244. Telegram 321 From the Embassy in Israel to the Department of State1 2

[Page 1]


  • Execution of Jews in Iraq
News of public hanging of Iraqi Jews this morning has hit Israel hard. Statement by PriMin Eshkol scheduled for late afternoon Knesset session will presumably set tone for reaction.
Cannot be precluded that GOI will seek find some way to retaliate against Iraq for these executions, but as of now we cannot think how this might be done without further endangering lives of other Jews remaining in Iraq.
Reaction of international community to this act, which Israelis regard as murder of helpless Jews will be important factor. In contrast to death of Israeli in Athens plane incident, these deaths open act by government which Israel will want to see held accountable at least to world public opinion if not to legal conseqences.
Urge Department take lead in public statement condemning executions and calling on Iraq to desist from any further trials and executions, and urge UN, other governments, Vatican, etc. [Page 2] to do likewise. Realize that considerations of Americans in Iraqi hands may involve other dangers, but silence or reticence by USG at this time would have strong adverse effect here.
  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files, 1967–69, POL 29 IRAQ. Confidential; Immediate. Repeated Immediate to London and to Rome, Beirut, Amman, Jerusalem, and USUN.
  2. To preclude Israeli retaliation, the Embassy recommended that the Department strongly condemn the recent public hanging of Iraqi Jews.