ISRAEL AND AZERBAIJAN:
TO COUNTERACT IRAN

Mahir KHALIFA-ZADEH


Mahir Khalifa-Zadeh, Ph.D. (Political Science), Member of the Canadian Political Science Association (Toronto, Canada)


Introduction

It is well known that Azerbaijans history does not have any anti-Semitic traditions. And during the time of the Russian and Soviet empires, Azerbaijan was not poisoned by anti-Semitism. Obviously, anti-Semitism has not been an issue in Azerbaijan. Moreover, many famous Jews were born and studied in Azerbaijan. The brilliant scientist of modern physics and Nobel Prize Laureate Lev Landau was born in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 1908 and attended Baku State University in 1922.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the historically close and warm relations between the Jews and Azeris became a solid base for mutual cooperation between the State of Israel and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Both countries have a strategic location but an unfriendly foreign environment, which pushes them to be close and expand cooperation. Azerbaijan and Israel cooperate to counteract or neutralize foreign threats, which is the subject of this paper.

Brief Historical Background

Historic sources and research confirm that Jews have lived in Azerbaijan for centuries. They are both Jews of Persian origin (also known as Caucasian Mountain Jews) and Ashkenazi. The Persian Jews can be traced back to Azerbaijan before the 5th century. Their history is more than 2,000 years old, and Azerbaijan has historically always welcomed them. In the 19th century, during the Russian Empire, Ashkenazi began settling in Azerbaijan. And other Ashkenazi Jews came to Azerbaijan during World War II to escape the Nazis.

In the 19th century, Baku became a center of active Zionism in the Russian Empire. The first branch of Havevei Zion (lovers of Zion) was set up in Baku in 1891. And the first choir synagogue was opened in Baku in 1910. As early as 1883, oil companies owned by the Rothschild family (of Jewish origin) entered the scene in Baku followed by Rockefellers gigantic Standard Oil Company. Thus, the Jews lived in peace and friendship with the local Azeris and engaged in successful business in this country.

In the period of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic (ADR, 1918-1920), during which independent Azerbaijan formulated its key ideological, political, and security priorities, the Jewish Popular University was established (1919) and periodicals were published in Yiddish and Hebrew. Moreover, Dr Yevsei Gindes, an Ashkenazi Jew, was Minister of Health in the ADRs Cabinet of Minister under first Prime Minister Fatali Khan Khoyski.

In Soviet times, Jews continued to arrive and settle in Azerbaijan. The Jews in Soviet Azerbaijan were not exposed to the widespread discrimination that was typical in other parts of the U.S.S.R. So, the Ashkenazi Jews formed a significant part of the intellectual and


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