A Jewish family had left Iraq secretly several days ago and settled in a community in northern Israel, head of the Jewish Agency Zeev Bielski reported to the prime minister Tuesday.
According to the report, the family used to live in the Baghdad area and arrived in Israel through a European country. The parents and
their two kids had lived among Muslims and concealed their religious affiliation from their neighbors.
Jews rarely immigrate to Israel from Iraq. The large majority of the country's Jewish community, which comprises several thousand people, lives in the Kurd region in northern Iraq. Some 30 to 40 Jews still reside inside Baghdad, and another few thousand mixed families live just outside the capital.
"The Kurdish Jews are eager to come to Israel, but the Iraqi Jews are less interested. They do not conduct a Jewish lifestyle and they conceal their Jewishness so not to arouse suspicion. In most cases, their neighbors don't know that they are Jewish," Yossi Shraga, head of the Middle East and Iran aliyah desk in the Jewish Agency explained Tuesday.
Following the second Gulf War, the Jewish Agency sent an emissary to Iraq to meet with the Jewish community in the country and help those wishing to immigrate to do so. Seven Jews were brought to Israel after this visit. Since then, few Jews arrived in the country each year. In 2006, several dozens Jews emigrated from Iraq.