The Jerusalem Post: Azerbaijan-Israel relations: The light in the world of darkness

Fri 03 Jan 2020 09:22 GMT | 13:22 Local Time

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The Jerusalem Post has published an article highlighting Azerbaijan-Israel relations. Written by Javid Mammadzade, the article is headlined “The light in the world of darkness”.

The article says the relations between Azerbaijan and Israel were at an excellent level and traditionally extended far beyond diplomacy and trade. “The history of the Jews in Azerbaijan goes back to the days of antiquity, presumably to the times of Assyrian kings in the seventh century BCE. Therefore, it becomes relevant to claim that the Jewish Diaspora in Azerbaijan is among the first in the world. Initially, due to settling in the mountainous regions of Azerbaijan, Jewish groups were named Mountain Jews, nowadays in the Quba region of Azerbaijan.”

“Mountain Jews have managed to maintain their own culture and lifestyle across the centuries; and there are hundreds of well-known politicians, businessmen, scientists and other notable figures from that community now living and working in Russia, Israel, USA, Germany, the United Kingdom and Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, Mountain Jews in Israel actively support ties with Azerbaijan, celebrate its holidays and mourn its tragic days.”

“Jewish politicians actively participated in the political and social life of the Azerbaijani Democratic Republic (ADR) which proclaimed its independence in 1918, including members of ADR’s Parliament Moisey Gukhman, Konstantin Lisgar, who became minister for food provisions, and Dr. Yevsei Gindes, who was minister of health. Also, hundreds of thousands of Jewish families found a shelter in Azerbaijan during WWII. Approximately 200,000 Jews who were evacuated from other Soviet republics with the aim to rescue them from the Holocaust settled in Azerbaijani SSR. All of these symbolize trust that turned into a respectful coexistence and collaboration between Muslims and Jews.”

“Azerbaijanis are proud of their many Jewish fellow countrymen who brought fame and honor to their homeland. Among them was the Baku-born Jewish physicist Lev Landau, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1962 for his pioneering theories in condensed matter, especially liquid helium.”

“Another proud Azerbaijani with Jewish roots is the national hero of Azerbaijan Albert Agarunov, who died defending Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity from Armenian aggression after the collapse of the USSR in 1991. In 1992, when the Karabakh war started, he voluntarily went to the front line. Agarunov, who was appointed tank commander, fought in various directions in Nagorno-Karabakh and destroyed a lot of enemy manpower and equipment. Agarunov was buried at the Alley of Martyrs in Baku’s Highland Park. Azerbaijan honored the memory of its hero a by unveiling a monument created in his honor and installed in the street named after him.”

“Another reflection of peaceful and respectful Muslim-Jewish coexistence is that there has not been a single case of antisemitism registered in Azerbaijan, in contrast to many other states, including neighboring mono-ethnic Armenia. On the contrary, today, Azerbaijan with a Muslim majority is home to a Jewish community and eight synagogues. Recently, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, which is based in the capital city of Baku, restored the centuries-old Jewish cemetery in the Mudji village of Ismailia. Also, the holy Torah was translated into the Azerbaijani language for the first time by the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.”

“The growth of tolerance for Jews in Azerbaijani society is a reflection of the current government’s policy. Such results may be achieved when the government prefers peace, tolerance, mutual respect and understanding over war, oppression, extremism and incitement. The continuing tolerance policy in modern Azerbaijan belongs to the national leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, who outlined the idea of equality of the national, ethnic, religious and social rights of all peoples who consider Azerbaijan as their homeland.”

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