Is­rael for half a cen­tury

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS -

later deputy head of the Mos­sad, trav­elled on a non-Is­raeli pass­port to Kur­dis­tan to ap­praise the sit­u­a­tion. He was fol­lowed by Dov Tamari, a com­mando unit leader, who ex­plored the idea of a per­ma­nent IDF train­ing unit in the Kur­dish moun­tains. This led to pe­ri­odic six month stints for IDF per­son­nel who trained pesh­merga of­fi­cers in the Mar­vad pro­gramme. Fol­low­ing the Six Day war, cap­tured Soviet arms made their way to Kur­dis­tan.

To­day there is an open, but un­of­fi­cial Is­raeli pres­ence in Kur­dis­tan. Mo­torola, Ma­gal­com and Bezeq are all there. There is in­vest­ment in oil ex­plo­ration. Is­raelis — many of Kur­dish ori­gin — visit ci­ties such as Er­bil by trav­el­ling via Am­man.

The Kurds’call for in­de­pen­dence has met with a hos­tile re­cep­tion in White­hall and from the White House. Boris John­son de­scribed it as a dis­trac­tion from more press­ing priorities. The US does not wish to an­tag­o­nise Ankara and weaken Turk­ish links to Nato. Even Ne­tanyahu is care­ful with his words when the sub­ject of Kurds in Turkey is in­voked. Yet as the Jews un­der­stood in 1948, win­dows of op­por­tu­nity oc­cur very rarely.

When asked in the Knes­set in 1975 why Is­rael had acted so pos­i­tively in sup­port of the Kurds, Yitzhak Rabin in­stinc­tively replied: “Be­cause we are Jews!” Many in this coun­try will un­doubt­edly iden­tify with that sen­ti­ment.

Colin Shindler’s lat­est book, The He­brew Repub­lic: Is­rael’s Re­turn to His­tory, is pub­lished by Row­man and Lit­tle­field

Is­rael’s sup­port for the Kurds be­gan un­der Golda Meir’s pre­mier­ship

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