Last month, some 300 courageous Iraqi leaders, both Shiite and Sunni, called on the government to join the Abraham Accords, normalize ties with Israel, and repeal the law prohibiting civilian ties between Iraqis and Israelis. I am all for peace and good relations, but regrettably, at the moment, it does not seem like the Iraqi government is willing to become a real partner for it. In fact, the government has already issued orders of arrest to some of the participants in the declaration.
There used to be a flourishing Jewish community in Iraq, which contributed to the thriving of the country. Today, without the Jews, it is a shadow of itself. When acclaimed German economist and sociologist Werner Sombart wished to describe the impact of the Jews on Europe, he articulated himself in a manner that suits many other places, too. In his book The Jews and Modern Capitalism, he wrote: “Israel passes over Europe like the sun: at its coming new life bursts forth; at its going all falls into decay.”
Leaders have always known this impact of the Jews and attempted to use it to their benefit. In the 15th century, the Ottoman Sultan, Bayezid II, was delighted at the Jews’ expulsion from Spain and their arrival in Turkey. In his book History of Jewish Literature: The Jewish Center of Culture in the Ottoman Empire, historian Israel Zinberg writes in this regard: “When King Ferdinand, who expelled the Jews from Spain, was mentioned in [the sultan’s] presence, he said: ‘How can you consider King Ferdinand a wise ruler when he impoverished his own land and enriched ours?’”
In some cases, manipulation of the economic power of the Jews was not as overt. It is said that when the US pressured the Soviet Union to let its Jews leave for the West, it was not so much because it wanted to help the Jews, but more because it wanted to weaken the Soviet Union. The latter, which was quite aware of the power of the Jews, did not let them out. It also quelled any display of overt antisemitism in the USSR in order not to scare the Jews away.
The Iraqi leaders who convened last month are well aware of it. Wissam al-Hardan, a Sunni tribal leader from Anbar province in Iraq, said that the expulsion of Iraq’s Jews was “the most infamous act” in the country’s decline. Likewise, Dr. Sahr al-Ta’i, an Iraqi advocate of normalizing ties with Israel, said that “Israel today … is a strong country and an inseparable part of the world and the United Nations. Iraq cannot neglect this fact and live in isolation from the world.”
While all the above is impressive, we should also note that wherever Jews are welcome first, they are eventually rejected and expelled. There are good reasons for both phenomena.
The Jews bear within them a special trait, a spiritual force that derives from our illustrious past when we were connected among each other and therefore connected to all of reality. The power of the Jews is the power of unity, the power of caring for each other “as one man with one heart,” the power of mutual responsibility.
Today, even though we have lost our love for one another, we still carry within us a spark of the power we had had in antiquity. That spark makes us unique. It allows us to thrive within any society where we live. However, because we have fallen from the state of loving others, we use it to our benefit instead of for the benefit of the entire society. This is why at first, everyone welcomes us and we contribute to the prosperity of our host country, due to the hidden spark within us, but in the end we are expelled, when our host realizes it’s been used and manipulated to benefit the Jews.
Just as it happened in Spain, Germany, and basically everywhere we went, it will happen in the US. As long as we behave the same, the result will be the same. It is just as one famous Jew, Albert Einstein, once said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
The good intentions of the Iraqi leaders will therefore not lead to anything positive. Peace with Israel is not in their hands, but in ours. If we decide to make peace among ourselves and renew the love of others that we once possessed, we will project it to the nations and the world will prosper. If we continue to detest one another and maintain our selfish attitude, the world will accuse us of selfishness and banish us from the family of nations.