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Baghdad to Demolish 100-year-old House of Jewish Finance Minister Sassoon Eskell

The Baghdad municipality announced Friday it would demolish the 100-year-old home of Iraq’s first finance minister, Sir Sassoon Eskell, in central Baghdad and give it to a developer, because Eskell’s home “is not a heritage site according to the book of the heritage department.”

Sa’id Hamza, head of the investigation department of heritage sites within the ministry, intimated that the municipality had “violated the law” by giving Eskell’s home away to a developer. “Who in Baghdad’s municipality considered the home to not be a heritage site?” he wondered.

Sassoon Eskell (Wikipedia)

Eskell, a scion of an aristocratic Baghdadi Jewish family in 1860, was instrumental in founding the Iraqi government’s financial institutions and served five terms as Iraq’s first finance minister before his death in 1932.

He also served as the deputy for Baghdad in the first parliament of the Kingdom, and was reelected to all successive parliaments until his death. He had the largest library in Baghdad and spoke English, Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, Italian, Spanish, French, German, Greek and Latin.

He was so revered in Iraq that for decades after his death, Iraqis would say “G-d bless his memory” at the mention of his name. He was so well-regarded for his financial honesty that his last name was transformed into a verb meaning “strict in accounting.”

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