Download Archive Links Search Contact Us


The articles in this issue have been divided upinto the following categories







The Babylonian Refugee Camps in the Teheran Cemetery

The formation of the camp
On the return of the defeated Iraqi army from Israel, a military regime was declared in Iraq on the 14th of may 1948. In July that same year, ‘Zionism’ was declared as a criminal felony, and who ever was accused in Zionist activity faced a long imprisonment and even death. The first victim of this enactment was the Jewish millionaire from Basra, Shafik Adas, who was judged for death and was publicly hanged on the 23rd of September 1948.
The terror policy that was enforced against the Jews of Iraq encouraged them to flee at any cost or way possible. At that time escaping routes to Israel through Syria, Lebanon and Jordan were blocked. Escape attempts to Iran were made and at first a few managed to infiltrate to south Iran through Basra and to north Iran through Khanaqin and Kirkouk.
At first the refugees slowly drifted to Iran, some of them had Iranian relatives who took them with out any problem. The rest were lodged in hotels in Teheran, but as the numbers of refugees increased, a more suitable solution needed to be found. After consulting the people of the Jewish community in Teheran, it was decided to lodge the refugees in the old cemetery ‘Bahashatia’ in Teheran. Straight away preparations were made to receive the refugees.
Shortly after the cleaning of the area, hundreds of refugees started to fill the cemetery and more tents and buildings were added. As numbers increased a suitable solution was needed to be found to bring those hundreds and thousands to Israel. An arrangement was achieved with the Iranian authorities to fly the refugees straight to Israel. Within six months, about ten thousand refugees from Iran were brought into Israel that way.

The order of life in the camp
As more and more refugees arrived, more buildings, tents and sheds were erected. Some of the buildings were used as dining rooms, kitchens and warehouses to store products and equipment. Next to them, showers and toilets were made along with a surgery and an office. The flag of Israel was in the camp and a synagogue was organised. Sanitation was usually kept in order.
Medical treatment in the camp
As soon as people started to arrive to the cemetery in Iran, a special area was devoted for medical treatment in the purification house. A surgery opened up where with doctors from the joint organisation and next to them doctors nurses and staff from the camp itself. The camp’s doctors were members of the "Underground Halutz Movement in Iraq" and among them were dr. Yosef Zeluf, dr. Victor Zaarour, Dr. Yehezkel Haddad and Dr. Nissim Fuad.
The first practical nurses were members of the "Tnua" who were trained for medical help in Iraq by the Shura. They were Arela Saat, Ahuva Meir, Carmela Cohen and Uria Ben Meir. Uria Ben Meir in charge of the surgery for six months.

Daily life in the camp
As being a closed place, the camp’s management faced a difficult and complex social challenge. The management made great efforts to spare anxiety and distress from the refugees as a result of their situation. It tried to keep the community socially and culturally busy to avoid boredom and all its negative consequences, as well as keeping the public discipline and order.
The people in charge of the camp conducted Shabat parties, sportive activities, games, lectures and talks. Activities were made in an Israeli atmosphere, one of the more memorable celebrations was Israel’s 50th independence day on the 22nd of April 1950, to which everybody came.
Coming to Israel
Thanks to Shlomo Hillel the refugees were given pass documents. As long as few numbers were involved, refugees were taken through France and Italy. But considering the big numbers it was decided to have regular flights from Teheran to Israel. On the 22.3.1949, the first flight by the Iranian Flight Company from Teheran to Israel was made, without stopping in an Arab country. Later on, an arrangement was made with an American charter company, which started to fly bigger numbers of people.
The first ‘Trans Ocean’ airplane flew from Teheran to Israel on the 22.6.1949 with 70 passengers on board. Seat padding and handles were removed to allow as many people as possible on the plane and luggage was put in the alleys. About ten thousand people were flown that way to Israel. They were greeted at the airport, received the Aliya cards and were sent to different places in the country, mostly to Shaar Aliya.






If you would like to make any comments or contribute to The Scribe please contact us.