Kurdish Parliament. File photo

ARA News 

ERBIL – The Kurdistan Region of Iraq has now an official representative for the Jewish community in the government in Erbil, media sources reported.

“KRG has appointed Sherzad Omar Mamsani as the Jewish representative to the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs in Iraqi Kurdistan,” a Kurdish official told reporters in Erbil.

Mamsani said in statement: “We are Kurds and we are Jews. There are more than 730 Jewish families in the Kurdistan Region.” 

He pointed out that his aim of this representation is to preserve the rights of Jews in the Kurdistan Region, “and participate in the peace efforts and reconciliation process to enhance religious coexistence in the region”. 

Mamsani’s appointment comes after a new law was passed by the Kurdistan Parliament on the inclusion of all minorities residing the region.

“The Jewish voice in government is a welcomed step,” Ben-Zion Cassouto of the Israel Kurdistan NGO reported.

“Iran may appoint Jewish representatives too in a bit to show they are not anti-Semitic, but Kurdistan’s policy is different in this regard,” the Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara told reporters in Erbil.

“Iranian authorities see Jews as bolstering what is called ‘covenant of minorities’ in the Middle East,” he argued.

“Kurds consider Israel a partner and they want to strengthen ties with it.”

The Jewish community in Mesopotamia (current Iraq) is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to the Babylonian conquest of the southern tribes of Israel –mostly the tribe of Judah– in 586 BCE.

There were times when Jews flourished in Babylon, producing the Babylonian Talmud there between the years 500 and 700 BCE.

During a vista to Kuwait in May 2006, the President of Iraqi Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani told a press conference on the Kurdish-Israeli relationship: “It is not a crime to have relations with Israel. If Baghdad established diplomatic relations with Israel, we could open an Israeli consulate in Erbil.”

In June 2014, the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has expressed support for a Kurdish statehood, claiming the creation of a Kurdish state would help build an alliance of moderate powers in the Middle East. 

Reporting by: Kawa Yousef

Source: ARA News

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