Sami Ramadani’s claim that Zionists bombed Baghdad synagogues in 1950-51

June 17, 2014 at 4:54 pm (anti-semitism, conspiracy theories, Guardian, history, iraq, iraq war, israel, Jim D, Middle East, Stop The War, terror, zionism)

Registering for Aliya, Baghdad, 1950                                                                       Landing in Israel

Sami Ramadani is a periodic contributor to the Guardian, always billed as “a political refugee from Sadam Hussain’s regime.” In fact, that billing doesn’t really do him justice: during the Iraq war he was a supporter of the murderous, anti-working class Iraqi “resistance” and is a demagogue, much loved by the so-called ‘Stop The War Coalition’, who routinely blames the “West” and “Zionists” for all the ills of Iraq in particular, and the Middle East in general.

Shiraz has commented on his politics in the past.

In his latest Guardian piece, arguing that prior to the 2003 occupation, there was no “significant communal fighting between Iraq’s religions, sects, ethnicities or nationalities”, Ramadani mentions two incidents that would seem to contradict his thesis:

“[T]he only incident was the 1941 violent looting of Jewish neighbourhoods – still shrouded in mystery as to who planned it. The bombing of synagogues in Baghdad in 1950-51 turned out to be the work of Zionists to frighten Iraq’s Jews – one of the oldest Jewish communities in the world – into emigrating to Israel.”

I’ll leave aside the 1941 looting for now (though, whether by accident or design, it’s worth noting that Ramadani’s choice of words would lead the uniformed reader to assume that it, too, was probably the work of “Zionists”).

What I want to discuss here, is Ramadani’s bald statement that the 1950-51 bombings “turned out to be the work of Zionists”, as though that is an established, incontrovertible fact. Far from it: the matter is hotly disputed to this day, as a visit to Wikipedia will confirm. I want to make it clear that I am not ruling out the possibility that the bombings (or, perhaps, just some of them) were the work of Zionists, either operating on a free-lance basis or under orders from the Israeli leadership. But that thesis is far from being the established fact that Ramadani makes it out to be, as a glance at Wikipedia will confirm.

It is generally acknowledged that the two best accounts of the bombings, arguing diametrically opposed positions, are by Abbas Shiblack, in his 1989 book The Lure of Zion: The Case of the Iraqi Jews (later slightly revised and republished as The Iraq Jews: A History of Mss Exodus), who argues that Zionists were responsible, and Moshe Gat’s The Jewish Exodus from Iraq, 1948-1951 which presents the case for Arab nationalist responsibility. They also disagree on the question of how important the bombings were in causing the exodus of Jews from Iraq.

The two accounts were analysed and weighed up against each other in a review of Shiblack’s book by Rayyan Al-Shawat, writing in the Winter 2006 edition of Democratiya magazine:

The other significant study of this subject is Moshe Gat’s The Jewish Exodus  from Iraq, 1948-1951, which was published in 1997. A shorter encapsulation
of Gat’s argument can be found in his 2000 Israel Affairs article ‘Between Terror and Emigration: The Case of Iraqi Jewry.
’ Because of the diametrically opposed conclusions arrived at by the authors, it is useful to compare and contrast their  accounts. In fact, Gat explicitly refuted many of Shiblak’s assertions as early as 1987, in his Immigrants and Minorities review of Shiblak’s The Lure of Zion. It is unclear why Shiblak has very conspicuously chosen to ignore Gat’s criticisms and his pointing out of errors in the initial version of the book. The republication of Shiblak’s book 19 years after its first printing afforded him the opportunity to enact revisions, but where modifications were made they are minor, and almost no corrections are to be found. This article will highlight the major differences…

Al-Shawat’s admirably objective and even-handed article concludes as follows:

It is likely that we will never know for sure who the perpetrators of the attacks were.
As for the final word on the effect of the bombs, it is distressing to note that neither
Shiblak nor Gat saw fit to conduct a survey among surviving Iraqi Jewish emigrants
in order to ascertain, in the emigrants’ own words, their reasons for leaving Iraq.
This would have been of inestimable value in determining whether or not the
bombings were in fact the main reason for the exodus. Without evidence, Iraqi
Jews are not necessarily more qualified than anyone else to opine as to the identity
of the terrorists responsible for the bombs. Yet who could be more qualified than Iraqi Jews to explain which factors impelled them to leave Iraq for Israel?!

There is much anecdotal evidence to support the contention that the bombings – whoever
perpetrated them – were the decisive factor behind Iraqi Jews’ emigration. Personal
testimonies to this effect abound. Yet, inexcusably, there has apparently been no
organised effort to collate such testimonies within the framework of a scientific
survey. Though Shiblak cannot prove that Zionist emissaries from Israel were responsible for the bombings, he succeeds in demonstrating that these bombings were a major factor in the flight of Iraqi Jewry. Had Shiblak included a scientifically conducted survey of explanations provided by Iraqi Jews as to why they left, results might have proved that the bombings were the overriding reason – and not simply a major factor behind the exodus.

That seems to me to be a fair and balanced conclusion – ie: we simply don’t know who was responsible. But for the likes of Ramdani that’s not good enough: the Zionists must be to blame for bombing the synagogues – just as they’re to blame for so much else…


  1. Sami Ramadani’s claim that Zionists bombed Baghdad synagogues in 1950-51 | OzHouse said,

    […] Jun 17 2014 by admin […]

  2. davidellis987 said,

    You ziofash fuck.

  3. Ben said,

    “…violent looting…”

    What a euphemism for murder, rape, arson and torture that took the lives of hundreds of Jews.

  4. Stuart Elliott said,

    Iraq began its history as a state in 1933 with vicious attacks on the Christian Assyrians, including massacres. Within a few years there were revolts of Shia which were brutally repressed. Ramadani claim of no significant ethnic conflicts seems overstated.

  5. Zionism Is Not Racism said,

    Iraq’s Jews were, of course, second class citizens from the off – “dhimmi”, subject to taxes and social restrictions that the Islamic world has always imposed on the “kuffar”. The 1941 “looting” was a Nazi-inspired pogrom, neither the first nor the last in that part of the world. It is not “shrouded in mystery” at all – it was carried out by Iraqi muslims who were under the impression that, with glorious Nazi Germany on the rise, now was the time to finally rid the Caliphate of those dirty kuffar Jews who just refused to “revert” to the Religion of Peace no matter how many times they were warned. In no way is that description true of all Iraqi Muslims of the time of course – far from it – but the violent Jew-haters constituted a significant minority and, more importantly, their actions were entirely approved by the state. The best way to achieve clarification of this would be to ask some Iraqi Jews, or read some of their writings on the subject, but there’s no way the Guardian (surely the most openly antisemitic newspaper in Western Europe) would ever be so even-handed.

    The idea that the bombing of synagogues in 1950-51 was the work of “Zionists” has been discredited by a number of historians though of course I can’t prove that Shiblack’s book has no truth in it. The point though is that the Guardian automatically assumes Shiblack to be correct despite the far greater number of opposing accounts. This is not in the least surprising given the Guardian’s recent track record of editorials written by the Hamas, a sympathetic interview/profile of Holocaust Revisionist Gilad Atzmon, articles making cheap jibes about “the Chosen People”, various articles calling for Israel’s abolition and an obsessive focus on the Crimes of the Evil Zionist Entity (whilst promoting the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Tunisia, writing sympathetically about Iran and generally acting as a mouthpiece for the world’s Islamic dictatorships).

    • Dena said,

      I reviewed Abbas Shiblak’s book when it was published and also spoke to his PhD supervisor, who agreed that Shiblak had not understood or else minimised the traumatising effect of the Farhoud. Shiblak did not use any first-hand evidence although there were plenty of Iraqi Jews he could have spoken to. The emphasis on the synagogue bombings and ‘Zionist plot’ conveniently distracts from all the other historical facts. The alleged perpetrators were conveniently executed by the regime and that has helped the circulation of these myths. Easy to forget that meanwhile many other Jews were murdered; the number of victims of those bombings was actually very small; Jews were being excluded from education, professions, economic activity; there were frequent anti-Semitic demonstrations; ultimately Jewish communities in other parts of Iraq including some who’d never heard of these bombings were compelled to leave and lost everything they owned. In 1946 my father was told by my grandfather in Iraq that the Jewish community there had no future – well before these incidents. Alleging Zionist plots is just a smokescreen and evasion. To be fair to Shiblak he looked at much more, including anti-Jewish legislation, and recognised that the Iraqi government at the time played a role in expelling Jews.

  6. Aaron Aarons said,

    There are also the writings of Naeim Giladi, who was a participant in the Zionist underground in Iraq at the time of the bombings., IIRC (I read his book and article years ago), he claimed that the Zionist underground was responsible for at least some attacks on Jewish institutions or places Jews hung out, and the publication of anti-Jewish leaflets, but he did not claim to have been personally involved in any of the violent acts he mentions.

    There is little doubt that both the right-wing, pro-British Iraqi government and the Zionist movement wanted Iraqi Jews to leave Iraq. The former wanted to loot the property of wealthy Jews and get rid of one of the main constituencies of the Iraqi Communist Party, while the Zionists wanted more Jews, especially non-European Jews, to provide a work force for the Ashkenazi state.

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