Had Azerbaijan remained quiet on the subject of Israel, staying neutral and failing to take sides would have been reason enough to respect it. It would also have been quite understandable. Opting out of such a volatile and dangerous situation as Israel’s relationship with the countries of the world may even prove wise.
After all, Israel is despised by not only Iran, but also by European nations like the United Kingdom, Spain, France, and the Netherlands. These countries have lined up against the Jewish state and wish to see her pushed into the sea.
Why should a young country like Azerbaijan, just setting out on the world stage, take such a risk?
During the Lebanon war in 2006, I stood in Los Angeles at dinner and watched Azerbaijani Consul General Elin Suleymanov tell the world press that Azerbaijan condemns terrorism in all of its forms and is a friend of Israel.
Aren’t all Muslims the enemy of Jews? Don’t all Muslims wish to see Israel destroyed?
Interestingly, a young Muslim nation has chosen not only to befriend the most controversial and hated member of the playground, but to blatantly and overtly stand next to it in full view.
It’s easy for me to list all the reasons Azerbaijan would benefit from a relationship with Israel: technology, medicine, science, and all of the advances Israel creates each day that improve mankind’s life and enhances the human condition. But Azerbaijan could have received those partnerships and gifts from Israel quietly and out of the eyesight of the bullies.
Why choose to shake the hand of the most despised country on earth? Who is this gutsy player and why has it taken such a risk to befriend the friendless?
The bond between Israel and Azerbaijan is more than a sign of friendship. It is a sign of hope. This candle lit by two nations in a world battling darkness may well be the light that restores the sight of mankind.