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Azerbaijan’s National Leader Heydar Aliyev and the Jews

Azerbaijan’s National Leader Heydar Aliyev and the Jews

After Azerbaijan recently opened up its embassy in Tel Aviv, Saadat Sukurova Israelov, the head of the Kanal 24 news outlet, the vice President of Aziz, Azerbaijan’s main cultural organization in Israel, and the chairwoman of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy, is in the process of making a documentary titled “the Great Leader and the Jews,” which speaks about the life of Azerbaijan’s national leader Heydar Aliyev and his relationship with the Jewish people.

“Azerbaijan is the world’s most tolerant country,” she noted.   “We observe this in everyday life.  Jews have been living in Azerbaijan for more than two thousand years.   The Jewish people have established roots in Azerbaijan and anti-Semitism is a foreign concept in the country.   For this reason, Azerbaijani Jews all over the world do everything that they can to promote Azerbaijan in a good way.”

Azerbaijan’s national leader Heydar Aliyev once said, “The Jews have two hearts, regardless which country they live in.   One heart beat for their country and the other one for Israel.”   Aliyev also declared that “Jews can live freely in the land of Azerbaijan.”  

Israelov continued, “In honor of the 100th anniversary of the birthday of Heydar Aliyev, the founder of the independent state of Azerbaijan, and the declaration of 2023 as the Year of Heydar Aliyev, I decided to make a documentary about the life of Heydar Aliyev here in Israel.   As we know, when the modern state of Azerbaijan was established by Heydar Aliyev, a policy of tolerance and multi-culturalism was pursued.   Other religions and beliefs were always respected.”

She stressed that Aliyev went down in the history of the Azerbaijani people as a “savior” of the nation and a “genius.”   She added: “He will always be remembered in the history books as an outstanding politician and statesman.   I believe that the legacy of Heydar Aliyev should always be studied, promoted and applied.”

She concluded: “Because Heydar Aliyev is a great friend of the Jewish people and Israel, I as an Azerbaijani Jew devoted a lot of space to the promotion of relations between Israel and Azerbaijan.  I consider it my duty to carry out the work assigned to me by filming and promoting the documentary ‘The Great Leader and the Jews.’”

In an event hosted by the Azerbaijani Tourism Board in honor of the 100th birthday of Heydar Aliyev, former Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Efraim Sneh declared: “I was the first Israeli official to visit independent Azerbaijan in December 1993.  I was invited to meet the late Heydar Aliyev.   At the end of the official visit, I asked to have a few minutes with him alone.  It was more than five minutes.  We discussed the very sensitive aspects of Azerbaijani-Israeli relations.   I can say with all humility that in this conversation, we formed the Azerbaijani-Israeli alliance that exists till today.”

He continued: “In both Israel and Azerbaijan, there are more people who live outside the homeland than in the homeland.   Both nations are trying to revive their old language to the vibrant language of today.  Similarly, we both live in tough neighborhoods.   Not all of our neighbors are good and it is tough.  Therefore, we know to appreciate our true friends.”

Sneh noted that the late Heydar Aliyev told him “we miss our Jewish brothers who immigrated to Israel.   But one day, Azerbaijan will be so prosperous that they will ask to come back and we are waiting for this.”   He proclaimed: “I remember Baku in 1993.   It was a dark gloomy place.  There is nothing to compare it with the Baku of today.  People call it the Paris on the Caspian or Dubai on the Caspian.”   Sneh recalled that the late Heydar Aliyev, may his memory be a blessing, envisioned that Azerbaijan would reclaim the lands that it lost and that has since come into fruition: “It took a long time, but his vision came true.  Azerbaijan took its natural wealth and turned into a strength of treasure.”

Indeed, Azerbaijan is the wonderful country that it is today thanks to the legacy of Heydar Aliyev.  Turkish Ambassador to Israel Sakir Ozkan stated, “Heydar Aliyev was one of the great leaders of the twentieth century.   His ideas still enlighten those who study national relations and politics, not only in Azerbaijan but around the world.   May his soul rest in peace.”  



Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham is the CEO of the Dona Gracia Center for Diplomacy and the editor of the Economic Peace Center, which was established by Ayoob Kara, who served as Israel's Communication, Cyber and Satellite Minister. For close to a decade, she has been an Israel-based journalist, specializing in radical Islam, abuses of human rights and minority rights, counter-terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Azerbaijan, Syria, Iran, and other issues of importance. Avraham is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media," a ground-breaking book endorsed by Former Israel Consul General Yitzchak Ben Gad and Israeli Communications Minister Ayoob Kara that discusses how the media exploits the life stories of Palestinian female terrorists in order to justify wanton acts of violence. Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University. She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Maryland at College Park.