The Baghdad-Jerusalem channel is no longer open


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail|05 May 2017|08 Shabaan 1438

Who planted discord between the Iraqis and Palestinians to the extent that the Baghdad-Jerusalem channel is no longer open today? Who made Iraq’s politicians, writers, intellectuals, poets, students and activists turn a blind eye to the news of their imprisoned brethren’s uprising in the Israeli occupation’s prisons and not even spare a word of support or solidarity with them? There had been a profound relationship between Iraqis and Palestinians, documented by various documents, pictures and stories carried in today’s special networking sites, reminding us of the most beautiful and precious time.

My father told me about this time, proudly telling me how he rode in a car belonging to the Nairn Transport Company, a well-known company at the time, travelling from Baghdad to Jerusalem to achieve his dream of praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque. My father knew nothing about Antoun Saadeh, Michel Aflaq, or Zaki Al-Arsuzi and hadn’t even heard of them, but he always stressed his conviction that Palestine is part of the Levant and the Arab nation. I saw my father, for the first time in my childhood, listen to the news on the radio, eyes filled with tears, but I never dared to ask him why he was crying. I did, however, ask my mother and she told me he was crying for the sake of Palestine, whose soil was being desecrated by gangs of foreigners, and when I grew older, I realised why my father wept.

In that time, Iraqis considered their country and Palestine two pieces of the same nation. At that time, the late poet Muhammad Mahdi Al-Jawahiri wondered, as he looked at Jaffa: “Have the borders between us really changed/Neither the roads or the soil are different/the faces haven’t changed/nor has the language or books /I go from my family to my family/and come from my country to my country.”

In that time, senior Iraqi politician and former Prime Minister, Nuri Al-Said, addressed the Brits and Americans to inform them that Iraq rejects the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, considering Palestine a part of the united Arab nation. He called for uniting Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq as a first step towards uniting the rest of the Arab nations, and called for the issuance of a resolution by the League of Nations rejecting the establishment of a Jewish state there, saying that Palestine is “the number one issue in the Iraqi conscience”.

This was demonstrated during that time by the fact that the Iraqi government’s Wireless Radio Broadcasting House’s top broadcasts were news of the battles in the Palestinian war. The host would follow his greeting with the phrase “victory to the Arabs” as a good omen for imminent victory. The Iraq newspapers would put Palestinian news in large headlines on their front pages, while parties and movements would compete to show their support for Palestine and its people.

A news story from the time was the story of the Iraqi army fighting in the Palestinian plains in mountains in defence of the Palestinians in order to liberate their country and prevent the establishment of a Zionist state in its territories.

A number of Iraqi fighters played central roles in the battles of Kafr Qasim, including Abd Al-Karim Qasim, who was later destined to lead a coup that laid the foundations for a new phase in Iraq’s history. He was also the first to propose the idea of forming the Palestine Liberation Army and worked on making it a reality on the ground by forming the “Liberation Regiment”, supervised and armed by Iraqi soldiers. Opponents played a role in hiding the documents and records of this historical achievement, in an effort to erase it from the Iraqi memory to spite Qasim himself.

Another fact during that time was that Palestine remained, throughout the successive Iraqi republics, at the forefront of official policies and at the top of the political parties and movements’ agendas. Legislations celebrating the Palestinians and reinforcing their relationship and brotherhood with the Iraqis, were passed, as well as legislation to guarantee their right to work, own property and other human rights.

However, when that beautiful era was destined to end, along with its people, the situation and outcomes changed too. The Palestinians living in Iraq faced a war of murder, abduction and displacement. All of the rights legislated in their favour in the past became void and Palestine no longer had a place in the official agenda. The Baghdad-Jerusalem channel was no longer open and people’s demands to pray in Al-Aqsa Mosque quieted down. Along with the disregard for the old agenda, the minds of Iraqi writers, poets, intellectuals and activists no longer mentioned Palestine. The most recent example of this is their neglect of the uprising of the hunger striking prisoners and their unwillingness to provide even words of encouragement or support. The only voice that broke the silence is the voice of Muqtada Al-Sadr, who showed solidarity with the prisoners by fasting for three days. As for the others, they are still in a deep slumber, similar to that of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, despite the fact that the prisoner uprising is in its third week.

In light of this, my question about who planted discord between the Iraqis and Palestinians becomes meaningless.

Source – MEMO