Anglican priest working with US Embassy to persuade handful of Jews who still live in Iraqi capital to leave after their names appeared in WikiLeaks cables. 'The older ones are refusing to leave. They say, 'We're Iraqis. If they kill us, we will die here'
Ynet Published: 10.11.11
Anglican priest Canon Andrew White says the handful of Jews who still live in Baghdad are in danger and that he is working with the US Embassy to persuade them to leave after their names appeared in cables published by WikiLeaks last month, the MCT news agency reported over the weekend.
"The US Embassy is desperately trying to get them out," White said. But so far, according to the report, only one of the community members, who according to the cables is a regular confidante of the embassy, has expressed interest in emigrating to the United States.
"Most want to stay," White said. "The older ones are refusing to leave. They say, 'We're Iraqis. Why should we go? If they kill us, we will die here.'"
According to MCT, the US Embassy said it would take steps to protect the individuals whose names appear in the cables and suggested that should any wish to leave, the US would help relocate them.
"Protecting individuals whose safety is at risk because of the release of the purported cables remains a priority. We are working actively to ensure that they remain safe," the embassy said in a statement.
'Life and death issue'The statement slammed WikiLeaks for releasing the cables, claiming that it potentially put their lives or careers at risk.
White blasted the website as well. "How could they do something as stupid as that?" he said. "Do they not realize this is a life and death issue?"
WikiLeaks did not respond to MCT's request for comment.
White said he was not interested in seeing the Jews leave, but was concerned for their safety.
"We had to warn them of the danger and tell them that we want them all to leave," he said. "I never wanted the Jews to leave Iraq. They belong here."
According to the report, there are so few Jews left in Baghdad that their sole remaining place of worship, the Taweig synagogue, is shuttered, even during the Jewish High Holidays.
One of the cables, MCT reported, recounts the deteriorating conditions one member of the community said Jews faced after US troops toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003, primarily because of the rise of al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Another spoke about some Jews converting to Islam.
"The Jews of Iraq do not appear likely to share in Iraq's future as a nation," the writer said. "They have no children, and cannot contribute culturally or even materially while unable to participate freely in Iraq's public life.
"They remain in Iraq, but not of it, hiding at the center of a country whose majority may, one day, welcome them again, but does not accept them at present."
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