In his book, Ben Gurion's Scandals: How the Haganah
& the Mossad Eliminated Jews, Giladi discusses
the crimes committed by Zionists in their frenzy
to import raw Jewish labor. Newly-vacated farmlands
had to be plowed to provide food for the immigrants
and the military ranks had to be filled with conscripts
to defend the stolen lands. Mr. Giladi couldn't
get his book published in Israel, and even in
the U.S. he discovered he could do so only if
he used his own money.
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 American."
John F. Mahoney
Executive Director, AMEU
The Jews of Iraq
BY NAEIM GILADI
I write this article for the same reason I wrote
my book: to tell the American people, and especially
American Jews, that Jews from Islamic lands did
not emigrate willingly to Israel; that, to force
them to leave, Jews killed Jews; and that, to
buy time to confiscate ever more Arab lands, Jews
on numerous occasions rejected genuine peace initiatives
from their Arab neighbors. I write about what
the first prime minister of Israel called "cruel
Zionism." I write about it because I was
part of it.
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
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
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
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
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 leave."
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
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 bacteria.
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
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
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 out.
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
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 in Israel.
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
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 very confused.
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 Iraqi leadership.
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 exist."
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
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
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 concentrated.
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
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
Who was behind the rioting in the Jewish quarter?
Yosef 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
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 synagogues.
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
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 attacks.
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 them.
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
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" leaders.
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 began.
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 Israeli army.
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 Affair.
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 countries.
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 Yugoslavia.
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 conflict.
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 January 1982:
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 in Hebrew:
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 imperative.
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
Mileshtin was quoted by the Israeli daily, Hadashot,
in an article published August 13, 1993. The writer,
Sarah Laybobis-Dar, interviewed a number of Israelis
who had knowledge of the use of bacteriological
weapons in the 1948 war. Mileshtin said bacteria
was used to poison the wells of every village
emptied of its Arab inhabitants.
On Sept. 12, 1990, the New York State Supreme
Court issued a restraining order at the request
of the Israeli government to prevent publication
of Ostrovsky's book, "By Way of Deception:
The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer."
The New York State Appeals Court lifted the ban
the next day.
Marion Woolfson, "Prophets in Babylon: Jews
in the Arab World," p. 129
Yosef Meir, "Road in the Desert," Israeli
Defense Ministry, p. 36.
See my book, "Ben Gurion's Scandals,"
Wilbur Crane Eveland, "Ropes of Sand: America's
Failure in the Middle East," NY; Norton,
1980, pp. 48-49.
T. Herzl, "The Complete Diaries," NY:
Herzl Press & Thomas Yoncloff, 1960, vol.
1, p. 88.
Report of the Congress of the World Council of
Paole Zion, Zurich, July 29-August 7, 1937, pp.