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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Kurdish students in Iraq push for relations with Israel

Kurdish students: 'We should have the same relations with Israel'
Kurdish students: ‘We should have the same relations with Israel’

In University of Kurdistan, students debate whether to forge diplomatic ties with Israel. Debate judge tells Ynet ‘arguments focused on historical connection between Jews, Kurds, says believes can have ‘fruitful ties’

“Should Iraqi Kurdistan have open diplomatic relations with Israel?” Students in the University of Kurdistan think the answer is yes, at least that is the position that won during an unusual debate held in the university in Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
More than 200 students from all of the university’s faculties showed up to take part. In the event, two teams numbering three people each faced off in front of a judges’ panel.
Susan Mandelvey, head of the university’s public relations and one of the members of the judges’ panel spoke to Ynet and said: “We see ourselves as an institution in which people can openly express their opinions.”
At the end of the debate, the judges’ panel decided that the team arguing for relations with Israel was victorious, and afterwards the audience echoed their decision vehemently voting in favor for relations with the Jewish state.
Another judge in the Erbil debate said: “The arguments of the winning team focused on the historic relations between Jews and Kurds. I also believe that we can have good and fruitful relations with Israel.”
Nonetheless, she diplomatically evaded giving further details on the character of those relations when pressed for an answer, saying “because I judged the debate I am barred from fully stating my own opinion. I need to remain neutral.”
Iraqi Kurdistan was formed in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. Its formation was further spurred by the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Iraqi Kurds, who number around five million, enjoy the highest level of autonomy of the entire 30 million strong Kurdish population spread world wide, located mostly in Iran, Syria and Turkey.
In wake of Kurdish aspirations and independent identity, tension between the central regime in Baghdad and Masoud Barzani, Iraqi Kurdistan’s regional government president since 2005, have become common.