An air raid by the Turkish Air Force against a group that had crossed the border with Iraq to engage in smuggling and was returning to Turkey killed 35 men, including 17 adolescents, another was wounded and two escaped unscathed. This occurred near Gulyazi (Bujeh) and Orlasu (Roboski) villages of the Uludere (Qileban) district of Sirnak Province on 28 December 2011 between 9.30 and 10.30 p.m.
The Army at first claimed that they were a group of PKK fighters: “The area in which the events occurred is that of Sinat-Haftanin, in Northern Iraq, which has no civilian population and in which are located bases of the terrorist organisation”, i.e. the PKK stated the Armed Forces General Staff, adding that drones had indicated “movements towards the borders“.
However, it was soon established that the victims were all inhabitants of the neighbouring villages, mainly from Roboski, who were crossing the border with a loaded mule train. Most of them were youths between the ages of 12 and 20.
Embarrassed, the Turkish Government delayed speaking out while pictures of the blood-soaked bodies and the weeping villagers carrying them home on donkeys without any aid, civil or military were shown on all Kurdish and later international media. The initial statements admitting a blunder came from the AKP party spokesman not from the government.
“According to the first news we have received, these people who were attacked were smugglers, not terrorists”, declared Huseyin Celik, AKP Vice-President, in Ankara. “I wish to express our consternation and sadness at the death at the death of 35 of our citizens. If a mistake or a blunder has been made, be assured the matter will not be covered up. Turkey is a State of Law”.
Selaattin Dermirtas, leader of the Kurdish Party for Peace and Democracy (BDP), immediately denounced a it as a “massacre” and the BDP organised a demonstration that rallied 2,000 people in Istanbul and ended up with clashes between young Kurds and the police.
In the end, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan recognised that it was a “mistake” by the Armed Forces and offered “his regrets” to the victims’ families. Nevertheless, no representative of the government, the Sirnak Province administration, or the Army was present at the funeral. However, present were the mayor of Diyarbekir, Osman Baydemir, the mayors of other districts and provinces, the President of the BDP, Selahattin Demirta?, the Party’s Vice President, the Member of Parliament for Sirnak, Hatip Kaplan, and other BDP M.P.s, the independent M.P. Ahmet Turk, and the CHP M.P. for Istanbul Sezgin Tanrikulu.
A Commission of Enquiry consisting of several Turkish and Kurdish NGOs, Including the IHD, MAZLUMDER, the Confederation Civil Servants’ Unions (KESK), the Turkish Medical Association (TTB). The Foundation for Human Rights in Turkey (HRFT), the Association of Modern Advocates, the Assembly for Peace in Turkey and the General Union of Workers Unions (DISK Genel Ish) very rapidly paid an onsite visit to question the families and the survivors, firstly at the Uludere Hospital where the bodies were stored and then in the villages at the time of the funerals at Bujeh and Roboski.
“On 28 December 2011 at 4 p.m. we crossed the Iraqi border with a group of 40 or 50 people and the same number of mules to bring back petrol and food. We did not inform the gendarmerie HQ, deliberately, but they already knew that we used to come and go. Our aim was to bring back petrol and sugar. In fact, while on the way, we heard the sound of drones but we continued as usual. At 7 p.m. we started back, having loaded our mules. At 9 p.m. we were close to the border. We had reached the plateau on which our village stood. At first there were flares and then bombs fell. We left the loads on the other side of the border. Immediately after the planes arrived and started bombing
We were in two groups. There were about 300 – 400 metres between the first group and the second. Immediately after, there was a volley from the planes. There was no other way to cross the border because the soldiers were occupying our plateau. It was the first air bombardment that annihilated the group of about 20 who were right on the border. Immediately after we fled. The bombs continued to rain down on those who were hiding between the rocks.
The group I was with consisted of 6 people, 3 of whom survived. We were dressed in civilian cloths, no one was armed. Two of us entered a little stream with 3 mules. After waiting an hour we hid under a rock, we could not find out anything about our friends. Somewhere round 11 or 11.30 we knew the villagers were coming because of the lights and noise. The soldiers began to leave the plateau that they were occupying when the villagers began screaming.
We have been doing this kind or work for a long time. Two of us were married, the others students or schoolboys. No one has summoned me to give evidence. I didn’t see any soldiers after these events. The other survivors were Davut (22 years old) and Servet Encu (wounded and in Sirnak hospital)”.
Servet Encü, questioned on 30 December after the funerals, confirmed his comrade's words: on
“Our fathers and grandfathers also followed this trade (smuggling). We also do it. There's no factory here. We earn our living by this work. Everyone in this village, along this border, follows this trade. On the night of this incident, 7 or 8 people from each of 2 or 3 villages were doing this, which adds up to almost 40 people, went about 2 kilometres over the border. There we bought petrol, sugar and foodstuff from the Iraqis. We did not go to Haftanin or Sinat. On our way back the soldiers stopped us. They do this every time but they always allow us to cross. This time they did no. They made us wait on the border. And, in the end, they bombed us. 37 people, including students and schoolboys aged 10 to 20 were slaughtered for a job that earned them 50, 60 or 100 Turkish lira (100 lira = 42.5 euros). Salem Encu, one of those killed, was an engineering student. Sivan was 15 years old, Orhan 10, Mehmet 11. None were PKK members — the PKK does not go in for smuggling petrol with 40 or 50 mules. The soldiers stopped us at the border and didn’t say a word to us. No military officials or officers came to help us after the incident. Following the bombing several of the wounded froze to death on the ground because no one came to help them. We are 3 survivors out of 38. They couldn’t see me because I had hidden myself under the snow.
In the past, the soldiers stopped us for a moment then allowed us to cross. This time they didn’t but surrounded us. The soldiers left in their cars as soon as the bombing began. If I had not survived the bodies could have lain there 2 or 3 days. We were in 3 distinct groups — one on the border and two far from it. We thought we could cross leaving our loads behind when they stopped us.
After the bombing I walked about 100 metres and phoned for help. After 2 -3 hours they came to save us. No soldier or anyone from any official authority came — just our own people. We had left the village at 5 p.m. and were back at the border at 9.30. At 9.40 we were bombed
The first group told us that the soldiers had taken some measures. We thought we could leave our goods and cross the border because of the cold. We stayed where we were. While waiting to see if the soldiers would let us cross or if we would have to find another way to cross, we were bombed as two separate groups. We were bombed separately, 4 planes came and bombed us for over an hour. The explosions blew me up until the air and then I fell and found myself covered in snow.
We were working the way we have always done. Till now, there were never any clashes on the way. Until today when the soldiers caught us they killed our mules and burnt the saddles and the goods we were carrying. This time they fired at us. I saw some wounded dying losing all their blood and neither the security forces or any ambulance came”.
The villagers quickly expressed suspicion that it was a premeditated attack. One of them, who preferred not to be named, said:
“Two days before the incident there was a clash on the crossroads on the Ukudere highway. The soldiers told friends from who used to buy the goods we brought over the border for sale in their shops: Tonight will be the last time. You will no longer be able to do this work again.”
As for the Roboski village headman, he denies that the soldiers could possibly mistake smugglers for the PKK:
“We have been doing cross-border trade on this route, that is to say this trade, ever since the English drew the border. The soldiers and State officials know that we engage in smuggling. I think that this incident was initiated by a movement like Ergenekon or Balyoz because it occurs just after Bulent Arinç said that they aught to give rights to the Kurds. Moreover, all the villages here voted BDP (the Kurdish party). I think this is why this incident occurred. This region is not on the route used by the PKK because, round here, the Iraqi land is flat. It is impossible to make surprise attacks on Turkey round here. Anyone coming this way would be seen by the Turkish troops. Hitherto there have never boon any clashes along this route. In general, during such an operation, the village heads and the temporary village guards are warned so that they can prevent smugglers from coming and going in this region.”
A list of several victims, the youngest and the objectives of their smuggling was drawn up by the brother of one of them, Welat Encu, and sent to several newspapers (source http://yollar.blog.lemonde.fr/).
Serhat Encü, 17 year old, wanted to sent money to two of his older brothers, who were students, since their father was too old to work and so unable to finance their studies.
Cemal Encu, 16 years, in his last year at secondary school wanted to pay the tuition and canteen charges at his school.
Amza Encu ,21, had just finished his military service and wanted to provide financial support for the family.
Seraffettin Encu, 16 years, in his last year in a secondary school, whose mother had died, wanted to earn his own pocket money
Bedran Encü, 14, lower secondary schoolboy. As the eldest of his brothers he had been told by his father to help look after his younger brothers.
Sivan Encü, 16, since his father had left home he wanted to help his mother, left alone.
Aslan Encü, 17, his brother having been injured by a mine sic years earlier, wanted to help pay for his treatment, since the father was too old to work.
Calal Encü, 18, did not want, “out of pride” to receive pocket money from his father or older brothers.
Hüseyin Encü, 19, was the eldest son of the family and due to leave to do his military service. His father had debts and Huseyin wanted to help repay them.
Selam Encü, 22, had just completed a university course. He needed to sit a final examination and needed to finance the journey there.
Fadil Encü, 19, was the eldest and wanted to look after his brothers on this expedition.
Apart from the Kurdish and international press, the Turkish media barely reacted to these events, the most nationalist views, as expressed by Devlet Bahçeli, of the MHP (Nationalist Action Party) considering that these blunders were better that having terrorists at large.
One of the few Turkish newspapers to express indignation a publically to take the Prime Minister to task was Taraf, with a virulent editorial by its chief editor, Ahmet altan:
“If you set about running a State for ten years without first cleaning it of its poisons, if you turn your back on you people so as to climb to its highest ranks, if you become an accomplice of this State, its poison will end up by running through your veins. You will become poisoned. You will become someone corrupted by a diseased State. You will then start to threaten, to lie, to evade and to slander. Then, when the State that you are running bombs the people at your orders, you will defend the State. You will not even make excuses.
Under your rule, the State has torn to pieces 35 children of this country. Either the State that you manage has set you a trap or you knowingly had them killed. Which? We thought at first that you had been trapped, but, by preferring to defend those who carried out the bombing, to hid the truth from your people, to falsify the facts you have shown us that you had not been misled. So think about the children killed, instead of getting steamed up saying that the State has not bombed it people.
Who gave the order to kill? Why? You say you were briefed by your Brigadier General — did it ever occur to your Brigadier General to ask the local barracks whether there were any smugglers in the area? If not — why not? Why did he not take any measures before stating the air raid? Did you ask your Brigadier General that?
When you took office you were a man of the people, you rose up against the intrigues of the State, you spoke to your people, you asked its advice, you brought the State’s crimes to light. Now that you have become a sycophant of this State you only talk to your agents, your generals your Brigadier (…) Explain to us why you killed these children. Why you didn’t even apologise (…) If these deaths had been Turks would you have spoken the way you did? You spoke that way because you considered the Army to be superior to the civilians, the Turks superior to the Kurds. Shame on you, look at yourself — you, who were your people’s hero have become the State’s plaything (…) Was it worth while to humiliate yourself this way to gain access to the Presidential Palace? To swallow the State\s poison? You see — you have ended up by being poisoned too”. (blog http://sami-kilic.blogspot.com/)
On 19 December, just as the US troops had finished completely withdrawing from Iraq, three of the bodybuards of one of the two Iraqi Vice Presidents, Tariq al-Hashimi, were arrested and accused of terrorist activities. On the same day, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki demanded that another Sunni Arab political leader, Saleh al-Mutlak, his assistant, be stripped of office while al-Hashimi and the rest of his bodyguards were forbidden to leave the country.
The Baghdad Security forces spokesman, General Qassim Atta, said that the night before, Tariq al-Hashimi had been intercepted as he was preparing to take a plane for the Kurdish city of Suleimaniah to meet President Jalal Talabani. His private car was confiscated by the secret services of the Iraqi Defence Ministry. The Vice President was only able to take his flight thanks to the personal thanks to the personal intervention of Jalal Talabani.
The Iraqi Security services suspect Taeiq al-Hashimi of having master minded the car bomb attack against the Parliament last November that had caused one death and wounded three other members of Parliament, including a Kurd.
These two politicians are members of the Parliamentary block that rivals Maliiki’s, the al-Iraqiya block, whose 82 members of parliament have just ended a boycott of the Iraqi Parliament in protest at the Prime Minister’s “monopolisation of power”. Saleh al-Mutlak, several times accused by his critics of secretly supporting the former Baath Party, has retorted over his Television channel, Babiliyah, that Nuri al-Maliki was “worse than Saddam Hussein”.
The latter has unceasingly affirmed his determination to carry the judicial process through to the end and has indicated, through his spokesman, that no “mediation” (probably Kurdish) would dissuade him from arresting the Vice President and that his gave him 48 hours in which to prove the innocence of his bodyguards.
The “confessions” of Tariq al-Hashimi’s bodyguards, broadcast in some TV channels, are attacked by the Sunni Arab camp as a frame-up cooked up by the Shiite Prime Minister to bring down his powerful al-Iraqiyah rivals who were boycotting Parliament and the coalition government. As for the accused, he let it be known, in a Press conference given in Irbil, that he was “ready to be tried” on condition that his trial took place in Iraqi Kurdistan, where he had found asylum, and not in Iraq itself now dominated by the Shiites.
In addition to having his case transferred to Kurdistan, Tariq al-Hashimi also demanded that representatives of the Arab League be present to supervise the lawfulness of the enquiry and the interrogations.
Nuri al-Maliki’s counterattack was not slow in coming. On 21 December, he day after al-Hashimi’s press conference, he called on the Kurdistan Regional Government to hand the Sunni Arab Vice-President over to the Iraqi courts, rejecting any allowing the Arab League any role in this case that he described as “criminal”.
As the last convoy of US troops was leaving Iraq, the US Government, faced with this unexpected crisis, expressed its “anxiety over the developments” and urged “all parties to work peacefully to resolve their differences by dialogue in a manner that respected the State of Laws and of democratic political procedure”.
Following al-Hashimi’s “flight” to Kurdistan it is now Massud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region, rather than Jalal Talabani, President of Iraq, who finds himself in a key position in this mediation, since it is under his “protection” that Tariq al-Hashimi has placed himself b demanding to be tied in Irbil, a fact of which Nuri al-Malilki was fully aware in demanding that the Kurds “face up to their responsibilities” by handing the Vice President over to him. Similarly, the United States, which now has only a diplomatic presence in Iraq, needs, more than ever, the Kurds as mediators between the Iraqi Sunnis and Shiites.
Massud Barzani rapidly made a call for dialogue and appeasement by proposing that a “national conference” be held to resolve the political crisis and avoid any worsening of the conflicts. However, Nuri al-Maliki rejected this proposal, judging it “inappropriate” and his spokesman, Ali al-Mussawi, even described as “insulting” to the relatives of the victims of the bomb attack this proposal of a general conference between Iraqi politicians.
For his part, al-Hashimi’s spokesman, Maysun al-Damaluji, affirmed that the Vice President would prove his innocence, adding that the whole case was just a “political ploy” by al-Maliki.
The very tense relations between al-Maliki and the Kurdish government had, nevertheless seen the start of a compromise since the Prime Minister had committed himself, in writing, to a partnership in the political management of Iraq and to working for anew agreement on the management of Kurdish oil revenue. However, the refusal of the Kurds to hand Tariq al-Hashimi over to the Shiites has only embittered relations between Irbil and Baghdad. On 23 December, Fuad Hussein, principal secretary of the Kurdish Presidency, made it perfectly clear that Kurdistan would not send Tariq al-Hashimi (who he described as a “guest”) back to Baghdad adding: “We are ready to organise a regular trial for Hashimi in the Kurdistan Region is the Iraqi judicial authorities accept”.
Seconding the Kurds in their attempts to calm down the situation, the Americans also insist on the resumption of dialogue between the rival camps. According to the Arabic TV channel al-Hurra, Joe Biden, the US Vice President, appealed personally to al-Maliki to this effect — with no apparent success. He also telephoned Kurdistan President Massud Barzani, to discuss the situation and to reiterate US support for a process of dialogue between the Iraqi leaders.
The first effects of this trial of strength? A few days later, there was a series of bomb attacks in Baghdad, especially in Shiite areas, resulting in almost 50 deaths and nearly 200 injured, which raised fear of a renewal of civil war in Iraq now that there are no US troops on the spot.
On 26 December it was the turn of the al-Iraqiya parliamentary Group to reject the Council of Minister’s invitation to those political leaders still in Baghdad to a meeting to resolve the crisis. The reason for this refusal— the fact that the Sunni members of parliament had been summoned by the government and not by the Shiite M.P.s of the al-Dawa list: “we are not servants of the government”, was the way one of the al-Iraqiya M.P.s summed up the situation.
To cap it all, the cleric al-Sadr’s party called for early elections, a call taken up by Masud Barzani as a means of unfreezing the situation, at least at political level. Speaking on Al-jazeera, the Kurdistan President considered that Iraq was going through the most dangerous crisis since the fall of the old regime, and that federalism was the only solution for Iraq’s survival as increasing numbers of Sunni Arab voices are being raised to demand a status equal to that enjoyed by the Kurds in 3 provinces.
Suddenly barging in on this conflict, Turkey, which is more than ever pursuing an interventionist policy in the Middle East, announced, on 26 December, that it “would not be opposed” to Tariq al-Hashimi´s coming to Turkey — an announcement that, so far, has had little success, even on the Sunni side.
However, it is probable that Erdogan’s government is carefully watching the increase of power that this situation is giving Iraqi Kurdistan, which is renewing its position as “kingmaker” that had been somewhat reduced by al-Maliki’s increasing authoritarianism and the concentration of power in his hands, as Gala Riani, an analyst with HIS Global Insight, has noted. Moreover, support from the US, which expects their help in resolving the crisis, is enabling them to reinforce their demands on the Baghdad authorities at the same time as ending the crisis as arbitrator.
On 3 December, a riot suddenly broke out in Zakho after an imam had condemned the `alcohol shops” and “Chinese massage centres” in the course of his Friday sermon. On leaving the mosque, a group of agitators called for the destruction of these shops and started to burn down the booths selling alcoholic drinks — a trade mainly practiced by Christians and Yezidis. A massage centre and four hotels were also targeted.
Caught short, the security forces nevertheless kept their heads, thus avoiding a repetition of the mistakes made in Suleimaniah, last spring, when shots were exchanged between the police and demonstrators. Those quarters hit by rioting and pillage were contained, most of the injuries were the suffered by the police and there were no deaths.
Very quickly, the pictures broadcast on the web from mobile telephones often belonging to the rioters themselves, showed a most diverse crowd, in which alongside adults shouting religious slogans, one could be seen some very young boys taking advantage of the situation to help themselves to the alcoholic drinks — which raised doubts as to their religious fervour.
In the evening the attacks moved on to the town of Sumaili, 15 Km from Duhok, where 200 Christian families live and the village of Shiuz (180 Christian families) and the town of Deraluk where the police finally moved in.
In the opinion of most of the media, it was more a riot against the two parties in power, the KDP and PUK, for social and political reasons than religious ones, even if small Islamist groups do regularly demand that the government forbid the sale of alcoholic drinks.
The reaction was immediate and aimed at several offices of the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU), immediately accused by members and sympathisers of the KDP, and several members and leaders of the Islamist party were arrested. The KIU had several of its premises in Zakho, Duhok, Simel and Irbil burnt out in “reprisal” by an angry crowd. It then published a communiqué condemning both the riots in Zakho (which it denied having instigated) and the attacks on its premises.
The Minister for the interior, in the course of the evening, published a communiqué condemning all the acts of violence committed and promising that they would be the objects of legal proceedings. The next day the President of Kurdistan, Masud Barzani, visited Zakho and condemned the previous days disturbances that he considered had been “premeditated”.
“I condemn these illegal acts and call on the people of the Kurdistan Region to preserve our traditions of religious and ethnic coexistence. I have ordered that a Commission be created to conduct enquiries into these disturbances so that those responsible be brought before the courts.”
“Protecting harmony between the Kurdish communities is not just the responsibility of the Government of Kurdistan — it is the responsibility of all of us. We will not allow anyone to threaten this harmony”, stated, for his part, the Duhok Police Chief, Ahmed Doski.
On 4 December it was feared that the riots might spread to Suleimaniah when an Asian massage centre was burnt by unknown demonstrators, without causing any injuries. Zana Hamasalih, the Mayor of Suleimaniah, s city frequently plagued by social and political agitation, unlike Zakho or Duhok, accused “saboteurs” or being the cause of the incident.
Despite this incident, the other provinces, Irbil and Nineveh, affirmed that they were just local agitations and they did not fear any spread. The governor of Irbil even indicated that he had not taken any special security measures and that the situation was “stable”.
The origin of the disturbances has been the subject of a number of versions and comments in the Kurdish media and among foreign observers. Some see it as essentially a social agitation, others seek some foreign instigation recalling the KRG’s support of the Syrian revolution, or else its recurrent clashes with the Baghdad government.
As for the imam, whose sermon sparked off the riots, he denied any responsibility for the attacks. Summoned by the enquiry commission and also speaking to the press, Mala Ismail Osman Sindi defended himself by saying that he was not the only the first or the only cleric to have protested publically against the Chinese massage centres (which seem to be making quite a hit in Kurdistan): “Everyone is talking about them and I am probably the last to have broached the subject. I merely said that instead of massage centres they aught to build mosques”.
One resident of Zakho, who was present for the sermon, told the newspaper Rudaw that “after the mullah spoke about the massage centres a man rose and shouted: “Since there are “haram” (sinful) things in Zakho we must not accept them, we must destroy them”.
Omar Sindi confirmed the scene: “But I told him that if he left to attack the centres before the sermon was over, his prayer would not be accepted by God. This man is a member of the KIU”
The KDP and the KIU have thus unceasingly accused one another of being the source of the violence, the KDP using this as an excuse for sacking the KIU’s premises and accusing the latter of trying to harm the regional government or to serve foreign interests. But all are unanimous in doubting that a single sermon by a Zakho mullah of no great stature could have spontaneously inflamed a crowd to suddenly become so extremist.
The Friday following the riot (Friday being the day of religious sermons and so traditionally the day chosen for demonstrations and protests in the Middle East) there were no disturbances anywhere in the Region even though the Duhok Provincial police was put on a state alert.
As for the Christians of Zakho, they say they do not greatly fear any repetition of these attacks, stressing their long and friendly cohabitation with the Kurdish Moslems, most of them seeing this as manoeuvres by parties opposed to the government.
In an interview given on 15 December to the newspaper Rudaw, Amir Goka, a Christian Member of Parliament and head of the National Council of Assyrians and Chaldeans’ block in the Irbil Parliament, explained that these attacks remained totally inexplicable and unforeseen by the inhabitants of Zakho, be they Moslem, Christian or Yezidi. He also thought that it was an attack planned to injure the Kurdistan Region’s reputation for religious tolerance.
Commenting on these events, Mahmud Osman, an independent member of parliament and leading member of the Kurdish coalition in the Baghdad Parliament (a coalition that includes both the majority Kurdistan Alliance and the KIU) saw these events as the work of neighbouring states wishing to undermine the political stability of Kurdistan.
“I suspect foreign circles such as Iran, Syria and Turkey, who are not friends of Kurdistan, and who refuse to recognise anything about the Kurdish people, of being behind the events in Zakho and Duhok”, the member of parliament stated to the newspaper Aswat al-Iraq. “These States may have had an interest in undermining the situation in the Kurdistan Region”.
An Israeli citizen, Drory Yeoshuas, is set on actively promoting the music of his country of origin, Kurdistan, and is, this month, presenting the Judeo-Kurdish traditions at the summit of the Jewish Community Centre and at the Congregation of Artists in residence. His programme includes Kurdish music and dancing as well as Kurdistan traditional cuisine, going from soup to kubbeh, being concerned not to prioritise cultural characteristics.
“Some people may say that these psalms, these melodies, these dishes and dances represent a “proto-culture” which has nothing to do with bookish culture or novels. In my view there are no great and small cultures. The real question is to ask: “What is it that makes your spirit light up and bloom? When you hear Kurdish psalms, when you eat Persian food, when you read a Syrian novel? Your spirit is wherever you feel it bloom”.
Yehoshua thinks that this belief in superior and inferior cultures deepens the gap between those Jews who come from Moslem cultures and those who come from Western societies or Ashkenazis. He also aims at giving back their self-respect to Jews coming from the Moslem world.
“Moslem cultures were very much criticised at the start of this State. My family, for example, had difficulty in expressing its culture in public. However, with the grace of God, things are changing in Israel.
Drory Yehoshua is also particularly fold of the Husseini maqam that comes from Kurdistan. These melodies, to which the Jewish Kurdish psalms are sung, are in fact the result of a mixture of cultures and songs between the Jews and Moslems of Kurdistan.
“We may find most of these melodies sad, indeed nearly all of them but they are, in fact, very interesting. A melody can make your heart heavy and sadden you deeply and then … a minute later you find yourself dancing and jumping about”.
Living in Jerusalem, he teaches at the Shalom Hartman Institute and the Memizrach Shamash a centre for social research and activity that devoted to the Sephardic (Jews originally from Spain who now come from all Mediterranean and North African countries) and Mizrachi (“oriental” Jews, mainly from Iraq and Kurdistan) heritages, as well as in a Jerusalem synagogue.
His father emigrated from Kurdistan in 1952 and his mother was born in Jerusalem of a family that emigrated to Palestine in 1928. “I was born in a Kurdish environment, where all the families were like a tribe. Today, this is part of my Jewish identity — I am a Jewish Kurd”.
About 450,000 Israelis define themselves as Jewish Kurds in this way, according to Drory Yeoshua, who thinks that this identity is fluid as it is based upon personal feelings.