Kurds and Palestinians. A comparison.
By Barry Shaw
July 24, 2011
A Jerusalem Post editorial reminded me of why we Israelis should highlight the recent declaration by Kurdish people of a democratic autonomy in North Kurdistan. They made this announcement in their new capital of Amed. New, that is, if the Turks, the Iranians, and the Iraqis do not ruthlessly put down this cry for independence, as they have done in the past. The Turks are already livid. North Kurdistan sits in a large area of southeastern Turkey.
Why is this important to Israel? Well, for one reason, the Kurdish case makes interesting comparison to the Palestinians.
The Kurds were overlooked when the Supreme Powers carved up the Mesopotamian region following the defeat of the Ottoman Empire after World War One. Palestine was Mandated to Britain to be the National Home of the Jewish People. That was before Winston Churchill took a huge chunk of the land mass to be gifted to the Arabs as TransJordan. The Kurds were not so fortunate. They were completely overlooked as the Allied Powers divided up their territory to the Turks, Iran, Iraq, and Syria.
It is clear that the Kurds were ethnically recognised people way before the Arabs concocted a Palestinian entity as a weapon to attack Israel.
Today, when it comes to Palestinians, the international community suddenly clamour for self-determination as the natural and inalienable right of each nationality, as the Jerusalem Post editorial reminded us. The international community should have the courage of its own convictions, if they truly stand by that principle, to encourage the self-determination of the Kurds. Let them not turn a blind eye so as not to offend Turkey, or Iraq, or even Iran. Let them, instead, place as much effort, funding, and resolutions in support for a sovereign state of North Kurdistan, as they have done for Palestinians. And if they don't, let them also back down on their poking of Israel in favour of Palestinian Arabs, lest they be accused of political hypocrisy.
If pressure and censure of Israel applies with regard to Palestinians, then so should censure and pressure be applied against Turkey, Iran, and Iraq in support of independence for the Kurds.
And here are some other strong reasons why Kurds should have preference, in the pecking order, over Palestinians.
Not only do the Kurds have longevity that Palestinian Arabs do not have, they also have far more genuine grievances and claims of genocide and human rights abuses than the Palestinians. Yes, I know that the Palestinians and their supporters have made global capital out of their perceived suffering but compared with the Kurds, they are living in Disneyland.
Perhaps one of the most startling statistics that lean in favour of an independent Kurdistan is there are an estimated thirty to thirty five million Kurds. This is far, far, more numerous than any estimation of Palestinian Arabs.
Unlike the Palestinians, the Kurds have distinctive characteristics. They have their own culture developed over the centuries. They have their own distinctive language. They established their own Republic of Ararat in 1927, way before there was any Arab nationalism, let alone a Palestinian one. Both Turkey and Iran brutally suppressed any Kurdish expression of self determination, until now. On the other hand, the Palestinian Arabs are indistinquishable from any other neighbouring Arab people, as the Jerusalem Post article reminded us. They share the same language, religion, culture. They have no unique ethnicity.
So why is it that the world is buzzing to establish recognition for a Palestinian state yet turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to the Kurds? One obvious reason is that the Kurds do not have the passionate and wealthy patrons of the Palestinians, namely the Arab states, Islamic interests, and the International Socialists (actually Marxist Communists) who have adopted the Palestinians as a stick to beat Israel with.
The Kurds would be better advised to set up hundreds of human rights NGOs who could then apply to the members of the European Union for funding to highlight their plight. Perhaps they should pick a quarrel with Israel. That always works. Maybe they should get some advise on this from Turkey. Oops! Maybe not. Actually, that's a brilliant idea. They should protest to the United Nations about the criminal acts of genocide. apartheid, inflicted on them by the racist Turkish regime. Don't forget, Kurds, to use expressions such as "war crimes", disproportionate use of force", "deliberately targeting civilians". And make sure you end with claims of "ethnic cleansing." That always works. I would recommend that the Kurds demand a commission of enquiry from the United Nations Human Rights Council to come and examine the crimes against the Kurds perpetrated by the Turks. Make sure you get Richard Goldstone. Christine Chinkin and Navi Pillay will only get involved if you are ready to accuse Israel of human rights crimes.
Joking aside, the world couldn't care less what happens to the Kurds. They can continue to be slaughtered by the Turks for all the human rights people care. They are not, you see, flavour of the month, year, decade, as the Palestinians are. There is no money and no political or career benefit in promoting the Kurds. There is also no motive with which the international community can beat Israel. So, sorry Kurds, you will just have to establish your independence on your own. And good luck to you. Israelis, at least, genuinely wish you success. I think that Israel has an interest is helping and supporting the Kurds, as we have in assisting South Sudan in their national endeavours.
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