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Turkish media claims Israel is sending Jewish Kurds back to Kurdistan
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Turkish media claims Israel is sending Jewish Kurds back to Kurdistan

Turkish media has in recent days been full of reports that nearly 70 years after the vast majority of Kurdish Jews emigrated to Israel, Kurdish leader Masoud Barazani has reached a secret deal with Israel to have their descendants sent back.

The scare-mongering conspiracy theories claimed that the mass repatriation would take place after a unilateral independence referendum which the Kurdistan Regional Government has called for September 25, the Washington-based news site, Al-Monitor, reported on Wednesday.

Al-Monitor said the “sensational, if hard-to-believe story,” attributed to a magazine called Israel-Kurd, had appeared in several pro-government websites, among them Yeni Akit and Aksam.

Much of the Kurdish Jewish community emigrated to Israel after the founding of the state. Nearly 200,000 Israeli Jews today are believed to have Kurdish origins, with half of them living in Jerusalem. Barazani – the surname of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s President, Masoud Barazani, after the town of Barazan, is also common among Kurdish Jews.

The report is so unlikely that the Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to even comment on it.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated his support for Kurdish independence, but stopped short of backing the referendum.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has also spoken frequently about her support for a Kurdish state, which is bitterly opposed by Turkey, which has fought a decades-long battle against the PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party.

These Israeli expressions of support have apparently raised hopes among Kurds.

“As we approach September 25, more ordinary Iraqi Kurds express hope that Israeli officials’ statements in support of an independent Kurdistan bodes well for their putative state,” Al-Monitor wrote.

Critics of the vote include the United States, the European Union and even some members of Iraq’s 5.5 million-strong Kurdish minority.

Turkey, a strong opponent, warned Iraqi Kurdish leaders on Thursday that any referendum would “have a cost”.

The Jewish presence in Mesopotamia dates back to the Assyrian conquest of the Kingdom of Israel in 722 BCE and the Babylonian conquest of Israel’s southern tribes in 586 BCE.

While a few Kurdish Jews settled in the northern Galilee town of Safed in the 16th century, and some more immigrated in the early 19th century, it was not until, and just after, Israel’s Independence in 1948 that anti-Jewish violence forced almost the entire community to move to the new Jewish State.

Friday, September 15, 2017
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