The Forced Migration and Refugee Unit at IALIIS hosted Dr. Abbas Shiblak, an expert on the refugee issue, for a roundtable discussion on 'The Exodus of Iraqi Jews 1950-1952’. The roundtable discussion was chaired by Dr. Majid Shihade and was attended by faculty members and M.A students of International Studies at Birzeit University .
Shiblak presented the Iraqi Jewish community, their movement to and from Iraq, and their contribution to the formation of modern Iraq as well as the Iraqi’s Jewish community early encounters with the Zionist movement.
Shiblak indicated that the Iraqi Jewish community is one of the most rooted, indigenous, assimilated and educated groups inside the Arab and Islamic world. He also indicated the importance of examining their situation which helps in elucidating their identity as an indigenous group in the Orient, and the way they appreciate their relations with their communities and how they dealt with Zionism, especially when we recognize that Iraqi Jews are distinguished in that they view Jewishness from a religious and not a national perspective, and they were not a part of the Zionist project in Palestine which in essence is consistent with the European Colonial regime.
Shiblak analyzed the developments that made the Jewish community under great pressure and burdens since they forced them into a kind of mass hysteria, and as a corollary the exodus occurred between April 1950 and July 1951.
He also pointed out to the role played by key active actors, including the Israeli, British and American leadership, in addition to the Iraqi government at that time. He added that this evacuation could not be considered as voluntary migration.
In conclusion, Shiblak tackled the long-term consequences of this mass exodus and its impact on the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the attempts made by successive Israeli governments to exploit the results of the actual transfer of Palestinian refugees and the Arab Jewish communities alike.