Mosul in mind

Things are still desperate. There is a hopeful moment in Ben Solomon’s interactive film report from the front line in East Mosul. ISIS forced their own hideous curriculum on schools, but in one school where he filmed, only 20% of the pupils had been turning up. Now with ISIS gone they are flocking back. West Mosul, where the old town lies not far from the river, isn’t free yet. Here’s a picture of – believe it or not – a Jewish boys’ school in old Mosul,  Lawrence Kedoorie School, from before 1951.


It comes from Ezra Laniado’s 1981 book on the Jews of Mosul (only available in Hebrew).


One of the endpapers even has a map of the small Jewish quarter and in my copy of the book my father circled his address on it in red pen. It was one street back from the Souk al-Kasibin (market of the butchers) which must have been the busiest place in the community. There’s what looks like a child’s drawing of it in the book, by Gabriel Laniado. You can see children playing, people selling bread and fish, and a barber’s shop. The clothing including turbans or keffiyehs doesn’t indicate religion or ethnicity and I’d guess the people shown would all have been Jews.


Mosul in mind

Dangoor Walk

There’s a new road alongside the Crick, named Dangoor Walk.


I guessed that it must have been named after the late Sir Naim Dangoor, and sure enough he appears on the list of donors on a wall inside, amongst those whose generosity is acknowledged by Cancer Research UK. Strictly speaking, the acknowledgement is of Sir Naim Dangoor CBE and the Exilarch’s Foundation. The Exilarch’s Foundation is a real charity, but Exilarch is now an insubstantial almost mythical position. The title is a link to the past of an old community and refers to the secular leader of the Babylonian Jewish community in exile. It hasn’t referred to anything real for about a thousand years.

If you want to see how Wikipedia editors struggle with getting right things that might be controversial or not fit in with legal or neutral enough definitions, take a look behind the scenes at previous edits (using history and talk tabs). The first version, written before his death, began by describing Dangoor as a refugee. The latest version of the page on Dangoor doesn’t use ‘fled’, ‘forced to flee’ or ‘refugee’ which were in early versions, but tells us he took the ‘difficult decision’ to leave Iraq, which meant he also lost all he had. It is a small example of a much larger issue: minority communities from Iraq and other countries of the Middle East and North Africa, who left under extreme duress and in some cases had to escape when they weren’t allowed to leave, lost everything and had to find other countries to take them in. They weren’t and aren’t officially designated as refugees.

Dangoor Walk