Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



50 Miles from ISIS

Ari Greenspan and Ari Z. Zivotofsky

Of course we got raised eyebrows as we boarded a plane to Iraq, yet Kurdistan proved to be a welcoming, friendly place where our yarmulkes elicited comments such as “We love Jews.” We wanted to know what remained of an ancient Jewish community that fled to safer shores in the last century: We discovered a lot of ignorance, but an equal amount of Jewish pride.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We’ve searched for Jews and examined remnants of communities all over the globe — but to travel to Iraq? With some of its territory overrun by ISIS and in the throes of civil bloodbaths, that was one place we never imagined we’d get to, at least in this decade. Yet several months ago when we heard that the government of Kurdistan — a semiautonomous region in northern Iraq — had appointed a Jewish affairs representative, we just had to go and see for ourselves. We decided to be his guests. For those of us living in the West, Iraq conjures images of perpetual war and incessant terror attacks. There was Saddam Hussein, the Iraq-Iran war, the US-led invasion of Iraq, as well as the subsequent power vacuum and the lightning-fast emergence of the deadly ISIS. Yet our back-channel investigations and research with various security organizations told us that safety in Kurdistan — even wearing our kippot publicly — was not a concern despite it being in Iraq. Well, even if walking the Kurdish streets was safe, we still had to decide to either fly viaJordan and over ISIS-controlled areas or via Turkey. Despite the decades-long tensions between Turkey and Kurdistan — last year alone Turkey killed more than 3,000 Kurds and the Kurdistan Workers Party or PKK is viewed as a terrorist organization engaged in an ongoing militant struggle for an independent Kurdistan on Turkish soil — Turkish Air still flies there frequently, and so we set off from Tel Aviv to Istanbul.

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you