“Who can protest and does not,
is an accomplice in the act.”
By Prof. Z. S. Andrew Demirdjian, Los Angeles, 7 November 2022
Since September 27, 2020 the Republic of Artsakh (aka Nagorno-Karabakh) military forces have been engaged in a war of survival. It is fighting against an enemy mob consisting of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Syrian jihadist mercenaries, Pakistanis, including a government aiding and abating the criminal tripartite, namely Israel.
Israeli leaders’ complicity in the Artsakh-Azerbaijan conflict has not only dismayed the Armenians but has also disturbed people around the world including many intellectual Jews. After the attack on Artsakh on September 27, 2020 by Turkey-Azerbaijan and terrorist jihadists, a dozen or so articles were written as to why Israel helped Azerbaijan against the Armenians of Artsakh who achieved self-determination democratically thirty years ago.
One would have assumed Israel’s sympathies would lie with the Armenians. Armenians and Jews share historical as well as geopolitical parallels. Both have gone through holocausts in the 20th century; both nations have been scattered all over the world; both have been facing existential threats from their neighbors among other common predicaments. On the positive ledger, both nations have been resilient enough to rise out of the ashes. One could say the two nations are brothers in misfortune. Yet, one wonders as to why Israeli leaders have decided to side with rogue Turkey and criminal Azerbaijan in an unjust war. Let’s consider the main reasons as to why Israel is tarnishing its image by aiding and abating President Erdogan and President Aliyev in their nefarious attacks on civilian population centers in Armenia and Artsakh with modern Israeli weapons and military advisors.
Knesset has decided it’s legal for Israel to sell weapons to Azerbaijan. But is it moral to do so? Is there a way we can win Israel over, at least, to stop shipping weapons to Azerbaijan while war rages on? Chances are slim, but anything is possible since there are many righteous Jews in the world. Despite our low expectations, let’s examine the primary reasons why Israel ignores moral questions and supports the large military aggression against Artsakh.
Articles citing the reasons why Israel helps Azerbaijan say 1. It’s a lucrative business; 2. Israel needs oil (it buys from Azerbaijan at good prices – at 40% discount); 3. Israel needs to spy on Iran (it uses southern Azerbaijan to spy on Iran); 4. Israel needs strategic command (it has two bases in Azerbaijan); 5. Israel and Iran are enemies (Azerbaijan is not so friendly with Iran); 6. There are no benefits in protecting Armenia; 7. Mountain Jews of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has a sizeable Jewish community. To ingratiate themselves to the Azerbaijanis, Jews of Azerbaijan constantly ask Israel to help Azerbaijan. They know they would be treated shabbily like other minorities of Azerbaijan.
The Jewish community of Azerbaijan is called Mountain Jews, Caucasus Jews, Juhuro, and Kavkazi Jews. They live mainly in Azerbaijan and in various republics of the Russian Federation. Mountain Jews are supposed to be the descendants of ancient Persian Jews. They speak Judeo-Tat, an ancient Southwest Iranian language which integrates many elements of ancient Hebrew.
Roughly, 22,000 – 50,000 Mountain Jews live in Azerbaijan; 762 (2010 census) live in Russia; and 100,000 – 150,000 live in Israel. They also have a small population in the United States (10,000 – 40,000) and in Austria (220 in 2012 census).
Mountain Jews live mainly in and around Qirmizi (Red Village) in the northeast corner of Azerbaijan. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan discovered that Turkey benefited a lot from Israel. Thus, they began to treat the Mountain Jews with kid gloves. The current plans call for building two synagogues by the Azerbaijani government. It’s a propaganda gimmick to win Israeli’s support.
Prior to the Azerbaijan government’s change of policy Jews were subjected to numerous historical vicissitudes. Thus, they preferred to settle in extremely remote and high mountainous areas instead of living on the warm plains and in fertile valleys of Azerbaijan.
Now the Mountain Jews constantly write about how well the Azerbaijani government treats them and the rest of the minorities in the country. To get the truth, one has to ask the other minorities (Lezgins, the Talish, the Avars, etc.) who dream of being free from Azerbaijan’s yoke.
Most Israelis recognize the Armenian Genocide. For example, a group of Israeli authors wrote an open letter to their government, stating: “One needs to question Israel’s role in an armament effort aimed mainly against a people that like the Jewish people suffered genocidal attacks in the twentieth century. We call upon other Israelis to raise their voice on this important issue.”
Most Israelis who oppose Israel’s support of Azerbaijan find the Israeli government guilty on moral grounds. The Bible and the Talmud/Torah teach moral conduct upon which a lot of laws have been enacted. For example, the Talmud, is the revered source from which the Jewish law is to be derived, says “Who can protest and does not, is an accomplice in the act.” Over the years, this quotation has been interpreted to mean “If you see someone committing a crime and do nothing, you are an accomplice.” While Turkey-Azerbaijan and the Syrian jihadists were bombing and shelling Armenian civilian targets and infrastructure, Israel continued to supply Azerbaijan with weapons.
Azerbaijani armed forces beheaded an Armenian solider on October 16, 2020.
Do the Israeli leaders condone such a barbarian act?
Jewish people know persecution and they know pain and suffering. They won’t tolerate the destruction of another people whose historic experience mirrors theirs.
Armenians use Jews as a standard of success. They admire them and compare themselves with Jews on many endeavors (social, political, educational, and economic).
Consistent with Hitler’s approach, Turkey/Azerbaijan are demonizing the Armenians to launch a second genocide. Their leaders have threatened Armenians with second genocide. Idle talk? Not really! Research shows that those who commit genocide are prone to repeat the crime.
Armenians do not want to alienate the Jewish people because of their unreasonable leaders who fail on moral grounds. A perusal of the Armenian Genocide shows that some notable Jews supported Armenians. To cite two names: Ambassador Henry Morgenthau in the 1900s made the plight of the Armenians known in the United States with his book (Ambassador Morgetenthau’s Story) as well as his passionate speeches. Franz Werfel wrote The Forty Days of Musa Dagh to show the world the struggles, the valor, and the determination of the Armenians to survive the brutal onslaughts of the Ottoman Turks.
Armenians show love and understanding toward minorities for they suffered under the yoke of the Ottoman Turks for 612 years. Yazidis, a minority in Armenia, built their largest temple in the world in Republic of Armenia. Unlike many Europeans, Armenians have never been accused of looking upon Jews as Christ-killers or for heartless usury, or for the control of world power centers. They consider Jews to be smart survivors who have contributed immensely to world civilization.
Back to our question: why is Israel helping Azerbaijan-Turkey? We said for economic and ethnic reasons. We ruled out Mountain Jews because they are not in danger from Armenians forcing Israel to protect them. Consequently, of the two reasons, economic reason stands out.
Israeli politicians are canny and watchful of their own interests even at the expense of innocent people facing genocidal threats. President Joe Biden recognized the massacres of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide. In the early 1990s, Azerbaijan perpetrated massacres of the Armenian population in Baku, Sumgait, and other places.
Grotesque, but it is true. Azerbaijani troops beheaded an Armenian soldier recently and disseminated the images via social media. The Jewish people can not condone such barbarian behavior. The righteous Jews should force their blasphemous leaders who do not follow their own holy books to stop the killing of innocent people for the sake of economic gain.
Emily Schrader wrote in the Jerusalem Post (October 19, 2020): “Morally, Israel must stand with Armenia, a nation with shared values and history similar to the Jewish state.” She also bravely and sincerely said: “We [the Jewish people] are nothing if not a nation that can stick to its principles.”
The righteous Jews deserve a person of character for a leader who can differentiate between right and wrong, someone who has a moral compass to do the right things rather than perpetuate the image of his or her people as Shylocks.
The righteous Jews should remind their leaders to observe what the Talmud mandates them to follow: “Whoever destroys a single life is as guilty as though he had destroyed the entire world; and whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.”
Hopefully, righteous Jews will try to stop their leaders from tainting the image of the Jews. With or without Israel’s participation in arming Azerbaijan Armenians of Artsakh may lose some of the battles. But in the end they will win the war for the Almighty has always been with the righteous and the Armenian warrior spirit has always prevailed. “Shalom to the righteous Jews.”