Kurds and Israel: A real love story ? The unknown truth

Read what the Kurds really think of Israel by a writer who is Turkish-Muslim born and now living in Israel, who cannot return to her native country due to her criticism of Erdogan.

Uzay Bulut

OpEds Kurds receive Israeli humanitarian aid in Iraqi Kurdistan
Kurds receive Israeli humanitarian aid in Iraqi Kurdistan

 “Down with America! Down with Israel!,” chanted thousands in the majority-Kurdish city of Diyarbakir who joined an anti-Israel protest on February 9.

What made them so furious was the U.S. administration’s peace plan, which calls for “a reasonable two-state solution” for Israelis and Palestinian-Arabs. 

After the Turkish government and parliament condemned the peace plan, the “Foundation of Lovers of the Prophet” and the “Society of the Oppressed” organized a demonstration in Diyarbakir entitled “Jerusalem is ours!”

The demonstration started with some verses from the Koran and songs about Jerusalem. The participants often shouted “Allahu akbar” [Allah is the greatest] during the demonstration, the Anadolu Agency reported

Zekeriya Yapıcıoğlu, the head of the Kurdish Islamist Hüda-Par (Free Cause Party), affiliated with the Kurdish Hizbullah, delivered a speech at the protest. He said, in part:

"If Jerusalem falls, Cairo, Baghdad, Ankara, Beirut, Amman will also fall. If Jerusalem falls, Tehran, Khartoum, Diyarbakır, Islamabad will not survive. If Jerusalem falls, they will set their eyes on Mecca and Medina.  Jerusalem is the honor of the ummah [Islamic nation]. Unless Jerusalem is saved from captivity, the ummah will not get rid of the contempt it is in. The ummah will not be able to gain liberty until Jerusalem is free.”

Yapıcıoğlu called the US administration’s peace plan “evil” and “unacceptable”. He said the ummah has united for the cause of Jerusalem and added: “We’re ready to pay every price for Jerusalem.”

The wars, destructions and refugee crises in Yemen, Iraq and Syria are happening only to “keep the al-Aqsa mosque in captivity”, Yapicioglu asserted, expressing the widespread, lazy Muslim conspiracy theory that all troubles in the Muslim world are caused by Israel. 

“Today, the problems among Kurds, Turks, Arabs, and Persians are kept unresolved so that a handful of Zionists can sleep well. Before Jerusalem is free, the blood and tears in the ummah will not end,” he added.

In an interview with the Anadolu Agency, Hüsamettin Bönül, an organizer of the protest, referred to Israel as “tumor”:

“It is a significant duty of every caring citizen and every Muslim to keep talking about the issue of Israel, which is a problem of Muslims and which emerged as a tumor of the world.”

He said this was not their first anti-Israel protest and that they had organized many more.

The anti-Israel stance has traditionally been strong within other Kurdish groups, as well.

In May 2018, Hamas coordinated its supporters in Gaza to engage in violent protests and try to breach the Gaza security fence, to which Israeli forces responded in self-defense. Sadly, these incidents were not accurately reported by much of the mainstream media either in Turkey or the West.

Selahattin Demirtaş, the head of the pro-Kurdish HDP (Peoples’ Democratic Party), joined the anti-Israel chorus in Turkey and tweeted: “I curse the boundless barbarism of the government of Israel. I wish mercy from Allah to the massacred sons and daughters of the oppressed Palestinian people and healing to their injured. A powerful voice and a joint stance are required to be able to stop the savagery of the Israeli government immediately.”

In another Twitter post Demirtaş called on everyone in Turkey to organize a huge demonstration in Istanbul to protest and stop Israel’s “savagery.”  

The HDP also presented a proposal to Turkey’s parliament that demands all political, economic and military agreements with Israel, including the one that recognizes Jerusalem as its capital, be cancelled. Ironically, the proposal was rejected by votes of the ruling AKP (Justice and Development Party) and the opposition MHP, the Nationalist Movement Party.

Sadly, the Kurdish support for Palestinian-Arab “politicians” who have dedicated their lives to exterminating Israel has a long history. For instance, Palestinian-Arab terrorist Leila Khaled, veteran of several hijacking attempts and a member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), joined a congress of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Congress (HDK) in 2018 and delivered a speech there.

She said, in part:

“I will make a request from you; I want you to raise the boycott movement against Israel. Wherever these Zionist powers are, we must raise the struggle against them shoulder to shoulder.”

Khaled also wrote a “solidarity letter” to Leyla Güven, a Kurdish MP of the HDP, who was on a hunger strike to demand an end to the “isolation” for Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed leader of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party).

“The hunger strikes of the revolutionaries in the prisons of Turkey and Israel are done to break the dominant systems that want to silence the peoples who want freedom, justice and democracy,” Khaled said, in part.

The HDP published this letter on its official website, which demonstrates that in the party’s imagination, Turkey and Israel represent the same “oppressive” mentality.

The HDP also described Khaled as someone “that has played an important role in carrying the struggle of the Palestinian people to the international arena.”

However, the PFLP has carried out dozens of terror attacks in Europe and the Middle East. These include the Avivim school bus massacre in Israel in May 1970, which killed 9 children and 3 adults, and the massacre in the Israeli town of Kiryat Shmona in April 1974, which killed 18 people including 8 children. 

Not only the Islamist Hüda-Par, but also the non-Islamist HDP and PKK as well as other Kurdish organizations, have been uninformedly targeting and smearing Israel.
Palestinian-Arab terror groups are responsible for the deaths of thousands of Israeli civilians. See a list of some major terror attacks against Israelis between 1948 and 1967 here. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs,

“While the Palestinians claim that terrorism is a response to ‘occupation,’ the fact is that Palestinian terrorism predates Israel's presence in the territories. Numerous terrorist attacks murdered and maimed Israeli civilians during the two decades before 1967 (and even before the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948). Therefore, terrorism was and still is nothing less than a tool intended to eventually bring about the destruction of Israel itself.” 

Khaled also visited the Kurdish MP during her hunger strike. “Your name [Khaled’s name] has always existed in the Kurdistan struggle… We the Palestinian and Kurdish peoples are right,” Güven told Khaled. 

 “Our general secretary, Ahmad Saadat, is sending his regards to you,” Khaled said.  

But Saadat has been in jail not for his “human rights advocacy” but for his involvement in terror attacks. But again, disinformation and propaganda against Israel seems to have worked wonders in Turkey.  Khaled, Saadat and many other Palestinian-Arab figures and organizations that have the blood of innocent civilians on their hands and who do not even recognize Israel’s right to exist are hailed as heroes by many people in Turkey.

And it is not only the state of Israel that is unjustly targeted by Kurdish groups operating in and outside of Turkey. Jewish and pro-Israel lobbies have also been subjected to their slander. Bese Hozat, the co-head of the Kurdistan Communities Union or the KCK, for instance, targeted Israeli, Armenian and Greek organizations in the US, feeding the widespread, bigoted conspiracy theories against these communities in Turkey. In 2014, she said, in part:

“There are parallel states in Turkey outside of the official state. For example, the Fethullah Gülen community is a parallel state… The Israeli lobby and the nationalist Armenian and Greek lobbies are also parallel states. Those parallel states have serious, mutual interests.”

And in 2013, the minutes of the meeting that Abdullah Öcalan, the head of the PKK, had with the pro-Kurdish BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) leaked to the press. During the meeting, Öcalan said, in part:

 "Three types of parallel states operate in Turkey. These relationships began to be sabotaged. They are not ordinary lobbies. Jewish, Armenian and Greek lobbies in the US are strategically and tactically intervening [in Turkey]. All three originated from Anatolia. There is a so-called government, a so-called parliament. [The Turkish political parties] CHP and MHP are projections of the parallel state; they’re the simple tools [of parallel states]. They’ve infiltrated the AKP, the media and businessmen.”

In countries like Turkey where anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiments are already extremely high and where many people – particularly youths - are easily manipulated to violently target others for their ethnicity, religion or nationhood, such antagonistic and factually incorrect statements are very dangerous. They do not serve the cause of “freedom, justice and democracy” that Khaled and many Kurdish politicians often talk about.  They nurture ignorance and incite people to hatred and possibly to violence. They make it harder for peaceful coexistence to exist in the region, which is already marked by deep religious, ethnic or tribal divisions and enmity.

It seems that many Kurdish groups, political leaders and individuals need a serious education on the history of Israel and the Israeli-Arab issues. For not only the Islamist Hüda-Par, but also the non-Islamist HDP and PKK as well as other Kurdish organizations, have been uninformedly targeting and smearing Israel.

However, genuine and real solidarity or relations between nations or political groups should be based on reciprocity, truth, honesty and fairness. 

Apparently, so many Israelis have been so generous in their sympathy and support for Kurdish political or militant groups without even knowing much about what these groups really think of Israel.