Yet again, Israel denies the Armenian genocide

par | Juil 5, 2016 | Tribunes libres

Yet again, Israel denies the Armenian genocide


Israel is one of the only democratic countries in the world, if not the only one, to do so, and to support Turkey’s stubborn policy of denial.


Yair Auron
04.07.2016 | 23:29 
On May 31, a few days before the lower house of the German Bundestag
recognized the murder of the Armenian people – an act that reverberated
worldwide – there was supposed to be a discussion of the subject in the
Knesset. However, it was postponed under pressure
from the Foreign Ministry (which is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu). The discussion is due to take place in the Knesset on


This is a discussion of great importance for the battle that has been
waged for years for Israeli recognition of the Armenian genocide. In
the past year I hoped that if not the Israeli government, at least the
Knesset would finally recognize it. But apparently
there is very little chance of that, in light of the rapprochement
agreement signed with Turkey. After all, who would endanger the
agreement because of a negligible thing like whether or not there was a
genocide of another nation.


There’s no chance that the Israeli government will recognize the
Armenian genocide, but during the course of the year commemorating the
100th anniversary of the murder of the Armenian people, there was
nevertheless a hope that perhaps the Knesset would do so.
But apparently that hope is also evaporating.President Reuven Rivlin
has in the past expressed profound identification with the suffering of
the Armenians. When he served as Knesset speaker he even said that
Israel should recognize the Armenian genocide. It’s
a shame that he has refrained from repeating that since being elected
president, saying only “I haven’t changed my mind.”


In a discussion in the Knesset Education Committee in July 2015, in
which Edelstein participated, all the speakers from the coalition and
the opposition supported recognition. Only a representative of the
Foreign Ministry had reservations, claiming that
the concept of “genocide” has become politicized, and therefore Israel
should not use it. Imagine if any European government were to claim that
the “Holocaust” is a political concept, and therefore their government
should not use it.


At the conclusion of the discussion the Education Committee called on
the Knesset to recognize the genocide and on the Education Ministry to
teach about it, but nothing happened. The annual discussion to take
place in the coming days is the moment of truth:
The thawing of relations with Turkey and the weapons deals between the
governments of Israel and Azerbaijan, worth billions of dollars –
weapons designated for clashes with the Armenians – are not glad tidings
for the chances of recognition.


Even if people and institutions in Israel won’t be happy to hear
these words, they must be said: Israel denies the Armenian genocide. We
are one of the only democratic countries in the world, if not the only
one, to do so, and to support Turkey’s stubborn
policy of denial. The United States neither recognizes nor denies the
genocide. When we deny the Armenian genocide, we are desecrating the
memory of its victims. In my opinion, in so doing we are also
desecrating the memory and the victims of the Holocaust.


Because of this last sentence, which I refused to omit, the
administration of Yad Vashem rejected a scientific article that I was
invited to write for the institution’s newsletter, Teaching the Legacy.
But I will continue to say and to write that sentence
until the State of Israel, if only via the Knesset, recognizes the
Armenian genocide.


Today it’s already known and has been proven: When we deny a genocide
that took place in the past, we are preparing the ground for a future


The discussion in the Knesset should arouse great interest in the
world, and of course among the Armenians in Armenia and in the Diaspora,
and hopefully here too. Those who are fighting for recognition are
requesting “a vote now.” Transferring the discussion
to the committee was an important step for years, but it has become a
cynical political means to conceal the truth. We continue to deny.


Israeli recognition (which is not anticipated, to my regret) would
probably lead to recognition of the Armenian genocide by the entire
world. If Israel recognizes it, U.S. President Barack Obama won’t be
able to continue to remain on the sidelines either.
What is true of genocide is also true of the battle against its denial:
Anyone who is not on the side of the victims is on the side of the

Prof. Auron is a genocide scholar who has been working for years for
recognition by Israel and the world of the Armenian genocide.