At Risk of Arrest, Prominent Iraqis Call for Peace with Israel

Sept. 27 2021

At a conference held last Friday in the Iraqi city of Erbil, some 300 activists and tribal leaders expressed their support for normalizing relations with the Jewish state, and for engaging in outreach to the Jewish Diaspora. Sahar Karim al-Ta’i, a high-ranking official in the Iraqi government and a key figure at the conference, spoke about the issue with Lazar Berman:

“I was raised in a family that instilled in us the principle of freedom of expression and freedom of conscience, that we should say what we feel and what we believe,” [Ta’i] said.

Ta’i insisted that she was not afraid of any consequences for her personal safety. “It is precisely because of these elements—terrorism, violence—that [it is] necessary to take a decisive step,” she stressed. “My family was not altogether relaxed about [my endorsing peace with Israel]; they worried about me. There are dangers to expressing these kinds of ideas. Yet nonetheless this is my conviction and this is my decision.”

“We can live under the repression of terrorism or we can die with courage,” she said.

Ta’i believes that her advocacy, and that of her colleagues in the Erbil conference, will ultimately influence Iraqi policy. . . . And if Iraq’s leaders do not act, Ta’i is ready to keep the pressure on. “We will bring [about peace] through public activism [and will persist] until that result is achieved,” she said.

Muqtada al-Sadr, one of Iraq’s most influential Shiite clerics, promptly condemned this “Zionist terrorist” conference. Yesterday, a court in Baghdad issued a warrant for Ta’i’s arrest, while the government called for the detention of all the attendees.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Iraq, Israel-Arab relations

Will Tensions Rise between the U.S. and Israel?

Unlike his past many predecessors, President Joe Biden does not have a plan for solving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Moreover, his administration has indicated its skepticism about renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. John Bolton nevertheless believes that there could be a collision between the new Benjamin Netanyahu-led Israeli government and the Biden White House:

In possibly his last term, Netanyahu’s top national-security priority will be ending, not simply managing, Iran’s threat. This is infinitely distant from Biden’s Iran policy, which venerates Barrack Obama’s inaugural address: “we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Tehran’s fist is today otherwise occupied, pummeling its own people. Still, it will continue menacing Israel and America unless and until the internal resistance finds ways to fracture the senior levels of Iran’s regular military and the Revolutionary Guards. Netanyahu undoubtedly sees Iran’s growing domestic turmoil as an opportunity for regime change, which Israel and others can facilitate. Simultaneously, Jerusalem can be preparing its military and intelligence services to attack Tehran’s nuclear program, something the White House simply refuses to contemplate seriously. Biden’s obsession with reviving the disastrous 2015 nuclear deal utterly blinds the White House to the potential for a more significant victory.

To make matters worse, Biden has just created a Washington-based position at the State Department, a “special representative for Palestinian affairs,” that has already drawn criticism in Israel both for the new position itself and for the person named to fill it. Advocated as one more step toward “upgrading” U.S. relations with the Palestinian Authority, the new position looks nearly certain to become the locus not of advancing American interests regarding the failed Authority, but of advancing the Authority’s interests within the Biden administration.

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Read more at 19FortyFive

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Iran, Joe Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship