The New Babylonian Diaspora

The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Community in Iraq, 16th-20th Centuries C.E.


The New Babylonian Diaspora: Rise and Fall of Jewish Community in Iraq, 16th–20th Centuries C.E. provides a historical survey of the Iraqi Jewish community's evolution from the apex of its golden age to its disappearance, emergence, rapid growth and annihilation. Making use of Judeo-Arabic newspapers and archives in London, Paris, Washington D.C. and other sources, Zvi Yehuda proves that from 1740 to 1914, Iraq became a lodestone for tens of thousands of Jewish immigrants from Kurdistan, Persia, the Mediterranean Basin, and Eastern and Central Europe. After these Jews had settled in Baghdad and Mesopotamia, they became “Babylonians” and ‘forgot’ their lands of origin, contrary to the social habit of Jews in other communities throughout history.

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Biographical Note

Zvi Yehuda, Ph.D. (Jerusalem, 1982) is the director of the Research Institute of Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center (Israel) and the editor of its publications. He has authored or edited more than twenty volumes published numerous articles and five documented films. He is also responsible for the research in the Babylonian Jewry Museum.

Table of contents

List of Figures and Maps
List of Abbreviations

 To be Babylonians
 Modernization without Assimilation
 Amiability and Animosity
 Leadership under Muslim-Arab Rule

Part 1: Five Centuries of the New Babylonian Diaspora

1 From Destruction to Revival
 The Disappearance of Babylonian Jews
 The Beginning of New Babylonian Community
 The Emergence of Lay and Spiritual Leadership

2 Rise and Fall of the New Babylonian Diaspora
 Authority in Change
 Return to Babylonia
 The Economy in Transition
 En Route to Modernization
 Modernity and Communal Organization
 A Dream Which Was Not to Be
 Return to Zion
 Exodus Babylon

Part 2: Studies on Political Issues

3 The Jewish Blood-libel Against Christians in Basra (1791)
 Basra in the Eighteenth Century
 Jews in Basra in the Eighteenth Century
 Christians Accused of Murdering a Jew for Ritual Purposes
 The Christian Response
 Christian Attempts to Refute the Libel Foiled
 Escalating Confrontation between Jews and Christians
 Christians Turn to Europe and India for Help
 The British Envoy Visits the Pasha

4 Struggle of Iraqi Jewry for Control of Prophet Ezekiel’s Tomb at Kifil (1860)
 Basis for the Jewish Claim of Ownership over Ezekiel’s Tomb at Kifil
 Muslims Take Over Ezekiel’s Tomb at Kifil
 Control of Ezekiel’s Tomb at Kifil in the 14th–18th Centuries
 Jews of Iraq Regain Control of Ezekiel’s Tomb
 Jews of Iraq Foil the Muslim Attempt to Take Control of Ezekiel’s Tomb
 Muslims Changed the Compound of Ezekiel’s Tomb

5 Events Surrounding the Burial of Rabbi Abdalla Somekh (1889) and their Consequences
 State of Research and the Sources
 Background to the Events
 The Course of Events
 Appeal to the Turkish Government
 Request for Assistance from the Jews of England
 Request for Assistance from the Jews of France
 Appeal to Jewish Public Opinion
 The Muslim Takeover of the “Ha-Cohen” Courtyard
 Intervention by the Turkish Government
 Jews on Trial

6 The Pogrom (Farhud) of 1941, Reexamination
 Research on the Farhud
 Dr. Fritz Grobba and the Pogrom
 Outbreak of the Pogrom
 The Course of the Pogrom
 Those Responsible for the Pogrom
 Denial of the Pogrom
 Map of the Farhud Pogrom
 List of Victims of the Farhud



All those interested in the history of Iraqi Jews and Jewish and Middle Eastern studies. Many believe that the descendants of Jews exiled to Babylonia are the Iraqi Jews of the last century. New historical evidence proves that new Babylonian Diaspora emerged in Iraq.

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