The recent Conference of Religions and Sects in Sulaymaniyah, organized under the supervision of Iraq's president, Jalal Talabani, was an important milestone: The first such conference to take place in Iraq that seriously covered the defense of religions and sects after the collapse of the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein.It is great to see one person making a difference.
Present at the conference were Christians, Muslims (both Sunni and Shi'a) and other, smaller, minority groups. What was surprising was that there was not a single representative of Iraqi Jews to relate their glorious history, so full of great accomplishments for the glory of Iraq and its constitution. In their absence, they could not tell of the calamity that befell them when their citizenship was withdrawn, their money and property confiscated, their rights denied, and when they were subjected to being imprisoned or murdered while ethnic cleansing was committed by forcing the best of my Iraqi Jewish friends to emigrate.
At the conference, it was apparent that no one was available to represent them or mention this sensitive subject. Therefore, to balance the debate, I decided that this was going to be my discussion subject, as my solemn duty to repay some of our debt to them.
The Presidential Council, the ruling party, and Iranian agents in Sulaymaniyah all warned me not to raise such a subject and speak about it, and tried to forbid it. They claimed that it is too sensitive and dangerous, and that due to the current public mood, it should not to be spoken about in public.
...Despite the uncivilized methods used in attempting to suppress my presentation, the audience responded with full support and a standing ovation The address apparently caused considerable embarrassment to the conference's organizing committee, which then was forced to take the topic seriously.
Results were achieved when three paragraphs were adopted in the text of the final communique: The seventh paragraph states the importance of correcting the constitution to add Judaism as an official religion alongside Islam, Christianity and others, and restoring the Jews' citizenship. The ninth paragraph consists of ten points, of which article nine recognizes the rights of Jews in nationality and national belonging. Article five recognizes the crime of expulsion and its effects, and article five calls for Jewish heritage sites to be cared for, without tampering.