Iraqi ex-MP Mithal al-Alusi paid a heavy price for his support for normalisation with Israel: his two sons and a bodyguard were blown up. But he still believes in peace, and that 400,000 Iraqi Jews in Israel can help achieve it, he tells The Times of Israel (with thanks: Lily):
An anti-Baath activist since the mid 1970s, Alusi was forced to flee the Middle East for Germany, where in 2002 he staged a takeover of the Iraqi embassy in protest of Saddam’s human rights abuses. The following year, after the American invasion in March, he was back in Iraq heading the de-Baathification commission responsible of cleansing the administration of Saddam loyalists.
As an outspoken advocate of normalization with Israel, Alusi traveled to Tel Aviv in 2004 to take part in the annual counterterrorism conference at Herzliyah’s Interdisciplinary Center. Upon his return to Iraq, he was stripped of his official positions for violating a law banning Iraqis from traveling to Israel.
On February 8, 2005, gunmen ambushed Alusi’s convoy driving through western Baghdad, killing his two sons Ayman and Jamal and his bodyguard. He had no doubt the attack was a response to his pro-Israel stance.
“I will repeat it, even if these terrorists try to kill me again, peace is the only solution. Peace with Israel is the only solution for Iraq. Peace with everybody, but no peace for the terrorists,” Alusi told AFP that day.
Alusi stood behind those words and traveled to Israel again in September 2008. A supreme court decision three months later saved him from prosecution after a parliamentary majority removed his diplomatic immunity. The court abrogated the Saddam-era law, ruling that it was no longer a crime for Iraqis to travel to Israel.
If the opportunity arose, Alusi would travel to Israel again. With 400,000 Iraqi Jews and their descendants currently living in Israel, Alusi believes that Iraq is well-positioned to serve as a bridge between Israel and the Palestinians.
“Peace will only come about through the will of the people, not through agreements signed by leaders,” he said. “But no peace can emerge with the existence of organizations like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.”
Iraq and Israel have shared interests in combating the Iranian threat and Islamist terrorism as well. But security coordination, not to mention full diplomatic relations, cannot come about as long as Maliki is in power, he said.