The hypocrisy of Israel’s alliance with the Kurds

Israel’s solidarity with the Kurds is duplicitous, not only because it also arms one of the Kurdish people’s biggest oppressors, but also because it supports their independence while denying millions of Palestinians that same right.

Some 200 Israelis march from the Turkish embassy to the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv, on October 15, 2019, in support of the Kurdish militants and against Turkey’s incursion into Syria.

Sahar Vardi writes in +972 Magazine:

Messages of solidarity and support for the Kurdish people have dominated Israeli discourse since Turkey’s invasion of Rojava in northern Syria last week. A day after Turkey launched its attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote on Twitter: “Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.”

For decades, Israeli politicians have echoed this relationship between the Jewish and Kurdish people. The dominant Israeli narrative presents a seemingly strong political and moral partnership with the Kurds. A closer look, however, shows that Israel’s alliance is one of pure convenience.

Throughout the 2000s, Israel militarily supported Kurdish forces, including training in Syria and Iraq. Around the same time, it sold 170 M60T tanks, worth $688 million, to Turkey, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Arms Transfers Database.The year this sale was announced — 2002 — was the same year that then-Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit outlawed classes in the Kurdish language at schools and universities across the country. More than 100 Kurds were arrested for protesting against this change. Also that year, Turkey’s broadcasting watchdog banned a pro-Kurdish television station for a year, and the EU added the PKK — the Kurdish separatist party that has been fighting an armed insurgency against Turkey since the early 80s — to its list of black-listed terrorist organizations at Turkey’s request. All with no criticism from Israel.

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