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On this day in 1941, during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, Jews were violently attacked in Baghdad, Iraq.

Shavuot is supposed to be a happy time, with families gathering and eating cheesecakes. But in Iraq in 1941, it was anything but as a massacre befell the Jewish community.
As someone with a Jewish Baghdadi grandfather who fortunately escaped Iraq a few years earlier, I am compelled to tell the story that decimated the community he left behind.
The #Farhud pogrom of June 1-2 left over 180 dead and 1,000 injured Jews, saw hundreds of homes destroyed and property looted.
This murderous attack marked the beginning of the end of the oldest Jewish community outside of the Land of Israel. 78 years on, many details of this bloody massacre remain unknown.

For 2,600 years, Jews lived in Iraq.
Theirs was a magnificent, educated and prosperous community. Among them were senior politicians. The best known, the first finance minister, Yehezkel Sasson, served five times under various governments and laid the foundations for Iraq's taxation and modern economy.
Iraqi Jews were well-integrated, working as lawyers, musicians, economists, accountants, academics, artists and intellectuals, forming a community that was an integral part of Iraqi culture and history.
The parallel instability of the Iraqi government in the 1930s and rise of Nazism in Europe led to a deterioration in the situation of the Jews in the country.
This deterioration was exploited by Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, Hitler's good friend, who arrived in Baghdad in 1939 after evading a British arrest warrant.
He was warmly received in Iraq, and honoured generously with gifts and money.
Husseini raised funds from the government, political parties and charitable organizations for the Palestinian Arabs' cause, becoming a key figure in the Iraqi government and gaining influence among politicians and senior officials.
He constantly peddled violent incitement against the Jews, saw Nazi Germany as a "defender of the Muslim world" and regarded the Jews as "dangerous enemies." He told Hitler about the Arab people's admiration for him and thanked him for his concern for the Palestinian cause.
His links with the Nazis resulted in the spread of anti-Semitic propaganda throughout Iraq via both public broadcasting and also the dissemination of messages in the Iraqi parliament and government officials.
Pro-Nazi propaganda in Arabic began to be heard daily on public radio, followed by race laws against the Jews, mass dismissal from public posts, discrimination and harassment in the streets.
As Jews returned from prayers on the Shavuot holiday of 1941, an Arab crowd began to riot, rob, and murder Jews. Jewish houses and shops were marked in red, and later ransacked as entire families were murdered.
Jews who tried to escape in taxis and minibuses were pulled out of the vehicles in the middle of the city and slaughtered. Synagogue windows were smashed, Torah scrolls desecrated, crazed mobs chased Jews with daggers and swords, and armed police joined the massacre.
Survivors testified of policemen breaking into houses and slaughtering Jews, cutting off limbs and looting jewelry. Women were raped, children were thrown into the river.

For two days the streets flowed with blood.
The cries of the Jews were heard all over the city, their torn bodies, limp children, and burning holy books and finally bodies piled up in a huge mass grave.
Within 10 years, almost all the Jews remaining in Iraq had fled, thus ending their community's illustrious 2,500 year history.

Regrettably, the State of Israel received data from the Iraqi authorities and uses it unquestioningly.
Official figures at Yad Vashem speak of 179 murdered, 2,000+ wounded, 200+ orphaned children, and the looted property of some 50,000 Jews.

In truth, by some estimates, many hundreds may have been murdered people.
For example, famed British historian Elie Kedourie estimated that some 600 were murdered.

According to one document, more than 1000 were killed in the pogroms, and 120 Jews were reportedly injected with poison in hospital. This might be just the tip of the iceberg.
The sad truth is that the subject has never been professionally researched.

Pictured above: a friendly meeting between Al-Husseini and Hitler. Below, a bloodthirsty crowd armed with swords and knives gathers during the Farhud.
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