Who needs a terror alert?

  26 August 2013    Read: 380
Who needs a terror alert?
Several days ago Counter Terrorism Bureau of the Israeli National Security Council issued a travel warning for its citizens with respect to several countries, ahead of traditional Jewish holidays in fall. According to the list, Azerbaijan was deemed equally dangerous to Nigeria and Kenya, where acts of terrorism and armed incidents are a common occurrence.

It is no novelty for Azerbaijani society. It was on numerous occasions that official Israeli institutions included our country into the list of countries with the terror threat. Our public is accustomed to the news and its significance is dismissed. Such out of touch news bear no importance for the Israeli tourists too because Israelis with historical bonds with Azerbaijan continue to visit Azerbaijan and warning provokes no panic or fear. Reaction of the diplomatic circles is also casual. Every time Israeli Embassy describes it as a general procedure applied to the region.

If so, what this warning is for? For many centuries, Azerbaijan has been a tolerant country, a place Jewish community called home. Through every historical phase, even during the religious states of the medieval ages, Jews have enjoyed esteem in Azerbaijan. This is a point highlighted by the Israeli officials and representatives of world Jewish communities upon every visit to Azerbaijan.

Even if indeed, this travel warning is of general essence for Israel and it lacks practical substance, damage to Azerbaijan`s image is beyond doubt. Nevertheless, let us elaborate on the possible impact on Azerbaijan. "Jerusalem Post” newspaper was behind the circulation of the news all over the word. It most certainly influences perception of Azerbaijan in some countries located beyond the region. Surely, an ordinary reader in Azerbaijan has no knowledge of daily developments in Papua New Guinea or Djibouti. And frankly, we are not compelled to.

Perception of those countries lingers in our memories due to a piece of information we once came across in the media. Israeli official institutions and the media are responsible for creating a false image of Azerbaijan and a very tool in propagating it. Statistics of the acts of terrorism, armed incidents and crimes based on religious intolerance make Azerbaijan and Israel incomparable. Nevertheless, Azerbaijan never released any information that contained warning against traveling to Israel.

Azerbaijan is a prosperous country where all tourists and foreigners alike feel free, and diplomatic corps accredited in the county and all offices of all international organizations represented also recognize that. There is another side of the issue however. It is about the claim that warning concerns not a single country but the entire region. In 2012, then Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan Michael Lotem in his interview to APA said: "The list concerns not Azerbaijan specifically but rather your neighbors and your geographic location”.

In that case, let us evaluate the essence of the issue with relation to other countries of the region. If Israelis are indeed concerned about our neighbors, we should examine neighborly relations of other countries of the region. Other countries of the South Caucasus with which we share same geography and neighborhood – Georgia and Armenia are treated differently. From the Israeli perspective, these countries should also be included in the list as potentially dangerous.

Azerbaijan has not experienced any act of terrorism in last several years. No specific incident involving Israeli citizens or Jews was registered. Then how we can be persuaded that this warning is issued with regard to the geographic location and not a particular country?

Therefore, report by the Counter Terrorism Bureau of the Israeli National Security Council reflects neither the reality of Azerbaijan, nor does it conform to the spirit of Azerbaijan-Israel relations. Such an attitude does not suit the interests of both countries. Authorities issuing such a warning must first identify those who need it. (Newtimes.az)

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