WE'VE MOVED! IsraPundit has relocated to Click here to go there now.
News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

January 31, 2003

Talk of war rekindles Iraqi Jews' feelings for old homeland

With the constant media attention on the Palestinian refugees, we too often hear little or nothing about the Jews made refugees by Arab countries when the State of Israel came into existence. Here, then, a looking back to the Jews who had lived in Iraq
....Jews in Iraq, Ben-Hai said, had at one time been "treated like kings." In Israel, he said, "I gave more than I got."

A few blocks from where the gruff domino players gather is the Babylonian Jewry Museum, which tells the rich history of Iraqi Jews, recording how they came to Israel with the help of Mordechai Ben-Porat, the Mossad's chief undercover agent.

Ben-Porat's exploits are detailed in his book, To Baghdad and Back: The Miraculous 2,000 Year Homecoming of the Iraqi Jews. His fake passports and papers issued by the Mossad are on display at the museum, which he runs.

Like others from Iraq, Ben-Porat has a soft spot for the country, now regarded as an archenemy by Israel. "The first sign that Saddam Hussein is out, I will go back," he said in an interview at the museum. But he doesn't want to live there.

"I want to see the views," he said, referring to his family house, with plush gardens on the riverbank. "To live? I don't think so. But my dream is that Saddam is removed. Then, it will take a few years, but Israel can build an embassy in Iraq. Peace with the Iraqi people will be easier than peace with the Palestinians."