In response to recent political developments regarding Kurdish aspirations, the US Israel Security Alliance comprised of American Jewish business and communal leaders led a delegation to urge Congress to step up its support for the Kurdish people.
Furthermore, Iranian-backed Shia militia deliberately drove thousands of Kurdish civilians out of northern Iraq during last month’s military offensive using American weaponry in order to change the demography of the area; a concern echoed throughout the conversations with Members of Congress which included: Senators John Boozman – Chairman - Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Angus King and Joni Ernst members Senate Armed Services Committee, Representatives Eliot Engel – Ranking Member – House Foreign Affairs Committee, Hal Rogers – Chairman - House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, Steve King, Brian Mast – member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Assistant House Democratic Leader James Clyburn, House Appropriation Chairman - Rodney Frelinghuysen, Jim Banks – member of House Armed Services Committee, Chris Stewart – member of the House Intelligence Committee, Michael Turner - Chairman of the House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Forces Subcommittee.
"The Kurds have the ability to be our buffer against Iran. They are the only real army outside of Israel that can and is willing to fight and can help stop Iran from creating its land bridge. They practice a moderate approach to Islam which could be an example to many other Muslim countries." said Leon Goldenberg co-chair of the delegation.
"Recognizing that there are no simple answers, we feel that Congress should be aware of how deep the support for the Kurds by the Jewish community from time immemorial exists said Ezra Friedlander, founder of the Alliance and CEO of The Friedlander Group who coordinated the mission.
America's relationship with Kurdish political aspirations dates back to World War I, when President Woodrow Wilson and the Allied Nations supported the idea of an independent state for Kurds after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. However, independence never came to fruition throughout the last 100 years to the consternation of the Kurdish population. Yet, the Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga are key US allies and in the forefront of fighting ISIS. In fact, the Kurds have been credited with recent victories in battles with ISIS.
The Kurds and the Jewish people as well have a shared history for thousands of years.
In the modern era, Kurdish Jews departed en masse for Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, leaving Kurdish civil society who to this day remember with nostalgia the warm relations with the Kurdish Jewish community.
It is well known Israel has helped the Kurds for decades and continues to promote the need for an independent Kurdish state.
"Depriving the Kurds of their national sovereignty is a blatant injustice because the Kurdish people have suffered oppression under many regimes in the region. Kurdistan, when achieving statehood will become an important player on the Middle East stage and will be a positive development for the United States and the State of Israel", said Ken Abramowitz, Co-Chair of the Mission and founder of Save the West.
“We are gratified that many Members of Congress view favorably the aspirations of the Kurdish People” several of whom agree to allow Kurdish self-determination. - said Ezra Friedlander. “The Kurdish people are a distinct ethnic, religious and cultural group that deserves such a country for the continuity of their Nation and their Heritage." said Gil Kapen - The American Jewish International Relations Institute.
“Our mission was an important step in encouraging Members of Congress to support a distinct Kurdish policy versus a one Iraq policy.” – said Mark Lazar CEO of Colorado Security Agency, who was joined by Tom Goheen, who served in the US Army based in Kirkuk, Kurdistan for 12 months.
Other participants of the Mission included: Diliman Abdulkader, born in Kirkuk of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), Jeff Daube – Israel Director of the Zionist Organizations of America, Avner Parnes - International Business Development, Chesky Blau – community activist, Moshe Klein – journalist.
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