Iraqi Jews Live Under Intolerable Conditions in Ghetto; Rabbi Virtual Prisoner

A tourist who recently visited Iraq and now is in Israel has disclosed that Baghdad’s 2,000 remaining Jews are living under intolerable conditions and are being forced to live in a ghetto. According to an article published in “Haaretz,’” the tourist, who asked to remain anonymous reported that although many of the Jews have large landholdings, they do not receive rent from their tenants and are forbidden to engage in business, leaving them virtually dependent upon the charity of some 100 Jews who still have some savings. The aged rabbi of Baghdad, Rabbi Sasson Kadoorie, is reported by the tourist to be a virtual prisoner of the Iraqi authorities, and has not performed any Jewish ceremonies for several years.

A few Jewish families still have telephones but all their conversations are being tapped, according to the report. The Iraqis are informed about Israeli and Jewish affairs through the Israeli radio “Kol Israel” which is beamed to Iraq. Food for the ghetto population, mainly canned foodstuffs, is usually bought in bulk every few months; leaving the ghetto is considered risky. Moslem sources in Baghdad told the tourist that a few months ago a group of young Jews were caught trying to escape. The large sum of money found in their possession was seized by authorities. They were later released on bail; their trial is still pending.

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