Jews form vital, concrete link between Israel, Azerbaijan

Jews form vital, concrete link between Israel, Azerbaijan

Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 31

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Friendship and partnership of Israel and Azerbaijan cannot be explained by oil and arms alone, Diana Cohen Altman, principal of Cultural Diplomacy Associates, who serves as executive director of the US Karabakh Foundation, wrote in an article published in the Washington Times.

To begin to sense why this partnership succeeds, one must leave aside the enormous political and religious considerations, the article said.

“Clues appear in the epic sweep of history and the vital role of culture in both countries,” reads the article.

Twenty-five years of friendship, substantive cultural and educational exchanges, and extended business ties belie expectations of how a Muslim-majority country might interact with Israel, the author wrote in her article.

“Israelis and Azerbaijanis, respectively, live on land that bears the footprints of great many who have come and gone over centuries,” reads the article. “Both Israel and Azerbaijan face relentless questioning of their history and their very existence.”

“Azerbaijan’s ancient Jewish population in the country’s Quba district, and its more recent Jewish community in Baku, as well as Azerbaijani Jews living in Israel, form a vital, concrete link between Israel and Azerbaijan,” the article said.

Jews have long served in important positions in Azerbaijani government, according to the article.

“As evidenced throughout the country, members of the Muslim majority long have enjoyed strong relationships with Jewish neighbors,” the author wrote in the article. “Certainly overlapping elements of culture, such as the extraordinary story of Azerbaijan’s Jewish community in Quba, contribute to the success of the Azerbaijani-Israeli partnership.”

“Many Azerbaijanis recognize the role of Azerbaijani Jews in building Azerbaijani society,” said the article. “Azerbaijani Jews in Israel are sharing their story and helping to expand the Jewish Israeli cultural narrative.”

Visitors to Jerusalem and Baku often are startled by the multicultural flavors of these cities, where bewildering synergies reveal themselves in everything from the arts to civic life, the author wrote.

“Whereas Jewish if not Israeli culture is widely documented throughout the world, Azerbaijani culture is little known in the West,” reads the article. “Few English-language resources provide the needed information and context. Yet scholars from the East and West tout the Azerbaijani cultural legacy - music and literature in particular - and its influence on a broad geographic region. Rug collectors know that Azerbaijani carpets are among the best of the best.”

“The Israel-Azerbaijan partnership is more than the sum of its parts; like most relationships it is a dynamic fueled in part by mystery,” the author wrote in her article. “And yet breaking free of conventional norms and stereotypes, one can understand that these two countries see something in each other that just makes sense.”

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