Knesset Committee Chairman to Azeris: There Never Was Anti-Semitism in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan Photo Credit: Francisco Anzola

The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, headed by MK Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), on Wednesday hosted a delegation of the Azeri National Assembly’s International and Inter-Parliamentary Relations Committee, and Hanegbi welcomed the guests and stressed that the Jewish community in Azerbaijan has never suffered from any displays of anti-Semitism.

Azerbaijan is home to some 12,000 Mountain Jews, the descendants of Persian Jews who have been living there for close to 1,500 years. In 1730 Jews were officially allowed to settle and own property in Azerbaijan. There are some 5,000 Ashkenazi Jews living mostly in Baku. The first Jewish Agency school in the Soviet Union was opened in 1982 in Baku, then capital of the Soviet Socialist Republic of Azerbaijan.

Hanegbi also mentioned the warm relations between Israel and Azerbaijan, which he said are based on a long-standing, brave friendship. He also noted the cooperation between the two countries in many fields, and said Israel and Azerbaijan face similar, and even common challenges.

In 1991, Israel was the second country, after Turkey, to recognize independent Azerbaijan.

In 2012, it was reported that Israel had been granted access to air bases in Azerbaijan through a “series of quiet political and military understandings.” It was also reported that Azerbaijan and Israel jointly examined the use of Azeri air bases and spy drones to help Israeli jets perform a long-range strike on Iran.