Report: Iraqi delegations visit Israel, meet Jewish-Iraqi experts

Around 15 Iraqi citizens visited Israel recently, Hadashot news reported on Sunday, marking a shift in attitudes in the once hostile country,

January 6, 2019 22:44
Yair Dallal, Iraqi folklore, 2018.

YAIR DALLAL: If there hadn’t been Salima Mourad, there would not have been Iraqi folklore in Iraq in the first half of the 20th century, period.. (photo credit: EYAL TAL)


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Three Iraqi delegations composed of 15 local leaders visited Israel in recent weeks, Hadashot news reported on Sunday evening, the Iraqis visited Yad VaShem, discussed Jewish-Iraqi history with academics and met Israeli government officials.

The under-wraps visit is highly uncommon as, under the late Saddam Hussein Iraq fired missiles on Israel during the first Gulf War and many of its citizens were indoctrinated to view Israel and Israelis in a negative light, despite the important presence of Jews in Iraq since the Babylonian captivity.

The secret visit focused on issues of culture and heritage and included Sunni and Shi’ite members, the report claimed that these were not Iraqi-Kurdish visitors.  

In June, Iraqi representative at the 2017 Miss Universe pageant  Sarah Idan —visited Israel and reunited with Miss Israel  Adar Gandelsman, after a shared photo of the two women caused an uproar in Iraq, forcing her family to relocate.

Noted Israelis of Iraqi heritage include oud player and composer Yair Dalal, the late spiritual leader and former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Ovadia Yosef and illustrator Asaf Hanuka.

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