Israel and Azerbaijan enjoy a successful partnership

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That intriguing, but seeming odd couple of the East — Israel and Azerbaijan — cannot be explained by oil and arms alone. Even the menacing glare toward both countries from nearby Iran does not illuminate how these two came to be partners with deep trade ties.

The modern Israel-Azerbaijan bond began with Israel’s recognition of Azerbaijan after the latter’s 1991 declaration of independence from the Soviet Union. Some 25 years later, friendships, substantive cultural and educational exchanges, and extended business ties belie expectations of how a Muslim-majority country might interact with Israel. A surprising number of Azerbaijani young people have traveled to and studied in Israel.

To begin to sense why the Israel-Azerbaijan partnership succeeds, one must leave aside the enormous political and religious considerations that dominate most analyses of the Caucasus and the Middle East. Clues appear in the epic sweep of history and the vital role of culture in both countries.

Israelis and Azerbaijanis, respectively, live on land that bears the footprints of a great many who have come and gone over centuries. A 100-year-old Azerbaijani citizen will have lived through the Russian Empire, Azerbaijani Democratic Republic, Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic, and, since 1991, the Republic of Azerbaijan. An Israeli of the same age, if not born in Palestine, will likely be a refugee from an Arab country or from Nazi Europe and will have witnessed the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948. A tour around both countries reveals citizens in a vast array of physical types, which serves as a visual reminder of complicated history.

Just as culture can help to explain the Israel-Azerbaijan partnership, it can be distorted and used by enemies to disparage both the relationship and the countries themselves. Both Israel and Azerbaijan face relentless questioning of their history and their very existence. Virtually every Israeli and every Azerbaijani recognizes some connection between culture and existence.

Azerbaijan’s ancient Jewish population in the country’s Quba district, and its more recent Jewish community in Baku, as well as Azerbaijani Jews living in Israel, form a vital, concrete link between Israel and Azerbaijan. Baku is quick to point out that Jews have long served in important positions in Azerbaijani government. As evidenced throughout the country, members of the Muslim majority long have enjoyed strong relationships with Jewish neighbors.

physical types, which serves as a visual reminder of complicated history.

Just as culture can help to explain the Israel-Azerbaijan partnership, it can be distorted and used by enemies to disparage both the relationship and the countries themselves. Both Israel and Azerbaijan face relentless questioning of their history and their very existence. Virtually every Israeli and every Azerbaijani recognizes some connection between culture and existence.

Azerbaijan’s ancient Jewish population in the country’s Quba district, and its more recent Jewish community in Baku, as well as Azerbaijani Jews living in Israel, form a vital, concrete link between Israel and Azerbaijan. Baku is quick to point out that Jews have long served in important positions in Azerbaijani government. As evidenced throughout the country, members of the Muslim majority long have enjoyed strong relationships with Jewish neighbors.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com

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