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I survived a pogrom in Iraq 82 years ago. I know where Hamas’ extremism will lead today.

(JTA) — When I saw the photos and videos posted by Hamas murdering entire Israeli families, raping women and killing young people at a music festival on Oct. 7 — I was horrified and shocked. These images ignited the flames of a dormant trauma I suffered 82 years ago in Baghdad, Iraq, when I was just 10 years old.

 On June 1 and 2, 1941, two months after a pro-Nazi coup that plagued Baghdad, mobs — aided by the police and soldiers — broke into Jewish homes, raping women and girls and murdering Jews mercilessly in a rampage that came to be known as the “Farhud” — an Arabic term for pogrom. Jews could not fight back, and there was nowhere to run and no country to seek refuge. This horrendous massacre occurred during the festival of Shavuot, a holiday celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments. 

My older brother, Eliyahu, unknowingly rode his bicycle to visit our cousins in the Old Jewish Quarter on the first day of the Farhud. The doors of my two uncles’ homes were broken in and the interiors looted. Cycling back home through the main thoroughfare, Al Rashid Street, he witnessed a group of men stop a minibus, drag out the Jewish passengers, then rob and slaughter them. It still sends chills down my spine thinking of what he saw. 

Thank God, my family was spared. The mob, who could be heard just blocks away, didn’t manage to reach us before the British forces entered Baghdad on the afternoon of June 2. After the events, none of the perpetrators was accused or convicted.

I also heard stories of courageous Muslim men who stood in front of Jewish homes with knives, daggers and guns, risking their lives and preventing the mob from breaking into homes. Some took Jews into their own homes to protect them, and took the injured to doctors. Some Muslim leaders condemned these brutal acts as heresy to Islam. 

I was conflicted and confused. My father, a textile importer, always praised his Muslim customers as honorable, and my older brothers had very close Muslim friends. When I asked my father about this dissonance, he told me, “Son, you must judge people by their individual actions, and not as a group.” That was a lesson I carried throughout my life. 

When I saw the pro-Hamas demonstrations that erupted after the Oct. 7 massacre, it brought memories of the events after the United Nations approved the partition of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, on Nov. 29, 1947. The Jews of Iraq and other Arab countries prayed that the Palestinian leaders would agree to start a new country, the 23rd Arab country, and live alongside the newly created Israel. The Arab League, however, unanimously rejected the partition and declared a war to eliminate the Jewish state. 

Frequent demonstrations took place in the streets of Baghdad, with screams of “death to Zionists” and calls to free Palestine. We feared another Farhud. We got lucky — there were only a few skirmishes — but the Jews of Aleppo, Syria, were raided by mobs, encouraged by the Syrian government, that looted and set ablaze homes, synagogues, schools and an orphanage in December 1947. An estimated 75 Jews were killed, and hundreds were injured. 

We Iraqi Jews faced a dilemma. If the Arab armies won and eliminated the new Jewish state, there would be a second Holocaust. But if they lost, would the Iraqi leaders turn against us, their Jewish citizens that had inhabited the area for over 25 centuries?

On May 15, 1948, five Arab armies, including Iraq, attacked Israel. Against enormous odds, Israel survived. The shame of failure caused Arab countries to, indeed, turn against their Jewish citizens. In Iraq, Zionism was declared a capital offense. Jews were fired from government jobs, and accusations, arrests, tortures and imprisonments culminated in the public execution of a prominent Jewish merchant, Shafiq Addas, on Sept. 23, 1948. This brought fear to every Jewish heart. 

I was accepted at three universities in America, but Iraq refused to grant me an exit visa. In December 1949, I got to Iran with the help of two Muslim smugglers. And two months after that, I arrived in Israel. I became a homeless, penniless refugee. I stood in line with a tin plate to get a free meal, and slept in a tent anchored in the sand. However, I felt liberated for the first time in my life. The sense of freedom overshadowed the feeling of victimhood. 

The continuous harassment, persecution, torture and execution in Iraq and other Arab countries forced 850,000 Jews to flee from their homelands. Jews lived in Iraq over 1,000 years before Islam conquered the region, and for 1,300 years after. Presently, there are only about 6,000 Jews remaining in Arab lands. They left their homes, businesses, synagogues, properties, everything. Like myself, they became refugees. But we all moved on. We had to learn a second language and were grateful to become equal citizens of the countries that accepted us.

This is not to say that the situation of the Mizrahi Jews who were made refugees after the creation of Israel and that of the Palestinians in Gaza are completely analogous. But it suggests that experiences of oppression and exile do not have to lead inevitably to the horrific events that played out on Oct. 7. 

Hamas’s first order of business — like ISIS, Assad’s Syria and other totalitarian regimes — is to eliminate the opposition. Hamas mercilessly crushed the Fatah movement who were giving them a fight for the 2006 election. Today, they continue to discriminate against minorities, women and homosexuals. 

As a Jew who survived the Farhud and who grew up with, and has, many faithful Muslim friends — and who knows the hardship of being a refugee — I cried for the massacre of Jews by Hamas. I also cried for the innocent Palestinians that were killed by Hamas for refusing to follow orders and join their movement. I pray that the Palestinian people will find the courage to stand up to Hamas, and make it a priority to establish a democratic and prosperous Palestinian state.

The post I survived a pogrom in Iraq 82 years ago. I know where Hamas’ extremism will lead today. appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Here’s What Has Happened on the Ground in Gaza Over the Past Month

Trucks stand at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, Egypt, April 25, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

The Israeli offensive in the Rafah area gradually took all the ground adjacent to the border between Gaza and Egypt. Over the past few days, there have been reports of Israeli forces now conducting attacks from the area taken northwards, both in the relatively open area between the city of Rafah and the coast and inside Rafah itself.

Many civilians in Gaza have moved to the safe havens allotted by the IDF. The resistance by the US government to the Rafah operation was based on the premise this would not happen. Just as in the previous IDF offensives in northern Gaza and the Khan Yunis area, the rate of evacuation is one of the factors determining the rate of advance of the IDF units.

During the clearing operations in each area taken, IDF units have uncovered hundreds of tunnels, including dozens crossing the border into Egypt. These tunnels were used for smuggling weapons from Egypt into Gaza, as well as civilian traffic — both people and goods. Officially the Egyptians destroy all tunnels they discover on their side of the border, but apparently, over the past few years, they have reduced this effort considerably — these tunnels all have large openings on the Egyptian side of the border, they are not small or camouflaged, and the traffic through them was not a trickle.

Rocket launchers and stocks of rockets were also found adjacent to the Egyptian border. Additionally, more evidence has been found in Rafah of Hamas’ use of UN sites and mosques.

The IDF has also continued to conduct raids into northern Gaza and Khan Yunis whenever concentrations of returning Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorists are discovered, as well as raids into the Nuseyrat area, between Gaza and Nuseyrat. The Nuseyrat area is the only one in which the IDF has not yet conducted a major offensive operation.

In a much publicized raid on June 8, which was conducted by a Police Force special unit supported by the IDF, four hostages held in two separate private homes (one belonging to a news photographer who had published in Al-Jazeera) were rescued. An Israeli officer was killed in this raid, and a few others were wounded. The Palestinians, as usual, claimed enormous casualties to civilians living in the area of the raid. Again as usual, there is no evidence that the published number was anywhere near the truth.

Given similar events in the past — when numbers claimed by the Palestinians of hundreds of civilians killed by the IDF were later found to be grossly exaggerated, to have included many terrorists, and to have included Palestinians killed or wounded by Palestinian fire — the reliability of these numbers must be regarded as suspect.

Also found over the past few weeks were the bodies of a number of hostages killed on October 7 whose bodies were taken to Gaza, as well as a few who were kidnapped alive and then killed while being held. One more body was discovered inside Israel.

After spending an estimated $320 million on building a floating pier to provide humanitarian supplies, it seems the US will permanently dismantle it. It was incapable of withstanding the buffeting of waves, and broke apart once. The pieces were then towed to an Israeli port for repair and to await a calming of the sea. Afterwards it was returned to the Gaza coast, but when the sea conditions worsened again, the Americans pulled it out again. Because the IDF captured the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing, Egypt refused to continue sending humanitarian supplies through it. However, supplies increased through the other crossings between Israel and Gaza, thereby bypassing Hamas tax-collectors. According to posts published by Gazans on social media, this lowered the prices of commodities in Gaza.

On June 9, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNHCA) published a report stating that the claim that there is a famine in Gaza is not based on supporting evidence:

The FRC does not find the FEWS NET analysis plausible given the uncertainty and lack of convergence of the supporting evidence employed in the analysis. Therefore, the FRC is unable to make a determination as to whether or not famine thresholds have been passed during April.

They qualify that statement by claiming they are physically incapable of acquiring sufficient reliable evidence. However, photographs posted on social media by Gazans show that the real problem is less a matter of lack of foodstuffs and more an issue of inefficient distribution. The IDF spokesperson has reported that much of the supplies are simply being stored inside Gaza and awaiting distribution because the organizations in charge of distribution are incapable of meeting the rate of supplies flowing into Gaza. Furthermore, Gazans are complaining openly that Hamas is deliberately taking much of the supplies and hoarding them to sell at high prices to raise funds for its operations. They also complain of theft of supplies by criminal organizations for the same purpose.


In a speech given on June 19 by Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah, he claimed that:

Hezbollah has 100,000 troops all told and has therefore turned down requests by other organizations of the Iranian-led Shiite alliance to send contingents to Lebanon.

Hezbollah has the full panoply of weapons to conduct ground, air and sea combat, it manufactures weapons at home, and it is receiving weapons from Iran despite Israel’s attempts to prevent this.

He also claimed that Hezbollah has information that Cyprus has agreed to allow Israel to use its airports if Israeli airports are damaged by Hezbollah fire. He threatened that if Cyprus does this, it too will become a target of Hezbollah’s firepower.

This is not the first time Nasrallah has mentioned the 100,000 troops figure. This is considerably more than all previous reports, which ranged from a low of 45,000 to a high of 60,000. The previous occasion was in October 2021 when internal tensions in Lebanon threatened to boil over into a possible civil war. If he is speaking the truth, then Hezbollah has more men than the official Lebanese army (85,000). The Hezbollah forces are certainly better trained on average than the Lebanese army, and they are also better equipped in some areas.

The exchange of fire on the Israel-Lebanon border continues at a varying but fairly low intensity. Over the past few weeks Israeli attacks have escalated in the choice of targets, which are now no longer only near the border but also include Hezbollah installations in central and northern Lebanon. Hezbollah has responded by increasing the size of its rocket and exploding drone salvos into Israel. There are reports that to reduce casualties Hezbollah has withdrawn many of its personnel several kilometers north of the border and is conducting almost all its fire from a distance.

Hezbollah has admitted that so far 349 of its personnel have been killed (another 50 since my last report). This does not include non-Shiite members of Hezbollah who probably add at least a few dozen to the list.

In addition to the numerical increase in Hezbollah casualties, there has also been an increase in their ranks and importance. The commander and some senior staff members of one of Hezbollah’s three divisions in south Lebanon were killed, as were some senior staff members of another division.

Israeli casualties

The total number of Israelis confirmed killed on and since October 7, 2023, is now 1,609, with another approximately 16,500 wounded.

There are still approximately 116 kidnapped Israelis and non-Israelis in Gaza. How many are alive and how many dead is not known. In the negotiations with Hamas, Israel demanded a list of those alive and those dead, but Hamas refused. Furthermore, Hamas claims not to know the whereabouts of more than a few dozen of the hostages. Some are in the hands of other groups or even “private” clans who joined the assault on Israel in the third wave of the Hamas attack on 7 October. Thus, for example, the four Israelis rescued since my last report were all held in the private homes of “civilians.”

In addition, 19 Israeli civilians have been killed in Hamas rocket attacks and seven by Hezbollah.

As of last month, a total of 662 IDF soldiers have been killed (42 more than my previous report) on all fronts since and including October 7.

Palestinian casualties

The Gaza Health Ministry, which is controlled by Hamas in its role as the government of Gaza, claims that approximately 37,500 Gazans have been killed so far, and approximately 85,000 wounded. They do not differentiate between personnel of Hamas and other terrorist organizations and civilians, but according to the IDF, at least 15,000 Hamas and other terrorists have been killed. The IDF has also captured many terrorists, though the exact number has not been divulged. From anecdotal information it can be estimated at 3,000-3,500 (there have been no reports of major surrenders over the past month).

Given that Hamas and the other groups had 40,000-50,000 personnel between them (different sources provide different numbers, and there is a problem counting part-timers as opposed to regulars or official “reserves”), these numbers represent a sizeable chunk of their manpower. However, we have no information on the recruitment rate of new personnel, who are perhaps less trained but still add to the numbers. Hamas youth movements (equivalent to Boys Scout movements) conduct basic firearms training from an early age, so they have a recruitment pool of teenagers available to join the fighting.

Until early May, the UN claimed (quoting Hamas numbers) that of the nearly 35,000 Gazans killed in the war till then, 9,500 were women and 14,500 were children; i.e., approximately 68.5% of the killed. Suddenly, two days later, the UN approximately halved the numbers to nearly 5,000 women and 7,800 children; i.e., approximately 36.5% of the killed.

It should be noted that Israel has been consistently claiming its combatant/non-combatant ratio is one of the best and perhaps the best ever achieved by any army fighting in urban areas. These new numbers prove it. In fact, given that the term “children” includes anyone under 18 and that Hamas and the other organizations employ teenagers younger than that as combatants (15-18 year-olds), the ratio is in fact even better than these numbers show. Any civilian deaths are regrettable, but they are unfortunately inevitable whenever combat occurs where civilians are present. When one side deliberately uses them as human shields, this of course happens even more.

Dr. Eado Hecht, a senior research fellow at the BESA Center, is a military analyst focusing mainly on the relationship between military theory, military doctrine, and military practice. He teaches courses on military theory and military history at Bar-Ilan University, Haifa University, and Reichman University and in a variety of courses in the Israel Defense Forces. A version of this article was originally published by The BESA Center.

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Omnicausus belli: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on the merging of all left-wing campaigns into something that’s been christened ‘The Omnicause’

When I saw that there was an opinion piece in The Forward, making the case that it’s yeah maybe not the best idea to ban mask-wearing on the New York City subways in the name of fighting antisemitism, I thought, yes, thank you. It’s an absurd proposal, not least because once you allow for medical […]

The post Omnicausus belli: Phoebe Maltz Bovy on the merging of all left-wing campaigns into something that’s been christened ‘The Omnicause’ appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Stanford University Committee Releases Report on ‘Widespread and Pervasive’ Campus Antisemitism

Students are seen at an anti-Israel protest encampment at Stanford University during the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Stanford, California, US, April 26, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Stanford University in California has found itself embroiled in controversy after a university-commissioned task force revealed widespread antisemitism on campus following Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. 

The Subcommittee on Antisemitism and Anti-Israeli Bias published a 148-page report on Thursday detailing a toxic environment for Jewish and Israeli students at the elite university. The 12-member committee argued that Jewish and Israeli students at Stanford have endured exclusion and harassment on the Palo Alto campus since October. 

Some of this bias is expressed in overt and occasionally shocking ways,” the report read, “but often it is wrapped in layers of subtlety and implication, one or two steps away from blatant hate speech.”

In several instances, the degree of antisemitism was so overwhelming that Jewish students decided to leave their residence halls. The report found that some Stanford Jews had their mezuzahs — small parchment scrolls containing Hebrew verses from the Torah that members of the Jewish community fix to their doorposts — ripped down from their doors. Others claimed to find swastikas scribbled on their doors.

Jewish students also reported having their residences vandalized with the phrases “Free Palestine” or “F—k Zionism.” In some cases, residential assistants (RAs) posted virulently antisemitic and anti-Israel content on their social media pages, fostering a “culture of fear and suppression” for Jewish students, according to the report. Some RAs have gone as far as to encourage students to participate in anti-Israel protests and encampments on campus. 

Stanford faculty and staff have sounded alarms over the allegedly rampant and unchecked antisemitic rhetoric and behaviors on campus. Though Stanford faculty have overwhelmingly expressed support for the free speech rights of anti-Israel protesters, many have lamented the ease with which some Stanford community members spew viciously antisemitic rhetoric on campus. One faculty member alleged in the report that a Stanford professor uses the word “Zionist” as a euphemism for Israelis, an act he claims should constitute “hate speech.”

Israeli and Jewish faculty also reported a sense of “alienation” at the university in the months following Oct. 7. An unnamed Israeli professor stated that none of his colleagues reached out to share condolences after the Hamas terrorist attacks, in which 1,200 people were murdered and over 250 taken hostage during the Palestinian terrorist group’s rampage through southern Israel. The same professor said that the unchecked pro-Hamas demonstrations on campus have left Jews and Israelis feeling rattled and unsafe. 

I was happy living here before Oct. 7. I knew there were antisemites and there were people who hated Israel, but it was striking how there were banners celebrating Oct. 7 on campus,” an unnamed faculty member stated. 

For several weeks beginning in April, anti-Israel activists erected a “Gaza Solidarity Encampment” on campus, refusing to leave unless the school condemned and boycotted the Jewish state. While the school declined to negotiate terms with the demonstrators, Jewish Stanford faculty assert that the university’s administration has been “cowardly” in its response to the antisemitic campus climate. 

“The university’s silence suggests that Jews don’t count; the university leadership is cowardly,” an unnamed Stanford faculty member explained. “The university should take a stand, articulate its values, and enforce them in a consistent manner regardless of who it’s about”

The report detailed many complaints about the structure of Stanford’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives. University affiliates lamented that Jews have been mostly excluded from these initiatives, arguing that Jewish and Israeli students and faculty are among the most marginalized on campus. The committee suggested that Stanford consider removing DEI programs, insisting that they “tend to propagate oversimplified histories and promulgate ideologies about social justice without subjecting them to the critical inquiry that is a core aspect of a university education.”

Matthew Wigler, co-president of the Stanford Jewish Law Students Association, said that antisemitism was “already a deeply rooted problem” on campus for years prior to Oct. 7. 

“I will never forget how during my first year at Stanford in Spring 2016, when a coalition of Jewish student groups tried to address the toxic antisemitism of the time with a student government resolution, a student senator dismissed the issue and suggested Jews control the media, government, and economy,” Wigler told The Algemeiner

Wigler explained that antisemitism has become much more “widespread and pervasive” on campus following the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.

“Now, eight years later, in 2024, when Stanford Jewish students gathered to address antisemitism at a town hall in the same place, we had other students yelling at us outside the event to ‘Go back to Brooklyn!’ while simultaneously shouting that antisemitism isn’t real and we need to stop ‘playing the victim,’” Wigler added. 

Stanford President Richard Saller assembled the Subcommittee on Antisemitism and Anti-Israeli Bias in November amid backlash over widespread anti-Jewish incidents on campus. Less than a week removed from the Oct. 7 attacks, a Stanford teacher reportedly forced Jewish students to stand in a corner and told them the action was analogical to the Palestinian experience. Stanford sophomore Theo Baker published a long-form piece in The Atlantic alleging that several campus parties forced students to say “F—k Israel” or “Free Palestine” to gain entry. 

However, Stanford has recently taken more forceful action to quell antisemitism on campus. Several anti-Zionist protesters were handed felony burglary charges earlier this month for occupying Saller’s office and refusing to leave. Stanford announced that the demonstrators would be  immediately suspended and, if any were seniors, barred from graduating and receiving their degrees.

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