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The articles in this issue have been divided upinto the following categories








by Naim Dangoor

Israel is accused of occupying Arab land, and of persecuting and oppressing Palestinian Arabs. What are the facts?

Since 1948, a hundred new nations came into being and are now living in peace and security, while the Jewish State remains a festering sore. Where did we go wrong?

Forget about the Balfour Declaration which became a dead letter soon after it received the smudged signature of its author. Forget about political Zionism which managed to uproot the Jews of Europe and of Arab countries but failed to completely re-possess our ancient homeland.

To understand and evaluate the Arab-Jewish problem of the last eighty years, we must realise that it is not simply a conflict between Israelis and Palestinians as, unfortunately it has been narrowed down to become. In fact, it is a wider, regional problem. But Israel has managed to drive herself into a corner, allowing the Arabs to proclaim, "what is ours is ours, and what is yours is also ours".

With the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War, the Arabs were given all the benefits in the region.

In particular, Iraq was not entirely Arab, but was given over to Arab rule to the exclusion of the other nationalities, especially the Jews and the Kurds.

Turkey ruled the Middle-East for 401 years under a successful millet system of autonomous communities which was changed over arbitrarily to a number of nation States to suit the ambitions of the imperialists' conquerors.

Alarmed by the news that Iraq was going to be given to Arab rule, the Jews of Iraq petitioned to become British subjects. But the petition was turned down.

The Jews based their claim on the fact that their country had been conquered by British troops and that they were actually at that moment Turkish subjects under British control; and that therefore the British had no moral right to force them to accept a new nationality, unless they so desired it. They were eventually appeased by the personal influence of the High Commissioner and by his assurance that ample guarantees would be afforded them by the British Government against any form of local tyranny. In the space of 30 years, after discrimination and persecution, the ancient and distinguished Jewish community of Iraq were faced with a bleak future and welcomed the opportunity to get out of Iraq in 1950/51.

It is a fact of history that the Moslem conquest of Iraq in 637, and indeed of Palestine and Syria in 638, were carried out at the invitation, and was only possible with the help of the large Jewish communities in these countries.

For 2,500 years the Jews had a prominent position in Iraq, a thousand years before the Arab invasion, a position which was maintained throughout the Persian, the Abbasid, the Mongol and the Ottoman Empires. For all that period of twenty five centuries the head of the Jewish community in Iraq was the Exchequer of the Empire ... a position which continued to the early years of modern Iraq in that the Minister of Finance and pillar of the government was Sir Sasson Heskel.

When Miss Bell once asked the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdul Rahman a[-Naqib a certain question about Iraq, he replied, "I don't deal in politics; please ask Sasson Effendi" (who was present).

The last Ottoman report on the Vilayet of Baghdad gave the number of Jews as 80,000 out of a total population of 202,000, which also included Moslems, Christians and Kurds.

Under the self-determination principle, Ottoman Jews in Iraq, Syria and Palestine, should have been allocated at least 20,000 square miles, which is greater than the total area of Israel and the so-called occupied territories.

Trans-Jordan was part of the Palestine Mandate and its separation in 1921 should have been regarded as the national home of the Palestinian Arabs, who with Zionist money went over and bought lands cheap there and prospered.

In the early twenties, Jews and Arabs were considered natural allies. Thus when King Feisal made an official visit to the Jewish Community in Baghdad in 1924 he asked (my grandfather), Chief Rabbi Hakham Ezra Dangoor, if the Jews of Iraq were Zionists. To the satisfaction of Feisal, my grandfather replied... "We are all Zionists since we pray three times a day for the return to Zion".

Where do we go from here?

Israel frittered away all the gains of the Six Day War. That was the time to finalise the Palestinian problem.

It seems to me that there can no longer be a negotiated settlement with Arafat that the Jews could afford to make and the Arabs would accept in the long run.

There can only be an imposed settlement on the basis that Israel would cover the whole of Palestine, West of the River Jordan, and the Arabs including Israeli Arabs who now call themselves Palestinians in Israel, should be given autonomy of people, but not of land based on the Ottoman millet system, which in fact is what the Albanians are now demanding in Yugoslavia. Arafat, is of the Husseini family, which is of Albanian origin, a nephew of Amin Husseini, the notorious Mufti of Jerusalem who met Hitler in November 1941, when he assured him of Arab support for Germany in return for not letting Jews get out of Europe which also suited British policy with regard to Jewish immigration to Palestine.

Palestinians often ask why should they suffer for what Hitler did to the Jews. The answer is that they played an important part in the Holocaust.

The principle of land for peace must apply to Syria. She must give away the whole Golan for the sake of peace with Israel.

There is no room for a separate Palestinian state.

Israel should apply the Biblical Jubilee fifty year system all over the country to ensure that the land of Israel shall remain forever in the hands of the Jewish people.

Arabs have proved themselves unable and unwilling to live at peace with Israel.

Ashkenazim should not be afraid to put forward the right of Jews from Arab countries, to support Jewish claims in the region, especially in the important matter of the exchange of populations.

The problem of the Middle-East is regional. We only ignore that to our peril.

The exile to Babylonia was to demonstrate that the Middle-East is one region. There can be no peace in Israel unless Iraq is pacified. Like a good teacher, history will keep repeating itself until the lesson is learned. Saddam has rebuilt Babylon and is training an army to liberate Palestine. Why are we waiting?

Other points to consider:

At the Cairo Conference of March 1921, Sasson Heskel questioned the wisdom of bringing Emir Feisal from the Hijaz to rule Iraq. However, Winston Churchill assured him that the government in Iraq will remain under British guidance and safeguard for Jewish and other minorities.

Palestine has often been termed the twice promised land. Once to the Jews under the Balfour Declaration, and once to the Arabs by Macmahon's letter to Sherif Hussein in 1915 promising independence of Arabia with certain reservations in return for the Arab revolt against the Turks. Palestine was crucial for the promise to the Jews but insignificant in the promise to Hussein. Moreover, some historians point out that the vaunted Arab revolt took place only in the mind of Lawrence of Arabia. In fact, Emir Feisal met Dr Chaim Weizmann and wrote to him welcoming the Jewish desire to return to their ancient homeland in Palestine.



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