Proofread by: Rebecca Lash
Transcribed by: Temi
Interview date: 8/21/2017
Interviewer: Lisa Newman
Location: Toronto, Canada
Total time: 24:40
Note: Background communication between interviewer and camera operator has been omitted from this transcript.
David Bassoon (00:16):
Okay. So, so this is his first wife, the second wife left him, several other children.
Lisa Newman (00:30):
I'm going to stop you. Okay. I want to go farther back. How many generations you were in Iraq, as far back as you know,
David Bassoon (00:43):
As long as I think, maybe.
Lisa Newman (00:52):
How long did your family live in Iraq? How many generations?
David Bassoon (00:59):
Maybe 2000 years. From the time that they occupied, the Iranian occupied, maybe [inaudible] or something and they took, my great great great family to Babylon.
Lisa Newman (01:31):
Ah, to Babylon, to Babel
David Bassoon (01:33):
yeah I don't know how long the city was there. Babylon is a very old um city. and I have a picture of Babylon. You will see it.
Lisa Newman (01:50):
I mostly want to know what you, you, yourself, what you saw, what you learned.
David Bassoon (01:58):
I don't, I don't know. I mentioned to you for my grandparents and great grandparents, I don't know. Only I can tell you my grandfather and his parents, my grandfather parents, I didn't see them because they were born in 1840 or something. But I know what I'm going to tell you is my generation, I, myself.
Lisa Newman (02:55):
Can you tell me about this. Who is this?
David Bassoon (03:03):
Who told you?
Lisa Newman (03:04):
No, I'm saying, please tell me who is this?
David Bassoon (03:08):
Can you see my picture? the similarity?
Lisa Newman (03:13):
Yes I do.
David Bassoon (03:14):
Yeah. This is a driving license for Iraq.
Lisa Newman (03:19):
David Bassoon (03:21):
Which was issued [shows picture] [inaudible] before five, one.
Lisa Newman (03:37):
We will take a photograph of it later. Okay.... Mr. Bassoon? [Lisa Newman: Yes] later we'll take a picture with the camera.
David Bassoon (03:56):
I cannot, I cannot see the year, anyhow, this is a driving license, right? This is a driving license from Iraq. [Yes]. Keep it aside. [Lisa Newman: Yes, definitely.] And I give you the other.
Lisa Newman (04:23):
That's an Israeli passport. Yeah. Yeah. And a Canadian passport too. And another Israeli one.
David Bassoon (04:42):
In Israel I have a driving license. [LN: Uh huh] I know how, I don't know. Maybe I left it there, I had to change my driving license in Israel to international. And you can see this one with my picture on it. [LM: I can recognize you] And the reason is why change it? Why? Because I plan to go to Canada and to prove that I wasn't driving for many, many years I brought this international one and one in Israel, but [inaudible] Only my name. Yes. Yeah.
Lisa Newman (05:46):
Can I ask, let's go way back. The names of your parents, your father and your mother. What were their names?
David Bassoon (05:58):
Let me finish with this. [LM: Okay] This is my wife passport from [madinat Israel] Yes. And this is Canada passport. this is me. [LM: Yup. Yup]
Lisa Newman (06:42):
and that would be your wife.
David Bassoon (06:44):
my wife, [madinat] Israel. And this, [LM: yes, you] my passport. [LM: Yes] What I wanted to show you. This is the immigration-
Lisa Newman (07:06):
your immigration papers [DB: to Canada] to Canada. We will take a photograph of each of these, but later [up to you, if you] yeah, yeah, yeah. We would very much like to, but now right now I want to ask you to tell me [on this one]. Not we'll leave those for later. We can put them all there and we'll deal with them a little bit later.
David Bassoon (07:36):
This is very important document. [LM: Yeah] This is called [tatwana] Iraq. [LM: And what does it for]? It is laisser passer, [LM: laisser passer] The reason is when I was in Iraq I was persecuted twice [in the region].
Lisa Newman (08:03):
Yes. I want to ask.
David Bassoon (08:11):
although the person responsible for issuing the passport. He's a friend of mine and he is the cousin of Adbullah [Hamid Al-Ani] was an employee with me at the company and this person.
Lisa Newman (08:39):
Okay. Let's put, we will take it is a very important document and we will take a photograph of it. So we have the-
David Bassoon (08:47):
I don't know.
Lisa Newman (08:48):
But right now.
David Bassoon (08:50):
but let me complete. The one who was responsible for issuing the passport is Hamid Al-Ani, the cousin of Hamid Al-Ani, Hamid Al-Ani was an employee with me in the same company. And I helped him financially he, and his children. It came to a point that he has a lorry. And he use a lorry for transportation. But I told him because I don't need a service in the company. I am employed and responsible.
Lisa Newman (09:38):
David Bassoon (09:38):
Please Hamid, go take care of the lorry. And I will [continue] to pay you your salary so that you can support your family. He has a big family, married twice. Anyway, Hamid Al-Ani, the one who became the CIA was an officer who was discharged before the Baath party came to power because it was dangerous and he is the cousin of Hamid Al-Ani
David Bassoon (10:19):
Hamid Al-Ani used to bring him to my office. And I will [show you] pictures, my office and while this Hamid Al-Ani, the officer was discharged. He used to come and and spend hours in my room. And I was so [inaudible ] I couldn't do anything regular or irregular because I don't know what he is going to do. Why, why it was, they charged us one day. He told me, David, I need you to lend me three hundred dinars. I said, okay. I lent him three hundred dollars. And after a few months, yeah, he returned the money. Still he is an employee and without work in the company, he came to me. He said, David, I am going to New York. And I want you to write to your people in New York, Maurice is Shasha with whom I have represented his interest in the company.
Lisa Newman (11:56):
Maurice Shasha was your employer before he left Iraq.
David Bassoon (12:00):
he was employer because his, his brother,s especially, um, Frankie was in the same class with me and Frankie was not intelligent with the studies and he needed my help. I used to go to his home and give him help. Without pay because he is my friend in the same class. Yes. You understand what I'm saying?
Lisa Newman (12:40):
I do. I do. But I want to stop you. Will you allow me to ask you some questions? I'm.
Lisa Newman (13:36):
I'm going to ask you some questions, right? Starting with the names of your grand parents.
David Bassoon (13:48):
My grandparents, Shaoul Ben Salman.
Lisa Newman (13:55):
How do you say the last name?
David Bassoon (13:57):
Salman, Salomon, but in Iraq it's Salman, Salman the abbreviation of [Salomon] and his wife Habiba. I know them very well. My grandmother Habiba died
David Bassoon (14:22):
in the year 19- 1940- 39. And my grandfather died by in 1944.
Lisa Newman (14:44):
And what city did they live in? Where did they live? What city?
David Bassoon (14:50):
Baghdad. All, all the time. I am talking about the whole family. Not only lived in Baghdad, but all the member of the family, grandather who has several children and the three daughters, how many children
David Bassoon (15:17):
he has five children and three daughters.
Lisa Newman (15:22):
And they all live.
David Bassoon (15:23):
All of them lived in, in Baghdad. but also all of them lived in [almost] the same house. As I mentioned to you, we, my father was very poor and every member of the family has one room for his children. My father [Ephraim] has a room, the second Menashe has a room beside him.
David Bassoon (16:05):
How many children in your father's family? [overlap]
David Bassoon (16:11):
The third person, Salman, as I told you, is have another room. [Khouri] has another room. Naim, we don't have room for him. He has a corner, you see, and because he, is the youngest he was treated by my mother as if her son
David Bassoon (16:39):
Now. What I can tell you, as I mentioned to you, my grandmother died by then, year 1939. My grandfather died in the year 1944, my uncle Salman, Salomon, died by the year 45. [inaudible] because he has maybe prostate cancer. Because also when I remember like now he used to go to the bathroom every time.
Lisa Newman (17:16):
Did you know your great grandparents, parents of your grandparents, did you know,
David Bassoon (17:26):
uh, you know their names, [LM: what were their names?] but I cannot, I cannot remember them because my father was born in 18, maybe 60.
Lisa Newman (17:42):
What was his name?
David Bassoon (17:45):
My grandfather. [LM: Great grandfather] Let me tell you, my father Shaoul, he has three other brothers. He's the youngest, the eldest he is Salman, you see the names are repeated, the other one was. Um, Salman.... Salman...
David Bassoon (18:22):
and the last one is Niseem [ph]. But as I mentioned to you, my father, my grandfather has a father whose name is Salman and his wife Chahala [ph]. And this name, Salman and Chahala is repeated in the four, four, families, including my father, my grandfather, as I mentioned to you, the eldest brother is Salman, And [inaudible], Yehezkiel, the third one Niseem, and my grandfather is Shaoul. Every one of them has many many children. The poor are the people and that guy in the most they have [laugh], they have nothing to do only to produce, to produce children. As I mentioned to you, my children, my, my grandfather, as I mentioned to you, the eldest son is David, by the who is uh his father, the the father of my grandather is David. This David he's unlucky person who was born in 18, 1884, 93. He married his cousin.
Lisa Newman (20:33):
Did that happen a lot that cousins married?
David Bassoon (20:37):
yeah, I'm going to tell you about the history of our family. He's married to his cousin from his brother and he got a girl. When the war in 1914 was declared, he was maybe 19 or 20.
David Bassoon (21:06):
He was drafted in the army. There was a law at that time. If they can pay a certain amount of golden currency, 50 pounds at the time they will be delayed, will not be conscripted, but because my father or grandfather who was poor and having many children and he couldn't pay the required amount. And he was drafted in the army. And at that time, there are no auto auto, or any a trainer, all those soldiers were transported from one place to another walking. And so he was taking from Baghdad to [city] towards the North towards the Russian border. And then from there to Kirkuk from Kirkuk to [city] from [city] to [Sulaymaniya], from [Sulaymaniya] that was the border with Iran, no [that was] Russia, at that time there were There was a war between Turkey and Russia because Iraq was under the control of Turkey at that time.
David Bassoon (23:01):
Then, they don't know what happened to him. He died on the roads either from walking or from war. And there was no person who will satisfy that. He died and was buried so that his wife can be remarried. According to the Jewish law, a woman whose husband is not buried. She is not [inaudible]. And so she cannot marry. She took her daughter and she went and lived with her brothers. I don't remember to see his daughter only once in my life. I was in a clinic of a doctor, the doctor was treating me. I have some, uh, problems. I will come to it later on, his mother, her mother he said, he said, look, Chahala this is your cousin, the son of [Ephraim].
David Bassoon (24:27):
And since that time, I haven't seen her again. She got old, she married, she was far from the family. Her mother- And since that time I haven't seen her again. She got all embodied. She was far from the family, her mother.