Remnants of Jewish Neighborhood in Zakho on Verge of Collapse    

ERBIL— The seven remaining houses of the Jewish community in Zakho (Duhok province) may collapse due to weather conditions and lack of budget to repair them, an official warned.

Zakho Archeology Directorate does not have the budget to purchase the houses and turn them to a museum or to repair them, said Mohammed Ahmed who runs the directorate.

He told BasNews on Monday that the wind and rain have damaged the houses and should they stay in this condition, they may collapse.

"If this happens, the Jewish neighborhood in Zakho will remain only a name," Ahmed warned.

The only step the directorate could take after its establishment in 2006 for the protection of the remnants of Jewish neighborhood was to ban the destruction of the ancient houses.

Ahmed said until eleven years ago, the houses were razed to provide the space for construction of new residential units.

Some 60 years after the Jews left their homes in Zakho for their newly founded state in Israel, only seven houses, and a synagogue whose wall is on the verge of collapse, stand in the neighborhood,  according to Ahmed.

One of the remaining houses is the big house of Moshe Gaba, a Jewish resident who was once well-known Jew in Zakho.

The official explained they do not know exactly how many houses were in the Jewish neighborhood which included 15 lanes, with each lane being named after a Jewish family residing in it.

The entire 240 Jewish families who lived in the area headed to Israel after the foundation of their state in 1948, Ahmed added.

Strong ties and mutual respect united the Jews and the Muslim Kurds, especially in Zakho and Akre (also in Duok), as stated in a PHD dissertation submitted by Mordechai (Moti) Zaken to the New York University.

As the Jews returned from synagogue on Saturdays, the Muslim Kurds dropped their cigarettes as a sign to respect the Jews, the thesis mentions.  

In his dissertation, called "The Jews of Kurdistan and Their Chieftains",  Zaken also explains how Kurds defended the Jews.

According to him, in 1941 when many Palestinians took refuge in Iraq, there were attempts to incite hatred against the Jewish community but the plots failed and the conspirators were expelled from Kurdistan.