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
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.
“I’ve never heard of fascists and traitors
calling for peace,” he said of his own government. “As long as a militia
is in power, there can be no peace.”