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September 25, 2017 1:42 pm

Bernard-Henri Lévy: Jews Have ‘Special Obligation’ to Support Kurdish Independence

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Kurdish Peshmerga from Syria and Iraq on the frontline against ISIS. Photo:

One of the most prominent Western champions of Kurdish national rights has praised Monday’s referendum on independence as the expression of a “just” desire on the part of the Kurds “to leave Iraq, which is a tyrannical, authoritarian, murderous state.”

“Their referendum is legal, legitimate, and just,” the French-Jewish writer and public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy told The Algemeiner on Monday, as voting began in the three provinces that formed the autonomous region of Kurdistan in 2003, as well as in territories disputed with the central government in Baghdad, such as the oil-rich province of Kirkuk.

Lévy — whose involvement with the Kurdish cause goes back to the early 1990s, when he highlighted the genocidal campaign waged by Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq — said the moral case for a referendum had never been so clear.

“Look who is coming together against the Kurds,” Lévy noted. “Look at this awful, pathetic alliance between Erdogan’s Turkey and the ayatollahs’ Iran, with the failed state of Iraq bobbing in Iran’s wake. Isn’t it obvious that right, honor, and, therefore, morality, are on the side of the Kurds?”

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Lévy was scathing on the subject of the Kurds’ immediate neighbors, calling Turkey, Iran and Iraq “the same gang” as far as the Kurds are concerned.

“When you think that the three of them have the nerve to appeal to international law,” he said. “The hands of Iran’s leaders are still wet with the blood of the 400,000 Syrians that Bashar al-Assad has butchered with the help of Hezbollah. Turkey has on its hands the blood of the lawyers, intellectuals, military officers, and ordinary citizens who have been tortured to death in the jails of Istanbul and Ankara. Iraq, just in recent memory, has that of the thousands of Kurds gassed in Halabja (when thousands of Kurds were killed in a poison gas attack on this city launched by Iraqi forces.)”

“And this merry band is invoking law and morality?” Lévy continued. “We must be dreaming.” He argued that the Erdogan regime poses the most immediate threat to Kurdish independence, “because it has, in addition to all the rest, economic leverage.”

“Everything on which the Kurdish economy depends comes and goes through Turkey,” he said.

Lévy praised Israel for its supportive stance on the Kurdish referendum — the only country to express such backing. By Monday night, with nearly all the votes counted, more than 93 percent of voters had answered “yes” to the question — posed in the Kurdish, Arabic, Turkmen and Assyrian languages – “Do you want the Kurdistan Region and the Kurdistani areas outside the administration of the Region to become an independent state?” Some 25 million mainly Muslim Kurds are currently divided between Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.

“I’m glad that Israel’s leaders have finally understood that the Kurds are their natural allies,” Lévy said. “Not allies of convenience, not tactical allies, not the sort of allies that one embraces in spite of disagreements simply because one has no others.”

Arguing that Israel and Kurdistan “share the same ethical and political principles,” Lévy declared that “Iraqi Kurdistan is the only Muslim country where the alliance with Israel is perceived not as a necessary evil but as a source of pride.” Israeli politicians across the spectrum have spoken out in support of Kurdish independence, with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid telling The Algemeiner on Sunday, “The Jewish people know what it is to struggle for an independent homeland.”

Lévy added, “By the way, that is what Erdogan had in mind when he said, in his inimitable style, that he feared the birth of a ‘second Israel.'” In recent weeks, pro-Erdogan media outlets in Turkey have been filled with antisemitic conspiracy theories alleging that the Kurdish vote is a “Zionist plot” coordinated by Israel in order to resettle 200,000 Kurdish Jews in the region.

Lévy had similarly harsh words for the Western democracies that have acquiesced to Turkish, Iranian and Iraqi pressure on the referendum, despite the consistent records of the Kurds as allies of the west. “When you see the democracies with their eyes riveted on the slightest change in the mood of these sensitive characters, when you see them tripping over each other to serve as their interpreters and even as their press attachés, well now the dream [of Kurdish independence] has become a nightmare,” Lévy reflected.

The philosopher described his two recent films on the Kurds — “Peshmerga,” the name for Kurdish fighters, and “The Battle of Mosul,” which documents the fight against ISIS in the northern Iraqi city — as “a modest attempt to repay them in very small part for what they have given us.”

A forthcoming showing of “Peshmerga” in New York City would, Lévy said, serve as a partial riposte to US President Donald Trump for his “scandalous lack of gratitude…throwing the Kurds away now that they’ve served their purpose.” On September 15, the Trump administration expressed its opposition to the Kurdish vote,  claiming that the US “has repeatedly emphasized to the leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government that the referendum is distracting from efforts to defeat ISIS and stabilize the liberated areas.”

Lévy urged Jews around the world to engage in a “generous show of friendship” toward the Kurds.

“Jews have a special obligation to support the Kurds,” he said. “I hope they will come say to the Peshmerga: ‘For years now you have spilled your blood to defend the values of our shared civilization. Now it is our turn to defend your right to live freely and independently.'”

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  • Butseriously

    Kurds, Copts & Jews predate the Arab people and deserve their own states.

  • robert Davis

    I agree with the author : Israel and Kurds have the same enemies who want to destroy them and they have the same moral values. They must therefore make an alliance against arabs, iran and that turkish dictator erdogan.

  • henrytobias

    Jews and Israel are already being accused of supporting the Kurds. The Iraqi P.M. already said that he doesn’t want ‘another Israel’ in the Middle East – in spite of the fact that the Kurds are Muslims. There are between 4 and 8 million Palestinians, depending on who you believe, but as many as 45 million Kurds. The Palestinians have the right to self-determination but not the Kurds?

  • Michael

    Shame on Donald trump who has sided with the corrupt US State Department headed by Rex Tillerson whose hands are dirty with oil money from his days as CEO of Exxon-Mobil. The US State Department is the Swamp.
    When there was no one else to go against ISIS, courageous Kurdish men and woman were on the front lines fighting the evil terrorists.. So we reward the Kurds by siding with the corrupt governments of Syria, Iraq and Turkey against the Kurdish people and their long struggle for independence.
    Somewhere in all this murk is the art of the deal and the deal has the distinctive stink of oil.


    • Andy

      state has always been full of Arab ass kissers

  • Cited below is the relevant legal document – creation of Kurdistan in the Treaty of Sevres


    A Commission sitting at Constantinople and composed of three members appointed by the British, French and Italian Governments respectively shall draft within six months from the coming into force of the present Treaty a scheme of local autonomy for the predominantly Kurdish areas lying east of the Euphrates, south of the southern boundary of Armenia as it may be hereafter determined, and north of the frontier of Turkey with Syria and Mesopotamia, as defined in Article 27, II (2) and (3). If unanimity cannot be secured on any question, it will be referred by the members of the Commission to their respective Governments. The scheme shall contain full safeguards for the protection of the Assyro-Chaldeans and other racial or religious minorities within these areas, and with this object a Commission composed of British, French, Italian, Persian and Kurdish representatives shall visit the spot to examine and decide what rectifications, if any, should be made in the Turkish frontier where, under the provisions of the present Treaty, that frontier coincides with that of Persia.

    ARTICLE 63.
    The Turkish Government hereby agrees to accept and execute the decisions of both the Commissions mentioned in Article 62 within three months from their communication to the said Government.

    ARTICLE 64.
    If within one year from the coming into force of the present Treaty the Kurdish peoples within the areas defined in Article 62 shall address themselves to the Council of the League of Nations in such a manner as to show that a majority of the population of these areas desires independence from Turkey, and if the Council then considers that these peoples are capable of such independence and recommends that it should be granted to them, Turkey hereby agrees to execute such a recommendation, and to renounce all rights and title over these areas.

    The detailed provisions for such renunciation will form the subject of a separate agreement between the Principal Allied Powers and Turkey.

    If and when such renunciation takes place, no objection will be raised by the Principal Allied Powers to the voluntary adhesion to such an independent Kurdish State of the Kurds inhabiting that part of Kurdistan which has hitherto been included in the Mosul vilayet.

  • An independent Kurdistan is not a distraction, but a bulwark against ISIS.

  • graylens

    The West has repeatedly betrayed the Kurds going back at least to the 1970’s, although one can argue the betrayals go back to the post WWI era. This is a case of acquiesing to evil to oil and murderers. The Kurds, like the Yadizis are an endangered minority within a hostile Arab, Turkish or Persian majority. They have a distinctive language, culture and history and certainly deserve a country of their own where they can live in security