Recognition of the Armenian Genocide was long-awaited


Israel’s delicate situation with Turkey is not nearly as important as it was, especially with Israel’s growing ties in the Arab world. EMILY SCHRADER

MEMBERS OF the Armenian diaspora rally in front of the Turkish Embassy after US President Joe Biden recognized that the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide, in Washington last week.

(photo credit: JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS)

After 106 years, the world may finally be taking a stand against Turkish bullying tactics to cover up the Armenian Genocide.

Last year, the US Congress formally recognized the Armenian Genocide, and this week President Joe Biden made history as the first US president to formally recognize the Armenian Genocide, ending a long-standing US government appeasement of Turkey on the issue.

Biden’s statement said, “The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” and emphasized the importance of recognition in order to avoid future atrocities.

That is one more reason that it’s time for Israel to follow in the footsteps of the US Congress and the US president with a formal recognition.

WHILE THIS may seem like a game of semantics to some, in reality it is far more than a symbolic measure, because these words have consequences.

For over 100 years, the Armenian people have not only been denied reparations or reconciliation, but in many cases even acknowledgment.

Only 30 countries around the world have formally recognized the Armenian Genocide, many of which are NATO allies. Sadly, others in the international community have been complicit in refusing to recognize the Armenian Genocide, because of Turkey’s role in the international community.

Meanwhile, Turkey has spent decades erasing evidence and persecuting those who speak the truth about the Armenian Genocide, even previously imprisoning academics who used the term “genocide.”

Just last week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed to “continue to defend the truth against the so-called Armenian Genocide lie.” Following Biden’s announcement Saturday, Turkey even summoned the US ambassador in Ankara over the recognition, stating Turkey condemns it “in the strongest terms,” and that it will damage relations with the US.

Yet while the US and others have been soft on Turkey due to geopolitical interests, Turkey has only gotten worse when it comes to human rights, even carrying out a new campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds in Syria.

That is why the problem runs deeper than just words with this recognition – and the evidence is clear in the genocides we continue to see since the Armenian Genocide, from the Holocaust to Darfur to Muslims in China today. How can we expect the world to take action against genocide when we can’t even recognize what happened before?

The press has frequently discussed the “controversy” over the recognition, noting that it’s “polarizing,” but it shouldn’t be polarizing to acknowledge facts and recognize the systematic murder of 1.5 million people – not now and not 106 years ago.

To review: During the Armenian Genocide, Armenian Christians were rounded up by the Ottoman Turks, the direct predecessors to the modern state of Turkey. The goal of the genocide was clear – to eradicate the Armenian people. Experts estimate that 1.5 million Armenians were systematically murdered from 1914 to 1918.

Prior to that, Armenians and particularly Armenian academics faced tremendous persecution, but in 1915, with the passing of the Tehcir Law, hundreds of thousands of Armenians were forcibly displaced, robbed of their property and belongings, and sent on death marches into the Syrian desert. Despite significant historical evidence as well as academic sources, Turkey continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Biden’s shift in policy toward the Armenian Genocide is long overdue, and it is certainly a part of Biden’s effort to promote human rights around the world, but it also comes on the heels of a shifting geopolitical landscape in which Turkey’s human rights record has continued to deteriorate under Erdogan.

The US administration is taking a moral position and setting an example with the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. If Israel’s strongest ally, the United States, has taken such steps, why then is Israel still refusing?

Israel’s delicate situation with Turkey is not nearly as important as it was, especially with Israel’s growing ties in the Arab world.

While legislators such as MK Tamar Zandberg, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar have all voiced support for recognizing the Armenian Genocide, so far multiple resolutions have failed in Knesset due to Israel’s political interests (or that of the government).

For a nation like Israel, whose people has been so deeply impacted by the greatest genocide of our time, to continue to put political interests over genocide recognition is simply inexcusable. The US is already on board. It’s time for Israel to remedy this.

The writer is the CEO of Social Lite Creative LLC and a research fellow at the Tel Aviv Institute. 



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