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Thursday, 16 August 2007

Will the last Jew out of Baghdad please pull the drapes?

OK, corny title. But at least original. TIME's article is called The Last Jews of Baghdad. Here's an intersting quote:
"I don't want them to leave at all because the Jewish presence here is very important," White says. "But unless we care for them, I dread for what is going to happen to them. I do not want them to leave, but I think that is the only way."
I'm not sure what he's referring to. The presence of eight people on the Ark was certainly important, but how would ancient Babylonia suffer from eight fewer people who live in hiding already, too afraid to even worship at the last synagogue?

Actually, I think their departure would be far more significant. For thousands of years the Jews of the Diaspora have persisted in refusing to return from exile. Events of only the last 90 years have turned what for 2500 years had never been more than a trickle into a flood that has continued to gush forth in wave after wave of Jews returning to the land promised to the seed of their ancestor. To finally have the last Jew leave the land of their original exile would seem to portent something very significant.

The same scene may soon be played out in Iraq's neighbor to the East, the former Persia, where Daniel first read of the impending end of Jewry's forced exile. Here remains the largest Jewish population in any Muslim country, though only a quarter of its former size. While three-fourths have left Iran because they thought they could live better elsewhere, most of those who remain won't leave as long as they are reasonably sure it's the only way to live at all: Why leave? Really, it's OK here, and it's home"

Should conditions in Iran approach those in Iraq, the entire remnant of the Babylonian and Persian captivities may well find themselves elsewhere.

Where's that? Well, mostly not in Israel, for now anyway. America is the preferred destination; this does not bode well for that nation should a time come when all Jews everywhere will feel compelled to return to Israel. The only way it will happen here is if a virulently anti-Jewish regime comes to power. And that will not bode well for a host of people other than the Jews themselves.

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