A Half-Century and More of Israeli-Kurdish Friendship

Following the announcement of the U.S. drawdown in Syria, Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the Turkish invasion and declared a willingness to extend nonmilitary aid to the Syrian Kurds. To understand why, writes Kassy Dillon, one must look to the 20th-century history of cooperation between the Jewish state and the Middle East’s largest stateless people:

Ties between Israel and the Kurds first started in the 1960s when the Kurds helped smuggle the remaining Jews out of Iraq after decades of rising anti-Semitism, which included pogroms, public executions, and discriminatory laws. Meanwhile, . . . after hearing of severe poverty the Kurdish people were facing, Golda Meir, then foreign minister, allocated the Kurds $100,000 in 1963.

Soon after, the humanitarian aid expanded into military assistance for training, arms, and ammunition, and eventually anti-aircraft weaponry. In 1980, Prime Minister Menachem Begin admitted that the Israelis assisted the Kurds during their uprising against the Iraqis between 1965 and 1975.

In 2017, Israel was the only country publicly to announce its support for Kurdish independence after the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq announced its intentions to hold a referendum for independence. At Kurdish independence rallies, Israeli flags were waved, leading to unanimous censure from the Iraqi parliament. Israel and the Iraqi Kurds have also enjoyed economic cooperation in recent years. Israel accepted a large Kurdish oil shipment in June of 2014, at the peak of the Kurdish struggle against Islamic State.

Read more at Providence

More about: Golda Meir, Iraq, Israel diplomacy, Kurds, Menachem Begin

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict