Conditions of Iraqi Jews Said to Be Still Grave Despite Reported Relaxation of 2 Laws

The situation of Iraqi Jews continues to be grave despite the announcement that specific anti-Jewish legislation has been abolished, observers said here today. They could not account for the thinking behind the Baghdad Government’s reported decision to cancel two laws promulgated after the Six-Day War.

An announcement on official Baghdad Radio heard here Thursday said the Cabinet decided last Tuesday to abrogate laws which provided that the property of all Jews stripped of their Iraqi nationality were to be placed under control of a public custodian.

The broadcast said the laws were being cancelled “to put an end to the exploitation suffered by these Jews at the hands of the previous regime.” The former regime of President Abdel Rahman Arif was overthrown in July, 1968. The new regime, which last January hanged nine Jews as spies for Israel–and displayed their bodies–is controlled by the Socialist Baathist Party.

The announcement said that affairs of Jewish families who had been deprived of Iraqi citizenship would be attended to by the State. There are only some 2,000 to 3,000 Jews left in Iraq. Many left for Israel after the State was created in 1948 and they were deprived of their citizenship; also affected by the Government’s action were relatives or direct members of families who chose to stay in Iraq. Baghdad Radio said the Cabinet had decided to abolish the laws “to preserve the interests of the Jewish community.” It accused the previous regime of exploiting Jews.

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