Mendi Safadi, head of the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, visited Azerbaijan together with MK Oren Hazan. He stressed that the Azerbaijanis are very interested in improving relations with Israel and one of their important muftis emphasized: “There is nothing in Islamic law to prevent Jews from ascending the Temple Mount and the ones who claim otherwise are considered heretics in Islam.”
Mendi Safadi with Mufti Malik Photo Credit: Mendi Safadi
Mendi Safadi, who worked as a senior level adviser for Israel’s Deputy Minister of Regional Cooperation Ayoob Kara and now heads the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, told JerusalemOnline that he recently returned from Azerbaijan together with MK Oren Hazan: “It was my second visit in Azerbaijan. I went there to make the relationship between Israel and Azerbaijan stronger.” They were invited to come by Alexander Shapiro-Suliman and Ismail Agayev.
“Kerimov Tahir, the chief executive of the Salyan District, Azerbaijan wants to make one village from his territory a kibbutz,” Safadi related. “He invited me to come and meet him. He asked about the kibbutz, how it works, the mentality, and everything about it. We agreed that we will make another visit with some people from the managers of a Kibbutz in Israel.” He also wants Salyan to twin with the Israeli Druze village of Yarka: “It is a big business area. They want to learn from Israel about the disabled and they want to establish a relationship with the IDF’s unit that deals with disabilities.”
Last Friday, Safadi related that after he heard what happened in Jerusalem, he went together with MK Oren Hazen to visit Mufti Malik who is in charge of one of the greatest mosques in Baku, Azerbaijan. Mufti Malik told his visitors: “Azerbaijan declares that there is nothing in Islamic law to prevent Jews from ascending the Temple Mount and the one who claims otherwise is considered a heretic in Islam who transforms the sanctity of the place for political purposes.”
“He stressed that everyone who believes in one God can come to any mosque in the world,” Safadi related. “What the Palestinians are doing is anti-God. In Azerbaijan, I as a Druze and MK Oren Hazan as a Jew can enter any mosque or synagogue. We did a Shabbat service at a synagogue in Azerbaijan. We went to the synagogue together with Muslims. Everything is open. You can go anywhere you want. Only Al Aqsa is closed to the Jews and to non-Muslims. It is a political. I am against this.”
According to Safadi, Azerbaijan is very different from the Palestinian Authority and even the Arab communities within Israel: “I know that in Azerbaijan, they love Israelis. If you go to Baku and talk about Israel, everyone welcomes you because you are from Israel. They love Israel more than any other country. It is a modern country and very open like Tel Aviv. There are not many women in hijab (Islamic dress). There are more women in hijab in Israel than in Azerbaijan. Even in Tel Aviv, there are more hijabs there than in Azerbaijan.” He stressed that Mufti Malik differentiated Azeris from the Palestinians by stressing that they are Arab and Azeris are not, emphasizing: “The non-Arab Muslim countries like Azerbaijan, Turkey and others see the Arab Muslims as more primitive and radical. They don’t like them.”