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1989, Operation Babylon (London)

Publisher: Fontana Press
Publication Date: 1989

Operation Babylon; The Story of the Rescue of the Jews of Iraq by Shimon Hillel

A bestseller in Israel and winner of Israel's most prestigious literary awards, this book tells of the exodus of 250 000 Iraqi Jews from Iraq to Israel between 1947 and 1952, with nothing more than the clothes on their backs.
The author tells of his own very pivotal role in this biggest airlift in history.
The world's oldest Jewish community in exile, Iraqi Jews began to suffer increased persecution during the 1930s under Nazi-inspired Arab Fascism. The teaching of Hebrew was prohibited and Jewish cultural programmes abolished.
Then came the Farhud of June 1-2,1941, sparked by the incitement of Iraq's pro-Nazi regime, which had just been removed by the British.
Jewish homes and shops were torched, about 180 Jews were murdered and 240 wounded.
Jews were snatched off the street or dragged out of busses and cars and brutally beaten or stabbed to death.
Violent mobs burst into homes and buchered the Jewish families inside. Not even infants were spared.
Pregnant Jewish women were slit open and left to die in agony.
The pogrom left the Jewish community of Iraq traumatized and terrified.
The author traces the blocking of Jews, by the British, from entering Palestine during holocaust, and the anti-Israel riots that erupted across the Middle East when the State of Israel was proclaimed.
The author himself witnessed anti-Jewish riots in Beirut.
As the fledgling Jewish State fought to survive, anti-Jewish persecution worsened in Iraq.
The balance of events leading to the Jewish exodus from Iraq is traced.
The exodus was partly forced by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Said, who hoped that an infusion of hundreds of thousands of homeless and destitute Jews would cripple the tiny fledgling Jewish State.

The British did nothing to help the Jews of Iraq, as they did nothing to help the Jews of Palestine, as they wanted Arab friendship and support.
It is ironic to read in these days of Iran's threat to Israel's exitance, how Iran then under the enlightened reign of the benevolent Shah Reza Pahlavi helped thousands of Jewsd to escape from Iran.

The author describes the secret preparations and espionage behind the airlift, including a cast of characters such as secret Jerwish agents, British officers, American soldiers of forune, Iraqi pogromchiks and Iranian officials.

The airlift was a heroic chapter, among many, of the Jewish State's efforts to save Jews from murder and persecution.