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Issam Sartawi supports the two-state solution


The pogrom in Iraq
Uri Avnery Social activist
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I want to take a step back here about how Sartawi came to be involved in this matter. During hundreds of hours of conversations that we had over shared meals, we really got to know each other well. His father was a truck driver during the mandate period and worked on the Galilee-Iraq line, the road which crosses northern Jordan. When the Nakba occurred, they fled. The father, of course, fled to Iraq and therefore Sartawi grew up in Iraq. Even after he emigrated to the United States, Iraq was very important to him and among other things, there was a period in Iraqi history that gave him no rest: that was the uprising in Iraq during World War I when the famous mufti resided in Iraq. Why Iraq? Because he had no other place to go. The British threatened to try him for murder and all sorts of things. He fled to Lebanon and when the British occupied Lebanon he fled to Syria, and from Syria to Baghdad. When the British occupied Iraq again after the uprising, he fled to Italy and Italians pushed him towards Germany. This is a true story. But we will not go into that right now. Although its a fascinating chapter. It convinced me that that our PM is a complete idiot, much more than I thought. Or he is totally mad - its not clear to me.

When the British were expelled from Iraq and came here, they gathered an Army here and returned to Iraq in a military campaign to reclaim Iraq through the land of Israel-Palestine, via Jordan to Baghdad, and also a second column from Syria to Baghdad. Naturally, they conquered everything with ease. On the eve of entering Baghdad there was a terrible pogrom in Baghdad, which had never before occurred in Iraq. There was no hatred for the Jews in Iraq. Jews held very central positions in Iraqi intelligence, and this gave Sartawi no peace. He wanted to know why this had happened. He concluded that the English had organized this pogrom, so they would be able to enter Baghdad as liberators. He worked on this theory and went to England wanting to examine documents at the British War Office, and he discovered that these documents had been sealed for a century or something like that.

אני רוצה לחזור פה צעד אחורה איך בכלל סרטאווי הגיע לעניין הזה. במאות שעות של שיחות בזמן הארוחות וסתם ככה התוודענו אחד לשני. אבא שלו היה בימי המנדט בעל משאית שעבדה בקו הגליל-עיראק, הכביש הזה שחוצה את ירדן הצפונית. וכשקרתה הנַכבָּה והם ברחו, האבא כמובן ברח לעיראק ולכן סרטאווי גדל בעיראק. וגם אחרי שהוא היגר לארה”ב, העניין העיראקי היה חשוב לו מאוד ובין השאר היה פרק בהיסטוריה העיראקית שלא נתן לו מנוח. הרי היה מרד בעיראק במלחמת העולם הראשונה כשהמופתי המפורסם ישב בעיראק. למה ישב בעיראק? מפני שלא היה לו מקום אחר, האנגלים איימו לשפוט אותו בעוון רצח ועוד כל מיני דברים. והוא ברח ללבנון וכשהאנגלים כבשו את לבנון הוא ברח לסוריה, מסוריה הוא ברח לבגדד. כשהאנגלים כבשו את עיראק בחזרה אחרי המרד הוא ברח לאיטליה והאיטלקים דחפו אותו לגרמניה, זה הסיפור האמיתי. אבל אנחנו לא ניכנס לזה עכשיו, זה לא שייך לנושא למרות שזה פרק מרתק בפני עצמו ששיכנע אותי סופית שראש הממשלה שלנו הוא טיפש מוחלט, הרבה יותר טיפש מכפי שחשבתי, או שהוא קצת מטורף, לא בדיוק ברור לי. כשהאנגלים גורשו מעיראק ובאו הנה והם אספו פה צבא וחזרו לעיראק במבצע צבאי לכבוש בחזרה את עיראק דרך ארץ ישראל-פלסטינה דרך ירדן לבגדד וגם טור שני מסוריה לבגדד, והם כמובן כבשו את הכל בקלות. וערב כניסתם לבגדד, אירע בבגדד פוגרום נוראי, שמעולם לא היה בעיראק. בעיראק לא הייתה שום שנאת יהודים. יהודים תפסו מקומות מאוד מרכזיים באינטליגנציה העיראקית, וזה לא נתן לו מנוח, לסרטאווי. הוא רצה לדעת. והוא הגיע למסקנה שהאנגלים ארגנו את הפוגרום הזה, כדי שהם יוכלו להיכנס לבגדד כמשחררים. והוא עבד על זה. הוא הלך לאנגליה ורצה לעיין במסמכים במשרד המלחמה הבריטי, ומצא שהמסמכים האלה סגורים למאה שנה או משהו כזה.‏

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: Nakba, Iraq, Bagdad, Issam Sartawi

Duration: 4 minutes, 19 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 26 June 2017