At a rally in the German city of Cologne on Saturday, attended by some 20,000 Kurds from different parts of the world expressing support for an independent Kurdistan in northern Iraq, the Israeli flag was raised in solidarity with the Jewish state.
Kurdish people from Greater Kurdistan that includes all four parts of the Kurdish homeland divided among four Middle Eastern countries—Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey—gathered at the rally, many waving the flag of Iraqi Kurdistan alongside the flags of Israel, the United States, and Germany.
One of the flags read “Thank you for your support,” referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s comment earlier this month when he expressed a “positive attitude” toward a Kurdish state. The Prime Minister told a delegation of US Congressmen that the Kurds are “brave, pro-Western people who share our values.”
Jahwar Slemani from Iraqi Kurdistan told The Israel Project that he brought an Israeli flag to the rally to express his solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people. “Kurds and Jews, we have the same enemies,” he said. “Jews know what it takes to survive as a minority in the Middle East. We have to stick together.”
He recalled how his parents lived side by side with Jews in northern Iraq before they were expelled by the central government in Baghdad after Israel declared independence. “Jews were our friends, our neighbors,” Slemani explained, adding “it is a bond that cannot be destroyed.”
“This is our 1948 moment,” he said. “and I want an independent Kurdistan to have good relations with Israel. Together we can fight the terrorists.”
Another Kurd from Mariwan in Iranian Kurdistan told The Israel Project that waving the Israeli flag for him was “an act of liberation and rebellion.” In Iran, “every year, on Al Quds Day, they burn the Israeli flag and say they want to destroy Israel,” Beshwar Habeeb said. “But Israel is not my enemy. Israel is not the enemy of the Iranian people,” he stated. “It is the regime in Tehran that oppresses us.”
Habeeb hopes that when the time comes for Kurds in Iran to rise up against the regime, Israel will be at their side. Over recent months, Kurdish rebels have clashed with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards numerous times in the border area between Iraq and Iran.
The autonomous Kurdish government in northern Iraq has said that they are determined to hold the independence referendum as scheduled on September 25.
[Photo: Enver Akkaya]