327. Telegram 201125 From the Department of State to the Embassies in France, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, and Belgium1 2

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  • Iraqi Jews
On Oct. 30 Israeli Counselor of Embassy Yosef Ben-Aharon called on DeptOff to relay information from Israeli Foreign Ministry concerning reports of renewed persecution of Iraqi Jews. According to Israeli reports, Ben-Aharon stated that some time in late Sept. seven members of the Iraqi Jewish community disappeared. At the same time another member of community, which Ben-Aharon said now numbers approximately 250 persons, was murdered in his home. Ben-Aharon continued that Iraqi Jews now fear that Iraqi regime beginning again to persecute them.
Ben-Aharon asked if USG had any confirmation of these reports to which DeptOff replied in the negative. Ben-Aharon then asked what USG might be able to do on behalf of Iraqi Jews, reminding DeptOff of behind-the-scenes USG efforts in 1971.
DeptOff expressed Department’s willingness to study matter but observed that as was true in 1971, it difficult for USG do anything directly on behalf of Iraqi Jews, despite recent arrival in Baghdad of two American FSO’s at the U.S. interests Section. He suggested that Israelis might wish contact other powers, especially French who appear to be only Western state which now enjoys some access in Baghdad. Ben-Aharon appreciated difficulties facing USG. He stated that his government has already decided [Page 2]to approach Western European powers, but wondered if USG might be willing support these approaches. DeptOff promised Ben-Aharon matter would be studied on urgent basis and he would inform Ben-Aharon of final decision.
Same information concerning plight of Iraqi Jews had been conveyed earlier same day by George Gruen, Director, American Jewish Committee, with same request for USG assistance.
Following consultations with Assistant Secretary Sisco, Department Officer on November 3 telephoned Moshe Raviv in absence Ben-Aharon and reiterated USG belief that asking recently arrived USINT officers to intercede at this time on behalf of Iraqi Jews might well place their mission in jeopardy and also probably be counter-productive; emphasized that nonetheless USG will keep this possibility under constant review and will stand ready to consider how to be helpful at appropriate time depending on circumstances; and informed Raviv that meanwhile US has authorized 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.
Action posts requested approach host governments at appropriate levels and (2) a) inform them of Israeli information concerning current situation of Iraqi Jews; (b) request any information which they might have on this subject; and express support of Israeli efforts to interest them in making approaches through their Embassies in Baghdad on behalf of Iraqi Jews, should corroborative information become available.

Following are names provided by Ben-Aharon of Iraqi Jews reportedly being held:

Dr. Ezra Azzam
Jacob Abdul Aziz
David Victor Ezra
Azour Shemesh
Shaul Shemesh
Saul Rejwan
Yaqub Rejwan

In addition, name of man murdered in home is Abraham Saiq.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, SOC 14 IRAQ. Confidential; Priority. Repeated Priority to Baghdad, Tel Aviv, Tehran, and Beirut.
  2. The Department related information about renewed persecution of Iraqi Jews, and requested the Embassies to ask their host governments for information and perhaps an approach to Baghdad.