An Iraqi Writer Attacks Prejudice against Jews

In March, Haidar Muften Jarallah wrote an article for the liberal Arabic-language website Elaph arguing that Iraq should cultivate a strategic relationship with Israel. A few months later, he wrote another titled “Iraq’s Jewish Community: A Distinguished History.” The translators of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) offer an English abridgment:

A number of researchers, sociologists, and thinkers who lived in the era of the Jewish community in Iraq agree that most of its members were talented and respectable individuals. Additionally, our fathers and forefathers had contact with them in many areas, maintained friendships with them as sons of the same homeland, and told us many stories about them, about their lives, and about their presence in a range of fields—technical, literary, financial, administrative, medical, and scientific. [They say that] it was hard to differentiate between them and other Iraqis because of their integration . . . into Iraqi society. . . .

Despite the decades that have passed since their exodus, [Iraqi Jews] still hold Iraq in their hearts, and they are considered one of the [Jewish] communities most loyal to their motherland. Furthermore, many of their offspring born in Israel or other foreign lands, who have never seen Iraq except in the news and on television, feel an indescribable love for the land of their fathers. We see this clearly in their culture, in their way of life, and even in their celebrations, which have an Iraqi flavor, as if these people still resided in the alleyways of Baghdad.

I call on the Iraqi government, [on the] political, cultural, and media elite, and on all civil organizations to act earnestly and with haste to change the wrongheaded stereotypes about [Iraqi Jewry]. This discriminatory and racist image [of the Jews]—widespread, shaped over decades, and fixed in the minds of generations of Iraqis, which reached its peak during the dark era, over three decades, of Baath rule in Iraq—casts them as the reason for the disasters and problems afflicting Iraq, the region, and even the entire world. Today, Iraq must apologize to its Jewish community, restore its good name, compensate it materially and spiritually, and make its leaders into bridges for peace and normalization, so that the peoples of the region will enjoy tranquility and security.

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More about: Iraq, Iraqi Jewry, Middle East, Politics & Current Affairs

The Reasons for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Staying Power

Nov. 20 2018

This week, Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have narrowly avoided the collapse of his governing coalition despite the fact that one party, Yisrael Beiteinu, withdrew and another, the Jewish Home, threatened to follow suit. Moreover, he kept the latter from defecting without conceding its leader’s demand to be appointed minister of defense. Even if the government were to collapse, resulting in early elections, Netanyahu would almost certainly win, writes Elliot Jager:

[Netanyahu’s] detractors think him Machiavellian, duplicitous, and smug—willing to do anything to stay in power. His supporters would not automatically disagree. Over 60 percent of Israelis tell pollsters that they will be voting for a party other than Likud—some supposing their favored party will join a Netanyahu-led coalition while others hoping against the odds that Likud can be ousted.

Opponents would [also] like to think the prime minister’s core voters are by definition illiberal, hawkish, and religiously inclined. However, the 30 percent of voters who plan to vote Likud reflect a broad segment of the population. . . .

Journalists who have observed Netanyahu over the years admire his fitness for office even if they disagree with his actions. A strategic thinker, Netanyahu’s scope of knowledge is both broad and deep. He is a voracious reader and a quick study. . . . Foreign leaders may not like what he says but cannot deny that he speaks with panache and authority. . . .

The prime minister or those around him are under multiple police investigations for possible fraud and moral turpitude. Under Israel’s system, the police investigate and can recommend that the attorney general issue an indictment. . . . Separately, Mrs. Netanyahu is in court for allegedly using public monies to pay for restaurant meals. . . . The veteran Jerusalem Post political reporter Gil Hoffman maintains that Israelis do not mind if Netanyahu appears a tad corrupt because they admire a politician who is nobody’s fool. Better to have a political figure who cannot be taken advantage of than one who is incorruptible but naïve.

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More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel & Zionism, Israeli politics