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The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







Two outstanding cousins

by Saeed Bershan
BA Commerce & Economics

I feel very blessed and humble to be able to claim two outstanding individuals among my close relatives. Let me share with you some insight into their lives. Both combine exemplary morals, with a high degree of intelligence.

I will first mention my Uncle Meer Basri, the author, editor, poet and historian. For nigh 75 years now his reputation as a scholar with a superb mastery of the Arabic language has brought him esteem in the foremost literary circles in Iraq. Indeed he has such an astute memory for events, dates and personalities, well-known authors continue to defer to him in writing their books. His prolific powers are legendary as he continues to pen down articles, poems and books – both in English and Arabic – he hasn’t stopped since 1933 (he is 90 now). He is regarded by the Iraqi poets and men of culture as one of them. Here in London he still attends scholarly circles where he is feted by his friends the Arabs –indeed they refer to him in a reverential manner (Istath), while his repertoire of books are still being sold all over the world.

He has served the Community with honesty and benefited them in many aspects without any personal remuneration. He has made many speeches and written many articles in newspapers both in Iraq and London, and appeared on radio in both countries.

My other worthy relative is my second cousin on my mother’s side. Although a highly successful businessman, Naim Dangoor has remained very approachable. I can cite many instances of his kindness, to me and to others. His excellent education is reflected in his expert writing on many topics: politics (he has first-class and intimate knowledge of our history and has often argued them with high and mighty), religious tractates, philosophy and science. That is not surprising when you realise the breadth of his travels and experiences, his great family tree and the extent of his philanthropy, both here and abroad. He has been one of the unique Iraqi Jews who have made it his business to meet top everywhere, as well as the Royal family and, along with his wife, been photographed with every ‘who’s who’ you can imagine.

He was instrumental in founding in 1969 The Iraqi Community Centre which has proved crucial in bringing together successive generations of our dispersed community. One of his greatest contributions to the Iraqi Jews all over the world was to publish, since 1971, "The Scribe", filling it with interesting articles and nostalgic pictures, available to everyone, without charge, never mind the effort and the expense. His far-sightedness and generosity led him to establish The Exilarch’s Charitable Foundation in order to continue a paramount Babylonian tradition and dignity.

Because of him we acquired an organ to testify to our common heritage. Because of him we resuscitated our Baghdadi and childhood memories, in the process discovering a distinctive culture. Thanks to The Scribe various people have begun to contribute even more. For one man to have achieved all of this, he must deserve a righteous status evermore.

As it happens, those two affable gentlemen are first cousins in their own right as well as good friends, and I conclude my letter by wishing them both continued health and happiness. Would our community ever produce such geniuses again? I wish….


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