Rescuing Jewish People in Iraq and Syria – “Where are your Jews?”

Lately, Hillel Neuer, head of non-profit organisation “UN Watch”, challenged the UN countries that were accusing Israel of Apartheid with the question, “Where are your Jews?” The Jewish people have been in great danger in Middle Eastern countries, often leaving only a handful remaining. There were once some 80,000-120,000 Jews in Egypt until only a few decades ago. Today there are 18, mostly elderly Jewish ladies [1]. The Jews of Iraq and Syria have also fled.

The Jews of Iraq Endangered

“He is calling for his personal human rights, yet he did not provide that for the Jews of Iraq. He listed the names of all seven and their addresses here in Baghdad and named me as the person who is helping them. All those who endanger the lives of others in such a way should be held to account for their actions,” wrote Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad, about Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks [2]. “The way that he released sensitive information from the US Embassy here in Baghdad was despicable.”

White has a passion for the people of Israel. God put the Jewish people on his heart many years ago, leading him to study the Jewish faith here in Jerusalem, but God sent him to serve in Iraq, where he stayed even as ISIS massacred his congregation week by week. Serving in an extremely dangerous environment, he earned his title of “Abuna” (father) to the Iraqis among he loved so dearly until eventually the threat became too great and the bounty on his head too high. He now lives back in Jerusalem, where he often speaks out on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, as well as Christians in the Middle East who are being persecuted. Both communities are being erased in war-torn Iraq.

Syria, where are your Jews?

Also hitting our headlines daily is the traumatised country of Syria, where the Jewish community is in great danger, but thanks largely to the efforts of one Canadian couple, most have been helped to escape. In the mid 1970s, Judy Feld Carr and her late husband started to smuggle out the Jewish community who were banned from emigration and tortured if they were caught trying to leave.

In total, they bribed officials to allow the safe passage of 3,228 Jews out of Syria, “One at a time.”[3]

People knew about the difficulties that Russian Jewry were experiencing as they tried to make it to Israel in the seventies, but little was known about those in Syria. However, in 1975 they heard about a coded message from Syrian rabbis asking for help, saying, “Our children are your children. Get us out of here!”

Two years later, they helped the first Jew to escape. It was a slow process, and a steep learning curve, but over almost 30 years, they helped to arrange the mass exodus of over 3000 Jews in need of help. She was often accused of being a spy, both by Syrian and by Israeli services, but she says; “Let’s face it: I’m a mommy who lives in Toronto. I’m not an expert in foreign intrigue… It doesn’t blend at all with what my former profession was and being a mother of six kids. But the fact was that, after a long period of time, some of the men and women who were in the [Israeli secret service] certainly respected what I was doing.” Even so, she knows that she could never go to Syria because of the threat to her life there, and even chooses not to see those who are rescued, keeping matters as secret as possible. “They would make these huge lunches and dinners and buy me presents and flowers and jewelry — things they couldn’t afford. I don’t want that,” she says. “The only ones I had some contact with were the ones I took out of prisons. Because they needed a lot of stroking and a lot of hugging.”

In 1995, Yitzak Rabin who was prime minister at the time honoured her many years of hard and dangerous work, saying, “Very few people, if any, have contributed as greatly as you have. The Jews of Syria who were rescued and the State of Israel owe you so much, and will never be able to reward you as you deserve.”

We know that God has promised a blessing on those who bless his people and a curse on those who curse them. Please don’t be afraid to stand with the people of Israel in these perilous times, and to do all you can to bless them, whoever you are, and wherever you may be.

“I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:2-3

 

[1] AFP News Agency
[2] From a 2012 update from Canon Andrew White, click here to view his post
[3] From article in The Times Of Israel, August 17 2012 click here to read article

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