by Max Sawdayee


Wednesday January 28, 1970

The trauma caused by last Wednesday’s alleged coup d'état continues to take its toll.

The nation is under a tremendous mental and physical shock.  People are counting the living and the dead among relatives and friends.  Yet nobody knows the exact figure of those fallen a week ago. Muslims and Christians are roaming the prisons to inquire, and Jews are inside their homes fearing the unknown.  And worse probabilities may surge violently any minute.  The slightest excuse, the smallest pretext, could lead to the killing of more Jews in an atmosphere of tension and bitterness.  For Jews, it is of great importance that they keep absolutely out of sight for a while, at least until the sky clears up, until the storm subsides a little.

There is no doubt that the field court set up in the Party headquarters under the master killer Al-Jazrawi is still functioning, as some Muslims and Christians have disappeared of late, suddenly, leaving no traces whatsoever.

There is a conscience crisis among Iraqis all over the country.  People just cannot understand how it is that many of them cheered and supported the Ba’ath when it came to power about eighteen months ago.  They agonise how come they didn’t then realise what was going to happen, what was in store for them; how come they didn’t see through the crystal ball of their alert minds what the policy would be of such a fanatical extremist party, whose principal aim is to kill, murder, torture, in order to intimidate the people and stay at the helm of power.

But for the Iraqis the die is cast.  They must be prepared for a great deal of sacrifice to overthrow this nasty regime, unless they choose to keep quiet, succumb to terror, and chew their pain and suffering.

Thursday February 5, 1970

News, not confirmed yet, spreads in town like fire, to the effect that another batch of forty people have been secretly sentenced to death and will be executed within the coming few days.  Many eminent personalities are mentioned among them, including a former minister and two retired army colonels.  We are still ignorant of whether Jews are also in the list.

Iraq openly accuses Iran of ‘planning another coup d’état in our country’.

Iran retorts by adding more fuel to the fire already inflaming the entire nation.

The radio broadcast of the Iranian town of Ahwaz, evidently run by Iraqis opposing the Ba’ath, claims that this Party is planning to stage another show for an all-out massacre of all wealthy Iraqi businessmen, landlords, industrialists, physicians, engineers, university professors, army officers, merchants, and others.  For some five nights now this broadcasting station is mentioning the names of about seventy to eighty Iraqis each night, warning that they are going to be arrested shortly and murdered by the Ba’ath.

What is more puzzling, indeed dumbfounding, is that some of those men mentioned by the Ahwaz broadcasts have in fact been eventually arrested!!!  Knowing this, whole Muslim and Christian families are running to the Passport Bureau, applying for or renewing passports in order to flee the country.  Many have already fled to Syria, Iran or Kuwait one way or another, and many others intend to escape illegally in case they will not get their passports without delay.

Iran has obviously decided to create an atmosphere of panic in Iraq so as to stir the population here to unrest and disorder, and eventually to precipitate an overthrow of our present regime.  And the Ba’athists seize this opportunity to make it swing towards their own selfish benefit, first by not officially denying the information coming from Ahwaz, and then by letting panic prevail in order to consolidate their grasp of power while potential enemies or dissenters get panicked and rendered mentally crippled from taking any active stand.

Saturday February 14, 1970

While the Ba’ath Party keeps searching, chasing and hunting its preys for the kill, the Iraqi Jew keeps wandering, stumbling, and sinking deeper and deeper into his world of worry, sorrow and tragedy.  He encounters insoluble problems.  He writhes in the pain of forced idleness and the agony of persecution.  Many of his friends have been murdered, hanged, held under torture, or chased.  His energy is battered, his money consumed, his patience exhausted, and his spirit broken.  He feels lonely and helpless.  And that might not have been the worst.  The worst may yet come.

At home, under these terrible circumstances the present agony drives the Jew to look back in retrospect on his decent, maybe even happy, past on one side, and to look forward to a nightmarish future.  And in his endlessly boring room, and through his small window, he stares far away, at a rather non-existent target, vainly trying to find something to fill up for a while the emptiness in which he has been submerged.

I am one of the victims to these conditions, and I know what they mean.

My health is deteriorating.  My once cheerful, sometimes childishly cheerful, spirit is at a low ebb.  Four days ago I had my first urinary gravel attack, which passed rather quickly.  After a thorough examination, Doctor said it might very well be a question of nerves and would not recur once I got less worried.  Wife is gravely concerned about my health, trying to cheer me up all the time.  That annoys me even more, as I do not want to be or feel sick.  Life is too great a production and too big a project to waste in sickness at a young age.

Tuesday February 24, 1970

The times we are living through, which are measured by days, hours and minutes, witness a phenomenon rarely experienced I the history of Iraqi Jews, if ever.

The dehumanisation of the Jewish personality resulting from continuous humiliation and torment, and from total loss in the Ba’athist jungle, have dragged us down to the lowest level of our physical and mental faculties, and deprived us of the power to recover.

Ulcer, heart attacks, and breakdowns are increasingly prevalent among Jews.  Nervous diseases are not infrequent among many.  And talking about these painful symptoms is becoming almost a daily routine.

To Muslims and Christians, who are also involved, this state of things is perhaps less oppressing.  So far as they are concerned, there is no persecution against a community as a whole but against individuals or families.  Our case is entirely different.  We are being persecuted as a community, and a tiny one to boot.  And the purpose is to destroy it, and nothing else.  Besides, many options and possibilities are still open to Muslims and Christians.  Anyone of them can leave the country as a last resort whenever he chooses.  But to the Jew no kind of outlet exists.

In this hell that is the Iraq of today, nothing is left to the Jew but to remain at home, yet bored, fall prey to all sorts of illness, and gloomily wait his turn to come, when he will leave his house never to return.