‘Vicar’ of Baghdad: WikiLeaks puts Iraqi Jews at risk

Iraq’s only Anglican priest, unofficialy known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," says he’s working with the U.S. embassy to persuade the remaining members of Iraq’s Jewish community to leave the country, now that they’ve been outed in WikiLeaked U.S. diplomatic cables:  The Rev. Canon Andrew White said he first approached members of the Jewish community ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
548607_synagogue_02.jpg
548607_synagogue_02.jpg

Iraq's only Anglican priest, unofficialy known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," says he's working with the U.S. embassy to persuade the remaining members of Iraq's Jewish community to leave the country, now that they've been outed in WikiLeaked U.S. diplomatic cables: 

The Rev. Canon Andrew White said he first approached members of the Jewish community about what he felt was the danger they faced after a news story was published last month that made reference to the cables.

"The U.S. Embassy is desperately trying to get them out," White said. So far, however, only one, a regular confidante of the U.S. Embassy, according to the cables, had expressed interest in emigrating to the United States.

Iraq’s only Anglican priest, unofficialy known as the "Vicar of Baghdad," says he’s working with the U.S. embassy to persuade the remaining members of Iraq’s Jewish community to leave the country, now that they’ve been outed in WikiLeaked U.S. diplomatic cables: 

The Rev. Canon Andrew White said he first approached members of the Jewish community about what he felt was the danger they faced after a news story was published last month that made reference to the cables.

"The U.S. Embassy is desperately trying to get them out," White said. So far, however, only one, a regular confidante of the U.S. Embassy, according to the cables, had expressed interest in emigrating to the United States.

"Most want to stay," White said. "The older ones are refusing to leave. They say: ‘We’re Iraqis. Why should we go? If they kill us, we will die here.’"

The U.S. Embassy said it would take steps to protect the individuals whose names appear in the cables and suggested in a statement that should any wish to leave, the U.S. would help relocate them.

One of the 215,287 unredacted cables published by WikiLeaks (The site says it only published the cables after an encryption code for the complete archive was leaked by a journalist from the Guardian) provides biographical sketches of the 9 remaining Jews in Baghdad. In total, only 35 Jews remain of a community that dates back to 721 B.C.

It’s not clear if threats have actually been made to any of the remaining members. Like other cases of sources who have been revealed in China, Ethiopia, and Zimbabwe, the issue seems to be more one of the potential for reprisals. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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