The Palestine war of 1948, at least for the Arab side, was not fought with an objective toward victory. Intended to bring unity to the Arab world, to destroy the Zionist enterprise in Palestine, and to bring pride militarily to the peoples of the Middle East , it accomplished the exact opposite. By the conclusion of the war, the Arab world was less unified than it had been before, the Zionists had established a firm hold on Palestinian territory, and the military prowess of the Arab states left much to be desired according to military historians who have studied them. The country of Iraq, the focus of this paper and struggling to establish a national identity like the other states that made up the Arab League, was a major player in the debacle that allowed the Jews to establish their state in Palestine.

Would the history of the area been any different if the Iraqi involvement in the Arab-Israeli dispute concerning Jews, Jewish immigration and the State of Israel during the late 40s and early 50s not existed? The leaders of Iraq had always considered Palestine to be culturally Arabic like themselves.[1] Therefore, they held a standing policy of rejecting Zionism or any of its aims. Iraq’s leaders believed that the freedom of Arabic peoples in the region actually hinged on the establishment of an Arab state in Palestine.[2]  Iraq was not alone in its objection to Zionism. Its influence was felt throughout the Arab world.  It should be noted that all countries in the Levant and Egypt followed a policy similar to Iraq concerning the possibility of a sovereign Jewish presence in Palestine. “The independence of any Arab state and the Arab League would not be complete if they could not secure Palestine as an Arab state.” [3] Iraq encouraged the most militant stand against Zionist interests of any of the members of the Arab League and was therefore the leader in the opposing the Jewish state through military means if necessary.[4] The history of the area would have definitely been different if Iraq had not been involved in the Arab Israeli dispute during the years 1945-1955. Iraq took the lead during that period by supporting the 1948 war with men and weapons, by creating conditions, which made it impossible for Jews to live in Iraq any longer, and by maintaining a policy of a state of war with Israel in the years subsequent to the war’s end.

The British, who had been previously responsible for administering Palestine, had tried desperately to find a solution to make both parties, Arabs and Jews, satisfied with national arrangements in their respective territories. After almost thirty years, they decided in 1947 that a solution was impossible. Both parties, Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs could not agree on an answer. The Jews, desiring a homeland had decided that any solution must include a plan, which allowed them to govern themselves. The Arabs rejected this notion, insisting that since the Jews were mostly Europeans and an obvious minority, they had no right to rule any part of Palestine. The British then turned the matter over to the newly created United Nations who, upon critical first hand observation decided that the best solution was to divide the country into two independent states, one Jewish and one Arab. The Jews accepted this plan the Arabs refused it. Iraq took the lead in supporting their Arab brothers in their bid to keep Palestine one Arab country, because they believed interests vital to the Iraqi economy were being threatened.[5] Iraqi leaders decided on any support necessary including military intervention providing the decision was in concert with Arab League policy.

One claim vital to Iraqi interests in Palestine was access to Haifa Harbor. Iraqi leaders concluded that if the Jews were to control the country, Iraq would not be able to utilize this port, assuming peace with the Jews was impossible. They insisted that Beirut, the next closest Mediterranean port to Baghdad, was unacceptable as an alternative. Evidence shows however, that there may have been some subterfuge in the Iraqi claim.  The distance from Baghdad to Haifa is approximately the same distance from Beirut to Baghdad, about 800 kilometers.[6] Since the distance was the same from both ports, the use of Haifa as a Mediterranean port could not have been the reason for Iraq to go to war. Therefore, Iraq’s decision to send troops and weapons might have been based more on idealism than on a real fear of Zionist domination of Palestinian land. That is not to say that Haifa harbor was not important to Arab League interests which could have played into Iraq’s claim on some level.  Transjordan, would be hurt by having to use Beirut instead of Haifa as a Mediterranean sea port.[7] Transjordan’s 1948 border was only sixty kilometers from Haifa but 440 kilometers from Beirut.

The Arab League held a conference at Bludan, Syria on June 8-12, 1946, in which Iraq took part. Resolutions were passed to engage in a full frontal diplomatic and political assault to prevent Zionism from establishing a Jewish State in Palestine. In general they called for a boycott of Zionist products. Attention was given to physically preserving Arab lands wherever they may be and this included Palestine. They donated money for the Arab Palestinian cause and most importantly they laid out a general plan for the military defense in case war could not be avoided.


1) To allow the Arab people everywhere to volunteer for the     defense of Palestine with funds, arms and fighters.
In case the United States or Britain decided to carry out the recommendations of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, the Arabs should retaliate with the following steps:
  1. Prevent the two countries and their nationals from gaining any economic concessions.
  2. Refrain from supporting their interests at international organizations.
  3. Consider the cancellation of their concessions and privileges in the Arab states and
  4. Submit a complaint to the security council and the General Assembly of the U.N. [8]


War was not avoidable. The Iraqis, once again taking the lead   planned to send a sizable force in comparison to the rest of the nations participating. However, all the forces combined, including Iraq’s, were far less in strength than what actually existed within each of their military capabilities. There is some evidence that the Iraqis, along with the rest of the warring nations were not entirely convinced they could defeat the Jews in Palestine.[9] Reports of Zionist military strengths were in some cases greatly exaggerated. An appraisal of Jewish potential drawn up by General Ismail Safwat of the  Arab League Military Committee, gave assessments of the Jewish military possibilities that outnumbered and outgunned the Arab military in every category.[10]

During the second week in May,  Iraqi military units moved through the country of Transjordan and were at the borders of Palestine waiting to enter when the British departed. If the number of men and weapons by comparison can measure the commitment to victory in Palestine, then Iraqi involvement can be definitely termed as serious. Iraqi forces numbered 10,000, most of who were stationed at the central front within the West Bank of the Jordan River including Jerusalem [11] Iraqi irregular volunteers took part in the Palestine conflict. At least 800 hundred Iraqi nationals fought with the Arab Liberation Army led by Fauzi el-Kaukj.[12]

On May 15, regular Iraqi army units moved into Palestine taking up positions within the Arab Triangle (that area that is encompassed today between Jenin, Tulkharm and Nablus.) At the start of the war, the Iraqis launched an attack against some Jewish settlements but were driven back by Israeli Defense Forces. Withdrawing to Transjordanian secured territory they waited for reinforcements. They were prepared for a second assault on Zionist forces by May 25. Concentrating on the Jewish State’s narrow geographic middle, two Iraqi infantry brigades and one armored unit moved west from Tulkharm in an attempt to cut Israel in two. IDF forces stopped the Iraqi advance six miles from the coast.[13]

Iraq’s one success against Israel was in the defense of Jenin. With superior artillery and air support they were able to force IDF forces to withdraw from the battle and take positions north of the city. The military situation stalemated at that point. Chaim Herzog, a veteran of that war for Israel explained Israel’s defeat as:

 …the situation of the western Carmeli unit became very precarious, with losses mounting as the Iraqi  pressure grew and their forces overran the Carmeli advance positions. The excessive heat, the inability to bring water forward to the positions over the exposed open terraces covered by Iraqi artillery, the ineffective range of the Israeli artillery, the involvement of Iraqi aircraft and now the ominous move of a new Iraqi column to the area of battle—all increased the precariousness of the situation. Carmel advised Headquarters that holding on in this desperate situation would be worthwhile only on condition that a major effort were made by the Alexandroni Brigade to capture Tulkarem. He was therefore given permission to withdraw from the town of Jenin. This was effected with heavy losses, but the Israeli forces continued to hold all the positions north of Jenin after the Iraqis had regained the town.[14]

At the end of the war a series of armistice agreements were signed between Israel and the nations that participated in the war on behalf of Palestinian Arabs. Iraq however, was the only country, which did not sign the armistice and remained technically at war with the Jewish state.[15] Iraq’s army returned defeated and the Zionists now held more territory than they did before the war. The war of 1948 amounted to a military disaster for the Arab countries that participated in it. The Arab states had felt they had been betrayed by the west, namely Great Britain and the United States. “ (Iraq) accused the United States and Britain of conspiring against the Arabs and supporting the Zionists.”[16] This compounded the already belligerent feeling Arab people had for the Jews in Palestine. Cries for revenge became common in Arab Newspapers. In response, Iraqi leaders made statements like “ Iraq in cooperation with Egypt is refusing to enter any negotiations with Israel before the unconditional return of the refugees, retaining Jerusalem as an Arab city and the disarmament of the Jews.”[17]  Israel regarded these kinds of conditions from the Arab states as nothing more than futile attempts to achieve diplomatically what it failed to achieve militarily, the complete dismantling of the Jewish State.

The expulsion of Iraqi Jews was another method used by Iraq’s leaders to defeat Israel. However, considered a drastic move, Iraq attempted other solutions to the Palestine problem first, one which was totally deemed unacceptable to Israeli authorities. Both of these plans as well as the expulsion of Iraqi Jewry were the brainchilds of Iraq’s chief statesman and sometimes prime minister, a crafty politician named Nuri al-Said. Nuri epitomized the most romantic of oriental culture to western understanding. He rode with Lawrence and had an appreciative, if somewhat myopic view of western thought. He had allied himself with the British during and after World War II, giving his critics political ammunition to bring his administration down for siding with the colonial power. However, he also was impressed with National Socialism, and admired Hitler a great deal.[18]  This fact, and perhaps a sincere desire for revenge against the “colonial entity” now in control of Muslim land in Palestine provoked a series of ideas within Iraq’s political structure of how to destroy the Jewish State in the post war atmosphere of the early 1950s.

Nuri’s plan to end the hostility in the area and bring a sense of unity to the Arab world had varying degrees of acceptance among other Arab leaders. Abdullah of Jordan, formally Transjordan, regarded it as “folly.” But, Nuri was convinced that it could work and therefore put the plan to the Jews by way of Ralph Bunche the UN appointed armistice negotiater.  His  plan, rejected by Israel, had four main points.

First, all of Jerusalem would come under Palestinian Arab rule (although in practice Nuri was not antagonistic toward Abdallah’s ambitions there), with freedom of worship guaranteed. Second, Israel’s frontiers would be guaranteed by the United Nations, and also by Great Britain and the United States, if need be, and Israel’s armed forces were to be disbanded, except for police. Third, all Arab refugees would be allowed to return to their homes or receive compensation if they so desired. Failure to do so, he warned, would bring about the mass expulsion of Iraqi Jewry to Palestine. Fourth, the port of Haifa and the terminal of the Anglo-Iraqi Oil Company pipeline would be placed under international control. [19]

Iraq contained the largest and oldest Jewish community in the Arab world in 1948. Iraqi Jewish history goes back to the Old Testament, beginning when the Babylonian king Nebuchenezzer destroyed the Jewish kingdom on the West Bank of the Jordan River in 585 BCE and forced the surviving population into slavery in Babylon. Although the Jews reestablished their kingdom forty years later with the defeat of Babylon by the Persians, most Jews born in Babylon spoke the language and by that time were culturally tied to Babylonian life, and therefore, elected to stay in that area. This remnant formed the basis for what became a homogeneous community. They proceeded to build over the next twenty-five centuries a communal identity, which allowed them to survive as Jews through Roman, Christian, Persian, Pagan, and finally Islamic rule, right into the twentieth century. Many Iraqi Jews today can trace their roots back to the time of Nebuchenezzer. They enjoyed economic success over the centuries, and became part of the fabric of the culture.[20]

There had been for many years in Iraq an underground Zionist movement that moved people to Palestine whenever they could. After a Russian style pogrom in 1941, which killed one hundred and eighty people, the Jews of Iraq, began to mobilize a defense of the Jewish community in the event it happened again. From this defense some young Jews began to think about leaving Iraq for Palestine. The arrival of Palestinian Jews with the British army during the war created connections between Palestinian Jews and the budding Zionist movement in Iraq.

Clandestine smuggling operations needed to be creatively developed since Zionism was illegal in Iraq and Jews were prohibited under stiff penalties of traveling to Jewish Palestine. Nuri’s secret police uncovered these activities from time to time with dire consequences for those who were caught. Nuri’s “iron fist” policy concerning Zionist activity in his own country only increased the Jewish desire for more plans of moving more people to Palestine.

Thus by 1943, clandestine activity had grown exponentially. Palestinian Jews as part of the British army contacted activists in Iraq and set up an underground system of communication and travel to Palestine. At the war’s end Jewish soldiers no longer stationed in Iraq left the Zionist underground to find more creative ways of moving Jews through the desert to Jewish Palestine. Bedouin guides and certain unscrupulous people were found to help Jews to escape. However, exorbitant fees and the inability to send only a few individuals at a time proved not to be worth it.[21]

After Israel won the war the provisional government put out a diplomatic call for all Jews to return to the Israel, “realize the dream” and help in the rebuilding of the ancient homeland.” Since Israel gave a negative response to Nuri’s four demands in exchange for peace, the Iraqi Jewish community now became expendable. Nuri and his advisors, knowing that Israel was teetering from the high cost of the war, massive immigration might be just thing to tip it over.  Iraq then agreed to allow the Jews who wanted to leave, to do so with certain restrictions. One, they could not travel directly either by train or airplane to Israel. They had to go by way of a third country. Two, they could not take their assets with them. This meant leaving behind millions of dollars of property and possessions as the Jewish community was highly successful. They could only take a suitcase and a small amount of cash. These restrictions were vigorously enforced.

Whether Nuri was fulfilling his threat to expel the Jews from Iraq or he had intended to do it anyway, as some kind of collective punishment is really speculation. The Jews were forced to leave Iraq. Hoping to achieve through subterfuge what they could not accomplish militarily, the other Arab nations followed Nuri’s lead. Jews from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Yemen, and the countries of North Africa allowed those Jews to leave hoping that the burden of so many dependent immigrants would cause Israel to collapse. Many took advantage of their governments allowing them to leave since it was no longer safe for Jews to live in the Muslim world. From 1948 to 1953 700,000 Jews immigrated into a country, which only had a population of a little over 600,000.[22]  Ultimately, the Arab plan failed. In fact, it worked in reverse to what was believed. The Jewish State successfully absorbed all its immigrants by 1958, essentially creating a stronger and more diverse Israel than had been envisioned by its leaders only a few years before.

Iraq, not encumbered by armistice regulations continued its policy of belligerence toward the Jewish State through the 1950s, even to the point of military confrontation. Although the Arab-Israeli conflict was relatively quiet during those years Iraq took part in one more military exchange with Israel during the first years of the 1950s. Allied with Syria and its efforts to harass and confound the Jewish State, Iraq, led by the influence of Nuri defended Arab interests against the Zionists. In 1951 Syria and Israel clashed in the Huleh Valley within the demilitarized zone. Iraq responded to Syrian requests for military aid and sent planes and six 40-milimeter antiaircraft guns. More symbolic than practical, Iraq was the only country that came to Syria’s aid during this crisis.[23]

In the final analysis one needs to ask this question. If Iraq had not played a part in the beginnings of the Arab Israeli conflict during the years 1945-1955, and therefore had no influence on the events that took place during that time would a different history have ensued? There is no doubt in this observer’s mind that Iraqi involvement had a major influence on the actions of the other Arab states. As this paper points out time after time Iraq took the lead and the other Arab states followed. The Arab League states followed after each of the subsequent positions taken by the Iraqi government: 1) Opposing virulently and violently any Jewish sovereignty before the partition vote.  Of the five countries that sent irregulars to fight in Kaukji’s ALA only Syria sent more volunteers than Iraq.  2) Once the partition vote was taken, Iraq supported military resistance to keep the State of Israel from coming into existence, including all out war. Four other nations followed Iraq into that war and two others lent material and financial support. 3) Although opposing the motives of Abdullah annexing the West Bank after the war, Iraq pragmatically supported the move, with the other nations opposing Abdullah acquiescing to Iraq’s decision. 4) When the Jews were expelled from Iraq the Arab world copied Iraq’s move believing in Nuri’s plan that Israel would implode in on itself from the weight of so many dependent refugees.

If the armistice agreements created a military stalemate after the war then the absence of a comprehensive peace treaty after their signing created a diplomatic stalemate. The Arab world continuing to be led by Iraq believed that the Jewish presence in Palestine was a violation of international law on several fronts, the unfair treatment of Arab refugees, the colonial usurpation of legal Muslim land and the encroachment of outside influences forcing the Arab world to accept Israel, namely the United States and Great Britain.[24] For the Arab states this was an unacceptable situation. Therefore, The Arab League continued its struggle against Zionism.

Maybe the most emotional of the issues was that of the Palestinian Arab refugees. As long as they were refused return to their homes and businesses inside Palestine there would be no peace. Israel’s position was that it could not accede to demands, which would endanger its existence. Israel’s leaders felt allowing several hundred thousand refugees to return would create a fifth column, a potentially huge hostile minority in its midst. This was unacceptable to Israel. Consequently, Israel’s unwillingness to move on the refugee question and the Arab League’s intransigence on Israel’s existence removed any possibility of a peace treaty between belligerents. Therefore, Iraq’s leaders led by Nuri al-Said, along with the rest of the Arab League continued a policy of resistance toward the Zionist presence during the years subsequent to the wars end cementing a diplomatic stalemate.

Iraq took much pride in championing the stand against Zionism in the forties and fifties. Their refusal to yield to Zionist military superiority became the model for the rest of the Arab world for decades to come.  For Iraq and the Arab world it was the right policy because it has racked the State of Israel for almost its entire existence.  To put the policy into words I would speculate: If they could not defeat Israel militarily then to make the Zionist place in the middle east as uncomfortable as possible would be the next best thing. Israel’s Arab enemies led by this policy from Iraq succeeded in this objective. From the beginnings of the Jewish State, through the war of 1948, and the years subsequent to the war, Iraq maintained an unyielding stance against Zionism and the State of Israel.

Why was Iraq able to take such a commanding lead in so many of the important positions during and after the War of 1948? Iraq was the only one of the five Arab nations to invade Jewish Palestine that did not have a common border with the enemy. Other than the issue of access to Haifa harbor, which could have been negotiated peacefully if desired anyway, Iraq really did not have the same issues as the other warring nations. Therefore, its position contained more Idealism than a real threat from the presence of a Jewish sovereign state in Palestine. However, by the end of the war there were more Iraqi soldiers in Palestine than any other country. The one part of the Arab-Israeli conflict the Israelis cannot control is making peace. Realizing this advantage Iraq refused to sign the armistice agreements in 1949, deferring it diplomatically to the Jordanians who geographically separated Israel from Iraq. It decimated its Jewish community by forcing the emigration of 125,000 Iraqi Jews into Israel. Forced to leave without their assets the Iraqis sent a message that if Israel was going to continue wreaking havoc in the area of the Middle East, Jews in Arab countries were going to pay for it. Even today, when Jews come out of Iraq, there are many stories of the persecution and hardship faced by the remnant of the Iraqi Jewish community, descendants of those who chose to stay in the 1950s.

Although Iraq failed in its military bid to destroy Israel it succeeded in isolating the Zionist state from the region during those first years. By the time of the Six Day War Iraq was no longer the major player standing against Zionism, passing the mantel to Egypt after Nuri’s death in 1958. But its policies of taking a hard line against the Zionist presence during that time have remained in tact right into the present day.



[1] Abubaker Saad, Iraq and Arab Politics: The Nuri es-Said era, 1941-1958, Doctoral dissertation, Department of History, University of Washington , 1987.

[2] Saad, Iraq and Arab Politics, p.309. “Following Iraqi-Jordanian meetings , February 3-5, 1946, Nuri as-Said and Amir Abdallah announced that ‘Palestine was not only an Arab state, but the whole Arab and Islamic history lay in this state.’”

[3], Saad, Iraq and Arab Politics. P.326. Saad quoted this statement from Fadhil al-Jamali, Iraqi negotiator and representative to the Arab League from Iraq. He made this statement while addressing the Iraqi Parliament, April 17, 1947

[4] Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, The Crystallization of the Arab State System, 1945-1954, Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press, 1993.  p.49. Concerning the Arab League opinions on Palestine, Maddy-Weitzman places Iraq on the most militant end of the scale with Abdullah of Jordan vehemently opposing him on the opposite end, with the rest of the League’s states somewhere in the middle. See page 51 for Abdullah’s reaction to Iraq’s call for military intervention into Palestine. The author describes in detail how the Arab League was eventually swept up into the Palestine conflict, even with severe reservations about doing so, because of popular opinion on the Arab street. “Ruling Arab elites in Egypt, Syria and Iraq were reduced to promoting maximalist pan-Arab positions in foreign policy in order to bolster their positions at home.” P. 53.

[5] Saad, Iraq and Arab Politics, p. 316. The author once again quotes statements al-Jamali gave to the Iraqi newspaper Al-Akhbar, June 21, 1946. “Iraq was the more aggressive and felt that they had more responsibilities than anybody else followed by Syria and Lebanon who gained their independence recently and did not want conflicts with Britain and France. Egypt was not convinced with the idea of saving Palestine yet, and its contribution was mainly a (sic) moral support. Saudi Arabia was advocating surrender to the power of America and Britain and seeking their mercy without creating a confrontation between the Palestinian Arabs and these two states.”

[6] Any Atlas showing the Middle East will bear this out. If there was some other reason why Baghdad could not take its cargo from Beirut, I could not find it. Therefore, the idea of using Haifa harbor as a pretext for going to war was a deception. Emailing Abubaker Saad about this fact contracted no responses on his part.

[7] Negotiations between Zionist principals and King Abdullah’s representatives had been secretly happening after the passage of the UN partition, November 29, 1947.One of the principle negotiating aims of the monarchy was to secure the port of Haifa as Transjordan’s main port from the Mediterranean.

[8] Saad, Iraq and Arab Politics, p. 316

[9] Each Arab country sent a lesser force than they were capable of sending, causing historians to speculate that the Arab cause for Palestine might not have been as serious as they claim. Two theories exist as to why they might have not sent an adequate force to defeat the Jews. One, is that they were so over confident of defeating the Jews in only a few days they did not need a larger force. Hence, Azzam Pasha’s statement about this war being “as simple as a  military prominade,” and the comments about “pushing the Jews into the sea.” And two,  the fear factor rose to the point of hysteria that the Jews were so well equipped that they would destroy the whole Middle East. Both assessments are extremely exaggerated.

[10] Walid Khalidi, “Selected Documents on the 1948 Palestine War,” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 27. No.3 (Spring, 1998), p. 62-72. Examples of Safwat’s expanded assessments are as follows. Total Jewish forces 50,000 fighters, while most accounts do not go over 35,000. “The Jews possess great quantities of light weapons such as rifles and machine guns.” It is hard to tell without actual numbers what Safwat meant by “great quantities,” but the Jews only possessed a little more than 12,000  “light” weapons including 10,000 rifles, 1,900 sub-machine  guns, 186 machine guns, and 444 light machine guns by the time of partition. Even with allowing for more clandestine shipments of arms confounded with an international arms embargo to the region, these numbers do not even supply half of the IDF at the start of the war. Israeli numbers come from David Ben Gurion, “Years of Challenge” Israel: Massadah, 1963, p. 21. I would conclude from this that Jewish propaganda reports designed to give the Arabs the impression that they were much better equipped than they were, were responsible for the misinformation that Safwat reported to the Arab League Military Committee as late as April, 1948. Apparently, this part of the psychological war played by the Jews was successful.


[11] Chaim Herzog, “The Arab Israeli Wars: War and Peace in the Middle East from the War of Independence Through Lebanon,”  New York: Vintage Books, 1984. p.23.  Herzog states that these ten thousand men consisted of  “four infantry brigades, an armoured battalion and supporting troops, in addition  to an air unit.” See also Saad, Iraq and Arab Politics,p.161 a block quote from Saad’s dissertation quotes Howard Sachar, Europe leaves The Middle East, 1936-1954, New York: 1972, p. 535. Saad quotes Sachar saying that they came in with 8000 soldiers of which 3,500 were combat troops.

[12] Khalidi, “Selected Documents,” p.63. This comes from Khalidi’s introductory notes. He does not cite the source, however, the introduction comes before Safwats letter of military assessments. So one would think that those kinds of numbers would be part of Safwat’s troop strengths. Safwat’s breakdown of ALA troop assessments does not include this national breakdown.

[13] Herzog, “Arab Israeli Wars,” p. 56. Stopping the Iraqis “six miles from the coast” at first glance appears that the Iraqis almost succeeded in their assault. However, that part of the country from United Nations designated Arab territory to the coast is only slightly over eight miles. Therefore, the Iraqi advance was repulsed less than two miles into Israeli designated territory. Counter assaults by Israeli forces in the Arab Triangle to take Jenin precluded a second strike to try to cut Israel in half. The Israeli north was never again in danger of being cut off from the Israeli south.

[14] Herzog, Arab Israeli Wars, p. 58.

[15] Howard M. Sachar, “A History of Israel from the Rise of Zionism to our Time,” second edition, New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1996,  P. 349 “On March 19, (1949) the Iraqi government informed Bunche (UN mediator) that it had authorized the Jordanian delegation to negotiate in its place, and that its troops would then be withdrawn. They were. As matters turned out, Iraq was the only one of the Arab belligerents not to sign an armistice agreement directly with the Jews.” Sachar goes on to say that this fact allowed Baghdad to “adopt a verbal hostility” against the Jews that was even more vitriolic than Israel’s neighbors. Since they had no common border with the Jewish state, Sachar concludes that they were not obligated “to translate words into deeds.”

[16] Saad, Iraq and Arab politics. P. 369. This statement made by Iraq’s minister of defense in response to the acceptance of the second truce of July 18. Transjordan, Egypt and Iraq gave as the official reason for ending the war severe shortages of “military hardware.” On page 377, he quotes Colonel E.H. Hutchinson, the head of the Israel-Jordan Mixed Armistice Commission, “It was a short war…marked by outside intervention, Arab disunity and unlimited Aid to Israel from the West.” Saad does not come out and say it directly but leaves the impression through this passage that even though the Bassan statement forced him to resign his post, the feeling that somehow the Arab world was betrayed by the west was believed by many people.

[17] Saad, Iraq and Arab Politics, p. 398. This statement was made by Fadhil al-Jamali, Iraqi statesman and member of  the Iraqi parliament on May 3, 1949.

[18] Saad discusses Nuri’s connections to the west and to the British without ever mentioning his dalliances with Nazism. However, other historians, (see From Time Immemorial by  Joan Peters and Operation Babylon by Schlomo Hillel)  have pointed out that Nuri’s orientation toward western thinking also included an admiration of Hitler and Nazism. This is cited as the cause of the Farhoud riots of 1941. It was during this time that the Nazis were already exterminating thousands of Jews a day in Russia and Poland. The desperation on the part of Palestine Jewry to unite the remaining Jews of the world in the struggle for independence in Palestine must have been overwhelming. Zionist historians writing from that dark period called the fight for independence in Palestine the only hope left for the survival of the Jewish people.



[19] Maddy-Weitzman, Crystallization of Arab System, p.94-95


[20] Paul Johnson, “ A History of the Jews” New York: Harper and Row, 1987, P.78. See Also Abbas F. Shiblak, The Lure of Zion:The Case of the Iraqi Jews, Worcester: Billing and Sons Ltd., 1986, p. 17-28 passim.

[21]Schlomo Hillel, Hillel, Schlomo, Operation Babylon: Jewish Clandestine Activity in the Middle East 1946-1951, Glasgow: William Collins and Sons Co. Ltd., 1988, p. 30-93. passim. One such plan which showed promise because it could move fifty people at a time, was operation Michaelburg. Two ex-patriot American fliers flying contraband around the Middle East were not particular about their cargo as long as the price was right. The Haganna engaged the Americans and hatched a plan to fly out of Iraq without detection from the Iraqis and land in Palestine five hundred miles away unknown to the British authorities. It was a daring adventure to say the least. And, it was successful. However, the Americans demanded more money for a second flight along with some other unreasonable perks and the plan was scrapped.

[22] S.N. Eisenstadt, The Absorption of Immigrants: A comparative  Study based mainly on the Jewish Community in Palestine and the State of Israel, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd., 1954,  P. 109

[23] Maddy-Weitzman , Crystallization of Arab System, p.161

[24] Maddy-Weitzman, Crstallization of Arab System, p. 166. “The Arab position during these years was summed up by Azzam Pasha: Until Israel was ready to make concessions regarding Arab refugees and territory, in line with U.N. resolutions, there was no advantage in changing the present situation…”


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