The Israeli professor Raphael Israeli, expert on Islamic and Chinese studies, is a well known author of several books, such as Years of Upheaval, The Internationalization of ISIS, From Arab Spring to Islamic Winter and Christianophobia – The persecution of Christians under Islam.
During a visit to his Swedish wife’s relatives in Södertälje, Sweden, our reporter Simon Dawd met prof. Israeli for an interview. The Assyrian question is of course the main subject. Before that prof. Israeli tells us about his background as a jew born in Morocco where jews were persecuted for a thousand years by the Arabs, he says. He emigrated to the new state of Israel 14 years old. The difference between jews and Christians in Middle East was that while jews got an own country to settle, the Assyrians and other Christians became citizens under Arab or other dictators. Before and after WWI the Assyrians failed to demand their ancient kingdom, prof. Israeli says – apparently unaware of the Assyrian demands on the Paris Peace Conference and the betrayal they were subjected to by the British government of the time.
As to the current situation where the Kurds are oppressing the indigenous Assyrians, he says the Kurds oppress other minorities since they have been oppressed by four countries for the last 100 years of struggle for independence. He says the Assyrians are in a tragic situation, but thinks it is too late to repair the damage of not demanding their national rights 100 years ago, and also because they have fled their country. He also says the Kurds deserve their independence more than the Palestinians, although the Palestinians have been more successful to get support from Europe, especially Sweden, he adds. He does not agree that the KRG has cooperated with ISIS in Nineveh and elsewhere in general, but only in local matters for the interest of both parts. About the future of the Assyrians he can not predict anything, but says that things in Middle East could change very quick.