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Sandro Rosell
FC Barcelona President
Saturday, October 21, 2017

Involved in the turbulence and turmoil in the Middle East is the question of independence for the Kurdish people of that region. Not many of us are familiar with the history of this ethnic group, the Kurds. They live in a mountainous area where the borders of Iraq, Iran and Turkey meet. For most of their history Kurds have been a part of the Persian and Ottoman empires. Persia eventually became Iran and the Ottoman Empire, modern Turkey. Throw into this pot of craziness is that Kurds exist as well in Syria and yearn for their own state against the wishes of not only the above named nations but the United States as well. Enough said then, about them being in a bubble of chaos.

After dreaming for independence for years, the Kurds in Iraq have a non-binding referendum set for September 25th. The vote to endorse a separate, self governing state might lead to increased military conflict with the war against ISIS now ongoing. But we think that independence should be the next step for the five million Iraqi Kurds, who after the 1991 Gulf War claimed their own semi-autonomous region at that time. However, to add to the problems of independence is the fact that many Kurds desire to merge the whole community, 30 million of their people across Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran into a single entity. This scares the you know what out of the nations in which the Kurds now live.

The present Kurdistan regional government today is by no means perfect. Its politics are still dominated by separate familial factions that go back many years. But as compared to its neighbors, the Kurdistan regional government is not terrorist supporting, they have fought bravely and valiantly alongside the U.S. against ISIS, they do not burn the American flag and they are not part of the Muslim fanaticism that has terrorized the rest of the world. In fact, Israel supports the establishment of a Kurdish state. Israel has maintained discreet military, intelligence and business ties with the Kurds for nearly 50 years.

Israel considers them a buffer against shared Arab adversaries. And Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu recently stated, "Israel supports the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state." His endorsement carries clout in Washington where many of our own leaders are fearful of upsetting the present already toppled over apple cart. We at the New York Jewish Voice agree with Bibi that this people, a peaceful group shunned and abused by their more radical Muslim neighbors deserve the right to govern and rule themselves. And they are doing it not with suicide bombers or threats of terrorism. They are utilizing the votes of its people in an open, fair election. How novel in that region. We wish them well. And we pray that their methodology of democracy will catch on in that crazy quilt region of messed up nations.