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The Winds of Peace with Israel are Felt in Iraqi Skies
Young protesters gather in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square in January to shout slogans against their government. (Ameer Al Mohammedaw/picture alliance via Getty Images)

The Winds of Peace with Israel are Felt in Iraqi Skies

Al-Arab, London, October 16

A recent opinion poll commissioned by the Arab American Institute and conducted by pollster John Zogby tested the Arab street’s reaction to the recent UAE-Israel peace deal. The poll revealed massive, unprecedented support. For example, in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, support stood at 59%, while in the UAE it stood at 58%. This data is congruent with what we’re witnessing on social media platforms, where Arabs are posting and sharing content that is welcoming of the peace treaty. Quite remarkably, even in Iraq, people are commenting about the deal and expressing their desire to see a similar agreement between their own government and that of Israel. Some have gone as far as posting messages of praise and longing for Iraq’s long-gone Jewish community. What is the source of this fundamental change, especially among Iraqis? From the Iraqi point of view, there is no border or territorial dispute with Israel. The animosity historically stems from support for the Palestinian cause. But years of Palestinian political stagnation are taking their toll on public opinion. Iraqis also remember their common history with the country’s Jews – a shared language, culture and traditions. More importantly, the fingerprints of Iraq’s Jewish community are still very much felt, and certainly remembered, in Iraq. Iraqis reminisce over their Jewish compatriots as ones who were loyal to the Iraqi homeland. The name Sassoon Eskell, regarded as the “Father of Parliament” during his tenure as minister of finance, often comes up in these discussions. How grateful Iraqis would be to have another Eskell today, a time when their country is being robbed and depleted of its resources by internal and external thieves. The educated Iraqi sees peace with Israel as an opportunity for cooperation with a country that has become a pioneer in technology, science, medicine, agriculture and water conservation. These Israeli innovations could help improve living conditions in Iraq, just like they did in so many other places in the world. From a political perspective, the average Iraqi believes that establishing relations with Israel would also ease Iran’s grip on the country. In sum, I believe that the youth of Iraq have launched a hypothetical normalization process with Israel. While polls conducted two years ago already revealed a willingness to normalize ties with Israel (with support hovering around the 40% mark), I believe this figure would be significantly higher today. – Linda Mnouheen Abdulaziz (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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