The Forum of the World Congress of Mountain Jews was held in Jerusalem yesterday. At the forum the crucial problems of the Mountain-Jewish community of Israel were discussed. The forum attendees were the Minister of Culture of Israel - Miri Regev, the Minister of Communications of Israel - Ayub Kara, the Chairman of the Federal Agency on National Affairs - Igor Barinov, Deputy Head of the liaison office with Religious Organizations of the Department of National Policy and Interregional Relations of the City of Moscow - Anton Ignatenko, Executive Director Representative offices of the Baku International Center, Executive Director of representative of Baku International Centre of Multiculturalism in Israel- Arie Gut, and representatives of the Israeli Association of Mountain Jews.
Akif Gilalov, the President of the World Congress of Mountain Jews, opened the Forum. He noted that 15 years ago, his deceased brother Zaur Gilalov founded the World Congress of Mountain Jews, whose main purpose was to bring together mountain Jews around the world. "Our people have come a long way from the Holy Land to Babylon and Persia, and then to the Caucasus Mountains. Throughout its long history, mountain Jews has lived peacefully side by side with different nations, demonstrating tolerance and respect for their customs. The mission of the Congress is strengthen bonds among the Mountain Jews living in different part of the world, as well as with all nations and progressive social organizations whose primarily have interested in strengthening peace, tolerance, progress, cultural and humanitarian development.
After the World Congress of Mountain Jews received the status of a non-governmental organization and consultative status in the United Nations Economic and Social Council it gains international recognition, getting new impetus for development and thus obtaining the opportunity to participate in the discussion of such vital topics such respect for basic human rights and freedoms at the international level. During the meeting with Pope at the Vatican we were very pleased to hear how he spoke very highly about interreligious and intercultural dialogue in Azerbaijan. He highlighted that he was familiar with the conditions of the tolerance and multiculturalism in which the peoples of Azerbaijan live, regardless of their religious and ethnicity. Many still doubt the possibility of the normal, harmonious and coexistence of Muslims and Jews in the world, but we can observe such situation of relations in Azerbaijan.
One of the most important missions of the World Congress of Mountain Jews in Israel will be the promotion of educational, social and humanitarian projects. We have to support our youth, who speaks Hebrew very fluently, but at the same time, they don’t forget about their Mountain-Jewish roots, their language and their traditions. Our Congress is open to all who want and wish to participate in it; we are open to cooperation and partnership. In the near future, we will hold democratic elections of the new leadership of the World Congress of Mountain Jews, » emphasized Akif Gilalov.
The Minister of Culture and Sports of Israel Miri Regev came to congratulated all those present, especially the entire Mountain-Jewish community. In her speech, she congratulated the parties behalf of the Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, who could not attend the event due to the latest political events in the county.
Then Akif Gilalov hand the Order of the World Congress of Mountain Jews named after Zaur Gilalov to the Chairman of the Israeli Association of Mountain Jews Pavel Yelizarov, Professor Mikhail Agarunov and to the Head of the Baku International Center of Multiculturalism in Israel, Israeli expert in international relations Arye Gutu.
"Azerbaijan has been and remains the homeland of people from many religions and nations. In the ancient Azerbaijan: Judaism, Islam, fire worship and Christianity coexisted. Up to day this land continues to demonstrate an incredible tendency for tolerance. One of the clearest examples of Azerbaijani tolerance is a warm and fraternal attitude towards the representatives of the country's Mountain-Jews community. It is worth mentioning that in Azerbaijan there has never been any nationalism, or chauvinism, or anti-Semitism, like other nations, the mountain Jews have never felt alien or uncomfortable here.
One thought about Azerbaijan, the sounds of Azerbaijani speech or music brings tears of longing for the people, for the country, for Baku and Red Sloboda,"- said the head of the Baku International Center for Multiculturalism in Israel at the World Congress of Mountain Jews held yesterday in Jerusalem.
"The Mountain-Jewish community in Azerbaijan plays an important and integral role in the interreligious and inter-civilizational dialogue. In this cruel world, where both ethnic and inter-religious conflicts are raging, Azerbaijan is an oasis, an island of stability, well-being and common peaceful life of all without confessions. Azerbaijan is an open country, it demonstrates to trouble world how to pursue a policy of tolerance and multiculturalism, which I would say is a characteristic feature and way of life of the Azerbaijani people and many people from Azerbaijan are proud of this factor of tolerance. Considering the current international situation, instability, chaos, the growth of religious fundamentalism in this cruel world, I consider the idea of the President of the World Congress of Mountain Jews Akif Gilalov to create the Council of Heads of Monotheistic World Religions a timely, very actual and magnificent idea, "said Arie Gut.
Professor Mikhail Agarunov noted that the first Jewish quarter emerged at the end of the 17th century in the Oguz region of Azerbaijan, and by the end of the 18th century two of the largest and most historically significant Mountain Jewish communities had been formed: the Jewish Sloboda community near Guba and the Derbent community. "What makes the community of mountain Jews so attracted to the world community? Well, at least by the fact that the last settlement of Mountain Jews in Azerbaijan called Krasnaya Sloboda is the only place in the world, excluding Israel, where until now only Jews live compactly. This is the motherland of my parents, the relatives and friends of mine live there. It is true that the Krasnaya Sloboda village once consisted of 12 thousand of people, but today it is only about 5 thousand people. The process of reduction of the population is natural, during the collapse of the USSR and Armenia aggression against Azerbaijan, many families left the country in search of a better life. Nevertheless, we always return to Red Sloboda, the nostalgia for native places cannot be taken away, because, like all other nations, the life was well and easy in Azerbaijan for all of us. I support the idea of Akif Gilalov about the promotion of educational, social and humanitarian projects. We must support our youth,” said Professor Mikhail Agarunov.
The chairman of the Worldwide Israeli Association of Mountain Jews, Pavel Elizarov, congratulated the participants on holding this significant forum and noted that further work was needed to strengthen unity and cohesion in the community. "When we are together, we represent one coordinated body running the common policy towards the benefition of our community, for which all our work will be carried out. We have a lot of people holding the same views and who are willing to take part in the work of the board. These are active and incentive people, who, I am sure, will be able to work as a coordinated mechanism. It is important to think about the resolution of the problems of improving the quality of life of the Caucasian community, young families, assistance in the absorption of new repatriates and low-income families. We can achieve it through the combination of all human resources and financial support into in an integrated whole "- said Pavel Elizarov.
The culmination of the event was the Man of the Year award: Simkha Osipov for social activities, Viktor Rabaev for his contribution to sports, the Peres family for his contribution to culture.
The event was continued by the concert and performance of singers and dancers.