To Baghdad and Back

To Baghdad and Back

by Mordechai Ben-Porat

Hed Artsi Publishing House-Ma'ariv, 1996
357 pages (Hebrew)

Comment by Prof. Lev Hakak:

About 130,000 Iraqi Jews emigrated to Israel in 1949-1952. 110,000 Iraqi Jews flew from Baghdad to Israel in 1950-1951. Some emigrated through Iran.
About 9,000 jews remained in Iraq (today there are less than 50 Jews in Iraq, most of them are old).
The author of the book, Mordechai Ben-Porat, fled in 1945 from Baghdad to Eretz Yisrael through Syria and Lebanon. In 1949 he was sent back to Iraq in order to organize and direct the emigration of the Jews of Iraq to Israel. This is the story of Operation Ezra and Nehemyiah in which Ben-Porat played a major role.
Ben-Porat provides us with first-hand evidence as a witness and a participant in Operation Ezra and Nehemyia. The story of this very successful operation includes sacrifices, dangers, devotion, conflicts, arrests and torture.
In 1950-1951 there were five bombing incidents in Baghdad which resulted in property damage and losses of life, four incidents involved the bombing of Jewish targets and one American. There is a widely spread rumor that Israel sent agents who bombed Jewish institutes in Baghdad in order to sow panic and expediate the Jewish emigration to Israel. The book includes the first time publication of the full report of the 1960 Ben-Gurion appointed investigation Committee in this matter. "The Committee did not find any factual proof to bombing by any Jewish organization or individual" (p. 245);
"The Committee is convinced, that no entity in Israel gave an order to perpetrate such acts of sabotage" (p. 246).
Mordechai Ben-Porat dedicated his life to public service as an Israeli Cabinet Minister, Member of the Knesset and Chairman of the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center. This is an impressive, well written, thriling and important book, it is a most significant contribution to our books about Iraqi Jewry. It has to be part of our personal library.

To Baghdad and Back
The Miraculous 2,000 Year Homecoming of the Iraqi Jews

by Mordechai Ben-Porat
Gefen Publishing House, September 1998
Hardcover, 367 pages
ISBN 965 229 195 1

Between the years 1949 and 1952, over 130,000 Jews immigrated to Israel from Iraq, thanks largely to the efforts of emissaries from Israel and activists of the 'Halutz' Movement in Iraq. This astounding Zionist accomplishment, known as Operation Ezra and Nehemiah, gave a final glorious curtain call to the ancient Babylonian exile.
To Baghdad and Back retells the story of this historic operation. Furnished with obstacles, sacrifices, intrigues and finally triumph.
To Baghdad and Back is a personal and historic testimony, superbly narrated by someone who was in the hub of this modern day miracle.

Throughout his life Mordechai Ben-Porat served Israel, either as an emissary to Iraq or Iran, or as a member of the Knesset and Minister. Currently, he dedicates his time to the Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center, which he established in Or-Yehuda, the original site of the transit camp where many Iraqi immigrants resided upon their arrival in Israel.
I see this book as an essential historical documentation of a heroic chapter in the underground movement, as well as a testimony to the courage and determination of the pioneers of the Mossad.
Yitzhak Navon
Fifth President of Israel

Ben-Porat has written an extremely important account of the Zionist movement in the Iraqi Diaspora.
Meir Amit
Former Head of the Mossad
This book is a living witness to the magnificient campaign of Jewish immigration from Baghdad and to Ben-Porat's important contribution to this great operation.
Asher Ben-Nathan
Former Israeli Ambassador in Germany and France

My hope is that young people will read it and learn a chapter in the heroism of Israel.
Haim Herzog
Sixth President of Israel

To Baghdad and Back can be ordered from The Babylonian Jewry Heritage Center

About the Hebrew Version of the book