My life in Iraq

by Yeheskel Kojaman

After what is called the Farhood in June 1941 most of the Jewish youth
started to search for a way of saving the Jewish community of similar
happenings. There were only two possible ways at that time. Either to join
the Zionist underground movement or to join the Communist underground
movement. Most of the youth preferred to join the last one. I was one of
them. I joined this movement in 1945 as a simple member.

In 1949 I with many members of my family were arrested. I was then a third
year student if the Royal College of Pharmacy. I was sentenced for life.
During my stay in prison I passed all the political prisons which existed
those days. Being a communist I believed in the theory and felt that I
have the duty of learning it perfectly which I tried my best to do. I therefore
became the best theorist in prison in spite of the fact that I never was
one of the executive cadres of the prison organization.

Being a theorist I had many different duties including being the
representative of the organization in Nuqtat Salman prison to help the
Zionist prisoners. I had therefore good relations with these prisoners and
especially professor Yehuda Hagar, the only Israeli in prison. We became
intimate friends in spite of the difference in our political vies. He
taught me Hebrew and I helped him to learn Arabic.

In 1958 I was released from prison after the revolution and allowed to
stay in Iraq. The Communist Party did not accept me for I refused to convert to
Islam. I therefore had a very difficult life in Iraq. I lived by
translation of political books which was a desirable profession at that time.

In October 1959 I was again arrested and sent to prison without trial
where I remained in the prison of Imara until December 1961 when I was released.
I could not stay in Iraq in this condition so after five or six days my
mother in law accompanied me to a family in Basra who arranged for my travel to
Iran. I was taken by car from Basra to a small island where I stayed for
two days. At two o'clock in the morning I was taken to a small tin boat where
I was dragged by a rope on the other side of a very small river and I became
in Iran. The next morning I was taken to the city and left there. I
remained two days in a Synagogue and then traveled to Tehran where I was sent to
Israel on the 12th of January 1962.

My life in Israel is another story but I am proud that I was the first to
compile a Hebrew Arabic dictionary which is famous all over the world. An
enlarged dictionary was published in 2000 by the Ministry of Defense
Publishers. I also wrote two books on the Iraqi music which describes the
role of Jewish musicians who played a most important part in this music.

I also wrote some political mainly critical books and pamphlets during my
stay here in England.

I recently wrote an Arabic pamphlet about my life in prison which I think
is the most realistic discussion of our prison life. This pamphlet is called
"My Memoirs in Iraqi Political Prisons".

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