asher63 (asher63) wrote,

Reading update: 'Unwitting Zionists' - the Jews of Zakho and their background (pp 13 - 32)

Zakho is located in Kurdish country, in what is now Iraqi Kurdistan (northern Iraq), north of Dohuk and near the three-way border with Turkey and Syria. The Jewish community there trace their origins to Biblical times, and the exile of the Jews to Babylon after the destruction of the First Temple.

In the first part of Chapter 2, author Haya Gavish surveys previous written studies of the community, and then describes their position as "a minority within a minority" in Iraq (i.e., Jews living among Kurds in an Arab country). The city is geographically isolated as well, being situated on an island in a river.

Jewish-Muslim relations "were shaped by the delicate balance of power between the formal sovereign in Mesopotamia and local strongmen who ruled areas in Kurdistan." (p.27) Relations between Jews and Muslim Kurds remained generally friendly into the 20th century, although during Israel's 1948 War of Independence "some deterioration ... could be sensed". Overall, though, the relationship is described as "utterly unlike" that which existed in Arab Iraq.
Tags: books, hebraica, iraq, kurdistan

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