The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra. (Sasson Tiram/TPS) Sasson Tiram/TPS

Israel continues to enjoy close ties with Azerbaijan, a predominantly Muslim country that welcomes economic and cultural exchanges with the Jewish state, including the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra’s recent performances there.

By: United with Israel Staff

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO) recently performed at Azerbaijan’s Gabala International Music Festival, marking the second time that the Israeli group took part in the event during the past decade.

According to a report by the Jerusalem Post, the company performed four concerts and was warmly received by the audience at each performance.

The JSO’s program included works by Mozart, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, and Puccini, among other composers.

Azerbaijan is a Eurasian nation nestled between Russia, Armenia, and Iran. While more than 97% percent of Azerbaijan’s citizens are adherents of Shia Islam, unlike the most Muslim-majority nations, Azerbaijan enjoys excellent relations with Israel.

In 2016, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, to foster growing ties between the two nations. At that time, Azerbaijan had already purchased close to $5 billion worth of defense equipment from Israel.

Netanyahu’s visit to Baku was followed in 2018 by an Azeri delegation’s meeting in Israel to set up an inter-governmental economic committee to encourage commercial ties between the Jewish state and Azerbaijan.

The visit occurred at the height of tensions between Israel and the Hamas terror group, but Azerbaijan refused to join the chorus of criticism directed at the Jewish state from the Muslim world.

Israel’s close ties with Azerbaijan, including cultural exchanges such as the JSO’s performances in Baku, have caused tension with Azerbaijan’s neighbor Iran.

Iran has long declared it’s intention to destroy the Jewish state and the Azeri Ministry of National Security detained three men in 2012 for planning to attack Israelis employed by a Jewish school in Baku. Baku security officials linked Iran to the planned terror attack.

Azeri Communication Minister Ali Abbasov has also accused Iran of carrying out cyber attacks against Azerbaijan, which has remained wary of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

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