Azeri meeting with Jewish community leaders
Azeri meeting with Jewish community leadersCourtesy of the Office of the Azeri president and the Jewish community

At a special meeting with Jewish community leaders, Azeri President Ilham Aliyev announced the government’s establishment of a multi-purpose Jewish center in central Baku.

The announcement took place during the course of President Isaac Herzog’s visit to the capital city of Baku.

“The Jews in Azerbaijan are valued citizens, and we will do everything we can for them,” Aliyev said. “This is a natural extension of hundreds of years of friendship between the Azeri and Jewish nations and the Jewish community on the soil of Azerbaijan.”

Rabbi Zamir Isayev of the Georgian Sephardic community, who attended the welcome for Herzog along with dozens of school students from the Jewish school, said that “the Jewish community’s gratitude for President Aliyev is profound.”

“This is another opportunity to attest how much the Jewish community has benefited from the Kingdom of Benevolence in the figure of the president whom we all admire and who perpetuates the heritage of his forefathers with his genuine concern for the Jewish community and its institutions, and his courageous friendship,” Rabbi Isayev said.

The rabbi also thanked the president for implementing the upgrade of the school as a birthday gift, which he recalled was promised approximately two weeks previously, on the 100th birthday of his father, the late President Heydar Aliyev, a state leader who facilitated the strengthening of the deep connection between the two communities and their countries.

As a birthday gift, the government announced that they would renovate and upgrade the synagogues and Jewish school in Baku, which also operates under the auspices of the Rescue Committee for Jewish Repatriates.

Rabbi Isayev also spoke of the improved cooperation between the two countries and the communities and the brave decision to open an Azeri embassy in Israel.

“I would like to make mention to the president and to those in attendance the letter from the 30 ministers and members of Knesset from all factions of the house, which expressed gratitude and appreciation to the president and the Azeri government for their warm and heartfelt relations with the Jewish people and Israel,” he said. “Together we face a dangerous common enemy, the Iranian regime, which threatens our nations with annihilation and spreads antisemitic propaganda to incite the people of Iran against the secular and valued government in the international arena, while Azerbaijan continues to be the largest supplier of gas and oil to Israel and Europe, despite pressure from Iran.”

“I have to share an additional matter with you that is common to both of us, which is crucial to the alliance we have with the Azeri nation,” he added. “We have been privileged to have had our position strengthened significantly. A leading American expert in national security and the Middle East has expressed sympathy with the Azeri minority insurgents in northern Iran and has praised the letters from the members of Knesset they wrote regarding the matter.”

Rabbi Isayev continued: “As I recall, after the visit of Foreign Affairs Minister Eli Cohen to Baku, we requested the assistance of Israel at the international level in pressuring Iran to cease violent activity against the Azeri minority in northwestern Iran – southern Azerbaijan. Thirty members of Knesset joined us in our request.

“I am referring to Dr. Kamran Bokhari, a leading American expert in national security and the Middle East, who wrote an article for the American magazine, The National Interest (TNI), published by The Center for National Interest of the Nixon Center for Peace and Freedom. The article sympathizes with the struggle for freedom and human rights of the Azeri minority and even conveys astonishment at Reza Pahlavi, the son of the late Shah, who, during his visit to Israel in April, led to many Israeli parliament members retracting their signatures form the letter expressing support for the Azeri minority rights in the face of oppression and the violation of their human rights.”

Rabbi Isayev noted that “we must always remember gratitude as a very important guideline in Jewish tradition.”

“These are the Azeri people who have been very friendly to the Jews throughout history, and the Jewish community is deeply worried about the persecution of their friends in Iran and continues to do everything in its power to assist them and repay them as befits them,” he said.