Shiite Arab Muslims during the Farhud Pogrom in 1941

The nightmarish deterioration of the Jewish community in Baghdad reached its horrifying zenith on the eve of the Shavuot holiday in 1941. In a monstrous spree of bloodshed and terror, 179 innocent men, women, children, and the elderly were savagely murdered in the Farhud pogrom. Eddie Moore, one of the few remaining survivors, has immortalized his haunting memories in a poignant book, detailing the unthinkable atrocities that befell his birthplace before he found refuge in Israel—a beacon of hope that ultimately saved Arab Jewry from total annihilation.

Eddie was a mere 5 years old on that fateful eve of Shavuot, 82 years ago, on June 1, 1941. "The lux lamp and the lanterns were extinguished and prepared ahead of time, the house was cleaned and properly prepared for the holiday of Matan Torah. Many foods were prepared, and a large banquet table was set up in the courtyard of the house,” Eddie recalls. This idyllic scene of celebration was soon to be shattered by unimaginable horror.

The nightmare began as Eddie, his uncle, and a family member boarded a large taxi. As they traveled through Baghdad, they found themselves trailing an old taxi. In the middle of the road, in the infamous 'Shaar Zakan' neighborhood—a hotbed of Shia extremism—a ferocious mob swarmed the street, blocking their path. The mob, a frenzied sea of hatred, chanted vehemently against the British and the Jews, brandishing daggers, hatchets, and kitchen knives. The cacophony of their war cries sent shivers down the spines of Eddie and his companions. The taxi in front of them was halted by the rabid crowd, and Eddie's taxi came to a stop behind it.

Before their very eyes, the mob descended upon the taxi in front, dragging out the Jewish passengers and brutally slaughtering them in an orgy of violence. Miraculously, Eddie's Muslim driver, with nerves of steel and a heart full of compassion, managed to maneuver them out of the clutches of death, ensuring their escape from the bloodthirsty mob.

Eddie's harrowing account marks the onset of what Iraqi Jewry would come to know as the "Farhud." This brutal pogrom, fueled by a toxic mix of Nazi ideology and deep-seated anti-Zionist and antisemitic fervor, triggered the mass exodus of Iraqi Jews, who were forced to abandon their once-thriving lives and seek safety in Israel.

"In the days following the Farhud, we witnessed our Arab neighbors parading around in clothes looted from our homes, but this was merely a trivial affront compared to the cascade of horrors that unfolded. Devastating news poured in relentlessly. We learned that our closest neighbors, a family of ten, had been mercilessly butchered. Over 150 Jews were slaughtered, and entire Jewish neighborhoods were ravaged, their homes looted, destroyed, and set ablaze," Eddie recounts, his voice trembling with sorrow and rage.

The Farhud stands as a gruesome testament to the relentless persecution endured by Jewish communities across the Arab world. This tragic episode precipitated the flight of nearly one million Jews from Arab lands, a diaspora driven by fear and the need for survival. Remembering the Farhud is crucial, as it underscores the suffering and resilience of Jews in the Middle East and North Africa. Their survival and fortitude are enduring symbols of the indomitable spirit of the Jewish people, who, despite facing relentless hatred and violence, have continued to thrive and contribute to the world.

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