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







From Joel Millman of the wall street Journal New York

The following report was received from our man in Baghdad, which you may find interesting

I went to check Naim Dangoor's home next to the Alwiya Club, the British club. Turns out this is next door to the Palestine and Sheraton hotels smack on Firdos Sq. (where Saddam's statue was pulled down). Abu Nowas Street is on the backside of both hotels, and the club. Two houses down (I think it's actually three), it appears there is Mr. Dangoors' family home. It's not very impressive anymore, although apparently the people who moved in after they left sold it to the government and the government redesigned it.
Abu Nowas Street used to be filled with homes owned by Jews. It used to be Baghdad's nicest avenue (and could be again easily). It faces the Tigris. In the old days, there used to be parks that faced the river with benches and outdoor restaurants, where lovers could stroll and families have a nice evening out. Then Saddam basically prevented anyone from building there, and moved everyone out, because it was opposite his Republican Palace grounds. People are hopeful the street, named after a hell-raising poet and drinker, will again become a center of activity.
I spoke to two Dangoor neighbours. One is Nadha Bhajad Selim, a 35-year-old Christian woman. She says that when she was growing up, her parents told her that the Jews in the neighbourhood had all left, and that it was the beginning of the end of Abu Nowas street's glory days. She said she vaguely remembers the family from her childhood, but I'm not sure that can be true if he left in the early 60s.
Then I spoke to a crotchety old man who lives next door. He said the Muslims have been sending back the rent faithfully to Jewish families. He said the government never had anything against the Jews and that they left "of their own accord." There was a Jewish market, Hanoun (sp?), which he says was sold "for a very good price - at the top of the market." He remembers Naim's father Eliahu (sp?). Is that right? Asked if he remembers Naim, he says: "Did he expect anyone to remember him after all these years?" Asked if they would welcome the Jews back, he refuses to answer. He also refuses to give his name.
The Lawee home is just off Abu Nowas and was the French embassy until sanctions. The French pulled out, so I hear, and the Romanians became temporary houseguests. But they might be back. The house is quite something. Very stately, two story home with lovely arches and a balcony. I went to the Mayer Taweigg Synagogue - the last working Jewish prayer house in Iraq, founded in 1942. There I met 90-year-old Tawfiq Sofer, the oldest living link to the community. He never married, and his brother and sisters left Iraq in the early 1950s to live in Iran, Israel and England. He never wanted to leave because he says he had business to attend to. He also says Saddam didn't treat the Jews badly, despite his virulent anti-Zionism. His caretaker, a young 30-year-old Muslim named Muhammad Jassim, says Saddam got the word out a decade ago that anyone who hurt the Jews in Baghdad would pay a heavy price. It was quiet until just recently, when some members of the Islamic Dawa religious party told people in the neighbourhood that it was time to get rid of the remaining Jews. He's not sure where he heard this or how it started. The old man, very sweet and speaks English, said:
"For so many years, I never saw anyone. Now a few people have come to say hello to me. This makes me so happy," he says, dressed in striped pyjamas. He is full of gratefulness that Muhammad takes care of him. During the war, Muhammad never left the synagogue, and after the fall of Saddam's forces he fired several warning shots from his pistol to keep looters at bay.
Asked if he wants to leave Iraq, he says: "Where can I go? I may as well die here."
About Jews in Baghdad, Sofer says: "Some of us will always be here.

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