Israel must recognize the Armenian Genocide now more than ever

Members of the Armenian diaspora rally in front of the Turkish Embassy after U.S. President Joe Biden recognized that the 1915 massacres of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide in Washington, U.S., April 24, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)
By Tamar Uriel-Beeri, The Jerusalem Post, 28 June 2024
This week, Armenia unilaterally recognized Palestinian statehood, becoming the ninth country since April to do so as a direct response to the Israel-Hamas war.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry said that “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza and the ongoing military conflict are among the primary issues on the international political agenda that require settlement.”

The relationship between Israel and Armenia has been strained for quite some time now. Ultimately, it comes down to a handful of factors.

The first is the issue of Israel’s support for Azerbaijan via its defense systems amid the Nagorno-Karabakh armed conflict. According to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute released in 2021, Israel was the source of 69% percent of Azerbaijan’s arms imports in the five years leading up to the report being published.
An Armenian protester holds a banner reading ‘1915 never again’ as she takes part in a demonstration near the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in January (credit: REUTERS)
An Armenian protester holds a banner reading ‘1915 never again’ as she takes part in a demonstration near the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg in January (credit: REUTERS)

According to Middle East Eye, Azerbaijan was also able to use an Israeli interceptor system to shoot down an Armenian Iskander ballistic missile.

Armenia’s ambassador to Israel, Arman Akopian, told The Jerusalem Post this past September—just one week before the October 7 massacre—that Azerbaijan has been using Israeli weapons to maintain its power over Nagorno-Karabakh, including against civilians.

He then told the Post that he believes Israel does not have Armenia “on its agenda.”

Did Israel forget about Armenia?

“We have seen a lot of military cooperation: Azerbaijan buying Israeli weapons worth billions of dollars, and there is cooperation on military defense and intelligence,” he said. “Azerbaijan’s Silk Way Airlines is making frequent flights to Israel to import weapons. Before this last escalation, a flight went directly from Israel to the city of Ganja, situated just north of Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.

“Any country can sell and buy weapons. The issue is that these weapons end up on our borders and are fired at peaceful civilians.”

At the time, he said he believed the Israeli public was not anti-Armenia. He is correct, and that is the next point: the main one.

Israel has not formally recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Lack of genocide recognition causes strain on ties

In the spring of 1982, before the First International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide, which took place in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Turkey demanded the cancellation of six sessions on the Armenian Genocide and the exclusion of Armenian speakers. They threatened to stop protecting Jews escaping from Iran and Syria if the Israeli government did not comply.

Turkey has not been an ally of Israel for quite some time. While the relationship has been fraught, making the subject a delicate one, Israel is a far cry from being a friend of Turkey right now, especially with the outlandish claims in support of Hamas that the successor state to the Ottoman Empire has made.

That being said, it means that avoiding the recognition of the Armenian Genocide is no conflict of interest on the diplomatic front with Turkey.

As of 2023, some 34 countries around the world have recognized the Armenian Genocide.

Israel—a country made up of people who have experienced genocide, pogroms, and torment—has yet to do so.

Israeli lawmakers and activists have been fighting to bring about this recognition for years.

It is widely recognized that those responsible for the Armenian Genocide largely avoided punishment. Adolf Hitler believed he could commit his atrocities without consequence, citing the lack of action taken for the Armenians as justification.

It’s time Israel joins the West 

With US recognition having come about at the hands of President Joe Biden a couple of years ago, Israel is slowly but surely becoming a minority among Western countries.

Pro-Azerbaijan authors frequently attempt to depict Armenia as responsible for atrocities against Azeris, generating multiple layers of genocide accusations. Both sides strive to persuade Israel and Israeli media to acknowledge their respective claims.

A reader reached out this week following our coverage of Palestinian statehood recognition this week and pointed out that it is “unconscionable that Israel continues to deny the Armenian Genocide and use the deaths of 1.5 million Armenians as a political cudgel for diplomacy and international relations.”

He certainly is not wrong. Recognition of a genocide—something clear as day to anyone with a basic definition of “genocide” and the clear data of the millions killed at the hands of the Ottoman Empire—should not coincide with diplomatic tiptoeing.

If Israel wants to be recognized on the international stage as a voice of sanity and of legitimate morality, it must do the moral thing.

Put the ego aside. Recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Tamar Uriel-Beeri is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of The Jerusalem Post. She was managing editor for three years and has been with the paper since 2018. Her coverage focuses on welfare, namely women’s affairs, in Israel. She is also the author of the weekly Broad Perspective column, sharing her opinions and analyses on the day’s issues from her unique perspective. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, History, and Philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

The Broad Perspective: If Israel wants to be recognized on the international stage as a voice of sanity and of legitimate morality, it must put the ego aside and recognize the Armenian Genocide.

  1. Fat chance of Israel ever formally recognizing the Armenian genocide. It would take away the special status and enormous attention usually accorded to the Jewish genocide.

  2. While Israel is reluctant to recognize the Armenian Genocide because it considers it has a monopoly of the genocide designation, it’s interesting to note that the word “holocaust” which Israel has forced the world to apply only to the suffering of Jews during WWII, back in 1895, the “New York Times” at least twice referred to the Hamidian massacres of Armenians as holocaust. Holocaust means “burnt offering”. Since many Armenians were burnt alive in their houses and churches by the Turks, our holocaust precedes the Jewish holocaust by more than forty years.

  3. We don’t want recognition from Israel,
    We want them not to seed drones and send their military seniors
    to kill our young sons … which they did in the Artsakh war
    We lost >5000 and >7000s are handicapped.

  4. Why would descendants of genocide survivors feel anything but revulsion at the idea of “recognition” from a warmongering settler state engaged in Genocide and ethnic cleansing?

  5. I believe that Israel and Turkey are tacit allies. If Turkey were genuinely concerned and outraged at what Israel is doing to the Palestinians it can stop the delivery of Azeri oil to Israel from it’s territory. Israel imports 70% of it’s oil from Azerbaijan via Turkey.

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