Give Us Palestine,
Or Give Us Iraq
forthcoming visit to Iraq by Pope John Paul is of outstanding
significance to the Jewish people, and of great importance
to the future of the region.
purpose of the Pontiff's journey is to mark out the land of
the Bible, to retrace the footsteps of Abraham who journeyed
from Ur of the Chaldees through Syria and then to Canaan,
is in fact to highlight the greater homeland of the Jewish
people and the migration of the Hebrews from their origins
in Arabia, through Mesopotamia, and then to the Promised Land.
Pope's journey which may be his last major travel, is equally
important to the Christians as it is the Jews. In a way it
is similar to the sailing of the U.S. Battleship Missouri,
which was sent by President Truman, in 1946 along the Mediterranean
Coast of Europe to signal to the Soviets - keep away from
significance of the Pope's visit is to show that the lands
of the Bible, now known as the Middle East or the Fertile
Crescent, is Jewish territory and lasting peace cannot be
established there unless it is treated as of vital interest
to the Jewish people.
Arab historians dispute Jewish connections with Palestine.
If so, where do the Jews come from? Surely, they didn't land
from the sky. The Hebrews are part and parcel of the Middle
East and have been in the Fertile Crescent many centuries
before the Arabs came there.
the Jews were exiled to Babylon in 586 BCE, they felt at home
in their new territory and eventually established themselves
in the land of the Rivers prospering there, where Judaism
flourished and the Talmud was written down and completed in
the year 500 CE. Babylonian Jewry remained supreme for over
1,000 years under the leadership of The Exilarch.
Rabbis debated why the Jews had to be exiled to Mesopotamia
of all places. One opinion was that the language there was
similar to Hebrew. Another opinion was that the Almighty decided
to return the Jews to their country of origin to think again.
A third opinion was that Mesopotamia was a low country, and
that the Jews would be able to "go-up" to Jerusalem in due
course. The fourth opinion was that the Jews who were mercifully
exiled there would not have been able to withstand the harsh
laws of the Romans in Judea.
these opinions missed the point. The exile of the Jews to
Babylon was a clear demonstration that the Middle East is
one country and that no nation can live in peace in that region,
unless the whole region is under one hegemony. If we ignore
this fact, history may be tempted to repeat itself. For, like
a good teacher, history will continue to repeat itself until
the lesson is learned.
has now rebuilt the ruins of Babylon. He fancies himself as
the new Nebuchadnezzar. He has targeted Israel with his missiles.
How long do we have to wait for his full aggression? Iran
has successfully tested its medium-range missile and continues
to be abusive towards the State of Israel. How long do we
have to wait before Iran goes on the attack? Pakistan has
now become a nuclear power. Why should we wait until Pakistan
decides to meddle in the Arab/Israeli conflict? How long do
we have to wait before there is another Middle East war? Why
should we wait while Israel is so strong?
am not advocating that Israel should conquer the Middle East.
What I am saying is that the status of the Middle East should
be such that Jews would be able to establish themselves in
any part of it, without harassment and in complete freedom,
able to form their own autonomous life just the same as other
communities of the region.
is an obsession in the world today that democracy needs counting
heads. But majority rule, as an expression of democracy, is
only valid where differences are over small issues. In any
country or region divided by race, nationality, colour, language
or religion, all these groups should be equally protected
regardless of numbers. This problem is demonstrated by what
is going on in Kossovo which historically is a Serb country,
but after the Albanians and the Croats managed to reduce the
number of the Serbs there, it now has an Albanian Majority.
Can an aggressor murder and then inherit? The answer should
I say that the Middle East is of Jewish concern, I do not
seek exclusivity. Just as the future Jewish community in Iraq
would not seek to form a state of its own, in the same way,
the Arabs in Israel should not be allowed to have a Palestinian
state. They should remain a fully autonomous communities within
the State of Israel regardless of numbers.
the Ottoman Empire was in existence, the Middle East had 400
years of relative peace and quiet. It may be necessary that
Turkey should again take the lead in bringing about a lasting
settlement for that part of the world. The increasing co-operation
between Turkey and Israel augurs well for the future.
Ottoman Empire was cruelly dismembered by World War I, for
oil, greed and imperialist ambitions. It was developing into
autonomous regions. Should the countries carved out by Lawrence
and Gertude Bell remain inviolate for ever?
a peaceful Middle East, religion should be kept out of politics.
Therefore, give us Iraq and Palestine, as well as all the
lands in-between to form a confederation united in defence,
foreign policy and in managing the region's natural resources
and economic policy. This is our Revolution and this is our
Religious fundamentalism is a dangerous concept and should
be resisted in Israel as it is in Turkey.
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