces, and the Egyptians caught them putting two cans of
bacteria, typhus and dysentery, into the water supply in wanton disregard
of the civilian population. "In war, there is no sentiment," one
of the captured Haganah men was quoted as saying.
My activism in Israel began shortly after I received a
letter from the Socialist/Zionist Party asking me to help with their
Arabic newspaper. When I showed up at their offices at Central House in
Tel Aviv, I asked around to see just where I should report. I showed the
letter to a couple of people there and, without even looking at it, they
would motion me away with the words, "Room No. 8." When I saw
that they weren't even reading the letter, I inquired of several others.
But the response was the same, "Room No. 8," with not a glance
at the paper I put in front of them.
So I went to Room 8 and saw that it was the Department
of Jews from Islamic Countries. I was disgusted and angry. Either I am a
member of the party or I'm not. Do I have a different ideology or
different politics because I am an Arab Jew? It's segregation, I thought,
just like a Negroes' Department. I turned around and walked out. That was
the start of my open protests. That same year I organized a demonstration
in Ashkelon against Ben Gurion's racist policies and 10,000 people turned
There wasn't much opportunity for those of us who were
second class citizens to do much about it when Israel was on a war footing
with outside enemies. After the 1967 war, I was in the Army myself and
served in the Sinai when there was continued fighting along the Suez
Canal. But the cease-fire with Egypt in 1970 gave us our opening. We took
to the streets and organized politically to demand equal rights. If it's
our country, if we were expected to risk our lives in a border war, then
we expected equal treatment.
We mounted the struggle so tenaciously and received so
much publicity that the Israeli government tried to discredit our movement
by calling us "Israel's Black Panthers." They were thinking in
racist terms, really, in assuming the Israeli public would reject an
organization whose ideology was being compared to that of radical blacks
in the United States. But we saw that what we were doing was no different
than what blacks in the United States were fighting against-segregation,
discrimination, unequal treatment. Rather than reject the label, we
adopted it proudly. I had posters of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Nelson
Mandela and other civil rights activists plastered all over my office.
With the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the
Israeli-condoned Sabra and Shatilla massacres, I had had enough of Israel.
I became a United States citizen and made certain to revoke my Israeli
citizenship. I could never have written and published my book in Israel,
not with the censorship they would impose.
Even in America, I had great difficulty finding a
publisher because many are subject to pressures of one kind or another
from Israel and its friends. I ended up paying $60,000 from my own pocket
to publish Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah & the Mossad
Eliminated Jews, virtually the entire proceeds from having sold my house
I still was afraid that the printer would back out or
that legal proceedings would be initiated to stop its publication, like
the Israeli government did in an attempt to prevent former Mossad case
officer Victor Ostrovsky from publishing his first book. Ben Gurion's
Scandals had to be translated into English from two languages. I wrote in
Hebrew when I was in Israel and hoped to publish the book there, and I
wrote in Arabic when I was completing the book after coming to the U.S.
But I was so worried that something would stop publication that I told the
printer not to wait for the translations to be thoroughly checked and
proofread. Now I realize that the publicity of a lawsuit would just have
created a controversial interest in the book.
I am using bank vault storage for the valuable
documents that back up what I have written. These documents, including
some that I illegally copied from the archives at Yad Vashem, confirm what
I saw myself, what I was told by other witnesses, and what reputable
historians and others have written concerning the Zionist bombings in
Iraq, Arab peace overtures that were rebuffed, and incidents of violence
and death inflicted by Jews on Jews in the cause of creating Israel.
The Riots of 1941
If, as I have said, my family in Iraq was not persecuted personally and I
knew no deprivation as a member of the Jewish minority, what led me to the
steps of the gallows as a member of the Zionist underground? To answer
that question, it is necessary to establish the context of the massacre
that occurred in Baghdad on June 1, 1941, when several hundred Iraqi Jews
were killed in riots involving junior officers of the Iraqi army. I was 12
years of age and many of those killed were my friends. I was angry, and
What I didn't know at the time was that the riots most
likely were stirred up by the British, in collusion with a pro-British
With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire following WW I,
Iraq came under British "tutelage." Amir Faisal, son of Sharif
Hussein who had led the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman sultan, was
brought in from Mecca by the British to become King of Iraq in 1921. Many
Jews were appointed to key administrative posts, including that of
economics minister. Britain retained final authority over domestic and
external affairs. Britain's pro-Zionist attitude in Palestine, however,
triggered a growing anti-Zionist backlash in Iraq, as it did in all Arab
countries. Writing at the end of 1934, Sir Francis Humphreys, Britain's
Ambassador in Baghdad, noted that, while before WW I Iraqi Jews had
enjoyed a more favorable position than any other minority in the country,
since then "Zionism has sown dissension between Jews and Arabs, and a
bitterness has grown up between the two peoples which did not previously
King Faisal died in 1933. He was succeeded by his son
Ghazi, who died in a motor car accident in 1939. The crown then passed to
Ghazi's 4-year-old son, Faisal II, whose uncle, Abd al-Ilah, was named
regent. Abd al-Ilah selected Nouri el-Said as prime minister. El-Said
supported the British and, as hatred of the British grew, he was forced
from office in March 1940 by four senior army officers who advocated
Iraq's independence from Britain. Calling themselves the Golden Square,
the officers compelled the regent to name as prime minister Rashid Ali
al-Kilani, leader of the National Brotherhood party.
The time was 1940 and Britain was reeling from a strong
German offensive. Al-Kilani and the Golden Square saw this as their
opportunity to rid themselves of the British once and for all. Cautiously
they began to negotiate for German support, which led the pro-British
regent Abd al-Ilah to dismiss al-Kilani in January 1941. By April,
however, the Golden Square officers had reinstated the prime minister.
This provoked the British to send a military force into
Basra on April 12, 1941. Basra, Iraq's second largest city, had a Jewish
population of 30,000. Most of these Jews made their livings from
import/export, money changing, retailing, as workers in the airports,
railways, and ports, or as senior government employees.
On the same day, April 12, supporters of the
pro-British regent notified the Jewish leaders that the regent wanted to
meet with them. As was their custom, the leaders brought flowers for the
regent. Contrary to custom, however, the cars that drove them to the
meeting place dropped them off at the site where the British soldiers were
Photographs of the Jews appeared in the following day's
newspapers with the banner "Basra Jews Receive British Troops with
Flowers." That same day, April 13, groups of angry Arab youths set
about to take revenge against the Jews. Several Muslim notables in Basra
heard of the plan and calmed things down. Later, it was learned that the
regent was not in Basra at all and that the matter was a provocation by
his pro-British supporters to bring about an ethnic war in order to give
the British army a pretext to intervene.
The British continued to land more forces in and around
Basra. On May 7, 1941, their Gurkha unit, composed of Indian soldiers from
that ethnic group, occupied Basra's el-Oshar quarter, a neighborhood with
a large Jewish population. The soldiers, led by British officers, began
looting. Many shops in the commercial district were plundered. Private
homes were broken into. Cases of attempted rape were reported. Local
residents, Jews and Muslims, responded with pistols and old rifles, but
their bullets were no match for the soldiers' Tommy Guns.
Afterwards, it was learned that the soldiers acted with
the acquiescence, if not the blessing, of their British commanders. (It
should be remembered that the Indian soldiers, especially those of the
Gurkha unit, were known for their discipline, and it is highly unlikely
they would have acted so riotously without orders.) The British goal
clearly was to create chaos and to blacken the image of the
pro-nationalist regime in Baghdad, thereby giving the British forces
reason to proceed to the capital and to overthrow the al-Kilani
Baghdad fell on May 30. Al-Kilani fled to Iran, along
with the Golden Square officers. Radio stations run by the British
reported that Regent Abd al-Ilah would be returning to the city and that
thousands of Jews and others were planning to welcome him. What inflamed
young Iraqis against the Jews most, however, was the radio announcer Yunas
Bahri on the German station "Berlin," who reported in Arabic
that Jews from Palestine were fighting alongside the British against Iraqi
soldiers near the city of Faluja. The report was false.
On Sunday, June 1, unarmed fighting broke out in
Baghdad between Jews who were still celebrating their Shabuoth holiday and
young Iraqis who thought the Jews were celebrating the return of the
pro-British regent. That evening, a group of Iraqis stopped a bus, removed
the Jewish passengers, murdered one and fatally wounded a second.
About 8:30 the following morning, some 30 individuals
in military and police uniforms opened fire along el-Amin street, a small
downtown street whose jewelry, tailor and grocery shops were Jewish-owned.
By 11 a.m., mobs of Iraqis with knives, switchblades and clubs were
attacking Jewish homes in the area.
The riots continued throughout Monday, June 2. During
this time, many Muslims rose to defend their Jewish neighbors, while some
Jews successfully defended themselves. There were 124 killed and 400
injured, according to a report written by a Jewish Agency messenger who
was in Iraq at the time. Other estimates, possibly less reliable, put the
death toll higher, as many as 500, with from 650 to 2,000 injured. From
500 to 1,300 stores and more than 1,000 homes and apartments were looted.
Who was behind the rioting in the Jewish quarter?
Meir, one of the most prominent activists in the Zionist underground
movement in Iraq, known then as Yehoshafat, claims it was the British.
Meir, who now works for the Israeli Defense Ministry, argues that, in
order to make it appear that the regent was returning as the savior who
would reestablish law and order, the British stirred up the riots against
the most vulnerable and visible segment in the city, the Jews. And, not
surprisingly, the riots ended as soon as the regent's loyal soldiers
entered the capital.
My own investigations as a journalist lead me to
believe Meir is correct. Furthermore, I think his claims should be seen as
based on documents in the archives of the Israeli Defense Ministry, the
agency that published his book. Yet, even before his book came out, I had
independent confirmation from a man I met in Iran in the late Forties.
His name was Michael Timosian, an Iraqi Armenian. When
I met him he was working as a male nurse at the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company
in Abadan in the south of Iran. On June 2, 1941, however, he was working
at the Baghdad hospital where many of the riot victims were brought. Most
of these victims were Jews.
Timosian said he was particularly interested in two
patients whose conduct did not follow local custom. One had been hit by a
bullet in his shoulder, the other by a bullet in his right knee. After the
doctor removed the bullets, the staff tried to change their blood-soaked
cloths. But the two men fought off their efforts, pretending to be
speechless, although tests showed they could hear. To pacify them, the
doctor injected them with anesthetics and, as they were sleeping, Timosian
changed their cloths. He discovered that one of them had around his neck
an identification tag of the type used by British troops, while the other
had tattoos with Indian script on his right arm along with the familiar
sword of the Gurkha.
The next day when Timosian showed up for work, he was
told that a British officer, his sergeant and two Indian Gurkha soldiers
had come to the hospital early that morning. Staff members overheard the
Gurkha soldiers talking with the wounded patients, who were not as dumb as
they had pretended. The patients saluted the visitors, covered themselves
with sheets and, without signing the required release forms, left the
hospital with their visitors.
Today there is no doubt in my mind that the anti-Jewish
riots of 1941 were orchestrated by the British for geopolitical ends.
David Kimche is certainly a man who was in a position to know the truth,
and he has spoken publicly about British culpability. Kimche had been with
British Intelligence during WW II and with the Mossad after the war. Later
he became Director General of Israel's Foreign Ministry, the position he
held in 1982 when he addressed a forum at the British Institute for
International Affairs in London.
In responding to hostile questions about Israel's
invasion of Lebanon and the refugee camp massacres in Beirut, Kimche went
on the attack, reminding the audience that there was scant concern in the
British Foreign Office when British Gurkha units participated in the
murder of 500 Jews in the streets of Baghdad in 1941.
The Bombings of 1950-1951
The anti-Jewish riots of 1941 did more than create a
pretext for the British to enter Baghdad to reinstate the pro-British
regent and his pro-British prime minister, Nouri el-Said. They also gave
the Zionists in Palestine a pretext to set up a Zionist underground in
Iraq, first in Baghdad, then in other cities such as Basra, Amara, Hillah,
Diwaneia, Abril and Karkouk.
Following WW II, a succession of governments held brief
power in Iraq. Zionist conquests in Palestine, particularly the massacre
of Palestinians in the village of Deir Yassin, emboldened the anti-British
movement in Iraq. When the Iraqi government signed a new treaty of
friendship with London in January 1948, riots broke out all over the
country. The treaty was quickly abandoned and Baghdad demanded removal of
the British military mission that had run Iraq's army for 27 years.
Later in 1948, Baghdad sent an army detachment to
Palestine to fight the Zionists, and when Israel declared independence in
May, Iraq closed the pipeline that fed its oil to Haifa's refinery. Abd
al-Ilah, however, was still regent and the British quisling, Nouri
el-Said, was back as prime minister. I was in the Abu-Greib prison in
1948, where I would remain until my escape to Iran in September 1949.
Six months later-the exact date was March 19, 1950-a
bomb went off at the American Cultural Center and Library in Baghdad,
causing property damage and injuring a number of people. The center was a
favorite meeting place for young Jews.
The first bomb thrown directly at Jews occurred on
April 8, 1950, at 9:15 p.m. A car with three young passengers hurled the
grenade at Baghdad's El-Dar El-Bida Café, where Jews were celebrating
Passover. Four people were seriously injured. That night leaflets were
distributed calling on Jews to leave Iraq immediately.
The next day, many Jews, most of them poor with nothing
to lose, jammed emigration offices to renounce their citizenship and to
apply for permission to leave for Israel. So many applied, in fact, that
the police had to open registration offices in Jewish schools and
On May 10, at 3 a.m., a grenade was tossed in the
direction of the display window of the Jewish-owned Beit-Lawi Automobile
Company, destroying part of the building. No casualties were reported.
On June 3, 1950, another grenade was tossed from a
speeding car in the El-Batawin area of Baghdad where most rich Jews and
middle class Iraqis lived. No one was hurt, but following the explosion
Zionist activists sent telegrams to Israel requesting that the quota for
immigration from Iraq be increased.
On June 5, at 2:30 a.m., a bomb exploded next to the
Jewish-owned Stanley Shashua building on El-Rashid street, resulting in
property damage but no casualties.
On January 14, 1951, at 7 p.m., a grenade was thrown at
a group of Jews outside the Masouda Shem-Tov Synagogue. The explosive
struck a high-voltage cable, electrocuting three Jews, one a young boy,
Itzhak Elmacher, and wounding over 30 others. Following the attack, the
exodus of Jews jumped to between 600-700 per day.
Zionist propagandists still maintain that the bombs in
Iraq were set off by anti-Jewish Iraqis who wanted Jews out of their
country. The terrible truth is that the grenades that killed and maimed
Iraqi Jews and damaged their property were thrown by Zionist Jews.
Among the most important documents in my book, I
believe, are copies of two leaflets published by the Zionist underground
calling on Jews to leave Iraq. One is dated March 16, 1950, the other
April 8, 1950.
The difference between these two is critical. Both
indicate the date of publication, but only the April 8th leaflet notes the
time of day: 4 p.m. Why the time of day? Such a specification was
unprecedented. Even the investigating judge, Salaman El-Beit, found it
suspicious. Did the 4 p.m. writers want an alibi for a bombing they knew
would occur five hours later? If so, how did they know about the bombing?
The judge concluded they knew because a connection existed between the
Zionist underground and the bomb throwers.
This, too, was the conclusion of Wilbur Crane Eveland,
a former senior officer in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), whom I
had the opportunity to meet in New York in 1988. In his book, Ropes of
Sand, whose publication the CIA opposed, Eveland writes:
In attempts to portray the Iraqis as anti-American and
to terrorize the Jews, the Zionists planted bombs in the U.S. Information
Service library and in synagogues. Soon leaflets began to appear urging
Jews to flee to Israel. . . . Although the Iraqi police later provided our
embassy with evidence to show that the synagogue and library bombings, as
well as the anti-Jewish and anti-American leaflet campaigns, had been the
work of an underground Zionist organization, most of the world believed
reports that Arab terrorism had motivated the flight of the Iraqi Jews
whom the Zionists had "rescued" really just in order to increase
Israel's Jewish population."
Eveland doesn't detail the evidence linking the
Zionists to the attacks, but in my book I do. In 1955, for example, I
organized in Israel a panel of Jewish attorneys of Iraqi origin to handle
claims of Iraqi Jews who still had property in Iraq. One well known
attorney, who asked that I not give his name, confided in me that the
laboratory tests in Iraq had confirmed that the anti-American leaflets
found at the American Cultural Center bombing were typed on the same
typewriter and duplicated on the same stenciling machine as the leaflets
distributed by the Zionist movement just before the April 8th bombing.
Tests also showed that the type of explosive used in
the Beit-Lawi attack matched traces of explosives found in the suitcase of
an Iraqi Jew by the name of Yosef Basri. Basri, a lawyer, together with
Shalom Salih, a shoemaker, would be put on trial for the attacks in
December 1951 and executed the following month. Both men were members of
Hashura, the military arm of the Zionist underground. Salih ultimately
confessed that he, Basri and a third man, Yosef Habaza, carried out the
By the time of the executions in January 1952, all but
6,000 of an estimated 125,000 Iraqi Jews had fled to Israel. Moreover, the
pro-British, pro-Zionist puppet el-Said saw to it that all of their
possessions were frozen, including their cash assets. (There were ways of
getting Iraqi dinars out, but when the immigrants went to exchange them in
Israel they found that the Israeli government kept 50 percent of the
value.) Even those Iraqi Jews who had not registered to emigrate, but who
happened to be abroad, faced loss of their nationality if they didn't
return within a specified time. An ancient, cultured, prosperous community
had been uprooted and its people transplanted to a land dominated by East
European Jews, whose culture was not only foreign but entirely hateful to
The Ultimate Criminals
From the start they knew that
in order to establish a Jewish state they had to expel the indigenous
Palestinian population to the neighboring Islamic states and import Jews
from these same states.
Theodor Herzl, the architect of Zionism, thought it
could be done by social engineering. In his diary entry for 12 June 1885,
he wrote that Zionist settlers would have to "spirit the penniless
population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit
countries, while denying it any employment in our own country."
* Vladimir Jabotinsky, Prime Minister Netanyahu's ideological progenitor,
frankly admitted that such a transfer of populations could only be brought
about by force.
David Ben Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, told a
Zionist Conference in 1937 that any proposed Jewish state would have to
"transfer Arab populations out of the area, if possible of their own
free will, if not by coercion." After 750,000 Palestinians were
uprooted and their lands confiscated in 1948-49, Ben Gurion had to look to
the Islamic countries for Jews who could fill the resultant cheap labor
market. "Emissaries" were smuggled into these countries to
"convince" Jews to leave either by trickery or fear.
In the case of Iraq, both methods were used: uneducated
Jews were told of a Messianic Israel in which the blind see, the lame
walk, and onions grow as big as melons; educated Jews had bombs thrown at
A few years after the bombings, in the early 1950s, a
book was published in Iraq, in Arabic, titled Venom of the Zionist Viper.
The author was one of the Iraqi investigators of the 1950-51 bombings and,
in his book, he implicates the Israelis, specifically one of the
emissaries sent by Israel, Mordechai Ben-Porat. As soon as the book came
out, all copies just disappeared, even from libraries. The word was that
agents of the Israeli Mossad, working through the U.S. Embassy, bought up
all the books and destroyed them. I tried on three different occasions to
have one sent to me in Israel, but each time Israeli censors in the post
office intercepted it.
Britain always acted in its best colonial interests. For
that reason Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour sent his famous 1917 letter to
Lord Rothschild in exchange for Zionist support in WW I. During WW II the
British were primarily concerned with keeping their client states in the
Western camp, while Zionists were most concerned with the immigration of
European Jews to Palestine, even if this meant cooperating with the Nazis.
(In my book I document numerous instances of such dealings by Ben Gurion
and the Zionist leadership.)
After WW II the international chessboard pitted
communists against capitalists. In many countries, including the United
States and Iraq, Jews represented a large part of the Communist party. In
Iraq, hundreds of Jews of the working intelligentsia occupied key
positions in the hierarchy of the Communist and Socialist parties. To keep
their client countries in the capitalist camp, Britain had to make sure
these governments had pro-British leaders. And if, as in Iraq, these
leaders were overthrown, then an anti-Jewish riot or two could prove a
useful pretext to invade the capital and reinstate the "right"
Moreover, if the possibility existed of removing the
communist influence from Iraq by transferring the whole Jewish community
to Israel, well then, why not? Particularly if the leaders of Israel and
Iraq conspired in the deed.
The Iraqi Leaders:
Both the regent Abd al-Ilah
and his prime minister Nouri el- Said took directions from London. Toward
the end of 1948, el-Said, who had already met with Israel's Prime Minister
Ben Gurion in Vienna, began discussing with his Iraqi and British
associates the need for an exchange of populations. Iraq would send the
Jews in military trucks to Israel via Jordan, and Iraq would take in some
of the Palestinians Israel had been evicting. His proposal included mutual
confiscation of property. London nixed the idea as too radical.
El-Said then went to his back-up plan and began to create the conditions
that would make the lives of Iraqi Jews so miserable they would leave for
Israel. Jewish government employees were fired from their jobs; Jewish
merchants were denied import/export licenses; police began to arrest Jews
for trivial reasons. Still the Jews did not leave in any great numbers.
In September 1949, Israel sent the spy Mordechai
Ben-Porat, the one mentioned in Venom of the Zionist Viper, to Iraq. One
of the first things Ben-Porat did was to approach el-Said and promise him
financial incentives to have a law enacted that would lift the citizenship
of Iraqi Jews.
Soon after, Zionist and Iraqi representatives began
formulating a rough draft of the bill, according to the model dictated by
Israel through its agents in Baghdad. The bill was passed by the Iraqi
parliament in March 1950. It empowered the government to issue one-time
exit visas to Jews wishing to leave the country. In March, the bombings
Sixteen years later, the Israeli magazine Haolam Hazeh,
published by Uri Avnery, then a Knesset member, accused Ben-Porat of the
Baghdad bombings. Ben-Porat, who would become a Knesset member himself,
denied the charge, but never sued the magazine for libel. And Iraqi Jews
in Israel still call him Morad Abu al-Knabel, Mordechai of the Bombs.
As I said, all this went well beyond the comprehension
of a teenager. I knew Jews were being killed and an organization existed
that could lead us to the Promised Land. So I helped in the exodus to
Israel. Later, on occasions, I would bump into some of these Iraqi Jews in
Israel. Not infrequently they'd express the sentiment that they could kill
me for what I had done.
Opportunities for Peace
After the Israeli attack on the Jordanian village of
Qibya in October, 1953, Ben Gurion went into voluntary exile at the Sedeh
Boker kibbutz in the Negev. The Labor party then used to organize many
buses for people to go visit him there, where they would see the former
prime minister working with sheep. But that was only for show. Really he
was writing his diary and continuing to be active behind the scenes. I
went on such a tour.
We were told not to try to speak to Ben Gurion, but
when I saw him, I asked why, since Israel is a democracy with a
parliament, does it not have a constitution? Ben Gurion said, "Look,
boy"-I was 24 at the time-"if we have a constitution, we have to
write in it the border of our country. And this is not our border, my
dear." I asked, "Then where is the border?" He said,
"Wherever the Sahal will come, this is the border." Sahal is the
Ben Gurion told the world that Israel accepted the
partition and the Arabs rejected it. Then Israel took half of the land
that was promised to the Arab state. And still he was saying it was not
enough. Israel needed more land. How can a country make peace with its
neighbors if it wants to take their land? How can a country demand to be
secure if it won't say what borders it will be satisfied with? For such a
country, peace would be an inconvenience.
I know now that from the beginning many Arab leaders
wanted to make peace with Israel, but Israel always refused. Ben Gurion
covered this up with propaganda. He said that the Arabs wanted to drive
Israel into the sea and he called Gamal Abdel Nasser the Hitler of the
Middle East whose foremost intent was to destroy Israel. He wanted America
and Great Britain to treat Nasser like a pariah.
In 1954, it seemed that America was getting less
critical of Nasser. Then during a three-week period in July, several
terrorist bombs were set off: at the United States Information Agency
offices in Cairo and Alexandria, a British-owned theater, and the central
post office in Cairo. An attempt to firebomb a cinema in Alexandria failed
when the bomb went off in the pocket of one of the perpetrators. That led
to the discovery that the terrorists were not anti-Western Egyptians, but
were instead Israeli spies bent on souring the warming relationship
between Egypt and the United States in what came to be known as the Lavon
Ben Gurion was still living on his kibbutz. Moshe
Sharett as prime minister was in contact with Abdel Nasser through the
offices of Lord Maurice Orbach of Great Britain. Sharett asked Nasser to
be lenient with the captured spies, and Nasser did all that was in his
power to prevent a deterioration of the situation between the two
Then Ben Gurion returned as Defense Minister in
February, 1955. Later that month Israeli troops attacked Egyptian military
camps and Palestinian refugees in Gaza, killing 54 and injuring many more.
The very night of the attack, Lord Orbach was on his way to deliver a
message to Nasser, but was unable to get through because of the military
action. When Orbach telephoned, Nasser's secretary told him that the
attack proved that Israel did not want peace and that he was wasting his
time as a mediator.
In November, Ben Gurion announced in the Knesset that
he was willing to meet with Abdel Nasser anywhere and at any time for the
sake of peace and understanding. The next morning the Israeli military
attacked an Egyptian military camp in the Sabaha region.
Although Nasser felt pessimistic about achieving peace
with Israel, he continued to send other mediators to try. One was through
the American Friends Service Committee; another via the Prime Minister of
Malta, Dom Minthoff; and still another through Marshall Tito of
One that looked particularly promising was through
Dennis Hamilton, editor of The London Times. Nasser told Hamilton that if
only he could sit and talk with Ben Gurion for two or three hours, they
would be able to settle the conflict and end the state of war between the
two countries. When word of this reached Ben Gurion, he arranged to meet
with Hamilton. They decided to pursue the matter with the Israeli
ambassador in London, Arthur Luria, as liaison. On Hamilton's third trip
to Egypt, Nasser met him with the text of a Ben Gurion speech stating that
Israel would not give up an inch of land and would not take back a single
refugee. Hamilton knew that Ben Gurion with his mouth had undermined a
peace mission and missed an opportunity to settle the Israeli-Arab
Nasser even sent his friend Ibrahim Izat of the Ruz El
Yusuf weekly paper to meet with Israeli leaders in order to explore the
political atmosphere and find out why the attacks were taking place if
Israel really wanted peace. One of the men Izat met with was Yigal Yadin,
a former Chief of Staff of the army who wrote this letter to me on 14
Dear Mr. Giladi:
Your letter reminded me of an event which I nearly
forgot and of which I remember only a few details.
Ibrahim Izat came to me if I am not mistaken under
the request of the Foreign Ministry or one of its branches; he stayed in
my house and we spoke for many hours. I do not remember him saying that
he came on a mission from Nasser, but I have no doubt that he let it be
understood that this was with his knowledge or acquiescence....
When Nasser decided to nationalize the Suez Canal in
spite of opposition from the British and the French, Radio Cairo announced
If the Israeli government is not influenced by the
British and the French imperialists, it will eventually result in greater
understanding between the two states, and Egypt will reconsider Israel's
request to have access to the Suez Canal.
Israel responded that it had no designs on Egypt, but
at that very moment Israeli representatives were in France planning the
three-way attack that was to take place in October, 1956.
All the while, Ben Gurion continued to talk about the
Hitler of the Middle East. This brainwashing went on until late September,
1970, when Gamal Abdel Nasser passed away. Then, miracle of miracles,
David Ben Gurion told the press:
A week before he died I received an envoy from Abdel
Nasser who asked to meet with me urgently in order to solve the problems
between Israel and the Arab world.
The public was surprised because they didn't know that
Abdel Nasser had wanted this all along, but Israel sabotaged it.
Nasser was not the only Arab leader who wanted to make
peace with Israel. There were many others. Brigadier General Abdel Karim
Qasem, before he seized power in Iraq in July, 1958, headed an underground
organization that sent a delegation to Israel to make a secret agreement.
Ben Gurion refused even to see him. I learned about this when I was a
journalist in Israel. But whenever I tried to publish even a small part of
it, the censor would stamp it "Not Allowed."
Now, in Netanyahu, we are witnessing another attempt by
an Israeli prime minister to fake an interest in making peace. Netanyahu
and the Likud are setting Arafat up by demanding that he institute more
and more repressive measures in the interest of Israeli
"security." Sooner or later I suspect the Palestinians will have
had enough of Arafat's strong-arm methods as Israel's quisling-and he'll
be killed. Then the Israeli government will say, "See, we were ready
to give him everything. You can't trust those Arabs-they kill each other.
Now there's no one to even talk to about peace."
Alexis de Tocqueville once observed that it is easier
for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth. Certainly it
has been easier for the world to accept the Zionist lie that Jews were
evicted from Muslim lands because of anti-Semitism, and that Israelis,
never the Arabs, were the pursuers of peace. The truth is far more
discerning: bigger players on the world stage were pulling the strings.
These players, I believe, should be held accountable
for their crimes, particularly when they willfully terrorized,
dispossessed and killed innocent people on the altar of some ideological
I believe, too, that the descendants of these leaders
have a moral responsibility to compensate the victims and their
descendants, and to do so not just with reparations, but by setting the
historical record straight.
That is why I established a panel of inquiry in Israel
to seek reparations for Iraqi Jews who had been forced to leave behind
their property and possessions in Iraq. That is why I joined the Black
Panthers in confronting the Israeli government with the grievances of the
Jews in Israel who came from Islamic lands. And that is why I have written
my book and this article: to set the historical record straight.
We Jews from Islamic lands did not leave our ancestral
homes because of any natural enmity between Jews and Muslims. And we
Arabs-I say Arab because that is the language my wife and I still speak at
home-we Arabs on numerous occasions have sought peace with the State of
the Jews. And finally, as a U.S. citizen and taxpayer, let me say that we
Americans need to stop supporting racial discrimination in Israel and the
cruel expropriation of lands in the West Bank, Gaza, South Lebanon and the