Wednesday, December 12, 2007

KURDS AND JEWS: RENEWING AN OLD RELATIONSHIP

"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.


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.

9 comments:

Renegade Eye said...

Very interesting post. That subject is not often talked about.

VINEYARDSAKER: said...

interestign indeed. I wonder how this all play in the context of the cozy friendship between Israel and Turkey in general, and AIPAC's brotherhood with the Turkish American Council.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mizgin,
While I support the struggle of the Kurdish people for self-determination and unity, against the efforts of all the imperialists of Turkey, Syria, Iran, and Iraq (as well as the USA which tries to use the Kurds as regional proxies in their efforts to dominate the Middle East), I also oppose the Zionist Israeli state, which is one of the mainstays of the US domination agenda. In this context, I agree that it is certainly good that there are marriages between Jews and Moslems in Kurdistan, but this definitely runs contrary to the Zionist agenda which attempts to present Jews as a separate race, not just as a religion. For a Zionist, being a Jew should trump being a Kurd, and Jews should only marry Jews, otherwise they are traitors to their true nation, Israel. So the blending of Kurds and Jews can take place only with the eradication of Zionism, and this also means a fundamental change in the nature of the present-day state of Israel.

Phil West

Partisan said...

And the mentality of Arabs that are still supporting Saddam and his genocide against Kurds. Now they claim Kurds are oppressors. Only because we want Kerkuk back. Majority of Kerkuk is Kurdish.

Anonymous said...

Yep, tell them to get over it. And tell the Kurdish jash need to get over it too. Particularly Arab puppets like Fereydun Hilmi who decided to sell himself on al-jazeera recently.

Mizgîn said...

Renegade, this subject is fairly well talked up in Kurdish circles, it's just that no one really knows this history so it may seem strange to those outside the situation.

VS, the relationship between Turkey, Israel, and US (and their respective lobbies) is a neoconservative relationship. It is inherently evil and inhuman. However, the relationship between the two peoples, Kurds and Jews, is quite ancient, predating both Turkish and Arab presences in Kurdistan and I think it has the potential, at this stage, to create a grassroots movement that could stand in opposition to the ruling elite.

Phil, if Zionism is as you say, then there is no evidence of Zionism at play here. It also means, by your own reasoning, that Zionism is dead already since we already have and example of the blending of Kurds and Jews in the NPR story. Again, the relationship of Kurds and Jews living side-by-side peacefully, if not "blending," is one that far predates Zionism and the modern Israeli state. Furthermore, the position of PKK calls for justice for all the peoples of the region, not only Kurds, and this position applies to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well.

Partisan, yes the majority of Kerkuk is Kurdish and it has been this way for a very long time. Cemil Bayik has stated that if it comes down to a war for Kerkuk, PKK will also fight alongside the pesmerge for the city.

Anonymous, jash need to be told to get over a lot of stuff. Oh, is Hilmi still selling himself? Why am I not surprised?

slartibartfast said...

And you hope to build good relations with the Arab peoples this way.

So many times in history the Kurdish leadership sold itself to foreigners, and made the brave Kurdish people pay the price.

Now the Kurdish leadership is dancing with the Zionists (who killed many Kurds, valiant fighters for their countries, particularly Syria).

Apart from the fact that Israel wouldn't lift a finger to help the Kurdish people when they begin paying for their leaders' treacheries, what they are doing would create anger amongst the Arabs, Assyrians, and others, who are witness now the thugs of Peshmerga helping Israeli fortune seekers and forcing Christian Iraqis from their homes... because it is close to the grave of a mythical Jewish prophet.

I wish only the leaders will be making the payback... One thing unify Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria: the activities of these leaders and their subservience to Israel.

And payback will happen, when nationalists of both sides will fight it out, and guess who will be the loser? The usual one!!! The Kurdish People.

Richard Burton said...

Get over it...

Once matters settle there will be no Kurdish State. Not in a million years. Not with Turkey and Iran ready to pulverize the Kurdish nationalists....

Go back to your Arab brothers and help yourselves and help them... Collaboration with the Zionists is beneath the Kurdish people, their history and struggle for justice...

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