203. Telegram From the Department of State to Selected Diplomatic Posts1

25971. Subj: Detention of Iraqi Jews. Ref: State 20281.2

1. Dept has repeated you most recent cables this subject. Following is summary of earlier history, from time problem was first raised with us.

2. On Oct. 30 Israeli EmbOff called to relay information from Israeli Foreign Ministry concerning reports of renewed persecution of Iraqi Jews. According to Israeli reports, some time in late September seven members of Iraqi Jewish community disappeared and another was murdered in his home. Israeli EmbOff said Jewish community now feared Iraqi regime beginning again to persecute them. He asked what USG might be able to do on behalf of Iraqi Jews and recalled behind-the-scenes USG efforts in 1971.3 We agreed study matter, but pointed out it difficult for USG to do anything directly on behalf of Iraqi Jews. We suggested that Israelis might wish contact other powers, especially French. Israeli EmbOff stated his government already decided to approach Western powers, but wondered if USG might be willing to support these approaches. Same information concerning plight of Iraqi Jews had been conveyed earlier same day by American Jewish Committee with same request for USG assistance. Following consultations [Page 600] in Department we told Israeli Embassy we had asked our Embassies in Paris, Madrid, Rome, The Hague and Brussels to inquire of their host governments concerning the current situation of Iraqi Jews and to express U.S. support of Israeli efforts to interest them in the plight of these Jews.4

3. In late November, as result our inquiries, Dept was informed that all persons detained had been released. In early December, however, it was reported that these persons had been arrested again, or were perhaps never released, and some additional Jews may have been arrested. Dept then initiated another series of diplomatic efforts to ascertain facts, and request the West European powers to urge the Iraqi Government promptly to release detainees.

4. Recent information concerning status of Jews detained in Baghdad continues to be fragmentary. New York Times front page article from Tel Aviv dated February 7 reports “Nine or ten prominent members of the dwindling Jewish community in Iraq have been executed in prison during the past few weeks.” This report is in line with Israeli Embassy information cited reftel.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 14 IRAQ. Confidential. Drafted by Cochran (NEA) and cleared by Korn (NEA/ARN). Sent to Vienna, London, Geneva, Stockholm, Helsinki, Oslo, Ottawa, Brasilia, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Caracas, Santiago, Montevideo, Bonn, Canberra, Tel Aviv, Baghdad, USUN, and Beirut.
  2. In telegram 20281 to selected posts, February 2, the Department reported that the Israeli Government had asked for U.S. support of its requests to friendly governments to intervene with Iraq on behalf of the imperiled Iraqi Jewish community, members of which were being arrested. (Ibid.)
  3. See, for example, Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–4, Documents on Iran and Iraq, 1969–1972, Document 284.
  4. See ibid., Document 327.