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Excerpts from Featured post published in The Times of Israel: ‘Genocide in Kurdistan: If I could, I’d fight alongside them’

After the American invasion of Iraq, the Kurds set up a semi-autonomous republic in the north of the country. They officially acknowledge the Armenian Genocide. They promote Syriac, the Aramaic dialect used by Assyrian Christians, as a twin official language. They forged friendship with Israel and opened their arms to the huge, vital Kurdish Jewish diaspora. They and their compatriots in Syria bore the brunt of the fighting and dying to defeat the hideous cancer of ISIS/Daesh. Iraqi Kurdistan is a prosperous, democratic, decent society where women don’t have to be veiled if they so choose. It has good colleges. It is what a healthy, happy Middle East can and should be.

And now the mercurial, erratic Mr. Trump, with all the care and forethought of a tweet (it’s not for nothing that English has the idiom “bird brain”), has withdrawn US forces from the border areas of Syria and abandoned America’s decent, democratic, pluralistic, secular ally to the tender mercies of the Islamic Brotherhood’s tin pot tyrant in Turkey, Erdogan. Yesterday the Turkish air force attacked Kurdish cities and towns across Syria, bombing civilians. Today, as I write, tens of thousands of Kurdish families are fleeing as their homes burn. Various world leaders sit on their hands and express polite distress, and the US administration is as usual in confused disarray as America lets down an ally once again. The Iran and the US supported the Iraqi Kurds once upon a time, when the two powers were allies— but the Shah and Kissinger let them down. So it’s nothing new. Betrayal is as old as the Crucifixion.

Kurdistan, abandoned again, faces genocide at the hands of a murderous, practised, unrestrained enemy. If I were a younger man I’d go and fight alongside them. My Dad, who is 92, had the honor to serve in the United States Navy in the Second World War. I’ve not had the chance to bear arms against fascism. And no, the pen is not mightier than the sword — this will be buried among the many other verbose blogs of the Times of Israel’s armchair jeremiahs. But the Turkish invasion of Kurdistan did happen on a particular day, Yom Kippur, when the Master of the Universe renders judgment upon His creation. If nobody else listens, He will. Ana Adonai hoshi’a na! Please, O Lord, please save us. And as Americans used to say, Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. God bless the defenders of free Kurdistan.

Read the full article on The Times of Israel

James R. Russell is Mashtots Professor of Armenian Studies at Harvard University (semi-retired), Distinguished Visiting Professor of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a part-time Lecturer in Jewish Studies and Biblical Hebrew at California State University, Fresno. He is on the Editorial Board of the journal Judaica Petropolitana, St. Petersburg State University, and a founding member of the International Association for Jewish Studies, chartered in the Russian Federation. His PhD is in Zoroastrian Studies, from the School of Oriental Studies of the University of London; and he taught Ancient Iranian languages and religions at Columbia University from 1982-1992.