Kurdistan celebrates Kurdish Jews

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — Kurdish Jews and Jews whose ancestors lived in Kurdistan gathered Monday in Erbil to commemorate their history in the region and their expulsion by past Iraqi regimes.

“We saw this as a chance to show the entire world what happened 70 years ago and how step-by-step they did genocide and massacres against this minority,” Sherzad Omer, the head of Jewish affairs in the ministry of religious affairs and endowment, told Rudaw.

The commemoration was joined by other faith representatives in the region, and highlighted Jewish contributions to Kurdistan with a series of photo and writing exhibitions. Despite hostility from Arab governments, many were quick to point out that in Kurdistan the Jews were welcome members of society.

“I never felt in danger in Kurdistan. I think you have great security services. I think you have a great society that values tolerance and will not put off—for instance—standing against extremism,” Zack Daniel, a Jewish analyst of Kurdish affairs visiting from Israel, told Rudaw. “So it is becoming more frequent, I have seen pictures of religious Jews coming here to visit, and my former roommate here is actually religious as well.”

“We lived together. We lived with Jews and we participated in all events and celebrations together. We have some quarters named after Kurdish Jews and we still have these places,” Awat Hissam, the Zoroastrian representative in the ministry of religious affairs and endowment, told Rudaw.

More on the gathering can be found in the above video.

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