The capital of Iraq has always been Babylon. Babylon, Iraq long ago was simply called Babylonia and included not only this main city but the surrounding land extensively as well.
In school, there is always a leader in a classroom. If that leader is taken away, you can count on another springing up. This had to happen out of the poor left for the Judeans, though they didn't do very well.
The exiled Jews, on the other hand, became highly successful in Babylon. The intellectuals among them found in the libraries of Babylon a new world of new ideas. It only took 50 years and these exiled Jews produced people who rose to the top echelons of Babylonian society in business enterprises, in the scholastic world, and in court circles. They had become leaders in commerce, rose to the top as men of learning and became advisors to the king as well.
Nebuchadnezzar II (604-561) had inherited the Assyrian Empire and it was the Assyrians who had attacked Israel in 722-721 BCE and taken away the best of the people there from 10 of the 12 Israelite tribes. That's when Judah had escaped harm and was left with some of the Benjaminites.
Cyrus II the Great was top dog in the land and had taken over from Nebuchadnezzar, gaining his lands which included Judah. He pursued an enlightened policy towards his subject peoples and granted permission to the Jewish exiles of Babylon to return to their homeland and rebuild the Temple. They had been gone for almost 50 years. So here we have an Iranian freeing the kidnapped Iraqi Jews to return to Judah.
|Judeans leaving Babylon to return home to Judah|
So the wealthy Jews of Babylon, who had established successful trade routes and businesses in Babylon, financed zealous returnees who wanted to re-settle Judah. It must have been the more nationalistic and religious of the people who chose to return. First groups leaving failed, but finally, 1,760 settlers, led by the prophet Ezra and the governor Nehemiah, rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem and rebuilt their nation.
They found out that those left in Judah 50 years earlier had become assimilated Jews, either forced or chose to marry into the surrounding people, and seemed to vanish into pagan creeds of their neighbors. The religious leadership had been taken away and no leadership had arisen from this group of remaining people.
It's easy to understand why these poor and less studious Jews hadn't kept up Judaism. They couldn't The first 5 books and Talmud are intellectually complex and sophisticated. Jewish students are required to learn and study "extensive, mentally rigorous laws. The writings are not simplistic or literal. They are designed for the comprehension on multiple, abstract and metaphorical levels." It was probably all the Jews left in those 50 years could do in remembering the holidays and celebrating them. As for Shabbat, they possibly never even met to read from the Torah. They could have been those who hadn't attended in the Temple very much, and with the Temple destroyed, they gave up with the excuse of having no high Priest. It's possible that no one left knew how to read.
Worship in the ancient monotheism demanded literacy skills due to the cognitive demands of the texts. Tradition maintains that understanding the Talmud requires study of 7 hours a day for 7 years. No other religion demands so much of a person. Judaism evolved in such a way that to be a good Jew meant that a man had to be smart enough to understand it besides just saying that there was only one G-d. They had to understand the reasoning of WHY. All the rest of the world was believing in Polytheism, after all. Why did they maintain something so different?
With such a religion that intelligence was a huge virtue, Judah was again populated with the brainy ones. They were the ones sought after as husbands so they procreated and spread their good genes. By marrying the children of scholars and the children of successful merchants, Jews were joining those selected for abstract reasoning ability with those selected for practical intelligence.
They were set to increase and produce intelligent people in their own land for another 600 years which lasted until 70 CE when Rome came along and burned down their 2nd Temple in 70 CE that they had built on their return to Judah in 536 BCE. 600 years. That's a long time for a nation to exist considering that the United States is only 239 years old. Altogether, Judah had been in existence with Jews for the past 1,341 years by the time the Romans ended their record.
|King Faisal of Iraq-2nd from left with beard- with Jewish dignitaries between 1921-1933|
|Jews in Iraq in early 1900s|
|The Iraqi Jewish Fathi Family, 1940. Mother is expecting another child.|
More outbreaks of anti-Semitic rioting happened after the war ended between 1946 to 1949.
In 1948 the Jewish population was 150,000 By 1991 it was 150. The 2,700 year old Iraqi Jewish community had suffered horrible persecution in modern-day Iraq.
|A movie about Jewish Iraqis leaving Baghdad is THE DOVE FLYER, aka Farewell Baghdad shown at film festival in 2014. |
|Operation Ezra and Nehemia when 120,000 Jews were airlifted from Iraq between 1951-1952. They were being expelled.|
them with throwing a bomb at the Baghdad office of the USA Information Agency. 2 were hung for being spies for Israel.
After the 6 Day War when Israel was attacked by multiple surrounding nations including Iraq, more repressive measures were taken. Jewish property was expropriated; Jewish bank accounts were frozen; Jews were dismissed from public posts; businesses were shut down; trading permits were cancelled; telephones were disconnected. Jews were even placed under house arrest for long periods of time or restricted to the cities.
At the end of 1968, the persecution of Jews was at the worst. Many were jailed when a spy ring was discovered made up of Jewish businessmen. 14 men-11 or them Jews, were sentenced to death in staged trials and hanged in the public squares of Baghdad. This happened to the uncle of a teacher I taught with in Safed, Israel who told me about it. He was the jr. high Torah instructor. Other Jewish Iraqis that weren't hanged were tortured to death.
On January 27, 1969, Baghdad Radio called upon Israqis to come and enjoy the feast. Some 500,000 men, women and children paraded and danced past the scaffolds where the bodies of the hanged Jews swung. The mob chanted "DEATH TO ISRAEL and DEATH TO ALL TRAITORS." The mentality of this mob was that of people brain-washed who never had to think deeply about anything. They were just rote-learners. this desplay brought a world-wide public outcry that Radio Baghdad shrugged off by declaring, "We hanged spies, but the Jews crucified Christ."
Jews stayed under surveillance at all times by the Iraqi government. A lucky Iraqi Jew who later escaped wrote in his diary in February 1970 about the Jews coming down with ulcers, heart attacks and nervous breakdowns from their treatment and being spied on. They were being dehumanized by constant humiliation and torment.
|M1A1 Abrams tanks at Baghdad's Ceremony Square|
Today the old Babylonia, Iraq, has had a population of 31,234,000 and 97% are Muslims of both Shi'a and Sunnis. They have lost much of this population to death and destruction in present day warring. They have had the worst of leaders in Saddam Hussein and now have actually almost lost their nation with much going to the new conquerors, the Islamic State or IS, the harshest religious Muslims of all who chop off heads who don't believe as they do, which demands only blind faith in their creed and slavish devotion without any mental understanding. They are a people who really don't have to read and their intellectual level is not complex or sophisticated. They just want action and blood to be kept happy with the promise of much sex in the afterlife. That to their simple minds keeps them going.
Pop, contemporary R&B singer, has a Jewish Iraqi father. Efraym was born in Virginia in 1978. He is known for his "hit single "Wait for You" and placing third on the fifth season of American Idol.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7tUS33rNWY
In Israel "Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, former Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel, was of Iraqi descent.
Update: 3:54pm 8/14/15
Resource: http://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/pellissier20131211 on intelligence
Myths and Facts-a concise record of the Arab-Israeli conflict by Mitchell G. Bard, Joel Himelfarb