James Edward Johnson

my thoughts from right to left

Archive for June 2011

The Irony of Today in Jewish History

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Today marks great tragedy and great triumph for the Jewish people.

Seventy years ago today, for two days in 1941, pro-Nazi Arabs rioted against the Jews of Baghdad.  In a wave of violence, the Jews of Iraq were destroyed on a shocking scale – even in the context of the developing Holocaust. In the Farhud, which means “pogrom” or “violent dispossession”, approximately twice as many Jews were killed in Iraq as were killed during Kristallnacht in Germany.   The only reason the Nazis did not succeed in exterminating the Jews of Iraq is that the British regained control shortly after the Farhud.  Even still, Baghdad would be nearly Jew-free within the next ten years.  One of the major centers of Jewish life for approximately 2,500 years was destroyed.

Forty three years ago today (on the Hebrew calendar), another center of Jewish life was restored.  In 1967, Jews had been barred from their holiest sites in Jerusalem for 20 years – during the Jordanian occupation of the city.  Although day-to-day control of the Temple mount, Judaism’s holiest site, remains under the authority of the Islamic Waqf, it and the Kotel, or Western Wall, was opened to the Jewish people under the sovereignty of the Jewish state.  The return of this area to Jewish hands is marked by Yom Yerushalayim.

So, while on this day we remember a terrible tragedy and the destruction of a center of Jewish life, we also remember a great victory and the restoration of a center of Jewish life.

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Written by JamesEJ

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 6:13 am

Posted in history, israel, judaism