Iraq’s Last Jewish Doctor and the Fate of a Dying Community’s Cultural Treasures

On March 15, the Iraqi Jewish orthopedic surgeon Dhafer Fouad Eliyahu died at the age of sixty-one, leaving only three Jews remaining in the country. Lyn Julius writes:

Known as the “healer of the poor,” [Eliyahu] ran a private clinic, but treated those who could not afford medical care for free. His mother was among the first female doctors in Iraq. . . . Before their mass exodus in 1950-51, Jews contributed beyond their numbers to modernity in 20th-century Iraq, [and] comprised 40 percent of the medical profession. When the Royal Medical College opened in 1927, seven out of 21 students were Jews. In 1932, only twelve graduated of these graduated, but all seven Jews stayed the course.

The vast majority [of Iraq’s Jews] fled to Israel [and] were stripped of their Iraqi citizenship and much of their property was frozen without compensation. The most recent bone of contention has been the so-called Iraqi Jewish archive. The U.S. administration has pledged to return to Baghdad this random collection of Jewish books, correspondence, and school reports, which was seized from the community by the Iraqi regime, but shipped in 2003 to the United States for restoration.

Iraqi Jews [in Israel and the U.S.] have been fighting to keep this last vestige of their former lives, arguing that their memorabilia are of no interest or value to the rest of the Iraqi people. While Iraqis themselves are increasingly acknowledging the selfless loyalty of Jews like Eliyahu, the return of the archive to Iraq would rub salt in the wound, adding yet another injustice to a very long list.

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Read more at JNS

More about: Iraqi Jewish Archive, Iraqi Jewry

 

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin