Few Words on Condition of Jews in Kyrgyzstan

The Kyrgyz Government has declared that it has lost control of the southern city of Osh to anti-Uzbek rioters. Few Jewish media outlets or humanitarian organizations have reported on the condition of Jewish communities living throughout the country, including in the embattled cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad.
Ethnic violence between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the former Soviet, Central Asian republic has flared up before, often under mysterious circumstances. The southern portion of Kyrgyzstan is home to a sizable Uzbek minority with different political sympathies than the Kyrgyz that live alongside them. The conflict seems to concern border disputes between Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan rooted in the Soviet Union’s collapse southern ethnic Kyrgyz loyalties to the deposed president, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, unlike Uzbeks, who generally support the interim government. With Jews, Meskhetian Turks, Uighurs, Tatars, Ukrainians, Kazakhs and Tajik’s all visible minorities throughout the land, the cities seem to be going up in flames, and the United States vying for power in a strategically important crossroads, the current violence is destined to have an impact on the contours of Jewish life in the country.
Today, Kyrgyzstan is home to about 2000 Jews, many of whom are Ashkenazim who settled in Soviet Central Asia after fleeing the Hitlerite fascist onslaught in Eastern Europe. The Joint, Lubavitch and other Jewish organizations are currently operating in the country, but little has emerged from them since violence erupted in Bishkek last April.

16 thoughts on “Few Words on Condition of Jews in Kyrgyzstan

  1. The Joint? There’s plenty coming through the Chabad grapevine, but you have to know where to look.,,
    They mostly recycle the same information, and they don’t print things that might create problems for the community in Bishkek. Revolutions are a sensitive thing, especially for 2000 Jews in a country of millions, with one illegitimate junta replacing another.

  2. ‘Hitlerite Fascist onslaught’
    I believe the two syllable term is ‘Nazi’ (I could be mistaken.)
    No mention of the Trujillan Fascist onslaught that saved over 700 Jews-and it could have been much more…
    Or the Salazarean fascist onslaught that allowed Jews to escape to America via Lisbon (see ‘Casablanca’)
    Hopefully the 2000 Jews there can get to Israel is need be.

  3. dave, just wanted to mention something sort of relevant that has to do with your name actually.
    “Boxthorn”… aka in arabic “gharqad” mentioned in the hadiths:
    “Judgment Day will come only when the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, until the Jew hides behind the tree and the stone, and the tree and the stone say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah , there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him’ – except for the Gharqad tree.”
    hopefully those uzbek jews get some of those and start planting…

  4. Oren, you blew my mind, thanks. Here’s some food for thought.
    Wikipedia – Boxthorn:
    Boxthorn is mentioned in the biblical Book of Proverbs as besetting the paths of the wicked (Proverbs 22:5).
    Besetting? Like assailing, attacking? Here’s the english from, Mishlei 22:5. Unfortunately, I can’t get the hebrew right now.
    5. Troops [and] snares are in the way of the perverse; he who preserves his soul will distance himself from them.
    Rashi Commentary:
    Troops [and] snares: Heb. צנים, as in (Num. 33: 55) “troops (לצנינים) in your sides” ; (Ezek. 23:24) “And they will come upon you, a band (הצן),” an expression of bands and brigands. :
    Troops and snares: are hidden on the ways of the one who perverts his ways; i.e., torments are prepared for him. :
    he who preserves his soul will distance himself from them: He who is upright in his deeds will be saved from them.
    Obviously, it’s not clear what that has to do with the boxhorn tree itself. It’s probably in the hebrew, meaning the thorns and snares (which this tree is apparently known for) torment the wicked.
    So, the muslims decided that this particular tree, which is used synonymously in Mishlei by Solomon to refer to thorns and snares that torment wicked people, is the tree of the Jews, which will protect the Jews against the Muslims. A tree whose essence is to stumble and harass the wicked will protect the Jews. Interesting choice for a “tree of the Jews”.

  5. hey man,
    this is the hadiths, not quran.
    لا تقوم الساعة حتى يقاتل المسلمون اليهود، فيقتلهم المسلمون حتى يختبئ اليهودي من وراء الحجر والشجر، فيقول الحجر أو الشجر: يا مسلم، يا عبد الله، هذا يهودي خلفي، فتعال فاقتله.. إلا الغرقد، فإنه من شجر اليهود
    thats the arabic, i speak/read/write it.

  6. Is it another way of attracting sponsors to collect money? stop making huge news about Osh.
    And one more thing, jews lived long before october revolution in 1917

  7. I’ve been trying to follow this story but just can’t figure out WHAT the enthnic fighting is about. I read on Wikipedia that 80% of the population is muslim, and the Taliban seem to be involved somehow, but I don’t understand how. Is this a sunni vs shiite thing? Usually when there is “ethnic fighting” but no other details, its probably something muslim going on. Is that the case here?

  8. anonymouse-
    I checked those websites. Their latest reporting from Bishkek is from about a month ago, about earlier riots.

  9. I love that you used ‘Hitlerite.’ That was the preferred Soviet usage. Those of us who read Novosti publications will smile….

  10. Oh, yes, I know about JDC. Just never heard it referred to as Joint before. Yerachmiel, don’t strain yourself. This isn’t about ideology or religion or anything you may find worthwhile picking sides in.
    As we say in Russian, “the swine didn’t share”.

  11. yerachmiel,
    I think it has to do with the political aspirations of the Uzbek minority in the Kyrgyz south, where Stalin carved out the region’s borders. I’m not sure if it has an islamist motivation, considering both peoples are predominantly Muslim and Turkic.

  12. Tol, the Jewish population native to that area, the Bukharans, have mostly emigrated to Israel. The current Jewish population, as stated above, comes from post 1917 migrations.

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