The city center of Erbil, capital of Iraqi-Kurdistan..
(photo credit: LAURA KELLY)
The Jewish community of Iraqi Kurdistan now has an official representative in the government in Erbil, according to local Arabic media reports.
Several days ago, the Kurdistan Regional Government appointed Sherzad Omar Mamsani as the Jewish representative to the Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs.
According to the Arabi 21 website, there are more than four hundred Jewish families in the KRG controlled region, although The Jerusalem Post has been unable to independently verify that number.
The website also stated that while the government could not finance it, the Jewish community was free to restore synagogues in Kurdistan and that Mamsani would be involved in such efforts.
“We are Kurds and we are Jews, we number 730 families in the Kurdistan region. We do not seek in any way to convert people to our religion,” Mamsani was quoted as saying by Bas News.
“The objective of the establishment of this representation is to preserve the rights of Jews in the Kurdistan region, and participate in the peace and reconciliation process and religious coexistence,” he said.
Mamsani’s appointment was in line with a law passed by the Kurdish parliament calling for the establishment of such a position.
According to Ben-Zion Cassouto of the Israel Kurdistan NGO, “this is a welcome development, a Jewish voice in government.”
Asked about the development, acting Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara told the Post that while Iran may appoint Jewish representatives to show that they are not anti-Semitic while inveighing against Israel, Kurdistan is different.
“They see Jews as a way to make a covenant of minorities in the Middle East,” he explained.
“Kurds are not against Israel, they see in Israel a partner and they want to strengthen ties with Israel,” Kara said.
THE UN Security Council meets at UN Headquarters in New York last week. (Mike Segar/Reuters