Issue 70 Download Archive Links Search Contact Us


The articles in this issue have been divided up into the following categories







Give Us Palestine, Or Give Us Iraq

by The Exilarch

The 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.

The 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.

The 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 these lands.

The 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.

Some 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.

When 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.

Some 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.

All 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.

Saddam 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?

I 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.

There 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 be no.

When 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.

When 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.

The 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?

In 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 Peace Process.

Religious fundamentalism is a dangerous concept and should be resisted in Israel as it is in Turkey.


If you would like to make any comments or contribute to The Scribe please contact us.