April 17, 2006

Who bombed Baghdad and why?

It's an old story of bombings of Jewish targets in Baghdad back in the early 1950s. Here's Tom Segev in Ha'aretz writing about an event in the history of Israel and Arab Jewry that is still controversial today.
Now, a recent publication is shedding new light on the mystery. The revelations come from Yehuda Tager, an Israeli agent who operated in Baghdad, was exposed and spent about 10 years in prison there. According to Tager, the bombing of the Masuda Shemtov synagogue was not carried out by Israelis, but by members of the Muslim Brotherhood. However, at least one activist from the Zionist underground, Yosef Beit-Halahmi, did apparently carry out several terror attacks after the arrest of his comrades, in the hope of proving to the Iraqi authorities that the detainees were not involved in these actions. This is the first time someone involved in the episode is confirming that members of the Zionist underground did commit bombings in Baghdad.

The interview with Tager, now 83, appears in a new book by the British journalist Arthur Neslen, titled "Occupied Minds." Tager quoted a conversation he had with Beit-Halahmi's widow: "She said she had asked him (if he had thrown the bombs) and he had replied that if a bomb was thrown while we were in prison, it would have proved that it was not us who bombed the Masuda Shemtov. She implied that he, on his own initiative, without orders from Israel, did it in order to save us."
I've read Arthur Neslen's book and it impresses and annoys me that he sits back and lets the Israelis speak for themselves, only occasionally interjecting with his own questions. I'm thinking "say something Arthur." But of course that's just me missing the point.

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