The sticker carried a website address which eventually appeared to be a blog address. In all cases, I wasn’t interested.
However, I stopped for a minute staring at the photo not because
There was one advantage I learned from this war, I told Omar. He looked at me and asked, “which war?” The latest one, I replied. I learned how to differentiate between the term “Zionist” and “Jew”.
He looked at me in daze! “Yes, it’s only in 2003 that I learned what the difference between these two words is.” There were so many questions in his mind. I didn’t wait for him to ask them. I explained why it’s just recently that I learned that difference.
At home, we never discussed politics, NEVER, period. My parents were so cautious about these things. Any mistake would take all of us, if not all of my tribe, to jail or execution by Saddam’s people. One of the things we did not discuss at home was who the Jews and the Zionists are. It was only once I recall my mother and grandmother talking about their Jewish Iraqi neighbors and friends whom they missed. I was 12 or 13 at that time. I asked both of them about it. My mother sighed and said that the Iraqi Jews were very nice and lovely people. That was it. She never mentioned anything after that neither did my grandmother.
I was like most teenagers whose main source of news was Saddam’s regime’s media outlets and school curricula. They all denounced the “Jews”. None of them clarified what the difference was. Like most of those in my age, I was brain washed. I was taught to hate the “Jews”, all of them, not only the “Zionists”.
I tried to know more about what is happening in
When I was in undergraduate school, I didn’t know anything about how journalism works. When the second Intifadha occurred in September 2000 between Palestinian Arabs and Israelis, I was full of hatred. I hated the “Jews”. I didn’t know that this term was far broader than what is happening in
Before 2003, the term “Jews” among most Iraqis in my age meant the Zionists. I even recall how a rumor was spread in my undergrad school when one of my classmates said that a member of the “Backstreet Boys” band is Jewish. Most of the classmates told her that “this was untrue. It seems there was someone trying to distort the reputation of the band in
It is also ironic that one of the text books I had in my undergrad school was written by Noam Chomsky. It was about Linguistics. I recall my professor saying that Chomsky was a Jew who is against the State of Israel! He did not elaborate and none of the students asked him more about it. No one wanted to be in trouble. I kept wondering how come he is Jewish and he’s against the State of Israel which we called the “Zionist Entity” at the time. I found no answer till after the 2003 war.
Finally, the confusion I had and the decades of misinformation have come to end. After the invasion, I was able to start the investigation by myself. Saddam was gone. It was time to ask without being fearful.
The first thing that clarified things to me was when I worked with American journalists. I discovered that some of them were Jews. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid and confused. I couldn’t even ask for people’s advice. How come I tell them I work with those whom they hated their entire lives? Should I keep working with them or stop? I wondered. I was torn. “These are Zionists,” I thought at the time until I found out the real difference.
It was through the internet that I first recognized that mysterious difference that was hidden and kept away from Iraqis for decades. It was time to ask more about the Iraqi Jews. Who were they? Where did they go? How do they look like? Were they like the Israeli soldiers killing the Palestinians? And more questions were that were held hostage in my mind for a long time. I let them free. I asked everyone knew an Iraqi Jew. I started with my grandmother. I sat on the brown wooden sofa in her kitchen. We talked for hours. Eventually she cried when she remembered her best Jewish friend Clair who was her neighbor as well. She was one of the thousands of Iraqi Jews who were forced to leave
She recalled the “Farhood al Yahood”, a pogrom against the Iraqi Jews that took place on June 1-2, 1941 where Jews were injured and murdered, Jewish property was looted, and Jewish houses were burnt down.
For three years now, I think of those people. I kept asking myself, why did that happen to them? They are Iraqis. That was their home as well as mine. I felt so angry and unable to imagine how much I was deceived. I even feel guilty because they were deprived from their homeland by the time we enjoyed it. Sometimes I think what is happening now is heaven’s revenge to what happened to the Jews.
Until this day, I surf the web to read more about them and their traditions hoping to meet up with one of them one day. All what I read is moving and touching. Some of their writings brought tears to my eyes. I remember an article written by Shmuel Moreh, an Iraqi Jewish Professor and Chairman of the Association of Jewish Academics from
Another Jewish Iraqi website I came across is called Reminisce of Baghdad where the author documented his family’s pictures and tales when they were in
To all the Iraqi Jews, I take a bow to your love and loyalty to your country which you were forced to leave. One day, all of us will go back to our beloved