Azerbaijan’s parliament announced on Friday, November 18, 2022, that it initiated the process of opening an embassy in the State of Israel. It is the first Shi’ite Muslim-majority country to do so. The move reflects the depth of the relationship between the two countries and Israel’s ongoing efforts to continue building a strong diplomatic bridge with the Muslim world.
Subsequent to the embassy announcement, Azerbaijan appointed Mr. Mukhtar Mammadov, Deputy Minister of Science and Education, to be its first-ever ambassador to Israel. The appointment was welcomed by Israel and Israeli Ambassador to Baku, Mr. George Deek, who tweeted, “Congratulations and good luck to the first Azerbaijani ambassador to Israel!” The hope is that this nomination will deepen the friendship between the two people and inspire other Muslim-majority countries to follow Azerbaijan’s lead.
Arye Gut Inspirational Award Established
In light of the dual good news of the embassy and ambassador appointment, the US-AZ Cultural Foundation Board of Directors decided to establish a special inspirational Award, in the name of the late Arye Gut who died on September 20, 2022 after a long illness.
The special inspirational Award is to be presented annually at an especially announced event. It will be continuously bestowed upon individuals or organizations that contribute to strengthening relations between Azerbaijan and Israel.
Also, in light of Humanitarianism being Israel’s ethos, after the Second Karabakh War, in early 2021, an Israeli volunteer delegation of eight medical professionals traveled to Azerbaijan to treat and operate on more than 150 wounded Azerbaijani soldiers.
One of those wounded Azerbijani soldiers was veteran Arif Hajiyev.
In December 2022, soldier Arif Hajiyev flew to Israel for a 4-day visit, accompanied by US-AZ Cultural Foundation President, Nurit Greenger, and Double Trouble Production CEO, Eti El-Kiss. Video footage of Arif’s memorable and emotional 4-day visit to Israel is to be produced into a documentary named “Through The Blink Of An Eye.”
The upcoming documentary was inspired by Arif Hajiyev’s story, a Second Karabakh War veteran who received a cornea from an Israeli donor’s family. The cornea transplant operation was performed by Israeli ophthalmologist Dr. Yishay Falick who headed the Humanitarian-Spirited eight-doctor delegation.
The US-Azerbaijan Cultural Foundation’s first documentary project, “Through The Blink Of An Eye,” now in the process of being produced, honors the memory of Arye Gut, for his relentless efforts, as a Goodwill Ambassador for both Israel and Azerbaijan. Arye was instrumental in tightening relations between the two countries, which began in 1991 when Azerbaijan declared independence.
In July 2022 I (Nurit Greenger) visited Arye Gut at his home in the city of Netanya, Israel. At that time I was busy in the initial process of my plan to accompany veteran Arif Hajiyev to Israel, which included securing funds to pay for the project. Arye was very ill but he told me: “If I get better and my financial resources will not have to go to pay a home caregiving person, I will fund your vision.”
Sadly, Arye’s goodwill statement did not come to fruition, and he passed away soon after.
About Arye Gut
Arye was an expert on international relations who spent over twenty years building strong relations between Azerbaijan and Israel. He was known in Azerbaijan as Israel Goodwill Ambassador.
Born in Baku in 1975, Arye moved to Israel in 2000, from where he led the representative office of the Baku International Multiculturalism Center and for years worked diligently to bring Azerbaijan and Israel relations to one crescendo after another.
Arye was a Goodwill Ambassador of Israel to Azerbaijan and a Goodwill Ambassador of Azerbaijan to Israel and he is sorely missed. He authored more than 700 analytical articles on Turkiye-Israel relations, Israel-Azerbaijan strategic partnership, and geopolitical situation in South Caucasus, Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.
The first Arye Gut Award will be presented to a selected individual or organization during the premier screening of the documentary “Through The Blink Of An Eye,” planned to take place in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2023.