[T]he Jews of Baghdad found themselves caught between Hitler's master plan to dominate Europe and the Arab-Jewish conflict in Palestine. At stake was the oil Hitler needed to succeed.
That day in 1941, on the Jewish festival of Shavuot, the sight of Jews returning from the Baghdad airport to greet the returning Regent Abdul al-Ilah, ruler of Iraq, was all the excuse an Iraqi mob needed to unleash its vengeance.
The attack began at 3 PM, as the Jewish delegation crossed Baghdad's Al Khurr Bridge. Violence quickly spread to the Al Rusafa and Abu Sifyan districts. The frenzied mob murdered Jews openly on the streets. Women were raped and infants were killed as their horrified families looked on. Torture and mutilation followed. Jewish shops were looted and torched. A synagogue was invaded, burned, and its Torahs destroyed in classic Nazi fashion.
It was the beginning of the end. From that moment, Iraq's approximate 125,000 Jews would be systematically targeted for violence, persecution, commercial boycott, confiscation and eventually, in 1951, complete expulsion.
For 2,600 years, the Jews of Iraq had dwelled successfully in the land of Babylon, achieving as much acceptance and financial success as any non-Muslim group could in an Islamic society that despised infidels. In 1941, Iraqi Jews were well entrenched at all levels of farming, banking, commerce and the government bureaucracy.