A Synagogue in Kurdish Iraq? Only a Matter of Time…

In Regional Analysis by Orit ben Tzvi

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The Jewish community in Iraqi Kurdistan has officially submitted a request to open a synagogue in Erbil, the region’s capital.
“Representatives from the Jewish community put forward a request to build a synagogue in the city of Erbil and although they have the right to it, the ministry is yet to agree to issue the licence,” the ministry’s spokesperson Mariwan Naqshbandi told The New Arab. “The ministry of religious affairs includes representatives from eight religious communities, including the Jewish community. Therefore, they have the right to get the licence request approved to build a synagogue.”

On Wednesday the Jewish community in Kurdistan, now numbering only 400 families, marked 71 years since tens of thousands were forcibly expelled from the region. The Kurdish Jewish community wants the Kurdistan Regional Government to recognise what happened to the Jews of the area.

Location of Erbil, Iraq Source: Google Maps

Location of Erbil, Iraq Source: Google Maps

Kurdistan Friendly to Israel 

It is a fact that no one wants to admit, at least not publicly, but for years successive Israeli governments have covertly and more recently backed Kurdish independence from Iraq.  Kurds are not Arabs and have a traditions of being descended from the Medes who were known to be friendly to the Jewish people.  In fact the Kurds and Jews should be considered to two predominantly indigenous people of the area until the Arab population colonized what is today northern Iraq.

Israel currently buys a good portion of its oil from Kurdish areas from a pipeline running through Turkey to the Mediterranean.

As ties continue to grow beyond military assistance, expect direct trade and open relations as long as the Peshmerga can keep ISIS and Turkey from its borders.


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