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The Kurds must not be abandoned again, this time to ISIS

If there are any people on earth who deserve the world’s protection from slaughter, it is the Kurds.

Despite the stereotype of Mizrahi Jews in Israel resenting Arabs because of the way they were treated in the old country, there are plenty of Mizrahim who have good memories of their relations with their former Muslim neighbors. However, there is no Mizrahi community in Israel that feels a kinship with their Muslim former countrymen like the Kurdish Jews do.

A fighter from the Islamic State. (photo: Islamic State)

A fighter from the Islamic State. (photo: Islamic State)

Today ISIS appears to be on the verge of slaughtering the people in the town of Kobani, the heart of a Syrian Kurdish area with a population of hundreds of thousands. Kurds are getting killed in riots in Turkey and protesting across Europe to try to prevent a catastrophe. So I’d like to recall what the head of the Association of Kurdish Jews in Israel, Yehuda Ben Yosef, told me in a radio interview on TLV1 on September 21, when the news of the day was that ISIS had taken over some 60 Kurdish villages near Kobani.

What’s happened to the Kurds in the last 100 years is terrible. The Kurds don’t have a minute of silence. What happened today – our heart is with them, and if we can help, medications or food or blankets, we do it. We do everything to help the Kurds in Turkey who ran away from Syria.

We have a good relationship all over the years. People from Kurdistan come to Israel these years and they are our guests and we keep in touch with the people there by telephone, Internet, Facebook. Today some Kurds from Norway are coming to be our guests, Muslims from Norway, coming to the Jewish community in Israel. In Syria we don’t have contact, but what we can do for people in [Iraqi Kurdistan], we do our best to help them.

In August, Ben Yosef led a demonstration of Kurdish Jews outside the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv. I asked him what the message had been. The same as it is now, he said, only now it’s more urgent.

We think the U.S. must do more to help the Kurds. Give them guns, tanks, airplanes because I think [Iraqi Kurdistan] is the only country that can make fight with ISIS, it’s the only democratic place in this whole area. Iraq is not strong enough, the army is very weak, Syria has problem itself, we can only put our trust in the Kurds.

I don’t want to try to go into the geopolitical considerations of Turkey, Syria and the United States, but I do want to say that if there are any people on earth who deserve the world’s protection from slaughter, it is the Kurds. “What’s happened to the Kurds in the last 100 years” includes oppression by Syria, massacre by Turkey and genocide by Saddam Hussein. They are the bravest fighters, and in Iraqi Kurdistan they’ve created the best thing, if not the only dependably good thing, to come out of President Bush’s “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Their relationship to this day with Kurdish Jews in Israel says a great deal – and at the same time they have strong ties with the Palestinians. “You [Kurds] have been with us since the time of Salahaddin. And you have stood for the just cause of Palestine,” said Nadhmi Khudhouri, Palestinian Authority ambassador to Iraqi Kurdistan, when the PA opened its diplomatic office in Erbil in December 2011.

The fighting in Iraq and Syria is very confusing; the only thing everyone really understands is that ISIS is an army of monsters and the world cannot just let them rampage on unimpeded. At the same time there’s a very understandable reluctance to send in ground troops. But even the Americans admit now that the airstrikes are not going to save Kobani from ISIS.

Aside from the threat of ISIS, there should be one other thing, and this should be the main thing, that people understand about the fighting in Iraq and Syria: that the brave and good Kurdish people must not be abandoned to be murdered en masse again. The fight to destroy ISIS is an important one, but the fight to save the Kurds – to give them the chance to defend themselves, in which case they will chop ISIS to pieces – is the most urgent struggle on earth. It must be won by any means necessary.

Why Israel must help the Kurds in Iraq
No, Hamas isn’t ISIS, ISIS isn’t Hamas
PHOTOS: Protesters compare High Court to ISIS at anti-refugee rally

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    1. Brian

      Thank you Larry for yet again, as so many times in the past, being out front journalistically and morally.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Richard

      Larry, its no use. The worse things get with ISIS the more attention is focused on Israel. As long as +972 and other enablers keep feeding the West’s obsession with Israel, every tragedy in the middle east will precipitate a campaign of diversion and scapegoating against Israel. What we’re seeing now is direct evidence of that. The NYTimes, Guardian, and other anti-Israel publications have made sure that Israel will remain the regional scapegoat for the foreseeable future, which means that nothing elsewhere will get the attention it deserves. Nobody’s going to confront a bully (ISIS) when its easier to slap the unpopular kid around.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        This is just the most oddly self-absorbed and upside down perspective. The United States and others as I type are currently dropping bombs on ISIS at Kobani and several other places. The United States is and has long been supplying Israel with many many bombs and self defense systems and offensive weapons. The world is obsessed with ISIS. The world is not “obsessed” with Israel. It is a very narcissistic viewpoint that would construe the world as “obsessed with Israel.” It’s not all about you. You would think you might evince one shred of concern for the Kurdish people. The entire article is about that. Instead for you it’s all about Israel, from the oddest perspective. It’s just odd.

        Reply to Comment
        • Richard

          Brian – US airstrikes against ISIS will save exactly zero civilians when all is said and done, while international opinion against Israel gave Hamas the leverage needed to sacrifice 2000 of their own people. You think I’m focusing on the wrong problem where? You’re the guy fussing over olive trees but you have no understanding whatsoever of why people actually get killed in the Middle East.

          Reply to Comment
        • Richard

          Brian – Obama is doing as little as possible not to look completely flaccid. Absolutely nobody thinks he’s seriously fighting ISIS. You’re totally clueless. If you don’t think decades of 24/7 Israel coverage has deflected attention from bigger problems in the middle east you’re not paying attention, or you don’t really care. You’ll shed tears over a stolen Palestinian sheep before taking 5 minutes to actually think about why people live or die by the thousands.

          Reply to Comment
    3. Joel

      ” The world is not “obsessed” with Israel.”

      Oh no.

      When did you last see a street demonstration or a ‘blood bucket challenge’ against ISIS?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Gustav

      Of course we must help the Kurds. In every way possible, not just with food blankets and medicine but by arming them to their teeth. Mind you, there are logistics problems in getting the arms where they are needed but if we can we should.

      As for ISIS, they represent the true face of Arabs when they are ascendant. What they do to Kurds today, they would like to do to us tomorrow. And the Brians of this world, whether they want to or not, are trying to help them to be in the position to do it to us too.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        Oh I get it! So the hilltop youth and settlers who destroy olive groves and beat shepherds and resort to every dishonest cruel trick in the book to steal land and water represent the true face of Jews when they are ascendant. Thanks for clarifying!

        Reply to Comment
        • Gustav

          No you don’t get it dude.

          The Arabs fight wars ruthlessly. They take no prisoners. Literally no prisoners. That is what happened in the 1929 Hebron massacre. That is what happened during the Arab revolt. That is what happened in Gush Etzion when they executed Jewish prisoners of war with their hands tied behind their backs. That is what happened in the lynching in Ramallah. That is what happened recently to the three Jewish teenagers whom they kidnapped. That is what happened in the Lebanese civil war, that is what happened in Iraq that is what happening in Syria.

          As for us. We are rank amateurs compared to them. They fight wars to win. To win once and for all. We fiddle around the edges. That is why this war has been going on for 100 years. The first war they ever win against us (if they would manage it) would end the war because we would be around no more …

          You can spin it any whichway you like Brian. You can mutter dark talks about the hilltop youth but we still are just amateurs compared to them.

          Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Your no amateur at off the point distractions couched in racist generalizations and victim card playing. I have to stop feeding the trolls. I really do.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Yes. Uri is right. It’s best to stay away from the Islamic State’s friends.

            Uri Misgav, 10.10.14, Haaretz:

            “The Islamic State’s friends are in trouble. Days have gone by without another video documenting the decapitation of a hapless Westerner. Like drug addicts, they desperately need their next fix.

            Yes, the times are troubling. Other issues are making the headlines, like the cost of living and the defense budget. And there’s always the occupation and the settlements.

            So now the Islamic State’s friends are getting angry. They’re shocked by this organization, but they desperately need it. God only knows what they’d do without the Islamic State, which came out of nowhere like a long-lost childhood friend. Ever since, they’ve been muttering their friend’s name to themselves, quivering. It’s almost as if it were something erotic.

            It’s best to stay away from the Islamic State’s friends; they’re quick to anger. Their words are caustic. They have no limits; they’re past the point of absurd. Their prime minister accuses the White House of forgetting American values, and their interior minister announces his resignation so he can be there when his baby son takes his first steps. But in the meantime, he wages an all-out war on the Supreme Court.

            Perhaps influenced by their passions and desires, the Islamic State’s friends seem to have adopted an apocalyptic mind-set. Apocalypse now. If they’re no longer allowed to jail thousands of Africans without trials in a concentration camp (“an open facility”), the country is doomed and the world will end. Some of them have even compared the Supreme Court to the Islamic State.

            The Islamic State’s friends have appropriated Zionism, patriotism and Israel itself. ….”

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “Days have gone by without another video documenting the decapitation of a hapless Westerner.”

            Yea, politically correct apologists. You may just want to joke about it but to the Kurds, they are a daily reality. Kobane is about to fall and tens of thousands will be massacred if it does. But all you will become talking about is evil Zionists. Enjoy Brian dear but the more you will do it the more people will wake up to you.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            And you are no stranger to political correctness and to shutting your eyes to facts right in front of your nose.

            Oh and you won’t be shutting me up and you won’t be stopping me from rubbing your nose in it either, Brian dear.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            Here, Brian, let me rub your nose in the following:

            Iran -Iraq war 1980 – 1988:
            435,000 dead.

            Lebanese civil war 1975 – 1987: 130,000 dead

            Kurds v Iraq 1961 – 2003:
            180,000 dead

            Syria civil war 2012 –
            130,000 dead

            What do you make of those numbers Brian dear? They are indicative of how Arabs fight wars when they are ascendant.

            We are amateurs compared to them. But you might or might not like to hear the following too, Brian dear: Both we and the Arabs are amateurs compared to Europeans and to you guys when it comes to killing. Ever heard of Dresden? Hiroshima Nagasaki or Aushwitz?

            Physicians, heal thy selves then come and preach to us.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kiwi

            GUSTAV: Israel needs to help the Kurds. ISIS are demonstrating how Arabs fight wars. Today they are doing it to Kurds and they are showing what they would do to Jews if they could.

            BRIAN: You are a racist Gustav.

            GUSTAV: Why am I a racist? For telling you the facts?

            BRIAN: Facts? What about the Hilltop youth?

            GUSTAV: What about them? They are rank amateurs compared to how Arabs fight wars.

            BRIAN: Yea? You are a racist troll, I am not listening. La La La … La La La … La La La. I am blocking my ears. I ain’t listenin’ …

            GUSTAV: Iran Iraq war … 435,000 dead …. Syria … 130,000 dead …. Lebanese civil war … 130,000 dead …

            BRIAN: La La La …. La La La … La La La … ISIS are the Zionists best friends La La La … troll alert, troll alert hoo hoo hoo … My ears are blocked. My eyes are shut. Zionists are the enemy …

            GUSTAV: Yea tell that to the Kurds you obsessive compulsive not so wise monkey!

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            Richard/Kiwi: Bizarrely tendentious and paranoid take on a lovely, open-hearted piece about music. It seems you hate the sentiment and the values expressed here:
            “Through his complex identity, Halali showed that it was possible for Jews and Arabs to live together, as well as someone who respects and follows religious traditions on the one hand, and a secular Westerner on the other hand. His style blurred the lines between masculinity and femininity, and his music showed how Arab and North African music, tango, flamenco and Jewish Ashkenazi music could live side by side in peace. The film Free Men (2011) tells Halali’s life story, and specifically the story of his rescue from the Nazis after being hidden by an imam in a mosque.”

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “Halali showed that it was possible for Jews and Arabs to live together”

            Eureka! I have seen the light. I always thought that Jews and Arabs are like oil and water. NOT!!!!

            Now pay attention to this little man (yes you Brian): right now in history there are too many Arabs (and some Jews too) who hate each other’s guts. Are there decent and peaceful individuals on both sides who could and would coexist with each other? Of course there are. But they are a very small minority. And dimwits like you Brian cannot wish that sad but true fact away.

            Reply to Comment
          • Brian

            It’s not about singing kumbaya, Gustav. It’s about borders. Show me the borders Gustav. Get a crayon out and start drawing. Until them, it’s all talk.

            Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            “Show me the borders Gustav. Get a crayon out and start drawing. Until them, it’s all talk.”

            What borders are you talking about?

            Ehud Barak proposed borders. He got a crayon and he not only STARTED drawing but he proposed very specific borders which Bill Clinton approved of but what did Arafat do? He started the Intifada and Durban. Go figure …

            Olmert too proposed very specific borders and what did Abu Mazen do? He ignored Olmert for 6 months till he was deposed by Netanyahu at the elections.

            Next, Brian? I am awaiting for your next bit of BS. Over to you, amuse me …

            Reply to Comment
          • In the 1929 Hebron massacre, it was ARABS who hid the majority of the Jews living in Hebron from the mad mindless mob.

            Once calm was restored, both Jews and Arabs prayed in the common area of the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

            It was only after the Jewish massacre of Arabs in Hebron by Baruch Goldstein in 1994, was a separation set up by the Jews.

            Reply to Comment
    5. Joel

      Larry said: “..ISIS is an army of monsters”.

      And Khorasan, the al-Nusra Front and the Iraqi Shia militias are what?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Barzani


      I’ve been studying Kurds for years. They need a country from Turkey to Iran. I would say thanks for the article but your knowledge is really lacking here. Please stick to what you know. Journalists should not cover EVERYTHING.

      Reply to Comment
    7. Brian

      Here’s the clincher. If you TRULY, think what you say you think and TRULY think it through, then you’d be asking Netanyahu to make peace with Abu Mazen instead of wasting no chance to spurn him. All the rest is just talk.
      Uri Misgav, 10.10.14, Haaretz:
      “The Islamic State’s friends have even lost their most basic powers of logic. Benjamin Netanyahu stalks the halls of the United Nations and Congress uttering “ISIS is Hamas and Hamas is ISIS,” and no one stops to ask: “Wait a minute, Mr. Prime Minister. If Hamas is ISIS, why did you leave Gaza without destroying Hamas? And shouldn’t we work out a deal with Muslims more moderate than the Islamic State?””

      Reply to Comment
      • Gustav

        “If you TRULY, think what you say you think and TRULY think it through, then you’d be asking Netanyahu to make peace with Abu Mazen

        oh yea … now why didn’t I think of that?

        Could it be because I don’t think that Abu Mazen wants peace? How do I know that?

        1. Because he ignored Olmert’s peace offer.

        2. Because he refuses to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

        3. Because when Netanyahu instituted a 10 month “settlement'” freeze with the hope that negotiations would start, Abu Mazen waited till the 10 month freeze was nearly at it’s end before he pretended to start negotiating. Of course by then, the negotiations had no chance to succeed.

        Get this, Brian: Abu Mazen does not want to sign a proper peace deal with any Israeli leader. And he demonstrated that “the settlements” are just a convenient excuse for NOT even negotiating with Israel.

        Reply to Comment
        • Brian

          The problem is that none of the above is actually true except that Abu Mazen indeed does not wish to become a Zionist and join the Likud. I’m with Uri:

          Reply to Comment
          • Gustav

            BRIAN:”The problem is that none of the above is actually true”


            So this is not true?
            1. Because he [Abu Mazen] ignored Olmert’s peace offer.

            And this is not true too?
            2. Because he [Abu Mazen] refuses to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

            And this is not true too?
            3. Because when Netanyahu instituted a 10 month “settlement’” freeze with the hope that negotiations would start, Abu Mazen waited till the 10 month freeze was nearly at it’s end before he pretended to start negotiating. Of course by then, the negotiations had no chance to succeed.

            You know what Brian dear? You are in denial and in fact, you are a liar.

            Reply to Comment
    8. Aaron Gross

      “if there are any people on earth who deserve the world’s protection from slaughter, it is the Kurds.”

      I’m interested in the flip side of this. If there are some peoples that are for historical reasons especially deserving of protection, then are there also some peoples who for historical reasons are, let’s say, less especially deserving of protection? Or is it like Lake Wobegone where all the children are above average (or at least none below average)?

      Reply to Comment
      • Aaron Gross

        By the way, I also believe in historical obligations to peoples. The Germans have a historical obligation regarding injustices against Jews, and the Jews have a historical obligation regarding injustices against Palestinians. But this globally special obligation to the Kurds is something different.

        Reply to Comment
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