Operation Ezra and Nehemiah (Ali
Baba) The exodus of over 120,000 Jews from Iraq to Israel (c. 1950, 1951)
The name of the operation is derived from the biblical story about Ezra and Nehemiah
Early 1940s • Anti-Semitic propaganda, esp. anti-Zionist propaganda incites feelings of anger
against the Jews of Iraq
1947 • The Iraqi government makes emigration to Mandatory Palestine (Israel) illegal
1948 • The Jewish State, Israel is established. In response, the Iraqi government deems Zionism a
1949 • Jewish persecution reaches an all time high (many Jews are falsely accused of Zionist ties,
1950 • The Iraqi government passes a special bill allowing Iraqi Jews to emigrate. (2) In September
of that year, Nuri Al-Said becomes prime minister of Iraq … his agenda is blatant: to get as many
Jews out of Iraq as possible.
1951 • The Iraqi government (under Nuri Al-Said) organizes an airlift operation. Nuri Al-Said
encourages Iraqi Jews to leave, or he will “bring them to the borders himself.” (2) 50,000 Iraqi Jews
sign up within the first month, and 90,000 within the next two. The Iraqi Zionist movement calls
for Jews to sign-up … and the numbers continue to grow. (3) Between May 1951 and early 1952,
over 120,000 Iraqi Jews are airlifted to Israel. Only 6,000 Jews remained in Iraq …
The Importance of Operation Ezra and
The biggest modern exodus
What’re the implications for Israel?
What’re Implications for Iraq’s remaining Jews?
How is Operation Ezra and Nehemiah
It is a product of nationalism
Provides insight on currents issues / relationships