Six Day War of 1967 - 3rd Arab Israeli War




Six Day War: impact on Jews in Arab Countries


The defeat of the Arabs by Israel in the war of 1967 led to another frightening reign of terror against the Jews. The leaders of the Ba’ath party used Anti-Semitism to unite the rest of the country against ‘the Zionist threat’. In 1968, President Bakr made a speech carried live on Iraqi television in which he declared, "We shall strike mercilessly with a fist of steel of those exploiters…of imperialism and Zionism." He even called out to the crowd of thousands," What do you want?" The answer would be a thunderous "Death to the Spies (Jews)! Execution of all the spies without delay!"

Public hangings of these so called spies in Baghdad’s main square, the rounding up of men into prisons, and the torturing of an innocent many sparked, once again, the illegal fleeing of Jews out of Iraq in the 1970’s. They fled across the northern border, into Iran, and then onto Israel and other countries. (see Saeed Herdoon, Surviving Saddam )

" War broke out and any hopes for a brighter future were lost. At this time there were roughly 3,500 Jews in Baghdad living in morbid fear of retaliation. Too frightened to leave their homes they shut up their businesses, rationed provisions and kept their children away from school, while out in the streets 'the atmosphere was electric' as if the people couldn't wait for the bloodletting to begin.

When it did dozens of Jews were jailed on trumped-up charges or raising funds for Israel or working as agents of imperialism. Many of them would spend years languishing in prison, being told each day that they would be hanged before nightfall, with their families never knowing whether they were alive or dead*. Beyond the prison walls, the rest of the community was suffocating under senseless assaults on its freedom. Phone lines to Jewish households were cut, bank accounts frozen and trading licences revoked. On radio and television, ministers called on loyal Muslim citizens to sever their social ties with Jews and to cease trading with them. And the State Security Department recruited some 3,000 secret police in civilian clothing to watch Baghdad's remaining Jews around the clock: one spy for every adult Jew. "

- Marina Benjamin Last Days in Babylon: The Story of the Jews of Baghdad

* some 22 Jews disappeared without trace

BACK to Recollections from Arab Countries