November 16, 2003

Arab, Jew, Kurd

I've wondered for some time at the odd parallels between, on the one hand, the resemblances between Kurds -- the largest nation without a state -- and Jews, on the one hand, and between Kurds and Palestinians. Perhaps no people would be better able to understand the intellectual framework of Zionism -- that a nation without a state is unable to prevent its own persecution. That Kurds have been persecuted by Arabs (and Turks and Persians, one should add) is a matter of historical record.

But the Kurds find themselves in a position that is somewhat analogous to the Palestinians. The State is Israel, threatened though it may be, exists. The Palestinians have no state, and in fact haven't been treated all that well by their Arab brethern.

Kurdish journalist Sivan Amedi, who's written a travelogue of his recent return to Kurdistan, has written an article on exactly these themes. (Incidentally, the other pieces in his interesting series are linked at the bottom of the article I've linked -- they're all worth reading.)

The piece is written in a simple language that I find highly affecting. After noting that the Palestinians are the most famous of the stateless people, he distinguishes between the Israeli Arabs and those living under occupation. Amedi notes, "In their struggle against occupation, during which they have rejected many compromise proposals of varying fairness, they have used immoral tactics that include targeting civilians worldwide to promote their cause. These are terrorist tactics." He adds that Kurds have employed the same tactics, but now condemn them.

I found this passage particularly interesting:

The Palestinians will eventually achieve statehood, and would have long ago if it were not for their leadership’s selfish machinations and foolish gambles coupled with the trickery of their Arab brothers. The citizens of Israel will have to accept their new Palestinian neighbors as a nation like any other, proud of their identity. The Palestinians will remember their own struggle against occupation, and will erect statues of their heroes, many of whom may very well have strong terrorist credentials. This will have to be accepted.

The Kurds of today are the Jews of decades and centuries ago. They are divided by different foreign oppressors. Some of them are forgetting their own language. Many of them are in exile. The Kurds, like the Jews, strive to live in peace with their neighbors and establish a democratic nation-state of their own. The Kurds, like the Jews, are also surrounded by “neighbors” who may hate each other but can call agree on one thing –a common cause in opposing any and all aspirations of the Jewish and Kurdish nations.

I also sympathize with the Palestinians. Anyone who has spent a day in Amed knows the feeling of occupation. Those who have visited Amed in the not so recent past have experienced a day in the life of a Palestinian in the West Bank, seeing armored personnel carriers on the side of the road. They have also experienced another indignity unknown to even the Palestinians under Israeli occupation – they have seen an entire city that could only speak the language of the occupier in public for fear of being accused of separatism and terrorism.

He writes of martyrs -- those the Palestinians claim, and those the Kurds revere, and adds, "I am of course also humbled when I read about American soldiers who gave their lives to liberate Iraq, fighting a war that I felt I should have personally fought myself." Earlier, he wrote,

While Palestinian organizations make headlines today by threatening the US and blowing up busses full of civilians, Kurdish organizations do not indulge in these tactics. Perhaps that is why Kurdistan will never be the darling cause of liberals and radicals worldwide, from the parliaments of Europe to the college campuses of America. The Kurds do not curse the US.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Ideofact at November 16, 2003 11:07 PM

Thank you for your kind words and attention. I appreciate your interest.

Posted by: Sivan Amedi at November 23, 2003 01:43 PM

And thank you for your writings, which taught me a lot. I'll keep my eye out for your future offerings.

Posted by: Bill at November 25, 2003 02:30 AM