…by Richard Edmondson
[ Editor’s Note: This is a fabulous article by Richard. If you only have time to read one background article to bring up to speed to follow the current Kurdish news, this is it. The VT team met Richard in Syria at the counter-terrorism conference where he was traveling as an independent. We shared a ride and security back to Beirut when we left.
He is one of those do the grunt work research writers to do original material, unlike the mob that rewrites the news today for internet postings and then pretending to be journalists.
Most of the time they have no educational background for it, career work, or personal sources to really do the work. It is always a pleasure to get his material and be able to share it with you …Jim W. Dean ]
Perhaps at some point we’ll see a sly Zionist pop up somewhere claiming the Kurds are an “ancient biblical people.” And doubtless, if so, he’d have plenty of money to buy off plenty of historians to “verify” his claim.
And maybe in the not-so-distant future we could even anticipate publication of a brand new modern English translation of the Bible with a rewording of the Book of Genesis to include the following:
“So Abraham and his wife Sarah and his nephew Lot set out from Harran, but on the way they stopped off and got down and partied with their cousins, the Kurds, before heading off to conquer the land of Caanan.”
Don’t laugh. In the world we’re presently living in absurdities of this nature are well within the possible.
A group of prominent Zionists have now formed the Jewish Coalition for Kurdistan–an organization with the stated objective of promoting “the legitimate rights of the Kurdish people to self-determination”–which may sound like a reasonable goal, but of course establishment of a Kurdish state would likely result in the breaking off of parts of Syria and possibly Iraq, and maybe even Turkey or Iran as well.
In other words, depending upon how successful this new group turns out to be, there’s a high likelihood we could see more bloodshed and violence in the Middle East with more waves of refugees flooding into Europe.
The JCFK is headquartered in Belgium. Its president is Joël Rubinfeld, who has served as secretary-general of the Belgium-Israel Friendship Society, president of the Jewish Community of Belgium, and vice-president of the European Jewish Parliament.
However prominent American Jews are involved with the JCFK as well. Rabbi Abraham Cooper serves on its Honorary Board. Cooper is with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, based in Los Angeles, an organization now building a “Museum of Tolerance” on top of a Palestinian cemetery in Jerusalem. And another member of the Honorary Board is Alan Dershowitz, Harvard law Professor Emeritus and regular contributor on CNN and Fox News.
I posted an article about Dershowitz last week discussing a recent piece he published attacking Congresswoman Betty McCollum over her sponsorship of the “Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian children Act” in Congress.
Dershowitz appears to have something of a bi-polar view of the Middle East (hate the Palestinians/love the Kurds), and while he has been described as a “civil liberties lawyer,” he has also publicly clashed with civil libertarians such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, and Alice Walker. (The latter he accused of “bigotry”–for refusing to allow an Israeli publisher to publish her book, The Color Purple.)
Kurds have long enjoyed support from Israelis as well, although in the past that support has often been kept under wraps for political reasons. Now, however, it is coming out in the open–big time. On Wednesday, November 29, the Israeli Knesset hosted an international conference entitled “Kurdistan and Israel: Together Towards Peace and Stability in the Middle East” (notice the use of the word “Kurdistan,” as if such a state already exists).
The event took place, significantly, on the 70th anniversary of the UN resolution on the partitioning of Palestine, and one of the participants was Rubinfeld, who was there along with a delegation from the European Kurdish Society.
A host of prominent Israelis, including Tzipi Livni and Michael Oren, also attended, and the occasion sparked the introduction of a Knesset bill calling for the right of Israelis to travel freely between Israel and Kurdish-controlled areas. The following is from a report here that discusses the bill (emphasis added):
The bill, a copy of which was given to The Times of Israel, makes no explicit distinction between Kurdish-controlled areas in Iraq–known as the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG), where Israelis can travel fairly safely–and other Kurdish areas, whether in northern Syria or in Iran.
The vagueness is intentional, the bill’s author told The Times of Israel. The legislation is currently meant to refer just to Iraqi Kurdistan, though that could change in the future.
On Tuesday, November 28, one day prior to the Knessett event in Jerusalem, a number of pro-Kurdish events were held in New York as well. One of these was a screening at the UN of a documentary entitled “Peshmerga,” directed by French-Jewish “philosopher” Bernard Henri-Levy.
Peshmerga is the name of the troops operating under the aegis of the Kurdish Regional Government of Northern Iraq. Sponsored by the French and British missions to the UN, the film screening was attended by some 700 people, while François Delattre, France’s UN ambassador, spoke of the “historic rights of the people of Kurdistan.”
The Kurds, it may be remembered, held a referendum for independence back in September. Three days after the vote, The Forward published an article under the headline “The Secret Friendship Behind Israel’s Support of Kurdish Independence.” Discussing the “deep affinity” between Israel and the Kurds, the writer notes that:
In some ways, Israel’s view is pragmatic. The Middle East could do with another secular democracy.
Yes, the Middle East could do with another secular democracy, but of course the writer, one Michael Goldfarb, omits any mention of the fact that Israel has been trying to overthrow the democratic, secular government of Syria. The piece nonetheless is somewhat revealing, for Goldfarb offers up a quote from an Israeli by the name of Eliezer Gheizi Safrir, described as “Mossad’s station chief in Kurdistan in the mid 1970s.”
“They [Kurds] called me Kak Gheizi,” he said proudly. Kak or kaka means brother. It is a term of friendship. “These are good people, ” says Gheizi. “They share the same values as Jews.”
The fact that a former Mossad chief is a fan of the Kurds might not be all that surprising. Back in mid-to-late summer of this year, Sarah Abed published a series of articles about the Kurds that focused on, among other things, the close ties that have developed over the years with Israel. In one of the articles, here, she writes:
Documents leaked by WikiLeaks in 2010 suggested that Israeli Mossad Chief Meir Dagan wanted to use Kurds and ethnic minorities to topple the Iranian government. The Israeli spy service was aiming to create a weak and divided Iran, similar to the situation in Iraq, where the Kurds have their own autonomous government, the spy chief told a U.S. official.
The Partiya Jiyana Azad a Kurdistane (PJAK), a militant Kurdish nationalist group based in northern Iraq, has been carrying out attacks on Iranian forces in the Kurdistan Province of Iran (Eastern Kurdistan) and other Kurdish-inhabited areas. Half the members of PJAK are women. The PJAK has about 3,000 armed militiamen. They represent yet another example of the Kurds finding themselves in the middle of a conflict and being used as a pawn by the West.
The party is closely linked to the PKK. Iran has often accused PJAK and other Kurdish nationalist groups from Iran of being supported by Israel. Journalist Seymour Hersh has also claimed that the U.S. supported PJAK and other Iranian opposition groups. However, both the U.S. and Israel have denied supporting PJAK. In fact, the U.S. Treasury branded PJAK as a terrorist organization in 2009.
As Hersh noted in 2004: “The Israelis have had long-standing ties to the Talibani and Barzani clans [in] Kurdistan and there are many Kurdish Jews that emigrated to Israel and there are still a lot of connection.
But at some time before the end of the year , and I’m not clear exactly when, certainly I would say a good six, eight months ago, Israel began to work with some trained Kurdish commandos, ostensibly the idea was the Israelis — some of the Israeli elite commander units, counter-terror or terror units, depending on your point of view, began training — getting the Kurds up to speed.”
You’ll recall the comment of Eliezer Gheizi Safrir, the Mossad station chief, as quoted by Goldfarb in The Forward article. Recall also that Gheizi served in his post in the mid 1970s. Interestingly, a man by the name of Abd al-Aziz al-Uqayli, who was Iraq’s defense minister in the 1960s, made some rather revealing remarks concerning efforts under way at that time to create a “second Israel” in his own country. According to a report here (emphasis added):
In 1966, Iraqi defense minister Abd al-Aziz al-Uqayli blamed the Kurds of Iraq for seeking to establish “a second Israel” in the Middle East. He also claimed that “the West and the East are supporting the rebels to create [khalq] a new Israeli state in the north of the homeland as they had done in 1948 when they created Israel. It is as if history is repeating itself.”
Perhaps, on top of all his love for secular democracies, Goldfarb might delight even more at the creation of a “second Israel”–although there are plenty of people who would likely shudder at the thought. Among these are Middle East Christians who have had some nightmarish run-ins with Kurds. This is something discussed by Abed in a separate article here:
On the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq, the Kurds dwell in cities such as “Dohuk” (formerly known by the Assyrian name of Nohadra). But these cities are “theirs” only in that they have established a relatively recent presence there.
Employing the criteria of cultural identity and thousands of years of historical authenticity, these lands are, and have been, uniquely Assyrian. The Kurds were essentially “given” these lands in the early 1970s as a means of drawing their eyes away from the oil-rich lands in and around the Iraqi city of Kirkuk. To this end, there were large migrations of Kurds into Dohuk which displaced, often forcibly, Assyrians who had far greater legal and historical claims to these lands.
This is a tactic commonly employed by the Kurds when attempting to ascribe validation to their “sacred quest” of establishing a Kurdish state – something which has never existed at any point in recorded history. By defining “Kurdistan” as any place where Kurds happen to dwell at any given point, they seem to be going by the maxim “possession is nine-tenths of the law” – which may work well in determining criminal liability, but not so well in determining one’s homeland….
In 2011, imams in Dohuk encouraged Sunni Kurds to destroy Christian churches and businesses. In response, shops were attacked and clubs were besieged by mobs of people numbering in the hundreds. Hotels and restaurants were attacked with small arms fire.
In recent years, Kurds have continued acting disingenuously towards Christian minorities, including Assyrians and even Yazidis…This was also seen when they took refuge in northern Syria in the early 19th century and proceeded to drive Arabs and Armenians out of numerous towns.
In July 2014, as Daesh began its incursion into Iraqi territory, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) began its systematic disarmament of Assyrians and several other ethnic groups so that it could use their weapons in its own struggle.
Notices were circulated threatening severe punishment for noncompliance. Assurances were given that the Peshmerga would provide some degree of protection.
But as Daesh advanced, the Peshmerga took the weapons and fled, following the same example as the Iraqi Army.
This left the Assyrians and Yazidis with no means to resist or defend themselves against Daesh. Reports even surfaced of these same Peshmerga gunning down Yazidis who tried to prevent them from fleeing with all the weapons.
Haydar Shesho, a Yazidi commander who managed to procure weapons from the Iraqi government, was then arrested by KDP authorities for organizing an “illegal” militia.
This scene was repeated elsewhere throughout the country, as 150,000 Assyrians were forced to flee the Nineveh plains, their ancestral land.
These actions can only be seen as a deliberate ploy by the Kurdish leadership to allow foreign forces to violently cleanse these areas of all non-Kurdish residents and then, with the help of their U.S. allies, retake and “liberate their lands.”
Abed also reports that Kurds “have a centuries-long history of persecuting minority groups,” and she supplies a link to a web page entitled Genocides Against the Assyrian Nation, documenting attacks against Assyrians (not all of them carried out by Kurds) dating all the way back to the fall of Ninevah in 612 BC (the title “ancient biblical people”–were one to conjure up such a laurel–would seem rather more meritoriously applied to the Assyrians than the Kurds).
Moreover, it would appear that the Kurds also participated in the genocide against the Armenians (see inset below).
New York Times–Sept. 24, 1915:
The records of the State Department are replete with detailed reports from American Consular officers in Asia Minor, which give harrowing tales of the treatement of the Armenian Christians by the Turks and the Kurds.
During the exodus of Armenians across the deserts they have been fallen upon by Kurds and slaughtered, but some of the Armenian women and girls, in considerable numbers, have been carried off into captivity by the Kurds.
One would think that, rather than making common cause with the Kurds, Jews would be at the forefront demanding Turkish and Kurdish reparations for the Armenians, but we don’t seem to hear much about that. In fact, in 2015, when the rest of the world was marking the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, Israel pointedly refused to recognize that the genocide had even occurred.
“It’s important to differentiate between Kurdish people who have assimilated in the countries they now reside in and reject the idea of establishing an illegal Kurdistan and those who are power hungry and are allowing themselves to team up with the West and Israel to assist in the destabilization of the region,” says Abed–and this for sure is an important point to consider. In other words, one is wise not to paint with too broad a brush stroke.
The Feyli Kurds are cited by Abed as a prime example. She comments that this particular Kurdish faction, located in northern Iraq, opposed the September referendum, fearing that “it could lead to an escalation of the area’s ongoing crisis.” Perhaps we could think of the Feylis as the “self-hating Kurds.” But judging from the results of the referendum–with more than 90 percent voting in favor of “Kurdish independence”–they seem to be in the minority.
The establishment of a Kurdish state is consistent with the goals outlined more than 30 years ago in Israel’s Oded Yinon plan — that is to say the goals of breaking up or balkanizing Muslim countries into smaller, weaker statelets.
This seems to have been the motivation behind Israel’s support of Sunni extremist forces in Syria over the past six years or so, and now, with that effort having largely been scuppered (thanks to help from Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah), the strategy seems to be shifting in the direction of an all-out drive toward formal establishment of a Kurdish state…presumably in Iraq, although “that could change in the future,” as the author of the Knesset bill seems to feel.
By the way, the bill’s author is Ksenia Svetlova, a member of the Zionist Union party who was instrumental in organizing the gala Kurdistan-in-the-Knesset affair on November 29 and who also outlined her air castle of dreams for a Kurdish state in an article that appeared in the Huffington Post on September 25–the same day of the Kurdish referendum.
Wholly ignoring the Oded Yinon plan and Israel’s regime-change schemes in Syria and elsewhere, Svetlova claims that one of the main reasons Israelis support the Kurds has to do with “morality”– informing Huff-Po readers that “many Kurds identify their own suffering with that of persecuted Jews.”
So now we have another “suffering” people, it seems.
Svetlova also asserts that if the Kurds get a state then “Iran’s dream of extending hegemony over the Kurdish region will be ruined,” and she accuses the Iranians of “imperial ambitions in the Middle East” and of endeavoring to “rule over the vast territory between Tehran and Quneitra (Syria).”
You may perhaps have heard of the “Greater Israel Project,” but Svetlova seems to be hoping to foster the notion of a “Greater Iran Project” almost.
This seems to be the hokum being sold by Benjamin Netanyahu as well in a video, here, uploaded recently by RT’s Ruptley video service and in which the Israeli prime minister can be seen comparing Iran to Nazi Germany. Of course, leaving aside the “Nazi” Doppelganger, one might do a simple comparative analysis between, say, Iran and Israel, in which case the proneness to peaceful coexistence with neighbors seems well on the side of Iran, which has not invaded another country in more than 230 years.
An Israeli singer by the name of Hadassa Yeshurun has also taken up the Kurdish cause, this in the belief that the “Peshmerga deserves more support as they fight evil on behalf of the world,” and you can go here to see a video of her singing and waving the Kurdish and Israeli flags while dressed in combat fatigues.
Also Google supplies plenty of photos of Kurds waving Israeli flags (and to some extent vice versa), and Rubinfeld, the director of the JCFK, has a theory about all this ostentatious flag waving. In an interview with the JTA, he proffers the opinion that the Israeli flag is a second national symbol to many Kurds “because they identify with Israel and the Jews.”
And apparently Kurds, unlike Palestinians, are popular with the Israeli general public as well. According to Rubinfeld, “widespread understanding” as to the “rightfulness of the Kurdish cause” can be found throughout the Zionist state’s populace. Whether that includes West Bank settlers as well he leaves unstated.
But it definitely does seem to apply to Goldfarb, author of The Forward piece quoted above and who adds a personal note to his thesis on the matter:
“I first reported from Kurdistan in 1996 and felt this inexplicable affinity for the place. Don’t laugh when I say it felt like my ancestors must have passed through 1500 years ago on their way north to the Black Sea and into the heartlands of Ashkenaz.”
I opened this article by suggesting, somewhat half tongue-in-cheek, that we may at some point see a Zionist pop up and proclaim the Kurds to be an “ancient biblical people,” and in that regard, you may be unsurprised to learn that a study conducted by Hebrew University has purported to find a “close genetic connection between Jews and Kurds.”
Whether the same astonishing “genetic similarities” were found between Kurds and descendants of the Khazars, as presumably may exist between Kurds and Mizrahi Jews, or whether this even figured at all in the researchers’ data, is unclear from the Haaretz report on the study. But then why bother the public with details like that? The world is in dire need of a Kurdish state, and perhaps that’s all we really need to know.
Moreover, should a “Kurdistan” incubus of some sort actually be born, Israel would likely be one of the first countries to establish formal diplomatic ties with it, but this doubtless would be founded upon political considerations much more so than upon any presumed blood ties.
Propensity for acts of brutality after all have far more to do with ideology than with genetic composition. Self love and a sense of chosenness can create oceans and rivers of blood, whereas genes as a general rule do not.