There are over twenty Arab states throughout the Middle East and North Africa, but the world demands, in a chorus of barely disguised animosity towards Israel, that yet another Arab state be created within the mere forty miles separating the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan.
Remember, there has never existed in all recorded history an independent sovereign nation called Palestine - and certainly not an Arab one. The name ‘Palestine’ has always been that of a geographical territory, such as Siberia or Patagonia. It has never been a state.
But there is a people who, like the Jews, truly can trace their ancestry back thousands of years and deserve a sovereign, independent state within their ancient homeland. They are the Kurds, and it is highly instructive to review their remarkable history in conjunction with that of the Jews. It is also necessary to review the historical injustice imposed upon them over the centuries by hostile neighbors and empires.
Let us go back to the captivity of the Ten Tribes of Israel, who were taken from their land by the Assyrians in 721-715 BCE. Biblical Israel was de-populated, its Jewish inhabitants deported to an area in the region of ancient Media and Assyria - coincidentally a territory that roughly included that of modern-day Kurdistan. Assyria was, in turn, conquered by Babylonia, which led to the eventual destruction of the southern Jewish kingdom of Judah in 586 BCE. The remaining two Jewish tribes were sent again to the same general area as that of their brethren from the northern kingdom.
The Persian conqueror of Babylon, Cyrus the Great, allowed the Jews to return to their ancestral lands, many Jews nevertheless remained (and continued to live) with their neighbors in Babylon - an area which included modern-day Kurdistan. The Babylonian Talmud refers in one section to the Jewish deportees from Judah receiving rabbinical permission to offer Judaism to the local population.
A large segment of the general population, accepted the Jewish faith. Indeed, when the Jews in Judea rose-up against Roman occupation in the 1st century AD, the Kurdish queen reportedlysent troops and provisions to support the embattled Jews. By the beginning of the 2nd century CE, Judaism was firmly established in Kurdistan, and Kurdish Jews in Israel today speak an ancient form of Aramaic in their homes and synagogues. Kurdish and Jewish life became interwoven to such a remarkable degree that many Kurdish folk tales connect with Jews.
It is interesting to note that several tombs of biblical Jewish prophets are to be found in or near Kurdistan. For example, the prophet Nachum is in Alikush, while Jonah’s tomb can be found in Nabi Yunis, which is ancient Nineveh. Daniel’s tomb is in the oil-rich Kurdistan province of Kirkuk; Habbabuk is in Tuisirkan; and Queen Hadassah, or Esther, along with her uncle Mordechai, is in Hamadan.
After the revolt against Rome failed, many rabbis found refuge in what is now Kurdistan. The rabbis joined with their fellow scholars, and by the 3rd century CE, Jewish academies were flourishing. But the later Sassanid and Persian occupations of the region ushered in a time of persecution for the Jews and Kurds, which lasted until the Muslim Arab invasion in the 7th century. Indeed, the Jews and Kurds joined with the invading Arabs in the hope that their action would bring relief from the Sassanid depredations they had suffered.
Centuries later from out of this population arose a great historical figure. In 1138, a boy was born into a family of Kurdish warriors and adventurers. His name was Salah-al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub - better known in the West as Saladin. He drove the Christian crusaders out of Jerusalem although he was distrusted by the Muslim Arabs because he was a Kurd. Even then, the Arabs were aware of the close relationship that existed between the Kurdish people and the Jews.
Israel shares with Kurdistan a familial fate. Both endure relentless aggression from their Arab neighbors...
Saladin employed justice and humane measures in both war and peace. This contrasted with the methods employed by the Arabs. Indeed, it is believed that Saladin not only was just to the Christians, but he allowed the Jews to flourish in Jerusalem and is credited with finding the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple. The Wall had been buried under tons of rubbish during the Christian Byzantine occupation. The great Jewish rabbi, philosopher and doctor, Maimonides,was for a time Saladin’s personal physician.
But let us return to the present day and to why the world clamors for a Palestinian Arab state but strangely turns its back upon Kurdish national independence and statehood. The universally accepted principle of self-determination seems not to apply to the Kurds. Israel shares with Kurdistan a familial fate. Both endure relentless aggression from their Arab neighbors and threats from Turkey and Iran. Israel must continue and strengthen its unique responsibility towards the Kurdish people who remain stateless and shunned by the world. They seek the historic justice, which they have craved for centuries, but have for too long been denied. Simply this: A sovereign independent state of their own.
The Kurds, like the Jews, have few friends, and the Kurds have little or no influence in the international corridors of power. The Kurds have a far better case for statehood than do the Palestinian Arabs. They have their own unique language and culture, which the Palestinian Arabs do not.
Fellow writer, friend and author, Gerald Honigman, also writes on the world’s preoccupation with those Arabs who call themselves Palestinians while ignoring the plight of the Kurds.Honigman’s book was part of the LSS exhibit at the prestigious ASMEA Conference of scholars several years ago and has several chapters focusing on the Kurdish issue. It’s no accident that its foreword was written mostly by the President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria.
During the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds were gassed and slaughtered in large numbers. They suffered ethnic cleansing by the Turks and continue to be oppressed by the present Turkish government. The legality and morality of the Kurds’ cause is infinitely stronger than that of those Arabs who call themselves Palestinians.
After the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, the Kurds displayed great political and economic wisdom and fought effectively against ISIS .
How different from the example of the Gazan Arabs who, when foolishly given full control over the Gaza Strip by Israel, chose not to build hospitals and schools, but instead bunkers and missile launchers. To this they added the imposition of sharia law, with its attendant denigration of women and non-Muslims.
The Kurdish experiment, in at least the territory’s current quasi-independence, has shown the world a decent society where all its inhabitants, men and women, enjoy far greater freedoms than can be found anywhere else in the Arab and Muslim world - and certainly anywhere else in Iraq, which has fast descended into ethnic chaos and Iranian infiltration after Obama ordered the U.S. military to leave..
The leaders of the free world should look to Kurdistan, with its huge oil reserves, as the new state that needs to be created in the Middle East. It is simple and natural justice, which is far too long overdue. A Palestinian Arab state, on the other hand, will immediately become a haven for anti-Western terrorism and a non-democratic land carved out of the Jewish ancestral and biblical lands of Judea and Samaria upon which the stultifying shroud of sharia law will inevitably descend. In short, it will be established with one purpose: to destroy what is left of embattled Israel.
The Kurds have a far better case for statehood than do the Palestinian Arabs. They have their own unique language and culture, which the Palestinian Arabs do not.
Finally, it is also natural justice for the Jewish State - with its millennial association of shared history alongside the Kurdish people, a population numbering some 30,000,000 scattered throughout northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, Syria and Turkey - to fight in the world’s forums for the speedy establishment of an independent and proud Kurdistan. An enduring alliance between Israel and Kurdistan would be a vindication of history, a recognition of the shared sufferings of both peoples, and bring closer the advent of a brighter future for both non-Arab nations.
It is the Kurds who unreservedly deserve a state. The invented Palestinian Arabs, who have no cultural or indigenous right to a state, have also forfeited that right by their relentless aggression, crimes, and genocidal intentions towards Israel and the Jews. But such empirical logic will, no doubt, evade the conscience of the international delegates in that Temple of Hypocrisy and Mendacity: The misnamed United Nations.