Israel and the United States have a little-known ally in an equally little-known region of the world – Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijan stands as a friend of the United States and a friend of Israel in a very difficult neighborhood,” said Elin Suleymanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the United States. Suleymanov was the guest speaker at a lunch meeting of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago on Nov. 21.
Azerbaijan, which gained independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, is a secular-run country bordering Iran and Russia with a majority population of Shia Muslims. It has also supported a longstanding Jewish community, today numbering about 20,000. Suleymanov said that Ashkenazi Jews live in major urban centers such as the capital, Baku, and a Sephardic community has existed in Quba since before record.
Dan Mariaschin, Executive Vice President of B’nai B’rith, which has long worked closely with Suleymanov and Azerbaijan, introduced the ambassador and later said that the American Jewish community has long seen the country as a potential friend in the Middle East, as it was one of few safe havens for Soviet Jews...more.