"The history of Judaism in Kurdistan dates back nearly three millenia. According to the Talmud, Jewish deportees were settled in Kurdistan 2,800 years ago by the Assyrian king Shalmaneser Ill (r. 858-824 BC). Soon they integrated with the Kurds, and they were exceptionally successful in their endeavor."
~ Halwest Omer Qadir.
~ Halwest Omer Qadir.
Oh, here's something that's going to drive all the Kurd-hating conspiracy theorists absolutely nuts:
Lana was a teenager when her family made a clandestine journey from Kurdistan to Israel.
It was 1994, and Saddam Hussein had recently lost control of northern Iraq. Rival Kurdish militias were battling each other to fill the power vacuum. In a closely guarded emigration, Lana's family — and a dozen other Kurdish families of Jewish origin — traveled over land to neighboring Turkey in a trip organized and financed by Israel.
[ . . . ]
Now Lana, 28, is a citizen of Israel who speaks Hebrew and Kurdish fluently. Last year, she returned for the first time since her emigration to live in Kurdistan with her new husband, Hano, an Iraqi Muslim Kurd. The couple asked that their full names not be used for fear of reprisal.
"I didn't think twice about marrying a Jewish woman," Hano said. "My parents always told me stories about how much they liked their old Jewish neighbors."
Unlike the Arab majority in central and southern Iraq, the Kurds of northern Iraq don't see Jews or Israel as enemies. In the 1960s and 70s, Israel's Mossad intelligence agency provided equipment and training to Kurdish rebels who were battling the government in Baghdad. To this day, locals call a neighborhood of old sagging brick houses in the Kurdish city of Suleymaniyah, Jewlakan.
[ . . . ]
Despite the difficult history for Kurdish Jews, Lana says she's proud of her mixed heritage. "Above all, I consider myself a Kurd," she says. "An Israeli Kurd."
Read the rest of the transcript, or listen to NPR's report and view some photos, here.
I know at least one old Kurdish warrior in Silêmanî, originally from Xanaqîn, who, on my last trip to the city, expressed to me his longing to see his old Jewish boyhood friends once more before he died. They left Kurdistan in 1948, and the venerable peşmêrge that I met still spoke of them fondly. Perhaps that Kurdish lion's wish will be granted him soon.
It's also interesting to note that Lana considers herself first and foremost a Kurd and that she and her husband are Kurds of differing religions, thus illustrating how ethnicity tends to trump religion among Kurds. Whoever doesn't like that, whether Turk, Arab, Persian, or Western anti-Kurd anti-semite, is just going to have to get over it.
In related news, Israeli archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a mansion in Jerusalem, believed to have belonged to Kurdish-Jewish Queen Helene of Adiabene:
The building, which includes storerooms, living quarters and ritual baths, is by far the largest and most elaborate structure discovered by archaeologists in the City of David area, which was home 2,000 years ago almost exclusively to the city's poor.
Jewish historian Josephus Flavius mentions just one wealthy family living there — the family of Queen Helene.
There is a "high probability'' the mansion belonged to Helene's family, Israel Antiquities Authority archaeologist Doron Ben-Ami told reporters Wednesday.
"This amazing structure was destroyed with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.,'' Ben-Ami said.
Read more at Live Science. For more on the history of Kurdish Jews, the historical blending of Jews and Kurds in Kurdistan, and Queen Helene, check out an article from Soma.
Like I said, get over it.