Fiona Murphy’s absorbing documentary focuses on members of London’s Iraqi Jewish community to tell a little-known slice of Middle Eastern history
There is a potency and pungency to this brief, absorbing documentary about a part of Middle East history that is often passed over: the Jews of Iraq. It is a story that film-maker Fiona Murphy approaches by talking to those of the expatriate Iraqi Jewish community in London who yearn for their homeland.
After the first world war, British control of Iraq afforded its Jews relative protection. In the 30s and 40s, despite attempts by Hitler’s Nazis to gain a foothold in the country, Iraqi Jews were spared the horrors of the Holocaust, and postwar Iraq prided itself on an easygoing pluralist prosperity. But after the monarchy was brutally deposed, and the country joined the six-day war against Israel, antisemitism became part of Iraq’s righteous new nationalism – although Saddam cynically preserved Baghdad’s synagogue building in the 80s out of deference to his US allies. It is an intricate, gripping family history.