Most of Iraq’s Jews left during the 1950s, but some are considering a return.
Iraq’s new leader, the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, has said he would welcome back Jews who were expelled from his country decades ago.
Asked by one of his followers if Jews, who were forced out of the country due to the discriminatory policies of past regimes, could now return under his leadership, al-Sadr responded in the affirmative. “If their loyalty was to Iraq, they are welcome,” he said, adding that Jews who wanted to return to the country could receive full citizenship rights.
The Shiite cleric is sometimes viewed as an ally of Iran, a country whose leadership has repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction. But al-Sadr’s comments demonstrate that he is willing to show some independence from his country’s neighbor.
What’s more, analysts pointed out that al-Sadr has demonstrated a commitment to religious diversity in Iraq in his past statements, and that his political block distinguishes between criticism of Israel’s policies and Jews who are from Iraq and elsewhere. Instead, he is viewed as a nationalist who has also repeatedly called for an end to sectarianism and religious and ethnic divisions in Iraq.