The Hypocrisy of Israel’s Denial of the Armenian Genocide

Photo credit: Aleksey Chalabyan

A top Israeli diplomat is raising eyebrows after a recent visit to the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex—Dzidzernagapert.

“The tragedy of the Armenian nation has never been questioned,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Ben-Zvi late last month. “There is a historical question of what to call it, but what has happened is a fact that everyone accepts. It’s not a matter of political discussion. Let historians decide what to call the tragedy.”

IT?

The systematic persecution of 1.5 million Armenians at the ruthless hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918 should be referred to as something far more descriptive than “IT.”

Israel, a Jewish country, had its own genocide—the Holocaust. It was the second genocide of the twentieth century. This is a historical fact, and we all accept it. But Israel has chosen to advance politically and economically over the years and has failed to return the gesture. It has since maintained rather strong political and military relations with Turkey, and therefore refuses time and time again to acknowledge another ethnic group’s similar plight, that of the Armenians.

The systematic persecution of 1.5 million Armenians at the ruthless hands of the Ottoman Empire between 1915 and 1918 should be referred to as something far more descriptive than “IT.”

One of history’s most infamous dictators strategically used the denial of the genocide as his main defense. To justify his actions, Adolf Hitler once stated that no one would remember the massacre of the Jews during the Holocaust because no one speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians. Hitler believed he would be able to kill millions of Jews and take away their land without consequences as these tactics had already been “successful” with the Armenians.

During the genocide, America’s ambassador to Turkey—a Jewish man named Henry Morgenthau— confirmed the atrocities. Morgenthau witnessed the murders of our ancestors. He believed the tragedies that befell the Armenians in 1915 were the worst in the history of the human race. He argued that Turkish authorities had given a death warrant to an entire people.

Furthermore, the creator of the Genocide Convention, a Jewish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin, came up with the word “genocide” as a result of the massacres of the Armenians. He followed the Armenian Genocide closely and grieved years later with the death of his own family during the Holocaust. In response to these tragedies, he coined the term “genocide” to represent acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. What’s critical here is that Lemkin labeled the plight of the Armenians as a genocide.

In 2016, the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, affirmed that it recognized the “Armenian Holocaust” as a genocide. In the same year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), America’s main Jewish human rights group, did the same, condemning Turkey’s denial of the event. However, despite these rulings by the country’s main legislature and the ADL, the country of Israel itself still has not acknowledged the genocide of the Armenians.

At this moment, twenty eight countries have officially recognized the Armenian Genocide including Canada, France, Italy, and Russia. Despite aiding and abetting the Ottoman Empire during the massacres, Turkey’s former partner in crime, Germany, has also confirmed the inhumane nature of the event. As for Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps delaying a debate on legislation about the Armenian Genocide.

I am sure you share in my disappointment that Israel has failed to take the appropriate and long overdue steps to recognize this dark chapter in our history. With so many organizations and others in the Jewish community recognizing the event, it is extremely troubling that the country itself has yet to do so.

Although I am a fourth generation American, I have always maintained an intimate connection to my Armenian roots. My great-grandparents were orphaned by the Armenian Genocide. It is a disservice and an injustice to my ancestors and yours that their deaths are not appropriately commemorated and acknowledged.

The only way to end the perpetual cycle of genocide is through education and dialogue. If we don’t speak up and speak out, we are allowing more genocides to happen. Just look at Darfur. Look at Syria. It is high time for Israel to call this what “IT” is—a genocide.

Danielle Mikaelian

Danielle Mikaelian

Danielle Mikaelian is in her sophomore year at Columbia University. She is majoring in English.
Danielle Mikaelian

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12 Comments

  1. For years Israel had close political, military, tourism, intelligence, trade relations with Turkey. Once Erdogan is gone, Israel and Turkey will once again become allies. In addition, Israel sells billions of dollars worth of weapons’ to Turkey Jr. aka Azerbaijan. These two reasons make Genocide recognition by Israel impossible.

  2. Nicely said. However with all due respect, The Armenian Genocide was the second of the century and the Holocaust the third. The Herero and NAmaqua genocide in South West Africa at the hands of the Germans was the first: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herero_and_Namaqua_Genocide

    Also to be precise, the Armenian Genocide should be referred to as the Genocide of Armenians, Pontic Greeks and Assyrians (Or “Syfo). Close to 3 million people perishe din Anaolia between 1915-1923.

    • I agree with Atamian. It should be the “Genocide of Armenians”. People unfamiliar with the genocide of Armenians might think “Armenian Genocide” means we perpetrated the 1915-1922 genocide. As well, I don’t see why it’s referred to as the “first genocide of the 20th century”. There’s no competition for being the first or the latest genocide. It’s a fact that the genocide of the Herero by the Germans was earlier. Thus the Germans had participated in two genocides (Herero and Armenian) before launching the genocides of several European nations.

  3. Agree with the article and comments. Here are some additional observations:
    – Israel has been amoral. The only consideration they have is their survival. They have no principles or moral compass.

    – Israel will sell arms and military technical advice to whoever can pay. In the case of Azerbaijan, there are no strategic considerations other than money; historically there are no connections between Israel and Azerbaijan.

    – Israel and Jewish organizations have been milking Germany of billions of dollars as reparations. They fear and are falsely concerned that if the Genocide is recognized, the gravity of the holocaust will be diminished and will dry up the cash cow.

    – Israel follows the US policy. As long as Turkey is part of NATO, and NATO’s biggest and most important military base is in Inverlik Turkey, it is not conceivable that the US, Israel and the UK recognize the Genocide. This is a sad reality.
    – Recognition of the Genocide is important but not crucial. The Genocide is an undeniable, proven, documented,and beyond any doubt, a fact. What is more crucial that can change the dynamics and the paradigm is Reparations. What is needed are experienced and highly reputable lawyers that can make our case in courts that are deemed to be neutral and just; this will garner the exposure we need and hit their pockets.

    That is why, every Armenian within his means should support the Armenian Center for Legal Justice. There is a lot of work to be done but it needs support, both morally and financially.

    Vart Adjemian

    • I would go beyond what Vart and say that Israeli foreign policy has always been immoral.
      Israel has armed and trained far-right dictatorships in Latin America and Africa. It was a secret ally of apartheid South Africa and worked with that racist country to develop nuclear bombs. There’s evidence that Israel tested its nuclear bomb in the South Atlantic off South Africa. These days, Israel secretly works with the corrupt medieval kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It also helps the murderous ISIS so as to bring down Assad. Of course, the above list is not even remotely comprehensive.

  4. In regards to the “first genocide of the 20th century”, we have had this argument here before, and I am tired of seeing the same old claims on these pages over and over with people bringing their “research” from wikipedia without doing any critical thinking. So I am once again forced to present this case.

    I don’t accept that the “Herero and Namaqua genocide” was an actual ‘genocide’. There are far greater forces at play here than you wikipedia warriors on this page realize, thus you are the “useful idiots” for their cause, which just happens to be an anti-Armenian plot. Why? For two very simple reasons: 1. The ‘special status’ of the Armenian Genocide as the “first of the century” gets deleted. 2. The Holocaust story gets promoted and strengthened at the expense of number 1. Thus, the Armenian Genocide becomes “just another genocide”, but the so-called “uniqueness” of the Holocaust remains. And as we continue on this dangerous path, giving it some time, soon the Armenian Genocide will even take a back seat to this claimed ‘genocide’.

    Now allow me to go into a bit of history, admittedly based on my limited reading of the incident, but nevertheless I am convinced of my conclusion. What happened in regards to the H & N peoples was a heinous crime. Genocide? No. As far as I can tell there is no proof that the ‘German Government’ decided to “destroy a people in whole or in part” – premeditated and deliberately. If there is any proof, I would gladly revisit my opinion.

    In fact, the German general in charge made his own criminal decision without consultation with the German Government. When news actually reached the German Government, they actually ordered the general to stop, keeping in mind that at that time, communication was quite slow by today’s standards. In this regard maybe the German Government should be commended instead of being charged with ‘genocide’. The German general’s criminal response was simply his decision at the way their imperialist subjects were attempting to reject their rule. This was an imperialist crime, no different than the ones carried out by the UK and France on other peoples.

    Despite the violent, and militaristic nature of Germany a century ago, and in defense of TODAY’S Germany, what it looks like is that since Germany lost both world wars, it seems pretty safe to pile on all the genocides on her by everyone who wishes to have their own “genocide”.

    This all amounts to False Witness against Germany. And Germans are today a subjugated and defeated people who cannot even attempt to defend themselves by honestly reviewing and telling their history. And if they do try, the main weapon against them is always at the ready: “You are a Nazi” – the biggest fear of a German.

    Also, I don’t believe that “Germany has accepted her crimes of committing genocide” legally on this matter, even if they are using that term. That is why this topic is still being debated there it seems, unlike the Holocaust, and I suspect their relationship with the Holocaust Industry is what prevents them from denying outright that what happened was a ‘genocide’ because then that would make them “look like Nazis”. But Germany does feel responsible nevertheless, so they agreed to help the people by giving ‘aid’ – and I don’t believe they call it ‘reparations’.

    A final word about “the first genocide”. Let us assume that the “Herero and Namaqua genocide” was actually a ‘genocide’. Fact: the term ‘genocide’ and legal definition was brought forth based on what happened to the Armenians and NOT the Herero and Namaqua. Thus, the Armenian Genocide can STILL be considered the “first genocide of the 20th century”. At the very least, the Armenian Genocide would have the special status as having started the process by which genocides are recognized and dealt with. This means, the ‘first’ to bring recognition of genocide is “the first” – and it happens to be in the 20th century. So the “first genocide of the 20th century” is NOT about the date, but about the start of the process of recognition. Thus, the author is correct, and the posters above are wrong with their claim, regardless.

  5. The most obvious yet least talked about reason they don’t recognize the Genocide is because their forefathers created and funded The Young Turks. The Ottoman Empire was dismantled by Zionists claiming to be Turkish revolutionists. This is not a conspiracy. Many of the Young Turks were also Donmehs, which literally means Jews acting as Turks. Here are a few of them: Tekin Alp, Emmanuel Carasso Efendi, Mehmet Cavit Bey, all prominent members of the Young Turks.

  6. Congratulations to Ms. Mikaelian and the Armenian Weekly for this fine article.

    The following commentary by the Armenian Americans for Human Rights organization discusses the Armenian Genocide-denying history of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as well as the ADL’s being the very opposite of the civil and human rights group it claims to be.

    “No to the Anti-Defamation League in Glendale and Elsewhere”:

    http://www.armenianlife.com/2018/08/26/no-to-the-anti-defamation-league-in-glendale-and-elsewhere/

  7. So an Israeli official goes to Armenia, visits the Armenian Genocide monument and proceeds to insult the Armenian nation and victims of the Genocide by spewing Turkish denialist venom.

    OK. So were there any consequences? The answer is no, therefore it is the fault of us Armenians who allow this to happen, and in particular the wussy Armenian Government, who, since 1991 has been scared of its own shadow in dealing with such snakes on the international scene.

    Here was another missed opportunity to make an example of this Israeli snake and send a clear message to his ilk, and of course, no one there cares enough, or is intelligent enough, or competent enough to do anything about it. That snake should have immediately been EXPELLED from Armenia and been told never to return, and make the whole incident at the national level and in the news. We have no one to blame but ourselves.

  8. Should Israel decide to strike Iranian’s nuclear program, the pilots would have to travel 1000 miles one way in order to reach Iranian airspace, not to mention the danger the pilots would have to encounter. Common sense dictates, by signing a military agreement with Azeris, the Israelis would have an airbase right at the backyard of Iran, where launching air strikes would be easier and very convenient. Therefore,not recognizing the Armenian Genocide, is a logical step for the Israeli government, since it would upset both Turkey and their younger brother Azerbaijan,also, not being able to reach a military agreement.

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