LONDON (Jul. 21)
Reports of outrages upon the Jews of Kurdistan were today termed exaggerated in a statement by the British Colonial Office to J. M. Rich, secretary of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and of the Joint Foreign Committee of the Board and of the Anglo-Jewish Association. The Colonial Office’s statement was based on an investigation made by the acting High Commissioner of Iraq.
The statement of the Colonial Office says “with reference to your inquiry regarding the Jewish situation in Kurdistan, I am directed by Lord Passfield to inform you that the acting High Commissioner for Iraq has caused the matter to be investigated, and reports that there are in Amadaya not 30 but 81 houses of Jews who are known to have been quite happy at the end of May. The only incident recorded there in the last six months is the murder of one Jew on a near-by mountain. Arrests were promptly made from three villages and blood money was recovered in full.”
Mr. Rich’s inquiry was based on a Jewish Telegraphic Agency dispatch from Jerusalem on June 30 reporting that Jewish refugees from Kurdistan reaching Jerusalem had complained of outrages upon the Jewish population in Kurdistan, including a number of murders and the kidnaping of Jewish women. In Amadaya, the refugees said, five out of the 30 Jewish families living there had been murdered, and two Jewish women had been kidnaped.
The Colonial Office’s statement points out that at Zakho, where there are 220 Jewish families, no crime against them has been reported in the last six months, save the robbery of donkeys and groceries from a Jew by a Turkish, not Iraqui, bandit. No case of any kind has been reported within the last year affecting the 180 Jewish families at Agra Qadha while at Dohuq, one Jew was murdered by outlaws in the last six months, and three of these have been arrested and steps to round up the remainder are already progressing, the Colonial Office reports.
No case of kidnaping can be traced, but one Jewish girl is known to have eloped with a Turk and to have applied subsequently to change her religion under the procedure laid down by law, the Colonial Office declares. The statement adds that the acting High Commissioner in his report observes that, “considering that Jewish peddlers wander over the mountains quite alone and carry money and wares of value, the immunity enjoyed by them as illustrated by the above statistics is remarkable. The importance of the small Jewish colonies in the economic life of the mountain villages is generally recognized, and Kurdish opinion is always opposed to any kind of molestation of them.”