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.

Read more at MEMRI

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

 

Iran’s Calculations and America’s Mistake

There is little doubt that if Hizballah had participated more intensively in Saturday’s attack, Israeli air defenses would have been pushed past their limits, and far more damage would have been done. Daniel Byman and Kenneth Pollack, trying to look at things from Tehran’s perspective, see this as an important sign of caution—but caution that shouldn’t be exaggerated:

Iran is well aware of the extent and capability of Israel’s air defenses. The scale of the strike was almost certainly designed to enable at least some of the attacking munitions to penetrate those defenses and cause some degree of damage. Their inability to do so was doubtless a disappointment to Tehran, but the Iranians can probably still console themselves that the attack was frightening for the Israeli people and alarming to their government. Iran probably hopes that it was unpleasant enough to give Israeli leaders pause the next time they consider an operation like the embassy strike.

Hizballah is Iran’s ace in the hole. With more than 150,000 rockets and missiles, the Lebanese militant group could overwhelm Israeli air defenses. . . . All of this reinforces the strategic assessment that Iran is not looking to escalate with Israel and is, in fact, working very hard to avoid escalation. . . . Still, Iran has crossed a Rubicon, although it may not recognize it. Iran had never struck Israel directly from its own territory before Saturday.

Byman and Pollack see here an important lesson for America:

What Saturday’s fireworks hopefully also illustrated is the danger of U.S. disengagement from the Middle East. . . . The latest round of violence shows why it is important for the United States to take the lead on pushing back on Iran and its proxies and bolstering U.S. allies.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, U.S. Foreign policy