Photo Credit: Screenshot from Efgan Nifti’s tweet.
A contingency of 120 Azerbaijan soldiers defended Kabul Airport while NATO personnel fled the Taliban, Aug 16, 2021.

Earlier this week, I spoke before members of the Azerbaijani Diaspora in Chicago, as well as the Chicago Jewish committee, on why Americans should support Azerbaijan. I noted that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg referred to Azerbaijan as a “valued partner,” due to Azerbaijan’s contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan – where Azerbaijan and Turkey secured Hamid Karzai Airport during the evacuation of Kabul, helping the safe evacuation of NGOs and government personnel who were fleeing the Taliban.

According to the Jamestown Institute, Azerbaijan’s contributions to the NATO effort started in 2002 with 22 peacekeepers and rose to 120 by the time of the withdrawal. In addition to ground support, Azerbaijani units supported the Afghanistan-bound supply logistics for the allied forces by securing the transit routes for an estimated 40% of NATO’s military cargo.


Azerbaijan has made charitable contributions across the globe. After a Chabad house was destroyed in California, the Azerbaijani government donated funds to rebuild the synagogue. Since 2012, the Heydar Aliyev Foundation has donated to finance restoration work at the Vatican, including repairs to the Sistine Chapel. Azerbaijan also funded the restoration of two Vatican catacombs and the preservation of ancient manuscripts at the Apostolic Library. According to the Vatican, Azerbaijan is the only Muslim country to finance the restoration of Christian holy sites in Europe.

Azerbaijan has provided badly needed fuel to several NATO member states facing an acute shortage of gas and oil in the wake of the war in Ukraine. While Azerbaijan is not able to replace Russia’s entire supply of natural gas to Europe, it does play a crucial role in helping Europe reduce its reliance on Russian gas and oil.

And while antisemitic incidents in the United States have reached their highest level since the Anti-Defamation League began recording them in 1979––3,700 cases altogether––Azerbaijan has zero antisemitism. I have visited Azerbaijan four times and covered events there for the past several years. and can attest to this.

I visited the synagogues in Oghuz and found them unlocked, with no security. There are no armed guards at the synagogues in Guba, Ganja, and even Baku, the capital city. I walked around without fear, wearing a visible Star of David necklace. This is because Azerbaijan is a secular, multicultural, tolerant country, which respects every faith and religion. In fact, Azerbaijanis celebrate Novruz, Passover, and Easter in unison. And a kosher restaurant just opened in Baku. Azerbaijan’s 30,000 Jewish community is thriving and living free from antisemitism.

In my talk in Chicago, I stressed: “It appears that in the wake of the tragic attacks on synagogues in Pittsburgh, Poway, and Texas, the US Congress instead of reprimanding Azerbaijan should be learning from Azerbaijanis how to create a society free from antisemitic gunmen who attack innocent Jewish worshippers. They should learn from Azerbaijan how to create universities where Muslim students go on international exchange programs in Israel to learn about Jewish history, culture, religion, agriculture, and healthcare innovation, rather than rally for the BDS Movement.”

The other day, I met an American cousin I had not seen since I was 13, who knew nothing about Azerbaijan. But when he learned about the country’s beautiful multiculturalism and the thriving Jewish community there, he showed a keen interest and wanted to learn more.

I told my audience in Chicago: “Of course, it’s not always easy to be an advocate for Azerbaijan. I receive every day sexist and antisemitic insults from Armenians, Iranians, and Arabs, crude remarks about my late husband and even my children, pornographic content, and every other insult imaginable. This is the price I pay for being a voice for truth. But I have no regrets about my advocacy for Azerbaijan because I believe the truth about Azerbaijan will one day be known in America if only we work hard enough for it.”


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Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and an Israel-based journalist. She is the author of "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media."