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The liberation of Shusha should inspire us all

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On January 5, 2021, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev signed an order declaring the city of Shusha as Azerbaijan’s cultural capital. In 2022, the Azerbaijani people will celebrate the 270th anniversary of Shusha. (Photo: azertag.az)

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As Jewish people across the world prepare to celebrate Passover, it is pivotal to recall that at one point in history our ancestor Ya’akov left his homeland in Israel because of a famine, only for his descendants to become slaves in the Land of Egypt. However, due to the great miracles performed by Hashem, who imposed 10 plagues upon ancient Egypt, we were liberated from bondage and were able to return to our historic homeland.

Presently, the Azerbaijani people are going through a similar experience. Historically, Shusha was the cradle of Azerbaijani civilization, just like the Land of Israel is the cradle of Jewish civilization.

Shusha was established during the reign of the Azerbaijani Karabakh Khanate Panahali Khan in the 18th century, who built a historic fort in the city that was recently renovated. Since that period of time, Shusha was the administrative, economic and cultural capital city of Azerbaijan, playing a pivotal role in the carpet weaving industry in the second half of the 19th century.  Shusha carpets were so unique that they even won awards in Paris in 1867.

Shusha also was a centre of Azerbaijani poetry, literature, music and the arts.  The founding father of Azerbaijani classical music and opera Uzeyir Hajibeyli was born in Shusha, as were the Azerbaijani poets Molla Panah Vagif and Kurshudbanu Natavan. In the realm of music, Shusha is to Azerbaijan what Vienna is to Austria and Naples is to Italy.

However, while a famine that led to a period of enslavement forced the Israelites to remain away from their homeland in antiquity, an Armenian ethnic cleansing campaign that led to one-fifth of Azerbaijani territory being illegally occupied led to the Azerbaijani people being forced out of Shusha, Karabakh and seven other Azerbaijani districts. Over 30,000 Azerbaijanis were killed and one million others were expelled from their homes.

However, after the Second Karabakh War, the Azerbaijani people were able to return to their ancestral homeland, just as the ancient Israelites were able to do after their period of enslavement in Egypt.  

In honour of the Azerbaijani New Year, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev proclaimed: “In 2022, we will celebrate the 270th anniversary of Shusha. Panahali Khan laid the foundation of Shusha in 1752 and we will celebrate this anniversary with great solemnity in the coming year.  Taking into account this glorious history and in order to accelerate the restoration of Shusha, I declare the new year ‘A Year of Shusha.’ 

“Today, I am sure that the Azerbaijanis of the world, whatever country they may live in, are keeping their heads high, are confident and are justifiably proud of their historical homeland Azerbaijan.”

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In conjunction with Passover this year, let us also commemorate 2022 as the Year of Shusha, a year where we celebrate the return of an ancient people to their ancestral homeland. Let us witness this year the rebuilding of Shusha, so it will live up to its glorious reputation as the cultural capital city of Azerbaijan. May all of the debris be removed and may all of the historic sites be restored, so Shusha is once again a glorious and beautiful place to visit.

When the ancient Israelites approached the Sea of Reeds, many Israelites feared the approaching Egyptian Army. Moses told them: “Fear not, stand by and see the salvation of G-d which he will show you today. For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again forever.  G-d shall fight for you and you shall be silent.”

As it came to pass, Moses parted the Red Sea and the Israelites crossed over on dry land, while Pharoah’s army drowned. They arrived successfully in Ancient Israel.

In modern times, when Azerbaijani Army entered Karabakh they found an area laden with landmines and booby-traps among uprooted trees, burnt agricultural fields and homes, and the debris of destroyed cities and villages. However, the Azerbaijani people still managed to kick Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyon, a modern-day pharaoh, out of Karabakh – and to start the process of safely returning the Azerbaijani people to their ancestral homeland. And in honour of that, let us celebrate 2022 as the Year of Shusha.

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings at the American, Israeli and Arab Media.”  

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

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