Photo Credit: Free Kurdistan /
Kurdish Female YPG Fighters

( That Israel is a country surrounded by hostile neighbors is hard to deny. However, Israel does have a few friends in the Middle East, most notably, the Kurds. The Kurds, who comprise 15-20% of Iraq’s population are major trading partners with Israel, and the two peoples also share the bond of having common enemies, if not friends. Kurdish fighters are struggling to resist the onslaught of the violently radical Islamic group, ISIS, and need money and weapons to prevail. The Kurds have been selling oil independently of the Iraqi government to France, Italy, Greece and Israel. Their sale of oil to Israel must be executed secretly, since the Iraqi government is hostile to Israel and does not recognize its existence. To avoid detection, some speculate that a quantity of oil is shipped through Cyprus before heading to Israel. It is estimated that Israel purchased $1 billion of crude from the Kurds or 19 million barrels, which comprise 77% of Israel’s total oil consumption.

It is rumored that, in addition to purchasing oil, Israel is funding the Kurds in their efforts to strengthen the Kurdistan Regional Government in its fight against the Caliphate and the Iraqi Shiite government.


Israelis and Kurds share more than a trade relationship and a desire to keep ISIS at bay–the two groups are closely linked genetically. A 2001 study conducted by a team of Israeli, German and Indian scientists discovered that Jews around the world are more closely related genetically to the Kurds than to the Semitic Arabs, for instance. The research involved examining 526 Y chromosomes from 6 populations (Kurdish Jews, Kurdish Muslims, Palestinian Arabs, Sephardic Jews, Ashkenazi Jews, and Bedouin from Southern Israel) and compared it with data from 12 populations, including Russians, Poles, Belorussians, Berbers, Spaniards, Portuguese, Arabs, Armenians and Anatolian Turks. Kurdish Jews and Sephardic Jews showed striking similarities, and the majority of Ashkenazi Jews who possess Eu9 genes are descended from Judeans who lived in Israel two thousand years ago. Areilla Oppenheim of Hebrew University wrote in the November 2001 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics that Jews are closer genetically to Northern Mediterranean populations (Kurds, Armenians, Anatolian Turks) than to populations in the Southern Mediterranean (Arabs and Bedouin).

The history of Jews and Kurds can go a long way in explaining this genetic link. Most of the Biblical ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (aka Smaria) were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 721-755 BCE, and were sent to Media, Assyria and Mesopotamia, or modern Kurdistan. When Nebuchadnezzar II came to power, he brought the Jews from Israel to Babylon, adding to the numbers already delivered there by the Assyrians. When the Persian King Cyrus allowed the Jews to return to Israel, a large number of them, who had accumulated wealth, stayed behind. The Jews who remained in Babylon, which contained within its borders Kurdistan, maintained contact with their brethren in Israel, and supplied them with goods as well as some scholars, such as Hillel, head of the Sanhedrin around the time of King Herod. A revolt against the Roman Emperor Trajan (ruled from 98 to 117 CE) met with a bloody reprisal, but, under the authority of the Persians and the Parthians, Babylonian Jews enjoyed a degree of autonomy.

Kurdistan was the birthplace of the Babylonian Talmud and a center of Jewish scholarship. Many conversions were performed back then, and among them were Kurdish King Manobazes, his wife, Queen Helena, and their son Izates (although some historians question this because of a chronological discrepancy). A consensus of scholars agree that Judaism was well-established in Kurdistan by the 2nd century CE. Despite conversions to Christianity in the 4th and 5th centuries, the tradition of Jews in Kurdistan extended until the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. Kurdish Jews spoke an Aramaic dialect and visited the tombs of Jonah and Daniel, located in Kurdistan.

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