JERUSALEM — Prof. Israel Charny, a longtime champion of recognition of the Armenian Genocide, is looking back at the uphill battle he has waged in his country for the recognition of that genocide, the cost to him personally and professionally, and why he keeps on doing what he does.
In a recent interview from his home, Charny, 90, spoke with enthusiasm about his new book, titled Israel’s Failed Response to the Armenian Genocide: Denial, State Deception, Truth Versus Politicization of History and his reasons for writing it.
The book details the efforts by the Israeli government to thwart the first International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide, organized by Charny, in 1982. The conference was notable for including for the first-time scholars presenting papers on the Armenian Genocide in a conference on the Holocaust.
In the end, the conference went on, but not without a bruising fight from Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Remembrance Center, and Elie Wiesel, noted Holocaust survivor and human rights advocate, acting at the behest of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs led by Shimon Peres.
The book presents the chain of events through cables to and from the Foreign Ministry, which tried to disrupt the conference.
Charny recalled that the impetus for the book came from one of his graduate students who had been participating in his monthly seminars and had successfully dug up once-classified government communications regarding the event.