U.S based The Jewish Press newspaper has published an article on national leader of Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev titled "Heydar Aliyev and the meaning of leadership".
Written by a musmach of Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary Rabbi Simcha Green, the article says: "Those who doubt that Islam and Judaism can live together peacefully and productively need only look at the small but important secular Muslim country of Azerbaijan.
In Azerbaijan there is not only peaceful coexistence between these two faiths but a strong appreciation and recognition of the human values that are at the core of their two major texts of study and life.
Today we stand at a precipice of significant change in our world.
Yet in the midst of all this, we know true leaders can make a certain definitive impact, bringing to the world changes so profound they become known as the shapers of history.
Great leaders tend to share that quality of bold creativity, along with great vision and an altruistic streak that enables them to work for the greater good of their countries rather than their own self-aggrandizement.
In that most troubled part of the world we call the Middle East, finding selfless, compassionate, and forward-looking leaders is a difficult proposition. Israel has known such leadership.
In my search for another country in the region about which one could say the same thing, I found Azerbaijan – one of Israel's strongest allies and a friend of the United States, situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia and bounded by Russian to the north, Iran to the south, and Turkey in the northwest.
The founder of the modern Republic of Azerbaijan was Heydar Aliyev (1923-2003), who transitioned over the decades from KGB official to fighter against corruption to moderate leader of a newly independent state.
As the head of a Muslim nation who created profound opportunities for Jewish and Muslim harmony, he served as a meaningful example of the kind of leadership we desperately need.
Azerbaijan has in recent years become widely known as a haven for people of all faiths and a model for what Muslim nations across the world should and can be. Thanks to Aliyev's vision, Azerbaijan is a nation committed to policies of intercultural and interfaith tolerance and acceptance – policies that have made Azerbaijan unique in the Muslim world and helped forge its close relationship with Israel.
There are precious few Muslim leaders who have been willing to open up their countries and build a cultural norm around the principles of understanding and peace.
Heydar Aliyev was one such man".
The author quotes the words by the consul general of Azerbaijan in Los Angeles Nasimi Agayev: "I remember how Heydar Aliyev was able to shield Azerbaijan from total fragmentation and destruction with his capability to make wise and courageous decisions, which vividly reflected his enormous experience, but also strong devotion to his country".
"Overcoming many internal and external challenges, he launched the era of transformation of Azerbaijan from a war-torn country to one of the most rapidly developing and modernizing countries. With his astute leadership, he captured our imagination and led the entire nation toward a common goal – prosperity, peace, and harmony."
Because of Aliyev's willingness to take risks, Azerbaijan today embodies values that are strong, healthy, and sustainable.
As the Middle East is buffeted by the storms of religious and ethnic intolerance, we need to tap into the hope and heroism of Israel's founding fathers and forward-looking leaders such as Heydar Aliyev".