When Iraqi Jews Participated in the Ottoman Government

Although there are now no more than a handful of Jews in Iraq, the country was once home to one of the oldest of all diaspora communities—dating back to the Babylonian exile of the 6th century BCE. Annie Greene, in a brief history of this community, describes the period when Jews became part of political life:

Iraq became Ottoman territory in the mid-16th century. During the mid-19th century, the Ottoman empire went through modernizing reforms known as the Tanzimat, [which] provided pathways for Iraqi Jews to participate in the Ottoman government. For example, the delegates to provincial administrative councils were required to reflect local religious diversity. For the province containing the city of Baghdad, [with its large non-Muslim population], there had to be Jewish delegates to the provincial administrative council, as well as Christians and Muslims.

The provincial councils served as good practice to incorporate Jews into the Ottoman governing structure. The first Ottoman parliament in 1877–78 included a Jewish member, Menahim Salih Efendi Daniyal, among the four who were sent from Baghdad. After the Young Turk Revolution in 1908, Sasson Efendi Hasqail was elected to the parliament for Baghdad and was returned to this seat twice more until the dissolution of the empire in 1918. In contrast to the situation for provincial councils, there were no mandatory religious quotas for parliamentary seats. That Menahim Salih Efendi and Sasson Efendi were elected in their respective parliamentary eras speaks to their status as individuals from prominent families and the way elite Jewish men were viewed in Ottoman-Iraqi political society.

The situation had changed radically by 1941, when bloody pogroms broke out throughout the country, ushering in a period of fierce anti-Semitism and persecution of Iraqi Jews.

Read more at Katz Center

More about: Babylonian Jewry, Iraq, Iraqi Jewry, Ottoman Empire

 

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security