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Israel's Iraq Channel

Exiled Iraqi Jews in Israel and elsewhere are convinced that the moment has come for Israel to build bridges to Iraq.  
Two children carrying food and water walk in front of the shrine
containing the tomb of Jewish prophet Ezekiel in the Iraqi town of
Kifl, 140 km south of Baghdad, on Wednesday, July 16,2003. The town,
which has drawn visitors from across Iraq and beyond because of the
shrine and its picturesque ancient market, was the scene of a fierce
battle in which hundreds of people died during the Iraq war but it is
now bustling again. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini REUTERS

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Right before he boarded the plane that would take him to Jordan and from there to Baghdad, the Iraqi public figure swore that this would be his last visit to Israel. The guest, a well-known personality in his homeland, had spent a few days in Israel on a secret visit in fall 2009. Although the Israeli government knew about his trip, not a single government representative found the time to meet with him or even call him. He heard from no one at the Ministry of Defense, and no one from the Foreign Ministry either. His visit was a rare opportunity, but it was squandered. “Israel and Iraq are two key players in the Middle East,” he told an Israeli friend on his way to Ben Gurion Airport. “We have the capacity to benefit from each other. I reached out to you, but no one took my hand.”

The late Foreign Minister Abba Eban famously said that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. It sometimes seems as if Israel has contracted the affliction from its neighbors. The upheaval being experienced by the Arab states offers Israel numerous opportunities, including a chance to make contact with individuals and groups that have been inaccessible until now. There is more than one such address in Iraq, but Israel is too self-involved right now and refuses to initiate anything or even accept an outstretched hand.

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