Photo Credit: Helene C. Stikkel, US Dept. of Defense
Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, 2002.

President Rivlin sent a letter of condolence Sunday to the people of Uzbekistan, expressing his condolences on the passing of the country’s president, Islam Karimov.

The long-time ruler was laid to rest Saturday in his hometown of Samarkand, at the Shah-i-Zinda cemetery, after a funeral in the city’s ancient Registan Square. About half of the nation’s 32 million citizens were born after Karimov came to power.

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There is a tiny community of approximately 1,500 Bukharan Jews in Uzbekistan, most living in and around the capital city of Tashkent, the remnant after the majority made aliyah following the nation’s declaration of independence following the collapse of the former Soviet Union 25 years ago.

“On behalf of the citizens of the State of Israel, I send our condolences to the people of Uzbekistan on the death of President Islam Karimov, who has led the country since its independence,” Rivlin wrote. “Israel stands beside the Uzbek nation at this difficult time.

“We in Israel are very pleased with the good relations between our two countries and the cooperation between our two nations in a number of areas. We look forward to continuing to expand and to further enhance the good relations with Uzbekistan in the future.

“There have been strong Jewish communities in Uzbekistan for thousands of years and our two nations share a rich cultural history. We are proud of the many thousands of Israelis who immigrated here from Uzbekistan from such regions as Samarkand and Bukhara.

“Again, please accept our sympathies on the sad passing of President Islam Karimov,” he concluded.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.