web analytics
December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Azerbaijan’

Azerbaijan And Israel: Blueprint For Positive Jewish-Muslim Relations

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

There are noble and urgent reasons to roll up our sleeves and try very hard to address the dynamics between Jews and Muslims, in the most general and also most individualistic of terms.

We need to cover all bases so that we can make positive changes in the troubled relationship before it gets worse. We must look at practical alternatives to the festering status quo. It is our responsibility as stewards of this world.

Jewish awareness of the secular majority-Muslim nation of Azerbaijan has increased over the past few years. Azerbaijan has had an incomparable relationship with the Jewish people for centuries, and the country’s 30,000 Jewish citizens are treated with honor and respect, reflecting Azerbaijan’s humane traditions and its praiseworthy record as a haven for Jews through the Holocaust and into our day.

The friendship between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the State of Israel stands in sharp contrast to the geopolitical and sectarian tensions that plague so much of the world.

It’s no secret that Azerbaijan and Israel share a strategic alliance, with a particular emphasis on energy and defense technology. A telling example of the deep level of trust between the two countries is that Israeli citizens, per presidential decree, can have a visa issued at airports in Azerbaijan upon arrival, making Israel one of the few countries in the world with that kind of exemption.

Israel was one of the first nations to formally recognize the sovereign Republic of Azerbaijan in 1991, just a few months after it restored its independence from the Soviet Union. Israel was also one of the first countries to open an embassy in Azerbaijan.

Cooperation between the Jewish state and the majority-Muslim secular democracy has strengthened and expanded in recent years, not only in the realm of security but also and increasingly in the areas of energy, agriculture, telecommunications, cyber technology, construction, irrigation, medicine, and tourism. These connections started in the 1990s, and within a decade Israel had become Azerbaijan’s fifth-leading trade partner in the world.

Today, approximately 50 percent of the oil used in Israel comes from Azerbaijan, and Azerbaijan continues to make multi-billion dollar investments in Israeli defense technologies.

The relationship goes beyond trade and is based on core values and plays out in social life and politics. I recall reading a statement made by Imam Malik, the head of one of Azerbaijan’s largest mosques, on the issue of Jews ascending the Temple Mount. He said “There is nothing in Islamic law to prevent Jews from ascending the Temple Mount and the one who claims otherwise is considered a heretic in Islam who transforms the sanctity of the place for political purposes.”

Imagine if the rest of the Muslim world thought about the Temple Mount, and a myriad of other related issues, in a similar way.

Critics note that Azerbaijan has yet to open an embassy in Israel, or they say that Azerbaijan’s location between Russia and Iran (along with its desire to maintain good neighborly relations with both of those regional powers) portends an unstable future for its relationship with Israel. However, regional experts and the hard evidence shine a different, and much more detailed, light on the story of the Azerbaijan-Israel friendship.

In 2009, Wikileaks revealed that the relationship has always been much closer than it appears. And Azerbaijan indeed faces immense pressure from the surrounding Muslim world. The country’s unique situation comes with definite risks and requires delicate management far beyond the scope of news coverage. These are factors that Israel, perhaps more than any other nation, can appreciate.

But the end game is unusually and refreshingly straightforward and promising. For the Republic of Azerbaijan, there is no reason not to collaborate with Israel, and there are plenty of immediate, long-term, and positive incentives that support the relationship. In the face of intense regional turmoil and dangerous threats to Israel and Jewish life around the globe, this friendship carries profound messages and meaning.

Just imagine what could happen if other majority-Muslim nations followed Azerbaijan’s direction, and success, when it comes to relations with Israel and the Jewish people.

Rabbi Simchah Aaron Green

Israel’s Iron Dome Sale to Azerbaijan May Balance Russian Ballistic Missile Sale to Armenia

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

An Armenian political analyst is questioning reports that Azerbaijan, an ally of Israel, is about to receive a delivery of Iron Dome batteries, having already negotiated a deal with the Jewish State for purchase of the anti-missile defense system.

Armenian political scientist and deputy director of the ‘Caucasus’ Institute, Sergey Minasyan, told the Armenian News Agency (Armenpress) on Tuesday (Oct. 4) that he held political and military doubts about the likelihood such a contract has been, or will be signed.

The comment came after an Azeri lawmaker announced in local media earlier in the day that Iron Dome batteries in Israel are ready for delivery to that Azerbaijan. The announcement came after the Russian-made Iskander short-range ballistic missiles made their debut in the Armenian Independence Day parade on September 21. The two populations have been warring for years over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The system has not yet been purchased, he maintained. Minasyan claimed that Azerbaijani media reports about the negotiations were exaggerated, due to a “psychological shock” resulting from the exhibition by Armenia of Iskander” mobile short-range ballistic missile system it recently purchased from Russia.

“It’s hard to imagine that Israel, possessing one of the world’s leading systems of that type, will provide it to a country that has started to strengthen its relations with Russia and Iran,” Minasyan told Armenpress.

Moreover, he said, “Azerbaijan will have to empty its pockets if it really wants to purchase it.” Minasyan went on to claim that Armenia’s recent purchase of the Iskander equals Azerbaijan’s acquisition of the Iron Dome in its cost-effectiveness ration.

However, “the costs Azerbaijan will have to invest in counter-balancing ‘Iskander’ will far exceed the costs of Armenia’s acquisition of ‘Iskander’ (from Russia),” he explained.

Minasyan claimed there is “no evidence” that the Iron Dome system is effective against the ‘Iskander’ missile ballistic missile, or against others, such as the ‘Tochka’ or against Scuds. “Iskander missiles have quasi-ballistic trajectory and other features against which, as American and Israeli experts note, there are no effective counter-measures,” he said. However, he was not specific about which “experts” made the statements.

Azerbaijan is the biggest supplier of oil to Israel, and one of its strongest allies in the region.

Hana Levi Julian

Moscow Calming Israeli, American Fears of Russia-Turkey-Iran Coalition

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

Tuesday’s meeting in St. Petersburg between the two former feuding foes Russian President Putin and Turkish President Erdogan “drew considerable attention,” government-run news agency TASS reported, noting that the Russian-Turkish rapprochement is coming while Russia has been expanding its relations with Iran and Ankara and Tehran have also been bridging the gaps between them, born by almost four decades of a volatile Islamic Republic on Turkey’s border. In fact, right after the failed coup last month, Erdogan announced, “We are determined to cooperate with Iran and Russia to address regional problems side by side and to step up our efforts considerably to restore peace and stability to the region.”

Should Israel be concerned? Apparently, the Russian news organ is eager to spread a message of calm regarding the new developments in the northern part of the region. And so an unsigned article this week polled experts who were skeptical regarding a developing strategic triangle of those three powers. According to the TASS experts, the most that will come out of the current statements are tactical political interaction and an upturn in economic cooperation. But even if it were true, and Russia, Turkey and Iran were to forge a strategic alliance, TASS continues its calming message, it would be for the best, because “these three countries can play a positive role, for instance, in overcoming the Syrian crisis.”

It isn’t clear who is panicking more at the moment—Jerusalem or Washington—over the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would switch sides and coalesce with Russia and Iran. Clearly, the US has a whole lot more to lose from such an emerging outcome. US Middle East policy traditionally relied on the “three-legged stool” comprised of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey. As long as those three major local powers were in the Western camp, Soviet manipulations elsewhere could be mitigated. When Iran was lost under President Jimmy Carter in 1979, the US attempted for the longest time to substitute Iraq for the missing stool leg, but the Iraqi regime never provided the stability the US enjoyed with the Shah. This is why the US is so determined to keep Turkey in the Western camp, because without a Western-allied Turkey, the US presence in the region would be severely downgraded.

Hence the need for the TASS calming story. It interviewed senior research fellow Vladimir Sazhin, of the Oriental Studies Institute under the Russian Academy of Sciences, who reassured the Western readers “there will be no trilateral union, of course. It should be ruled out for many reasons. At best one can expect some tactical alliance. This is so because Iran, Turkey and Russia have certain problems in their relations with the West and with the United States.” That’s code for Turkey would be punished severely, economically and otherwise, if it ever jumped ship.

Sazhin continued, “If one takes a look at the economic interests they share, it should be remembered that Russia, Iran and Azerbaijan … are countries that produce and export hydrocarbons. They have a great deal to discuss in view of the current strained situation on the world market. As for Turkey, its role in delivering hydrocarbons to the West may be significant. But I don’t think that this triangle will be of strategic importance.”

Sazhin sees no fundamentally new geopolitical aspects in sight. “It’s about getting back to where we had been all the time. Arabs constitute an overwhelming majority of the population in the Middle East. Non-Arab countries are few – Israel, Turkey and Iran. They had very close relations up to [the emergence of] the Islamic revolution in Iran.”

“In Iran, with its 80-million population, Turks and Azerbaijanis, who are ethnically very close to Turkey, constitute an estimated 18 to 25 million,” Sazhin said. “Bilateral relations existed not only at the Tehran-Ankara level. There were very strong people-to-people bonds. Plus the long-standing economic ties. But in politics post-revolution Iran and NATO member Turkey have drifted apart, of course.”

Research fellow Irina Zvyagelskaya, of the Arab and Islamic Research Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Oriental Studies Institute told TASS, “I don’t believe in the emergence of new political triangles. I don’t think some strategic changes will follow overnight to bring about changes to the configuration of alliances. A number of steps we’ve seen our friends and partners and those we are not on very friendly terms with us take are tactical. They stem from the current situation.”

Zvyagelskaya believes that to a large extent this is true of Turkey. “It is to be remembered that Erdogan’s wish to have closer relations is a result of certain internal political events, on the one hand, and soaring tensions in his country’s relations with the United States and the European Union, on the other. These steps by Erdogan are purely pragmatic and we should treat them accordingly. As far as I understand, nobody has any illusions on that score.”

JNi.Media

2 Dead in Blast at Azerbaijan Defense Plant

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Two plant workers died and 24 others were injured Tuesday afternoon in an explosion at a defense plant in oil-rich Azerbaijan, according to a statement from the Defense Industry Ministry, RT.com reported.

The cause of the blast has not yet been determined, officials said. . The plant is located in Shirvan, 100 kilometeres (60 miles) southwest of the capital city of Baku.

Israel values the close diplomatic relations it enjoys with the Caucasus state, which has a Muslim majority.

Israel recognized Azerbaijan shortly after it declared its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Hana Levi Julian

UNESCO to Question Jewish Ties to Western Wall in Arab-Sponsored Draft Resolution

Sunday, July 10th, 2016

United Nations Watch, a Geneva-based watchdog organization, expressed concern today that UNESCO may fuel anti-Jewish incitement and violence, and the increasing PA Arabs’ denial of Jewish religious and cultural rights, by adopting an Arab-sponsored draft resolution that denies Jewish ties to Jerusalem’s Western Wall and Temple Mount.

The Jordanian-Palestinian draft text on the Old City of Jerusalem was submitted to the 21-member World Heritage Committee, which meets over the next 10 days in Istanbul for its 40th annual session.

“This inflammatory resolution risks encouraging the past year’s wave of Arab stabbing and shooting attacks in Jerusalem and other parts of Israel, which began with false claims that Israel was planning to damage holy Muslim shrines,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch.

Under the battle cry of “Al-Aqsa mosque is in danger,” incitement in September by Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad sparked a wave of terror attacks across Israel which began on the Temple Mount and eastern Jerusalem. At least 40 have been killed and more than  500 wounded. The Arab attacks include 155 stabbings, 96 shootings, 45 car ramming attacks, and one bus bombing.

The draft now before UNESCO includes the following problematic language:

  • The draft refers ten times to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, exclusively using the Islamic term for Temple Mount, without any mention that it is the holiest site in Judaism. This is part of a larger campaign at the UN, and particularly in UNESCO, to Islamize sites historically belonging to other faiths.
  • This year’s proposed draft is even more extreme than the resolution adopted in 2015. The new version three times uses the Islamic term Buraq Plaza while placing the parallel name “Western Wall Plaza” in scare quotes, implying skepticism or disbelief concerning what is the most hallowed site for Jewish worshippers over two millennia, due to the ancient wall’s connection to the Holy Jewish Temple destroyed in 70 CE. Last year’s resolution also sought to diminish the Jewish connection by putting the name Western Wall in parentheses after the Islamic term, yet the new use of quotation marks intensifies the denialism that was famously promoted by Yasser Arafat’s negotiator at Camp David, and which continues in Palestinian Authority statements.
  • Israel, which is referred to throughout as “the Occupying Power” in Jerusalem, is called to restore “the historic Status Quo,” with the new word “historic”—a change from last year’s text—implying a reversal of any changes since 1967.
  • Jerusalem’s light rail, which is used daily by thousands of Arab residents among others, is accused of having a “damaging effect” on the “visual integrity” and “authentic character” of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem—even though the track passes through an existing highway and only facilitates transportation for visitors of all faiths.

The 21 members on the UNESCO world heritage committee are: Angola, Azerbaijan, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Cuba, Finland, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, Tanzania, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe. Good luck to all of us.

Jewish Press Staff

Iranian Medalist Avoids Photo With Israeli Colleague, Boycotts Ceremony

Friday, June 24th, 2016

An Iranian silver medalist didn’t show up for his own awards ceremony at the World Cup event in Baku, Azerbaijan on Thursday. The no-show was the winner’s way of making sure he would not be photographed next to an Israeli fellow sportsman.

Hossein Bagheri won silver in the 10-meter air rifle competition, with Israeli shooter Sergey Richter, 27, claiming the bronze medal. Richter, a former European champion, is slated to represent Israel at the upcoming Olympics this summer in Rio. The gold medal went to Filip Nepejchal of the Czech Republic.

In order to be certain the two would not be photographed side by side, Bagheri boycotted the ceremony. He did not, however, boycott the event itself, nor did he really boycott his fellow sportsman: Richter told reporters that the two did shake hands, well away from the cameras.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Orange Apology Tour Arrives in Wrong ‘Occupying’ Country

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Orange telecom CEO Stephane Richard arrived in Israel Thursday night for a two-day exercise of climbing down from a tall tree where he ate rotten fruit by saying that he would like to get rid of the company’s link with Israel’ Partner Communications because of the “occupation.”

He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and former President Shimon Peres today as part of a show “to clarify Orange group commitments to Israel,” according to the French-based company.

It all was a “misunderstanding,” Richard said after winning praise from BDS but ferocious anger from even liberal political in Israel and elsewhere.

“Hypocritical” would be a better description than “misunderstanding.”

Richard lit the match in Cairo, where he referred to Partner as operating in “occupied territory,” and France’s ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, tweeted:

Contributing to settlements in an occupied territory is illegal.

Despite his “anti-occupation” remarks in Cairo, Richard later explained that he wanted to pull out of Israel because it is the only country where Orange does not run a subsidiary but instead allows an independent operation to market its trademark.

It is not clear why that should bother Orange since Partner pays approximately $4 million a year for the right to market Orange.”

Richard reassured Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely last week, “Orange does not support any form of boycott, in Israel or anywhere else in the world.”

In a way, it is too bad that Orange is retreating. If it had stood its ground, Israel would have had the opportunity to expose to the entire world the clear hypocrisy of BDS and of companies like Orange that actually operate in “occupied territory” elsewhere and, under the boycotters’ definition, are guilty of being involved in a “war crime.”

Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, affiliated with the Kohelet Policy Forum think tank wrote in The Washington Post this week:

Orange itself directly and openly operates in occupied territory. Orange provides cell phone service in Nagorno-Karabakh, an area of Azerbaijan that has been occupied by Armenia since seizing it in a bloody 1992-94 war. The U.N., along with the E.U. and U.S., considers the area occupied territory. Nonetheless, Armenian settlers have moved into the occupied territory in significant numbers, amid constant complaints from Baku and others.

He added that fighting broke out this year in the area, “killing dozens, and a full- scale war over the occupied territory is looming.”

The Orange website touts its Karabakh service as being in “NKR,” or the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, an unrecognized state that is controlled by Armenia, according to Kontorovich, who also wrote:

U.N. Resolutions have specifically called for the “non-recognition” of the NKR. Orange’s Armenian website also calls the area ‘Artsakh,’ the ancient name for the region favored by Armenia nationalists. It would be as if Orange, instead of complaining about, boasted of its ‘service in Judea and Samaria.’…. Orange calls NKR a ‘country,’ despite the clear admonition of its own government and UN against recognition of what is universally regarded as Azerbaijani territory. It would be as if Orange boasted of its service in the ‘Golan Heights of Israel.’

That’s not a bad idea. Perhaps Prime Minister Netanyahu should tell Richard, “You know what? Yerright. Boycott us.

“And while you are at it, boycott Azerbaijan, Morocco, Turkey and Armenia. Then, after realizing how ignorant you are, don’t apologize. Just bury BDS and get back to work.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/orange-apology-tour-arrives-in-wrong-occupying-country/2015/06/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: