This is the last article you can read this month
You can read more article this month
You can read more articles this month
Sorry your limit is up for this month
MESOPOTAMIA, the land “between two rivers” of the Tigris and the Euphrates which is modern-day Iraq, is the “lost homeland” of this book’s title and it’s where the entire family of its author Carol Isaacs lived, prospered and belonged.
It was there that in 597 BC Babylonian emperor Nebuchadnezzar took 40,000 Jews into exiled captivity, a forced exodus that led many to stay on after Cyrus the Great came to power 60 years later and allowed them to return to Judea.
The ensuing history of Iraqi Jews is both glorious and immeasurably tragic particularly, as Isaacs chronicles, in the 20th century.
Choosing the life-saving emigration encouraged by Israel after WWII, their numbers were reduced from around 150,000 to a mere half a dozen today.
Known and admired for their enterprise, education, culture and as trusted neighbours, they fell victim to consecutive waves of violent and reactionary nationalism.
The anti-semitism propagated by nazi Germany incited wanton murder, looting and destruction, not unlike the 1930s Kristallnacht pogroms in Germany itself.
Racism and xenophobia grew in intensity from the 1950s onwards but many Jews fought back, often in the ranks of the Communist Party.
Isaacs, who has never visited Iraq, lives in a state of multi-location in her graphic narrative. Her daily life is in London but simultaneously she is often spiritually transported to Baghdad to wander the streets or visit old familial places of residence and “look in” on the trials and tribulations of its inhabitants.
Wearing a chador, she moves like a ghost, watched over by the wolf of the book’s title. Endowed with mythical protective powers by the locals, a wolf-tooth amulet is, by tradition, indispensable and Isaacs’s spectre wears it as brooch to fend off evil, human or otherwise.
Movingly, the intriguing graphic narrative of her wanderings is interspersed with minute, single-sentence reflections from family members and others charting their appalling demise in a society deliberately and systematically poisoned with racial enmity.
Timelines signpost the heart-breaking story but perhaps redemption is possible. Isaacs’s internet exchanges with Iraqis of good-will have increased recently and she has been invited to visit the Iraq embassy in London.
Tellingly, in a poll run last year by Al-Khuwwa al — one of the most popular Facebook pages in Iraq — about the possibility of Jews returning, 77 per cent of more than 62,000 respondents were in favour.
Time will tell.
The Wolf of Baghdad is published by Myriad Editions, £16.99.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.