Sep 24, 2007

Kurdish-Israeli political relations

"Israel has always supported the Kurds in a Machiavellian way - a balance against Saddam," one former Israeli intelligence officer told the New Yorker. "It's Realpolitik. By aligning with the Kurds Israel gains eyes and ears in Iran, Iraq and Syria. The critical question is 'What will the behaviour of Iran be if there is an independent Kurdistan with close ties to Israel? Iran does not want an Israeli land-based aircraft carrier on its border."
- Seymour HershPulitzer Prize-winning reporter who exposed the abuse scandal in Abu Ghraib.

Jewish organizations worldwide started a propaganda and lobbying campaigns to aid the Kurds in southern Kurdistan during Operation Desert storm to stop the Iraqi government persecutions. (Barron A. US and Israeli Jews Express Support for Kurdish Refugees // Washington Report of Middle East Affairs, May-June 1991, p.64.)
Israel also provided, through north Kurdistan, first aid items to south Kurdistan and the Israeli Prime Minister Shamir, during a meeting with the US State Secretary James Baker called on the US government to defend the Kurds (Shahak I. Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies // (

Operation Desert Storm

According to a former director-general of the Israeli foreign ministry, the strategy of Israel towards Iraq was to seek alliances with non Arabic regions in Iraq. The Kurds provided help in the 1950's when Kurdistani Jews were fleeing to Israel.

Kurdish Jews in Rawanduz, northern Iraq, 1905.

Until their immigration to Israel in the the Kurdistani Jews lived as a closed ethnic community.
Kurdish Jews have also been active in the Zionist movement.
One of the most famous members of Lehi (Freedom Fighters of Israel) was Moshe Barazani, whose family immigrated from Iraqi Kurdistan and settled in Jerusalem in the late 1920s.
Moshe was executed in Israel and you can read his final words here on this link.

Monuments to his comrade Meir Feinshtein and Moshe Barzani.

The president of south Kurdistan (KRG Kurdistan Regional Government) Massoud Barzani answered a question while visiting Kuwait in May 2006 about the Kurdish-Israeli relationship: “It is not a crime to have relations with Israel. If Baghdad establish diplomatic relations with Israel, we could open a consulate in Hewlêr (southern Kurdistan).” Israeli television has in the past broadcast photographs from the 1960s showing Massoud Barzani´s father, Mustafa Barzani
embracing the then Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan.

Barzani initiated contacts with Israel in 1963 and military cooperation began in 1965, the Kurdish peshmerga were trained and commanded by officers from Israels military intelligence and the Israelis participated in the Kurdish war from 1965 until the mid 1970´s

In September 1967, Mustafa Barzani visited Israel and met Moshe Dayan, Barzani got a promise from Dayan that they would continue their support to the Kurds.

Menachem Begin, the prime minister of Israel in 1980 acknowledged that the state of Israel had
helped and provided south Kurdistan with humanitarian aid and weapons.

The Kurds accused Mossad in 1999 of providing information that led to the arrest of Abdullah Öcalan in Kenya, the leader of PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) in northern Kurdistan. Kurdish protesters in Berlin attacked the Israeli embassy and the Israeli security forces shot against the crowd. (
Hundreds stormed the Israeli Consulate and it resulted in three protesters shot to death, another 16 protesters and 27 police officers wounded.

Seal of The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations
The Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations - המוסד למודיעין ולתפקידים מיוחדים

Israeli mass media in 2004 reported about the meetings of the Israeli officials with the Kurdish political leaders when Massoud Barzani, Jalal Talabani and the former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon publicly confirmed the good relations with the south Kurdistan region.

At the same time, a Palestinian newspaper Al-Manar quoted unidentified sources as saying that Jalal Talabani (todays Iraqi president) the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, had secretly visited Israel where he met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and other senior Israeli officials and discussed with them steps to declare an independent Kurdish state.

According to Rubin's article, written before the Iraq war that deposed Saddam, many Kurds were already expressing approval of Israel and studying the country as a model for their own autonomy and liberation. Victims of persecution and genocide themselves, they could identify. What's more, they despised the Palestinians for their support of Saddam. The older generation of Kurds remembered the absent Iraqi Kurdish Jews fondly, and even the younger generation were able to listen to Israeli radio, watch Israeli TV, and access Israeli websites, unlike the inhabitants of the rest of Iraq.

Today, the communications company Bezek transmits broadcasts on behalf of the Kurdish democratic Party in southern Kurdistan every evening and Israel supports the PKK movement in east Kurdistan. (

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