An Attempt to Bring Different Positions Closer Together

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By Hagop Avedikian

I would like to present several observations I have made, based on purely personally impressions, after closely following the parliamentary proceeiings and the work of the consultatory commission of representatives of the Jewish European diaspora who came to Yerevan upon the invitation of the World Armenian Congress. All this took place at an appropriate level and with fitting Armenian hospitality.

The parliamentary speeches and the consultatory commission’s materials, with the titles “World without Genocides” and “Prospects for Cooperation of Two Diasporan Organizations” already sketch the framework of the issues being raised, with the additional circumstance of the pending 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and the 70th of the Shoah (Holocaust).

The struggle against denialism, misanthropy, racism and religious fanaticism were the issues which concerned the Jewish side. Meanwhile the Armenian side remained fixated chiefly on the issue of recognition of the Genocide, especially since two days prior to the talks the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, who previously was known to us in the Knesset as an advocate of recognition of the Armenian Genocide, refused to ratify the annual resolution to examine this in the very same Knesset.

Amazingly, this situation was not raised by the Armenian side in the way that was necessary. Our orators basically were satisfied with calls for Armenian-Jewish friendship. One even did not avoid mentioning that he had the honor of spending the night in the house of former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres’ house, and did not forget to call the latter a “genius.”

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In general, despite certain exceptions, in such political forums our compatriots’ non-political — I would say “Armenian-like [hayavari]” — speeches and emotional displays betrayed a naïve inclination to be pleasing to foreigners, which, on the contrary, leaves an unfavorable impression. The advice of one of the leaders of the Jews, the first Israeli prime minister, Golda Meir, to her people, must always be remembered: “We do not need other nations to love us. It is better that henceforth they fear and respect us, rather than love us.

As far as the Jewish representatives are concerned, they were incomparably industrious and dedicated to their work. The formula “if you give, I will give” was predominant with them. Although they proposed working together with Armenians in certain countries, and in particular it was suggested to fight against genocide in the educational and public realms, I did not notice any interest in aiding in the issue of achieving recognition of the Armenian Genocide, nor in assisting in the removal of its consequences.

What interested them was, for example, our good neighborly relations with Iran, in return raising their concern not to further complicate Israel’s present “delicate” relations with Turkey. Instead they stressed the necessity of fighting anti-Semitism and Islamic fundamentalism with joint forces.

In any case it can be said that this initiative was very important as a beginning and can serve to bring closer together our and their positions. This is especially true since an understanding was reached to continue contacts and meetings in order to deepen ties and consultations.

And this, in any case, is an important beginning at the threshold of the 100th anniversary.

(Translated from the Armenian in Azg.)

* Editorial Note: It should not be forgotten that Shimon Peres as Israeli foreign minister went to Ankara in 2001 and on the eve of his visit declared that what the Armenians went through was not a genocide. Ironically, despite such efforts to please the Turks, years later at Davos, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accused Peres, now Israel’s president, of “knowing how to kill.”