Lubna, the Rabbi and all of you

UPDATE: An hour so ago, we recorded a conversation between WHYS regular Lubna in Baghdad and Rabbi David Rosen in Jerusalem. We’ll play it and then you can speak to them about what you’ve heard. Issues they raise are what Islam and Judaism have in common, when criticism of Israel is anti-semitic and how to bring peace to the Middle East. It’s fascinating. Tune in if you can.  (For Olympics see the post below.)


A few weeks ago Lubna in Baghdad emailed us to say that she’d got into a fascinating email exchange with a man called Rabbi David Rosen. She wondered if we would have him on WHYS. Better still we’ll hear them both talking with each other and with you next week.  Here’s Lubna’s account of how the two came to be in touch….If have a question or comment for either Lubna or Rabbi Rosen please leave them below.

FROM LUBNA: I first got to know Rabbi David Rosen on Friday the 12th of October 2007 (on the eve of Eid Al Fitr). Late at night I was watching a documentary on TV called (Three Faiths-One God ) which talks about the similarities between the three Ibrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam).Rabbi David Rosen was one of the interviewees in that documentary, and I was deeply fascinated to hear what he had to say, I was so amazed by his passion and honesty, I was so surprised to hear a Rabbi who is living in Jerusalem and at the same time speaking in such a positive way about Islam and how good and normal the relationship between Islam and Judaism can be if only the voice of reason among both Jews and Muslims predominates.So I decided to take the next step, I googled him and got his email address, and wrote a message to him….

In my message to him I asked him so many questions related to his stances from the crisis in the Middle East and the ordeal of the Palestinian people, and to my surprise he replied to my message and answered all my questions, and we started writing to each other since…

In my messages to him I asked him about many issues related to the Arab Israeli struggle, and I also stated my stances from the crisis in the Middle East, I once asked him about the accurate definition of the word “Antisemitism”, and most recently I asked him what he thinks about the current crisis in Gaza!

What I do want from the WHYS listeners to realise is that in my discussions with Rabbi David Rosen sometimes he and I agree on some points, but also he and I do disagree on many crucial points…

But still, the basis of my relationship with Rabbi David Rosen is mutual love, respect and admiration in spite of all our huge differences, and that (in my opinion ) is what makes our relationship so special !

With my love ! Yours forever…. Lubna !

39 Responses to “Lubna, the Rabbi and all of you”

  1. 1 Xie_Ming
    February 8, 2008 at 13:40

    Rabbi David Rosen, etc.

    It is a fine idea.

    However, if anyone raises the cry/issue of “anti-Semitism”, I suggest it be deferred to a special topic called “anti/Semitism and anti-Gentilism”.

    Also, you might try someone (like Uri Avnery) from www,gush-shalom.ord.

  2. February 8, 2008 at 13:54

    Bravo Lubna!

    All the best for your mutual trust.

  3. 3 George USA
    February 8, 2008 at 14:19

    Great topic.

    Although it does not seem to be keeping your head low.

  4. 4 ZK
    February 8, 2008 at 14:43

    Will be an interesting show. Kudos to both parties.

  5. 5 Chernor Jalloh
    February 8, 2008 at 21:45

    Dear Lubna,
    How are you and your family in Iraq?I presume you are doing perfectly well with your studies in your college as a nurse or a doctor to be able to help your fellow Iraqis.Anyway,it makes me sad sometimes when you tell us about the daily lives of the Iraqi people.

    I have been hearing and reading almost all of your comments,which you often post on the BBC WHY blogs with a lot of ´´exclamation marks“.I know Lubna for SURE that anybody,who lives under occupation by foreign troops and giving false reasons to go to war is to oust a dictator and the spread of Democracy and in that process inflicting colossal damages on the lives and properties of ordinary citizens in that country like yours can make one very angry and frustrated.

    I hope and pray that one day all Iraqis will live in peace without the sound of a gunfire echoing from neighbourhood or the whole of Iraq.Your ideas and suggestions about your debates between you and Rabbi David Rosen on anti-Semitism and the current crisis in Gaza,Palestine are just too grateful.
    One last advise for you is that,as you know you are really living in a dangerous country,wherein kidnapping is a common occuerence in Iraq and the killing of innocent civilians by the occupation forces mercilessly,Iam kindly appealing to you not to give names of certain locations near your house or your college.Please Lubna.
    Best wishes from
    Your friend,
    Chernor Jalloh,

  6. 6 zainab
    February 9, 2008 at 05:18

    well, it will be a good topic. we need to find some mutual interersts to bring us close together

  7. February 9, 2008 at 10:40

    Hi guys ! Thanks a million for all your comments my good friends ! Actually in my opinion (and I’ve made that clear to David in one of my emails to him) the only possible solution to end the crisis in the Middle East and bring peace back to the region is that Israel must give away all the lands it occupied in 1967 i.e. East Jerusalem, the whole West Bank, and the Gaza strip (which has been actually given back to the Palestinian people in 2005) according to what the International law has stated in that regard… And to Chernor I say : Thanks alot for all your thoughts and prayers my good friend…. I just adore exclaimation marks, even during examinations I put lots of exclaimation marks in my test paper ! :). With my love ! Yours forever…. Lubna !

  8. 8 John in Salem
    February 10, 2008 at 22:59

    I hope that your dialogue with Rabbi David Rosen is something that will continue for years. Just to know that there are two voices of reason in a part of the world that seems so engulfed in hatred is reassuring.
    That being said, I agree with you that the solution for peace is for Israel to abandon the ancient concept “to the victor go the spoils”. They did just fine with what they had before 1967. In fact, what they had then allowed them to become the strongest military power in the region. Giving back those lands would actually make Israel bigger in the eyes of the world.
    But I would also like to add to Chernor’s concern – I feel a sense of relief every time you post a comment simply because it means you have survived another day.
    You need to take more care than most people do. Voices of reason need to speak softly sometimes.

  9. 9 Flo
    February 11, 2008 at 12:35

    Hi Lubna,
    although I am rather a listener of the BBC than a blog-reader I can tell by your coments above that you’re a funny open peron! (WITH excalamtion mark!)
    And of course, your friendship with Rabbi David Rosen is a great and rewarding thing for you both. I do believe peace has to grow of then people and cannot be impsed on them by articifial border-drawing and the signatures on peace treaties by politicians.
    Still…in what way, do you think, is your relationship representative for the relations between Muslims and Jews int he Middle East?
    It surely is rather unique and sadly so unusual? Are there people in your environment who have Jewish friends, too? What do they think about your friendship? Is there dismay, approval, or hopefully a whish to participate?
    do you think you two could somehow deepen this bond and even enlarge it through a kind of project, for instance with school kids or interested family members?
    or will this remain a one-time single adventure of instilled hatred and mistrust turned to love and respect?

    cheers to you, and kep it going! (again an exclamation, but a deserved one!)

  10. 10 pendkar
    February 11, 2008 at 14:02

    Good work, Lubna, young lady!

    I took a look at the Rabbi’s page and can see he is working on inter-faith understanding. That is good work, in the long run.

    But as I understand it, (and I am not an expert, so I could have got it wrong), the root of the problem in the middle east is not religious. The palestinians and other islamic countries are against Isreal not because they are against jews but because a jewish state was created by force, at their expense, and imposed upon them by Britain and other western powers.The reason is political, not religious.

    As an Indian I am not a party to this dispute, and hence should not have any strong feelings in the matter, ideally.But one thing bothers me – the way Britain and other imperial powers played with the Asian territories.It is difficult not to feel bitter about this part of the imperialist legacy. Isreal seems to have taken up where the imperialists left off. I feel a sense of solidarity with the Palestinians as fellow Asians and fellow victims of imperialistic territorial meddling/aggression. It is usually difficult to relate to Isreal’s concerns. I wonder what the Rabbi has to say to people like me, so that we could relate better to Isreal’s situation.

  11. February 11, 2008 at 15:23

    Hi to all of you my precious friends ! Just to make one point about the accurate definition of the word “antisemitism” which I have asked David about in one of my emails to him… I’m strongly against the actions of the Israeli government and the Israeli army against the innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank, and I’m also saying that Israel is committing pretty serious mistakes, but I’m also saying that the correction of those horrific actions and mistakes must come from inside of Israel itself and not by the elimination of Israel… And as I’m totally against the murder of innocent Palestinian civilians, I’m also totally against the murder of innocent Israeli civilians.. But let me say that ‘hunger’ policy and collective punishment will only make things worse… Hunger+despairation+hopelessness+isolation=the perfect formula to create extremism ! With my love ! Yours forever…. Lubna !

  12. 12 viola anderson
    February 11, 2008 at 16:46

    Lubna is to be commended for her admirable attempt to understand the dynamics of her area of the world. I’ve been following and attempting to understand those dynamics and the phenomenon of world-wide anti-semitism and race hatred since the night I viewed, at my local small-town movie theatre in the mid 1950’s, a documentary showing allied soldiers liberating a concentration camp in Europe, with mounds of emaciated dead human beings being pushed into huge piles for mass burials. Those images changed me in a way I still don’t fully understand, creating a well of grief for all the people caught up in events not of their doing and not in their control. Somehow, the significance and importance of human lives was forever diminished for me by those images. How can one human life be important if millions of lives can be reduced to a pile of bones by the hatred, ambition, and greed of thugs in power? My one caution to you, Lubna, is to access many sources of information on this subject. Always check the sources of any information you get. Realize that propaganda is real and try to see through it to the truth.


  13. 13 VictorK
    February 11, 2008 at 17:24

    Hmmm – this thread is really overflowing with sweetness and kindly thoughts. Which is all very nice. Apart from wondering how representative your interlocutors are of the Jewish and Arab nations, I’ll say nothing to spoil the atmosphere.

  14. February 11, 2008 at 18:12

    Jews enjoy in Morocco the highest protections. There were Jewish ministers in the Moroccan government. One of the advisers to the Moroccan King is André Azoulay, a Jew. In Marrakesh, there is a big 500 years old Jewish cemetery in a popular neighbourhood.

    Before Israel came into being, there used to be hundreds of thousands of Jews all over Morocco, particularly in big cities like Fez and Marrakesh. Now they number about 5,000 Jews who in majority live in Morocco’s biggest city Casablanca. Although Moroccan Jews are now living in different of the world, especially in Israel where they number 800,000 and make about 15% of Israeli population, many of them still have attachment to their native country. Jews of Moroccan origins who migrated to Israel or another part of the world still hold their Moroccan nationality. They can come back at any time. Many notable Israeli politicians are of Moroccan origin.

    Also Moroccan culture is a mixture of Arab, Jewish and Berber origins. Jewish culture is still present in Morocco. It has been inherited by the Moroccans. It is most apparent in cooking, handicrafts and ceremonious traditional clothes like kaftans and jelabas. So it seems, thee is only politics that makes the Arab and Jews look different. At in Morocco, they have more what to unite than what to divide them.

    When ordinary people, Jews and Arabs, start shaking off political prejudices instilled in them, they can become unashamedly and openly friends. Lubna’s and Rabbi David Rosen’s open dialogue is a good example of what people of different creeds should do to coexist in a world where faith and identity have become a fuel of hatred and open clashes. The survival of the human race resides, among other things, in fighting global warming and warming clashes of civilisations.

    Marrakesh, Morocco

  15. 15 George USA
    February 11, 2008 at 18:24


    Could Hamas rocketing Israel have anything to do with the situation?

    You skipped all of Hamas activities entirely.

  16. 16 Rob
    February 11, 2008 at 18:32

    This is not about dialogue or the obvious notion that most people can probably talk to most other people in different parts of the world, reach some kind of understanding, etc, its about a decades long settler colonial occupation that is supported by the west, particularly the US, this is the most recent version of a crusade, its about power and ethnic cleansing, everything else is details

  17. February 11, 2008 at 18:38

    Lubna and Rabbi Rosen need to have a place at the table if we want the Israel/Palestinian conflict to end in agreement.

  18. 18 Lynn
    February 11, 2008 at 18:41

    I found Lubna almost impossible to listen to. Just young and dramatic.
    Rabbi David Rosen was trying to speak and she kept interrupting him to the point that I could no longer listen.
    As with all issues if you can only see one side you will not have resolution.
    I was dissapointed not to be able to hear more of what the Rabbi had to say and will look for his information without the rude interruptions of a less skilled orator.
    Please have Rabbi David Rosen on again when he can actually speak.

  19. 19 David via email
    February 11, 2008 at 18:41

    I have two major ideas, little discussed:

    Why doesn’t Jordon annex the West Bank?

    Why doesn’t Egypt Annex Gaza?…

    The answer? Because the Arab world, which is dominated by Fascist and corrupt regimes (not unlike the Bush Administration but far, far more toxic)…wants the destruction and elimination of Israel TO THE DETRIMENT of the Palestinians.

    This is what the international community MUST get a grip on if there is to be peace in this region.
    Berkeley, California

  20. 20 trelerke
    February 11, 2008 at 18:59

    his is not about dialogue or the obvious notion that most people can probably talk to most other people in different parts of the world, reach some kind of understanding, etc, its about a decades long settler colonial occupation that is supported by the west, particularly the US, this is the most recent version of a crusade, its about power and ethnic cleansing, everything else is details

  21. 21 Issa - Nigeria
    February 11, 2008 at 19:02

    my question is to both Lubna and the Rabbi

    How can they both help in such a way to send this message accorss.. how could what they are expressing now go into the heart of the Palestinians and Israeli’s?..as they have brought the core conflict in a very simple and easy way ‘what is the solution for the problem?’

  22. 22 mcbull via email
    February 11, 2008 at 19:04

    Isn’t the core of the problem all of the conditions the parties put on each other that need to be met before talks can take place?

  23. 23 JohnC
    February 11, 2008 at 19:26

    Lubna you taught me so much so quickly that I’m a bit stunned. I did not believe it possible for an Iraqi Muslim woman to speak out as openly as you have, so the fact that I was able to hear your voice at all is a revelation. You are proof that none of us are powerless to change the world for the better.

  24. February 11, 2008 at 19:39

    Kim, Oregon (by email)

    I just want tosay the your conversation today was wonderful. Just having it aired brought a bit more hope into my heart.

    I was one of your many callers who didn’t get through. I had one comment and one question. They will follow after my bried history.

    I have been on two trips to Israel and Palestine. The last one was last May, lasted a month and I spent time visiting agents of peace in Israel, the Westbank and Gaza. The sad thing I noticed was when encounterng fellow Americans in Israel, they were all on Holy Land tours that just saw the sites, didn’t speak with the people, or atleast not of both lands, and avoided entering the West Bank (out of fear from danger they were told about) as much as possible. These type of “Holy Land ” trips are flourishing, they’re a major industry, but they don’t give the tourist a complete picture.

    My comment is – to inform people, to let people know there is a growing number of ‘Alternative Travel Trips’ out there that will take you to sites in both Israel and Palestine and will have you ‘meet the people’. these trips are organized by agencies of all ethnicities: there are Palestinian based, Israeli (Jewish) based, American and other International based groups.
    A person can access a list of atleast fiftee of them if they google Sabeel . Sabeel is a Christian Palestinian organization tat advocates for keeping Christians Pal.s in their homeland.

    OK – onto the question. This is a “What if….” question. I know it may sound silly or way out there when read, but history is full of “what if…..” questions who’s answers exist and are commoonplace today.

    For David Rosen – If Israel and the Palestinians do work on a two state solution , what would you think of the option of settlers in the Westbank being iven the choice to either leave Palestine, or become Jewish Palestinian citizens?

    I heard this thought from my Paster who’s idea was the Israeli subsidies to the settlers could be gradually weaned away over a period of years. If settlers chose to leave and they put their homes up for sale, the sale of it would be up for anyone to buy, but just as here in the States it would be up to the seller as to which bid he would accept. (Democracy and Market Economy in Action)

    Thankyou again for all your good work. Shukran ! (And Rabbi Rosen, I’m sorry but I don’t how to say ‘thankyou’ in Hebrew. The sentiment is there though.Thankyou so very much)

  25. February 11, 2008 at 19:40

    Mason,Utah (email)

    Ask Mary what she thinks about the millions of Palestinians that Israel has already displaced in its very establishment. These peoples and thier families had been living on the land in some cases for centuries.

  26. February 11, 2008 at 19:43

    Hi Goerge ! About the issue of launching rockets… May be the questions that should be asked in that regard are : Why are those rockets launched ?! What’s the ultimate way to stop those rockets from being launched ?! People of Gaza are hopeless, despaired, hungry and totally isolated from the outside World… They elected Hamas because they just got fed up with the massive corruption of the Palestinian Fatah authority, they also got fed up with the ways of the Israeli government in peace negotiations… Peace negotiations simply give Israelis support and give the Palestinians patience… Also they’re feeling let down by their Arab brothers.. Arab countries consider the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people to be a huge burden and a chronic illness. I’m totally against murdering civilians whether Palestinians or Israelis. And if Israel wants to stop launching rockets, then it must give the Palestinian people the alternative, it must give the Palestinian people a hope in their future… ‘hunger’ policy and collective punishment will not stop launching rockets, they’ll only exacerbate the condition ! With my love ! Yours forever, Lubna !

  27. February 11, 2008 at 19:47

    Mason, Utah (email)

    As an atheist, I find the hate and disdain promoted in the name of religion for political purposes particularly disturbing. It is a clear example of the “bad side” of organized religion. However, it is very refreshing to hear two people from two religions whose relations have drastically deteriorated in the past century having a rational discussion about the issues. The two peoples, must fight through the propaganda put forward by many leaders in their religion and recognize that the god they are fighting over is, in reality the same god, and it doesn’t matter what the other religion believes. In the end, we are all going to die and the answer will be revealed. If god exists, he or she certainly would not like all of the death and sorrow that we humans have caused in his name.

  28. February 11, 2008 at 19:48

    Danna, USA (email)

    I am a Palestinian who lived for the most part of my life in Palestine , when I moved to the US I discovered how similar Islam and Judaism are but also how similar Israeli and Palestinian culture are. Before moving to the US I never had the chance to meet and speak to an Israeli who was not a soldier serving in the west bank. And therefore I had always feared Israelis. since the prejudice against each other is formed because of our segregation between our two people, shouldn’t we face that problem of prejudice and segregation head on instead of further segregating our people into two separate states. My question is to Rabbi Rosen: What is your take on a one democratic state for all its citizens irrespective of their religion?

  29. February 11, 2008 at 19:48

    Barbara, Oregon (email)

    It seems to me the US role or lack thereof in the Palestinian/Israeli conflict defines the US government for at least the Arab world, and greatly limits the ability of the US to play a constructive role in Iraq at least and probably the entire middle east. Would your guests agree with that sentiment?

  30. February 11, 2008 at 19:49

    Bill, Texas, USA (email)

    I have just been listening with the deepest awe, respect, and appreciation to the Iraqi – Israeli dialog on your show. Although a seasoned 62 year old reti4red US navy veteran who has seen literally seen mush of the the world, I have tears streaming down my face, and as she says, my hands are trembling. God, please let this be the start of a real truth, a real peace…

  31. February 11, 2008 at 19:50

    Jacques from Boston (email)

    That is the definition of anyone who criticize Israel and its policies. Even Jews who criticize Israel are branded as anti Semitic.

  32. February 11, 2008 at 19:51

    WN, Madison, WI (email)

    I am glad that you are having this extraordinary conversation across the divide, as it were.

    It seems that Ms. Lubna is a special person while Rabbi Rosen appears to have an enlightened outlook.

    I wonder why you would have such a program. It seems that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a political problem, mostly at the making of the West. This is not a religious problem as western media make it out to be. Of course, it is exploited by unscrupulous religious Christian, Jewish and Moslem institutions. If the Palestinian people are not made good retroactive to 1948, the world, but especially the Middle East, will never enjoy peace. Perhaps the status quo aid the West in its hegemonic stance.

  33. February 11, 2008 at 22:01

    Lubna, I am thrilled in you activism, your intelligence, your insight, and your willingness to reach out and make a difference – BRAVO to you! To continue my final question during today’s World Have Your Say live programme, how do we carry this to the next level: get many more “grass roots” citizen-to-citizen discussions going in relatively safe environments in which each of us can voice our concern and uncover our misunderstandings? I would love to work with you and Rabbi Rosen to continue this process…

  34. 34 Kalypso
    February 12, 2008 at 01:47

    bravo lubna! youre so couragous! i applaud you!
    as to whether athlets should be allowed to speak about the human rights situation at the olympics: yes, of course they should! but the olympics should never take place in china in the first place. such international games should NEVER take place in a country with such a terrible human rights record! i dont get it. why was it decided like that?
    Vienna, Austria

  35. 35 Xie_Ming
    February 12, 2008 at 09:49

    The Israelis want to steal the land from those who have lived there for many generations. The UN says it’s wrong, international law says it’s illegal. The Israelis say ” Ours by right of conquest” and “God gave it to us”.

    Ashkanasim Jews of the diaspora have a genetic pattern that is distinguishable from everyone else- except for Palestinians and Syrians. So, the problem is not racial.

    Cultural apartness and tribalism have been an emphatic aspect of Jewish culture for more than two thousand years. The Sicarii terrorists
    outnumbered those who followed Rabbi Hillel: “Do not do unto others what you do not want them to do to you.”

    For current facts and insight from an Israeli point of view, try Uri Avnery’s (a former Irgun terrorist and well-known journalist) website:

  36. 36 Emile Barre
    February 12, 2008 at 22:35

    It was indeed a fine exchange of views between the Rabbi and Lubna. However, sometimes I think that problems between nations worldwide get forgotten when the spotlight is turned on the Palestinian and Israeli conflict. “Physician heal thyself” should be a constant maxim since all the continents of the planet have problems with their little countries and islands as they fail to see the greater whole of which they are part. The answer to the Palestinian-Israeli problem is the same as that in Darfur and elsewhere: we all need to think of ourselves as provinces of continents not autonomous countries. I think with regard to the Palestinian-Israeli problem,it should also be recalled that the last attempt at peace was that brokered by Rabin and Arafat. Rabin was assassinated by a young Israeli “patriot” who was rightly gaoled but is nevertheless an unofficial hero in Israel today while Rabin has no defenders willing to speak up.

  37. 37 Mike
    February 13, 2008 at 00:39

    I am so glad that you guys have been able to establish connection and talk about your differences. I would like to comment on few things that both Lubna and Rabbi said. First of all, Palestinians cannot always use the same argument that only if Israel would withdraw all settlements it would resolve decades of conflict. If it was that simple it would have been done already. Why spill so much blood for few extra square kilometers of land?
    What I think is the case here is: Muslims all over the world have an agenda to pursue the dream of having their oown state wherever they are majority even if the contry that they live in is not their native. It is not some kind of a fiction it is the TRUTH. For example: Chechnya, Sudan/Darfur, Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Lebanon, Thailand, Indonesia, Somalia, Ethiopia, Macedonia, Greece, and some other places are experiencing same problem and it is always people of Muslim fate that are asking for independence, some kind of breakaway, their own state and so on. Why dont the Turks withdraw from Cypres? It is not their native land. The solution is not in settlements it is in politics of the powerful and religious leaders who are using people to accomplish their fundamental ideas. Israel should give up some territory but Palestinians should too.

  38. 38 Abda Khan
    February 15, 2008 at 02:23

    Lubna I hope all is well with you and family. It is always healthy when people can sit and discuss important issues rather then bombing each other, we need more of such dialogues. People need to be informed about the two religions which are so distant yet share many similarities. Thankyou both.

    Good luck with your studies

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