by Max Sawdayee


Thursday January 30, 1969

In an unprecedented press and radio interview our Chief Rabbi Sasson Khadoori declares that the world campaign against the Iraqi government and its hanging of spies is unjust, that the Jews of Iraq, like people of other religions in this country, enjoy complete freedom.

Poor fellow, it is true that he has been under severe pressure by the government, that he is carefully watched by the authorities, and that his son is still in an unknown jail, yet his responsibility as the Jewish community’s principal representative ought to have guided him otherwise.  If he couldn’t attack the Ba’athist criminals for their atrocious of this unhappy community, he ought to have been at least silent.  And silence would indeed be golden.  The declaration he makes today puts him in a most negative light.

Meantime, smaller scale demonstrations are taking place in our district these days.  Our houses are being stoned, and so is the Jewish Frank Iny School.  Fortunately, nobody has been injured so far, but the harassment to all of us is unbearable.

A Christian, an old business friend of mine employed as prison photographer, pays me a visit this evening.  He tells me that those hanged three days ago were so horribly tortured before hanging that it was better they were put to death the soonest possible!  Some of them had their arms and legs broken, others had their chest smashed, others were set o n fire, and others had their entire hands cut off!

Saturday February 1 1969

While our Minister of Information Abdullah Al-Samarrai shamelessly declares in a press conference in Cairo today that more hangings will take place here soon, and while many Arab countries continue to hail the Jewish massacre as ‘the greatest victory since the relapse of the Six-Day War’, Egypt’s widely circulated paper ‘Al-Ahram’ takes a slightly different stand.  It maintains that ‘these hangings came at an inappropriate time and in an inappropriate place’.  Egypt, led by Nasser, must be doubting the justice of these trials, or it probably does realise that such a barbaric policy does not serve the Arab cause after all.  This is a somewhat judicious reaction emanating from an Arab country.

In Israel, Levi Eshkol, Abba Eban and Menachem Begin call for a quick departure of the Jews from Iraq, while some countries such as Canada and Holland open their gates for our emigration.  This attitude on the part of friendly countries of course deserves the highest appreciation, but what is most urgent for the moment is that the sham trials and the hangings be stopped at once.

The Iraqi government claims today that Israel is preparing to strike another blow at the Iraqi forces in Jordan.  That smells very badly.   Few ignore what our butchers actually mean by that.  They are seeking further justification for the war against the local Jewish community and some non-Jews with whom they have accounts to settle.

Wednesday February 5, 1969

Demonstrations continue to rage in many parts of the world against our government and its barbarous policy.  News correspondents, mainly from Western Europe, begin to stream into the country too, for some days now, to observe personally what is going on here.  But it’s very doubtful whether they will be given any possibility to see things for themselves.  They are being constantly watched in their hotels, their movements are under rigid surveillance; and whenever they wish to meet Jews in their houses, in synagogues, or in the Jewish school, they are accompanied by special Party agents who threaten the Jews with immediate arrest if they utter anything bad about our conditions.

Some Jews, however, have told correspondents the whole truth about the situation, and some school students have slipped into the visitors’ pockets small pieces of paper explaining how atrociously we are treated and what other waves of persecution may follow. 

One of the visiting news correspondents asked the President of the ‘Revolution Court’ as to the whereabouts of the wireless set and the weapons which had been the basis for the accusations in connection with the ‘spy ring’, and which in fact should have been kept as trophies by the Court.  The President claimed that they had already been destroyed!  Another, who wanted to visit or interview some of the other alleged spies still in prison, was told that he could not do so lest the spies should convey him a military secret or ask him to transmit a message to agents abroad!  A third, who wanted to go to Basra to see what was going on there, was told by the President that he couldn’t be permitted to do that as many ‘spies’ were still at large in that city, and that he couldn’t go there unless all ‘spies’ were arrest first!

Last night I had a dream.  The setting was the central prison.  I was there, dizzy after being given a special injection by the prison doctor, and waiting my turn to be hanged by Mr Woutwout himself, the President of the ‘Revolution Court’.  I tried hard to scream, but couldn’t. I couldn’t even groan a single word.  At last, when Mr Woutwout came to hang me, he failed.  The rope snapped, and I fell down to the ground.  He tried twice more, but he failed also.

I got so scared in my dream that I jumped from bed.

I know that this horrible dream is my subconscious reaction to the nightmare we are living through.

And I know, too, that I am not the only victim to this grisly nightmare.