The Consulates General of Azerbaijan and Israel, and the Valley Outreach Synagogue held a joint event on March 6, 2022 in Los Angeles to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, Consulate General in Los Angeles told APA.
Attended by over 300 guests, including Consuls General of various countries, elected officials, representatives of different ethnic and religious communities, journalists and others, the celebration also included a discussion between Azerbaijan’s Consul General Nasimi Aghayev and Israel’s Consul General Hillel Newman.
In his remarks, Consul General Nasimi Aghayev talked about Azerbaijan’s long-standing traditions of interfaith harmony, inclusion and multiculturalism. Noting the centuries-long peaceful co-existence of Azerbaijani Muslims and Jews, Consul General Aghayev said that these historic ties provided a strong foundation for the emergence of close friendship and partnership between Azerbaijan and Israel from the early days of Azerbaijan’s independence. “For the past 30 years, Azerbaijan and Israel have successfully proved that Muslims and Jews can be friends and brothers, and can do wonders working together,” Aghayev said.
“The Israel-Azerbaijan relationship can be a model for regional relations and even global relations. This relationship demonstrates that the conflicts today are not between religious or ethnic groups but between moderates and radicals. Azerbaijan and Israel are in the same camp of value-orientated moderates,” said Dr. Hillel Newman, Consul General of Israel.
Rabbi Ron-Li Paz, the Spiritual Leader of the Valley Outreach Synagogue, said: “It is an absolute thrill to host this celebration in our synagogue and to let the community as a whole know that even in darkened times there is good reason for optimism. Now more than ever, the example of the relationship between a Muslim-majority country in the Caucasus, Azerbaijan, and the Jewish homeland, Israel, is extraordinarily powerful. All of us need to know that these friendships are possible and beneficial”.
In his remarks, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, Associate Dean of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, highlighted his numerous visits to Azerbaijan. Recalling his first visit in 1972, Rabbi Cooper said that even under the Soviet Union, the Jews in Azerbaijan enjoyed freedom to preserve their identity, culture and religion, which was a stark contrast to many other places in the USSR. Noting that the model of interfaith tolerance and multiculturalism has become even stronger in Azerbaijan since the collapse of the USSR, Rabbi Cooper expressed his deep appreciation for Azerbaijan’s National Leader Heydar Aliyev and President Ilham Aliyev for their leadership.
The event also included a video-message by George Deek, the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan, a short film on Azerbaijan-Israel friendship, and a film highlighting a recent visit by Los Angeles faith leaders to Azerbaijan.
The celebration concluded with the performance of Azerbaijani and Israeli music by Azerbaijani musicians Emil Afrasiyab and Leyla Babayeva-Afrasiyab, and Israeli musicians led by Liran Shalom Kohn, which left the audience mesmerized.
Highlights from the event can be watched here: https://youtu.be/A22NfA6Y-U8