Who Truly Deserves a State? The Kurds or
By Victor Sharpe, IHC
There are twenty-two Arab states throughout the
Middle East and North Africa. The world demands, in
a chorus of barely disguised animosity towards
Israel, that yet another Arab state be created
within the mere fifty miles separating the
Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan. Israel, a
territory no larger than the tiny principality of
Wales and one that would comfortably fit into Lake
Michigan with plenty of room left over, would be
forced to share this sliver of land with a hostile
Arab entity to be called Palestine.
The Arabs do not need another state. Their combined
landmass exceeds 5,500,000 square miles, an area
larger than that of the United States of America,
within which are vast empty regions. The greatest
con-trick played upon modern man is the myth of a
separate Arab people who call themselves
Palestinians. The irony is that the Arabs themselves
rejected the name Palestine as being a Zionist
invention and not worthy of Arabs who believed that
they were simply a part of the Arab nation or, as
many of them believed, inhabitants of southern
The indigenous peoples of the land, which in 1948
became the re-born state of Israel, are the Jews.
They trace their ancestry in the land back nearly
4,000 years to the first Jew and Holy Convert,
Abraham. But the world has gleefully adopted the
myth that the Arabs, who call themselves
Palestinians, also trace their beginnings back
millennia. Most of the ancestors of these Arabs
entered British occupied Mandatory Palestine
illegally in the early years of the 20th century; a
fact now dismissed as an inconvenient truth.
But there is a people who, like the Jews, deserve a
homeland and truly can trace their ancestry back
thousands of years. They are the Kurds and it is
highly instructive to review their remarkable
history in conjunction with that of the Jews. It is
also necessary to review the historical injustice
imposed upon them over the centuries by hostile
neighbors and empires.
Let us go back to the captivity of the Ten Tribes of
Israel who were taken from their land by the
Assyrians in 721-715 BCE. Biblical Israel was
de-populated and its Jewish inhabitants deported to
an area in the region of ancient Media and Assyria -
a territory roughly corresponding with that of
modern day Kurdistan.
Assyria was, in turn, conquered by Babylonia, which
led to the eventual destruction of the southern
Jewish kingdom of Judah. The remaining two Jewish
tribes were sent to the same area as that of their
brethren from the northern kingdom, thus creating a
densely Jewish populated region.
When the Persian conqueror of Babylonia, Cyrus the
Great, allowed the Jews to return to their ancestral
lands, many Jews remained and continued to live with
their neighbors in Babylon - an area which included
modern day Kurdistan.
The Babylonian Talmud refers in one section to the
Jewish deportees receiving rabbinical permission to
offer Judaism to the local population. The Kurdish
royal house of Adiabene and a large segment of the
general population accepted the Jewish faith in the
1st century BCE. Indeed, when the Jews rose up
against Roman occupation in the 1st century CE,
Kurdish Adiabene sent troops and provisions in
support of the embattled Jews.
By the beginning of the 2nd century CE, Judaism was
firmly established in Kurdistan and Kurdish Jews
today speak an ancient form of Aramaic in their
homes and synagogues. Kurdish and Jewish life became
interwoven to such a remarkable degree that many of
the Kurdish folk tales are connected with Jews.
It is interesting to note that several tombs of
Biblical Jewish prophets are to be found in or near
Kurdistan. For example, the prophet Nachum is in
Alikush while Jonah’s can be found in Nabi Yunis,
which is ancient Nineveh. Daniel’s tomb is in the
oil rich Kurdistan province of Kirkuk, Habbabuk is
in Tuisirkan and Queen Hadassah or Esther, along
with her uncle Mordechai, is in Hamadan.
After the failed revolt against Rome, many rabbis
found refuge in what is now Kurdistan. The rabbis
joined with their fellow scholars and by the 3rd
century CE Jewish academies were flourishing. But
the Sassanid and Persian occupation of the region
ushered in a time of persecution for the Jews and
Kurds, which lasted until the Moslem Arab invasion.
Indeed the Jews and Kurds joined together with the
Arabs in the hope that it would bring relief from
the Sassanid depredations they had suffered.
Shortly after the Arab conquest, Jews from the
autonomous Jewish state of Himyar in what is today’s
Saudi Arabia joined the Jews in the Kurdish regions.
However under the Arabs, matters worsened and the
Jews suffered as dhimmis in the Muslim-controlled
territory. The Jews found themselves driven from
their agricultural lands because of onerous taxation
by their Moslem overlords. They thus left the land
to become traders and craftsmen in the cities. Many
of the Jewish peasants were converted to Islam by
force or by dire circumstances and intermarried with
their neighbors thus forming the basis of what are
today called the Kurds.
From out of this population arose a great historical
figure. In 1138, a boy was born into a family of
Kurdish warriors and adventurers. His name was
Salah-al-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub; better known in the
West as Saladin. He drove the Christian crusaders
out of Jerusalem even though he was distrusted by
the Moslem Arabs because he was a Kurd. Even then,
the Arabs were aware of the close relationship that
existed between the Kurdish people and the Jews.
Saladin employed justice and humane measures in both
war and peace. This was in contrast to the methods
employed by the Arabs. Indeed, it is believed that
Saladin not only was just to the Christians but he
allowed the Jews to flourish in Jerusalem and is
credited with finding the Western Wall of the Jewish
Temple, which had been buried under tons of rubbish
during the Christian Byzantine occupation. The great
Jewish rabbi, philosopher and doctor, Maimonides,
was for a time Saladin’s personal physician.
According to a team of international scientists, a
remarkable discovery was made in 2001. Doing DNA
research, a team of Israeli, German and Indian
scientists found that many modern Jews have a closer
genetic relationship to populations in the northern
Mediterranean area (Kurds and Armenians) than to the
Arabs and Bedouins of the southern Mediterranean
But let us return to the present day and to why the
world clamors for a Palestinian state but strangely
turns its back upon Kurdish national independence
and statehood. The universally accepted principle of
self-determination seems not to apply to the Kurds.
In an article in the New York Sun on 6 July 2004
titled, The Kurdish Statehood Exception, Hillel
Halkin exposed the discrimination and double
standards employed against Kurdish aspirations of
statehood. He wrote, “... the historic injustices
done to them and their suffering over the years can
be adequately redressed within the framework of a
federal Iraq, in which they will have to make do -
subject to the consent of a central, Arab-dominated
government in Baghdad - with mere autonomy. Full
Kurdish statehood is unthinkable. This, too, is
considered to be self-evident.”
The brutal fact in realpolitik therefore is that the
Arabs who call themselves Palestinians have many
friends in the oil rich Arab world - oil the world
desperately needs for its economies. The Kurds, like
the Jews, have few friends and the Kurds have no
influence in the international corridors of power.
Mr. Halkin pointed out that, “... the Kurds have a
far better case for statehood than do the
Palestinians. They have their own unique language
and culture, which the Palestinians do not have.
They have had a sense of themselves as a distinct
people for many centuries, which the Palestinians
have not had. They have been betrayed repeatedly in
the past 100 years by the international community
and its promises, while the Palestinians have been
betrayed only by their fellow Arabs.”
During the tyranny of Saddam Hussein the Kurds were
gassed and slaughtered in large numbers. They
suffered ethnic cleansing by the Turks but they have
exhibited great forbearance towards their
tormentors. On the basis of pure realpolitik, the
legality and morality of the Kurds' cause is
infinitely stronger than that of the Palestinian
President Bush has again called for an international
conference in order to expedite the creation of
another Arab state, which I have no doubt will
become a blemish upon the legacy of his presidency
and a mortal threat to the embattled State of
Israel. The old nostrum that only when the
Palestinian Arabs finally have a state will there be
peace in the world is a delusion as much as a mirage
in the desert.
On the other hand, after the overthrow of Saddam
Hussein, the Kurds displayed great political and
economic wisdom. How different from the example of
the Gazan Arabs who, when foolishly given full
control over the Gaza Strip, chose not to build
hospitals and schools but bunkers and missile
launchers. To this they have added the imposition of
Shari’a law with its attendant denigration of women
The Kurdish experiment, in at least their current
quasi-independence, has shown the world a decent
society where all its inhabitants, men and women,
enjoy far greater freedoms than can be found
anywhere in the Arab and Moslem world.
President Bush, Tony Blair, Angela Merkel, Nicolas
Sarkozy and all the leaders of the free world should
look to Kurdistan, with its huge oil reserves, as
the new state that needs to be created in the Middle
East. It is simple and natural justice, which is far
too long overdue. A Palestinian Arab state, on the
other hand, will immediately become a haven for
anti-Western terrorism, a base for al-Qaida, a
non-democratic land upon which the stultifying
shroud of Shari’a law will inevitably descend.
Finally, it is also natural justice for the Jewish
State, with its millennial association of shared
history alongside the Kurdish people, to fight in
the world’s forums for the speedy establishment of
an independent and proud Kurdistan. An enduring
alliance between Israel and Kurdistan would be a
vindication of history, recognition of the shared
sufferings of both peoples, and bring closer the
advent of a brighter future for both nations.
On the other hand, the recent image of Israeli Prime
Minister, Ehud Olmert, hugging the Holocaust-denying
and duplicitous leader of Fatah and the Palestinian
Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, is deeply repugnant to all
who know their history.
Mahmoud Abbas has never, and will never, abrogate
publicly in English or in Arabic the articles in
Fatah’s constitution, which call for the, "...
obliteration of Zionist economic, political,
military and cultural existence" or in other words,
the destruction of the Jewish State and the genocide
of its citizens. This is the man Ehud Olmert hugs.
Consider Abbas' words at a rally on 11 January 2007
to a crowd of some 250,000 screaming supporters.
Abbas called upon Palestinians to refrain from
internal fighting and to direct their guns only
against Israelis. So much for the partner Olmert
embraces and the man President Bush and the
Europeans shower with money and praise.
It is the Kurds who unreservedly deserve a state;
the Palestinians forfeited that right by their
genocidal intentions towards Israel and the Jews.
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