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Israel’s (un)recognition of the Armenian Genocide


Brandenburg Gate in Berlin decorated with colors of Israeli flag
Brandenburg Gate in Berlin decorated with colors of Israeli flag

Photo: REUTERS

Israeli President visits Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem
Israeli President visits Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem

Photo: Armenian Patriarchate

Vardan Oskanyan and Shimon Peres
Vardan Oskanyan and Shimon Peres

Photo: V.Oskanyan’s archive


On February 14 2018 yet another attempt of recognition of the Armenian Genocide failed in Israeli Knesset.  In this edition of Mediamax’s the Key we will shed light on why Israel avoids the G-word despite recognizing the massacre of the Armenians in 1915.

1.    What’s Armenia’s anticipation from Israel on state level?

In November of 2017 Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian said that Armenia expected Israel to officially recognize the Armenian Genocide.

“We hear more and more public opinion speakers in Israel voice their support for the recognition, including members of the parliament. I had a meeting with Knesset Speaker, who also took quite a clear stance on the importance of recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Knesset,” Edward Nalbandian said in the interview to the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation.

2.    What’s Israeli officials’ reaction?

In an exclusive interview to Mediamax in 2011 Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said:

“It is no secret that the mass murder of the Armenian people during the First World War is a most sensitive matter and as a people that also suffered from persecution and murder we are especially sensitive to that. However, since the subject, most regrettably, has become political, it needs to be handled with great care. Israel has never denied the Armenian tragedy, but we do not wish to become party to the confrontation between Turkey and Armenia on this important issue.”

Israeli President visits Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem Israeli President visits Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem

Photo: Armenian Patriarchate


In 2016 Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem, where he particularly said:

“The Armenians were massacred in 1915. My parents remember thousands of Armenian migrants finding asylum at the Armenian Church. No one in Israel denies that an entire nation was massacred. Today I will pray for the repose of the victims’ soul with you at the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem.”

3.    Why would Vardan Oskanyan oppose Shimon Peres?

Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Vardan Oskanyan wrote in his memoirs (in Armenian) about his meeting with then Foreign Minister of Israel Shimon Peres, which took place on September 15 of 2002, New York.
Vardan Oskanyan and Shimon Peres Vardan Oskanyan and Shimon Peres

Photo: V.Oskanyan’s archive


“Naturally, we talked Armenian-Israeli relations, Palestinian conflict, and various issues in the Middle East, Nagorno Karabakh and Caucasus. Both of us had the Armenian Genocide in our minds, which casted shadow on every topic that we discussed. Peres didn’t even allow me to bring the Genocide issue. He was the one to start the conversation, telling that Jewish people’s approach on the matter is best reflected in works of Jewish scientists and genocide specialists, who have already expressed their clear and definite stance, while Israel’s approach as a state is conditioned by political considerations.”

“He expressed hope that Armenia and the Armenian people will understand that differentiation. Of course, I opposed him. Nevertheless, we parted friendly, expressing hope that we would continue our discussions in the future and anticipating that Armenian-Israeli relations would deepen.”

4.    Has Israel really signed secret agreements with Turkey and Azerbaijan?

In January of 2018 Publisher of the California Courier Harut Sassounian informed that prominent Israeli scholar Yair Auron filed an official request with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, asking for all internal documents on agreements and commitments undertaken by the State of Israel with Turkey and Azerbaijan not to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Auron’s Attorney specifically demands that the Israel’s Foreign Ministry should disclose the following information:
 
1)  “Any documentation of agreements, understandings, commitments vis-à-vis Azerbaijan and Turkey as to the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
 
2)  “Any correspondence with Turkish or Azeri representatives on the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”

3)  “Any documentation of meetings or communications between the representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Turkish or Azeri representatives on the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide.”
 
4)  “Decisions and position papers of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as to the question of recognizing the Armenian Genocide, in view of Turkey and Azerbaijan’s objection.”

It remains to be seen if the Israeli Foreign Ministry complies with Prof. Auron’s request.

Ara Tadevosyan

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