Ksenia Svetlova is an Israeli Member of Parliament with a unique background and approach to the myriad of issues facing Israeli’s demographics and security. Part of her forward-oriented approach she says, is strengthening and reviving the historical relationship between Israel and the Kurdish People.
“I support Kurdish independence and believe that this long suffering nation has full right of self-determination,” said the 38-year old, first-term Member of Parliament
Ms. Svetlova says she’s already working with a few other members of Israel’s Knesset to further develop relations with the Kurds. “We are currently working on a project that would include academic exchange as well as cooperation in field of sports.” The corporation will also include a visit of different Kurdish representatives in the Knesset probably within the next two months, as Ms. Svetlova explained to ZÎV.
Prior to her election, she was a leading writer and a reporter on Arab Affairs, during which she visited places from Syria to Libya, and covered the Iraq War and published from Tahrir Square during the Egyptian Revolution. She also spent many years working in the Palestinian Territories.
- Do many Kurds live in Israel?
Many Jews of Kurdish origin have repatriated to Israel since the end of 19 century. I believe that there are tens of thousands of Kurdish Jews and their descendants living in Israel today, although it’s hard to receive exact numbers due to intermarriages with other Jewish communities.
I strongly believe that Israel should promote ties and good relations with Kurds in all parts in the Middle East. I studied the history of Kurdish people, engaged in talks with many of them and came to a conclusion that Kurds are the most natural allies and partners of Israel in the Middle East. There is a past of good co-existence between Jews and Kurds, as well as historical ties that go back to the sixties. As a member of the Israeli Knesset I established a parliamentary lobby for the promotion of relations between Israel and the Kurdish nation to raise awareness, and to establish connections between civil society in Israel and Kurdish organizations.
- Why is the Israeli relationship with Kurdistan government still in a very narrow level?
I believe that this question should be addressed to the Kurdish government, as well. It seems to me that both parties prefer the clandestine nature of relations for their particular reasons, not willing to sacrifice other diplomatic relations or own security. However, I believe that now it’s definitely time to warm up the relations and work
- How do you see your role in the Kurdish-Israeli relationship?
closely together against common enemies and to cooperate in fields of agriculture, high-tech and education for the benefit of both nations.
- In your opinion, what makes Israelis and Kurds so connected on political, social and historical levels?
Well, both Kurds and Jews are minorities in the Arab Middle East that experienced and still experience injustice, pain and threats. Both our nations descend from Abraham, there is hardly any religious extremism, the attitude toward women is very different from what is accustomed in the region, So there are many reasons that drive us one to another.
- Do you think increasing relationships between both governments will lead to positive steps toward the peace in Middle Eastern in general?
I think that the word “peace” is very remote from what the Middle East is today. There are many tectonic changes in the region that will play for many decades, some countries will fall, and others will be established. All we can do today is create strong bonds to fight together the evil forces that tear our region apart, help each other and strengthen each other, Hopefully in long term it will bring to some stabilization and perhaps even peace.
- How is Israel helping to defeat the terrorist organizations currently fighting the Kurds?
Israel is not involved in fighting in Syria, apart from cases when Israeli territory is threatened from Syrian territory. We have our own, quite serious internal challenges, and our security forces are busy 24-7 with preventing terror attacks against citizens – just in last 4 months there were 1194 attacks and attempts of such attacks! I believe, however, that, if any minority in Syria is threatened with genocide, Israel should intervene to prevent it.