Envoy: Israel-Azerbaijan relationship can serve as model for global ties [PHOTO/VIDEO]
By Sabina Mammadli
The Israel-Azerbaijan relationship can serve as a model for regional and even global relations, Israeli Consul-General in Los Angeles Hillel Newman has said.
He made the remarks at an event hosted by the Consulates General of Azerbaijan and Israel, as well as the Valley Outreach Synagogue, in Los Angeles in early March 2022 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Azerbaijani-Israeli diplomatic relations.
“This relationship demonstrates that the conflicts today are not between religious or ethnic groups but between moderates and radicals. Azerbaijan and Israel are in the same camp of value-orientated moderates,” Hillel Newman noted.
Attended by over 300 guests, including Consuls General of various countries, elected officials, representatives of different ethnic and religious communities, journalists, and others, the celebration also included a discussion between Azerbaijan’s Consul General Nasimi Aghayev and Israel’s Consul General Hillel Newman.
The celebration, which drew over 300 guests, as well as elected officials, representatives of various ethnic and religious communities, journalists, and others, included a discussion between Azerbaijan's Consul General Nasimi Aghayev and Israel's Consul General Hillel Newman.
Aghayev spoke about Azerbaijan's long-standing traditions of interfaith harmony, inclusion, and multiculturalism in his remarks. Noting the centuries-long peaceful coexistence of Azerbaijani Muslims and Jews, the consul general stated that these historic ties provided a solid foundation for the emergence of close friendship and partnership between Azerbaijan and Israel since Azerbaijan's independence.
“For the past 30 years, Azerbaijan and Israel have successfully proved that Muslims and Jews can be friends and brothers, and can do wonders working together,” Aghayev noted.
Spiritual Leader of the Valley Outreach Synagogue Rabbi Ron-Li Paz stated that now more than ever, the example of the relationship between Azerbaijan, a Muslim-majority country in the Caucasus, and Israel, the Jewish homeland, is extraordinarily powerful now more than ever.
“It is an absolute thrill to host this celebration in our synagogue and to let the community as a whole know that even in darkened times there is good reason for optimism. All of us need to know that these friendships are possible and beneficial,” he added.
Associate Dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper recalled his first visit to Azerbaijan in 1972 and noted that even under the Soviet Union, Jews in Azerbaijan had the freedom to preserve their identity, culture, and religion, which was in stark contrast to many other places in the USSR. Rabbi Cooper expressed his deep appreciation for Azerbaijan's late National Leader Heydar Aliyev and President Ilham Aliyev for their leadership. He noted that the model of interfaith tolerance and multiculturalism has become even stronger in Azerbaijan since the collapse of the USSR.
The event also featured a video message from Israeli ambassador to Azerbaijan George Deek, a short film on Azerbaijan-Israel friendship, and a film highlighting a recent visit to Azerbaijan by Los Angeles faith leaders.
The celebration concluded with a mesmerizing performance of Azerbaijani and Israeli music by Azerbaijani musicians Emil Afrasiyab and Leyla Babayeva-Afrasiyab and Israeli musicians led by Liran Shalom Kohn.
It should be noted that Azerbaijani-Israeli cooperation is based not only on economic partnership but also on traditional historical and cultural roots, as well as mutual respect and trust. Furthermore, Israel was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan's state independence and establish diplomatic relations with the country.
Furthermore, Israel was among the first countries to express support for Azerbaijan's just position and territorial integrity during the 44-day second Karabakh war. In January 2021, Azerbaijan expressed its willingness to involve Israel in the restoration of the country's newly liberated territories. As a result, Israel will build a buffalo farm in the liberated Zangilan region of Azerbaijan.
Last year, Azerbaijan opened its first Trade and Tourism Representative Office in Israel.
The two countries' trade turnover totaled $818.3 million in the first 11 months of 2021.