Monday, March 19, 2007

Brave Iraqi Mithal al-Alusi still strives for peace

Personal tragedy has not dimmed Iraqi politician Mithal al-Alusi's enthusiasm for democracy, and he sees the Iraqi Jews in Israel as a vital component in building bridges to peace. Interview by Hilary Leila Krieger in the Jerusalem Post. (With thanks: Lily)

Alusi has done his fair share of working towards peace, particularly with Israel, as it is. Alusi made a seminal trip to Israel in September 2004 to participate in a counterterrorism conference. Apparently as payback, extremists murdered his two sons, 22 and 30. But that hasn't stopped him. (...)

Q:Is there, then, also a shared interest between Israel and Iraq in not seeing a nuclear Iran?

A: There are many politicians in Israel and in my country and in other countries in the Middle East. Either they are not clever enough to understand the real interest of their nations, or they have some complex, I don't know. That's why I really ask both countries' politicians to look for their clear interests and to forget the old books and problems. In reality, there is no Iraqi-Israeli problem. I think our interests are parallel, but we need powerful politicians to make a decision [for peace] in both countries.

Q: Is there a shared interest beyond dealing with Iran?

A: There are hundreds of thousands of Israelis of Iraqi origin. The Iraqis know that, they remember that. They're still alive, they have friends, partners, etc. Jews [were] in Iraq for thousands of years. They were part of the arts and politics. Our first Iraqi finance minister was an Iraqi Jew. They were very active in politics, in art, in society, in trading, in the economy, and I think now's the time that we should look at that reality. Why should we fight each other? For what?

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