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Kurdistan! Yes!

‘Will Kissinger Say Kaddish for the Kurds?’ It is time to set aside the idea in this 40-year-old headline and recognize an independent Kurdistan.

More than 40 years ago, an advertisement appeared in an Israeli newspaper under the banner, “Will Kissinger Say Kaddish for the Kurds?”

Henry Kissinger was the American Secretary of State in the 1970s. The Kurds were already then — more than four decades ago! — long suffering, having been disappointed time and again in their quest for independence. Somehow, this small people was found to be fatally threatening to no less than four regional powers, each immeasurably more powerful than the Kurds: Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

How, exactly, would an independent Kurdistan be so threatening? It would rob each of these four countries of a small portion of their territory. Well, Iraq was created out of whole cloth by the British after WW I. Same with Syria. They have no inherent right to their territory on which Kurds live. Turkey also acquired its independence during WW I by, in part, committing genocide against Armenia. Turkey has no great moral claim to its territory on which Kurds live. Same for Iran, from which an independent Kurdistan might take one percent of its territory.

Meanwhile, in the difficult battle against ISIS, it is the Kurds, more than any other indigenous people in the region — more than, for example, the Turks, Iraqis, Syrians or Iranians — who stepped up. They put their people on the line. They suffered the losses disproportionately. Countless American soldiers’ lives were saved because of the Kurds. The least the US could do would be to reward the Kurds with independence.

Not surprisingly, Kurds admire Israel and Israelis admire the Kurds. We are both small peoples. We both face tremendous odds. We both have tremendous enemies, and for no rational reason. We are the two small peoples that many of the much larger nations in the Middle East love to hate.

Now, a Jewish group, “Jewish Coalition for Kurdistan,” based in Belgium, has attracted well known Jews to its board. This is how it should be. These include Jews from the US, Canada, Germany and France. (See story on Page 1 for details.)

With heavy symbolism, on November 29 the Jewish Coalition for Kurdistan was scheduled to attend the first conference of its kind in Israel. It was a conference for Kurdish independence. And it was 70 years ago on November 29 that the UN voted to establish an independent State of Israel. That vote, historians now tell us, was a miracle, with so many last minute “yes” votes falling unexpectedly into place due to unpredictable interventions and changes of mind.

The Kurds deserve the same. Israeli Kurds — yes, there are Jews of Kurdish heritage — invited activists from current Kurdish territory to attend. It is a natural alliance, and a moral one, and also a strategic one. The pertinent prayer now is not kaddish for the dead, but kiddush, in sanctification of the living.

Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News

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Rabbi Hillel Goldberg
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Shana R. Goldberg
Assistant Publisher