(Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

(Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)

By Maher Chmaytelli, Jeffrey Heller, Stephen Farrell - April 18, 2018

Originally appeared here in Reuters

BAGHDAD/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Behind the high concrete walls of Baghdad’s Jewish cemetery, Violette Saul lies at rest under a weathered and cracked tombstone, one of the last memorials to an ancient community that is now all but extinct.

The Iraqi nurse was buried a decade ago alongside thousands of others in the sands of a country where her community thrived for more than 2,500 years.

Drive west to the shores of the Mediterranean - just a day’s journey geographically but a world away politically - and there is a lament inscribed at the entrance to the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Centre in Israel - “The Jewish community in Iraq is no more”.

It is no accident that such a somber epitaph to Iraq’s Jews should be found in Israel, where tens of thousands of them fled after 1948 amid the violent spasms that accompanied the birth of that state.

That transplanting of an educated, vibrant and creative community unquestionably enriched Israel, which celebrates its 70th anniversary on Wednesday.

But it also denuded Iraq of a minority that had long contributed to its political, economic and cultural identity. Read More