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September 05, 2003 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-09-05

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Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

Dry Bones

Rebuilding Iraq

mericans concerned about the future of
Israel need to pay close attention to the
current process of rebuilding Iraq. If
Iraq does not gain a viable and stable
secular government over the next half-dozen
years, it could easily become an even more corn-
mitted foe of the Jewish state than it was under
Saddam Hussein.
America, its allies and its potential helpers —
including, it now seems, the United Nations —
must start from scratch. Hussein and his Ba'ath
Party effectively killed any motivation that ordi-
nary Iraqis might have had to speak out on public
policy issues. Now, most Iraqis don't even know
what a public governmental meeting —
the sort of city council or school board
session that we take for granted —
might be about, or how they might par-
ticipate. They are going to need lessons in basic
civics and repeated demonstration that it is both
effective and safe to voice controversial opinions
It may be hard for us to understand and
accept, but until these lessons are learned at a
local and regional level, it would be a mistake to
turn the national government over to popular
elections and to withdraw the Western presence.
Pressure is already mounting in this country to
limit our stay in Iraq and possibly reduce the $4
billion a month our government is spending to
maintain 138,000 soldiers there — and the Bush
administration is hinting it may need to add $3
billion to the $7 billion it has already budgeted
for civilian reconstruction.
But if we were to accede to that pressure to
get out socn, the current Governing Council
would rapidly disintegrate, along with all the
local movement toward repairing the shattered
economic and political infrastructure of the
country. And the most likely heirs to power will
be individual warlords, as in Afghanistan, and
Muslim fundamentalists.
Hussein used a Sunni minority to do his bid-


ding, but the Shiite Muslims
make up 60 percent of the
country; they are eager to seize
power and create a theocratic
state in the style of Iran. Most
of the other Arab states sup-
ported Hussein or at least
turned a blind eye to his
oppression of his people. They
will be even more eager to
embrace a nation under Sharia
(Islamic law).
Imagine what that would
mean for Israel. Hussein subsi-
dized the families of
suicide bombers; a
theocratic Iraq would
provide the bombers
themselves, along with every
other weapon it could muster.
Allied with Iran, it could create
irresistible pressures on Syria,
Egypt and even Jordan to
launch another full-scale war
against Israel.
The fight to get rid of
Hussein was waged by a small
coalition in which the United
States, Britain and Poland were
the major powers. Now a
much, much broader coalition
must be formed. Troops and
technical expertise would be
particularly welcome from
Muslim nations whom Iraqis
might see as less of an occupy-
ing force. The United Nations
is the logical agency for admin-
istering a multinational effort, but its sorry expe-
rience with Kosovo, another Muslim area, should
make the U.S. wary of surrendering too much
authority too quickly.
For the sake of the 25 million citizens of Iraq,

friMeRicA IS

IRAQ ,,,

"'ANA) FoR mi€
73-1A -T Tfie IKAR





41.)i) Iva/

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we need to make sure that a pluralistic, tolerant
and stable Iraq rises from the ashes of the Saddam
regime. Staying the course we have proclaimed
would help dispel the notion that we are in Iraq
for the oil alone. And allowing failure would be
potentially disastrous for Israel.

More Than A Check


he upcoming High Holidays signal the
start of the Jewish communal year and
the pages of the Jewish News are filling
with information about charitable
events, learning opportunities, lectures and infor-
mal get-togethers.
But for too many of us, participation
consists only of opening the checkbook
and giving donations — to a synagogue;
to a health, communal or university fund; to
Federation's Annual Campaign; to United Way.
While our philanthropy is tremendously impor-
tant to our community and to our world in gener-
al, it cannot be the extent of our Judaism.

Our faith is built as much on a foundation of
growing as it is on one of giving. To give but to
not thirst minimizes learning — a vital tenet of
Judaism. There's every reason to stretch your own
field of knowledge — to learn to be a better per-
son and a better Jew.
We lead busy lives. Work demands
much of our time. Our children, our
grandchildren, our health and well-
being, our homes, our friends — all vie for our
attention. Too often, our spiritual soul is lost in
the shuffle.
New Year's resolutions can just as well be traced
directly to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This


year, let's not give all the credit — or the effort —
to Jan. 1. As the High Holidays near, resolve to
make time for yourself and your community.
Take in a Jewish lecture this year that would
have interested you last year, but you just couldn't
make the time for. Squeeze into your week an
intriguing course that always seems to come and
go before you decide to register for it. Take part
on a committee, if only part time — making
allowances for school conferences, workouts,
leisure or your time in Florida.
Just a little participation can make a world of
difference, to you and your community.
The dividends are there for the asking. ❑

9/ 5



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