San-Diego Jewish Journal has published an article headlined “In Defense of Peace and Hope”.
Written by Rabbi Israel N. Barouk, the article says: “As a Jewish people, there are few happy stories for us to share about our relationship with Muslim countries across the globe. It stands to reason that we would champion our allies, especially any Muslim ally, and hold them dear to our heart as we navigate these uncertain times.
There is a lesser known story that plays out today in our sunny state and California has a critical opportunity to champion a great Muslim ally in these tough times. As the story goes, how we treat our friends says everything about our values, and with the stakes of the world waiting on solutions that are deeply challenging to envision, this story has particular meaning.
Fewer still know the story of Jews in Azerbaijan. It’s almost impossible for some to understand that a Muslim nation directly neighboring Iran proactively protects and celebrates Jews, and has for more than 2,000 years. This reality evades almost every concept associated with the international scope of Jewish and Muslim relations. The Republic of Azerbaijan’s position on Jewry, both domestic and internationally, is unparalleled anywhere else in the world and a sliver of hope for what is possible everywhere.
A cooperative and compatible relationship between Jews, Muslims and Christians is an every-day reality in Azerbaijan. The Red City, home to the so-called Mountainous Jews, is one of the largest all-Jewish cities outside of Israel. Chabad boasts three synagogues across the Republic, and the head Chabad Rabbi of Azerbaijan has just applied for permanent citizenship. The juxtaposition of narratives is as outstanding as a rainbow at the end of a 40-day flood.
Azerbaijan represents hope for peace in the world and particularly in the Jewish world, both in terms of the future of Israel and the mindset that Jews rely upon for our most basic protection.
It is our responsibility to share this story, to capitalize on its potential, to hope that other nations will follow Azerbaijan’s lead and champion tolerance above adversity. I believe that any hope for a nonviolent future in Israel relies on using the model of what has been done in Azerbaijan elsewhere around the world.”