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It seems the number one issue uniting most Israelis today is that Israel should do more for the Kurds. Netanyahu should not follow Trump on this issue. 

By Ariel Natan Pasko

Initially the world received reports of Turkish air strikes killing eight and wounding dozens, as the Turkish military offensive against Syrian Kurds began, with thousands fleeing the bombing. Now, we hear of over 100 killed, and the UN is reporting that over 160,000 have become refugees.

Turkey became emboldened by the announcement of withdrawal of American forces in the area.

After an eight-year war against Syria and ISIS, the Kurds, who for years were America’s main ally on the ground in Syria, have rightfully expressed that President Trump’s decision to pull forces out of the way was a “stab in the back.”

The Kurds have played a leading role in capturing territory from Islamic State, and they now hold the largest swathe of Syria outside of Bashar al-Assad’s government’s hands.

But because of Trump’s double-cross, they’ve been forced to call on Assad to send in Syrian government troops.

Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Trump’s closest allies early on, said that failing to support the Kurds, would be “the biggest mistake of his presidency.” Many on both sides of the aisle in America have condemned Trump’s decision. It became a major point of discussion at the most recent Democratic Primary Debate.

The Kurdish people are the largest stateless ethnicity in the world, estimated at 30-45 million worldwide, with the majority residing in historic Kurdistan. The area the Kurds consider Kurdistan include, parts of south-eastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Syria (Western Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and north-western Iran (Eastern Kurdistan). The Turks, Syrians, Iraqis, and Iranians have all oppressed their Kurdish populations.

The Kurds aren’t the “Palestinians.” They are a real historic, indigenous people – not a late-20th-century invention to deceive the world. Before the era of “fake news,” there already were “fake Palestinians.” The “fake Palestinians” were created to block the historic return and political self-determination of another Middle Eastern people, the historic, indigenous Jews of the Land of Israel.

Israel is a beacon of success in the battle of indigenous peoples to roll-back the 7th-century Arab imperialist invasion, conquest, occupation and oppression of the region. The Turkish Ottoman empire wasn’t much better to indigenous people.

Israel should support Kurdish independence. Their demand is just, and Turkey’s recent behavior, again, proves why.

We’ve Seen This Movie Before…

In 2014, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that “It is upon us to support the Kurds’ aspiration for independence,” calling them a “fighting people that have proven political commitment and political moderation, and they’re also worthy of their own political independence.”

In 2016, then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, now head of the Yamina party, openly endorsed the idea of an independent Kurdistan.

Again, in August 2017, Netanyahu told a visiting delegation of 33 Republican Congressmen from the US that he was in favor of an independent state for the Kurds, “a brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”

More recently, Netanyahu denounced the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish region of northern Syria. “Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people,” he said.

But Netanyahu stopped short of advocating Kurdish independence, and he has done nothing to recognize a Kurdish state in the last few years. Now is the time.

In a recent post on Twitter, Shaked called on the world to act strongly against Turkey over its invasion of Syrian Kurdistan, writing: “This is an achievement for the forces of evil. I hope the nations of the world will act and that sanctions against Turkey should be just the beginning. It is time to establish peace structures in the region and a Kurdish state is definitely an important step in that direction.”

Previously, she posted on Facebook, “I have said this in the past: It is in the interest of both Israel and the United States, for the security and stability of the region, that a Kurdish state be established.”

israel kurds

Waving Kurdish and Israeli flags, Israelis demonstrate in solidarity with Iraqi Kurds in Tel Aviv in 2015. (Twitter)

“The Kurds are the largest people in the world without a country. An ancient people who have a special historical connection to the Jewish people. They deserve a state. The Kurds in general, and especially those in Turkey and northern Syria, have done the most to advance Western cause in the region. They are the main factor fighting against ISIS, the West should stand by them.”

She’s right. According to the Talmud, mentioned in numerous places, King Monobaz I and Queen Helena of Adiabene, from the area of Kurdistan, whose capital city was at Arbela (modern-day Erbil, Iraq), even converted to Judaism and donated large funds to the Temple of Jerusalem, including the gold grape vine cluster, hung on the Temple itself. Erbil, still today, is a city in Iraqi Kurdistan and capital city of the Kurdistan Region.

It’s no secret that close relations existed between Israel and the Kurds throughout most of the ’60s and into the ’70s, until the collapse of the Kurdish revolt in Iraq in 1975. And Israel has surreptitiously helped the Kurds here and there since.

Several politicians and public figures across the Israeli political spectrum have condemned the Turkish actions, and public demonstrations in support of the Kurds have taken place.

More than 100 reserve officers sent a letter to Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi, requesting that they do everything possible to stop Turkish atrocities and prevent the massacre of the Kurds in Syria. “We, as Israelis and Jews, must stand against this,” they wrote.

When President Reuven Rivlin recently visited Chief Rabbi David Lau’s Sukkah, Rabbi Lau told him that “in these days, our hearts are with the Kurdish people who are in danger of mass destruction. It is our moral duty to act on the matter immediately, and before it is too late.”

It seems the number one issue uniting most Israelis today is that Israel should do more for the Kurds.

US Misses the Boat

It appears the Americans blew it in 2003 They should have carved Iraq into three areas – or states on the way – approximately, a Kurdish north, Sunni center, and Shiite south. They should have offered the Kurds independence almost immediately. Then they would have had a strong regional ally and bulwark against Iran much earlier.

The Americans seem to be missing the boat of opportunity again, with regards to the Kurds. But Israel should not. It’s about time that Israel recognize an independent State of Kurdistan.

Trump is wrong on this one, but Israel can be on the right side!

Article by Ariel Natan Pasko

Ariel Natan Pasko, an independent analyst and consultant, has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy & Policy Analysis. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites and in newspapers. His latest also appear on his archive: