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|A Mixed Bag of Advice
Keghart.org, Editorial 4 February 2021
To read the Armenian translation click on ՄԻ ՏՈՊՐԱԿ ԽԱՌԸ ԽՈՐՀՈՒՐԴՆԵՐ
One thing Armenia hasn’t been short of since September’s debacle has been advice. There has been good advice, misguided advice, and a mixed bag. A January article “What Armenia should learn from Israel” in the Austrian the realist by Konstantin Ghazaryan belongs to the last group.
Armenia-born Ghazaryan, a recent arrival to Austria, is the CEO of Austrian-Armenian Forum, is active in the Austrian People’s Party, is chairman of Action Community, has co-founded the on-line the platform, and is teaching assistant at the University of Salzburg where he is a student. As well, he writes political op-eds. He is a welcome addition to the community of Armenian diaspora writers. His article cited Israel as an exemplar for Armenia’s recovery. The op-ed is informative when Ghazaryan discusses the pillars of Israeli success: strong military, eradication of corruption, attracting diaspora Jews, and practising realpolitik. The article provides a near-complete account of Armenia’s shortcomings (military unpreparedness, corruption, disastrous educational system, the mentality in the business culture, and jingo). The article falters when he compares Armenia and its diaspora with Israel and its diaspora.
Because many of Ghazaryan’s assertions about Israel are repeated ad nausea by many Armenians, it is worthwhile to go through Ghazaryan’s take.
It was the Jewish diaspora that created Israel through its wealth and influence in Europe and in the Americas. The Jewish diaspora, in most instances, is wealthier than the “indigenous” people (American, British, Canadian, and French) among whom they live. Rather than list all the areas diaspora Jews dominate in the West, here’s a look at two areas: politics and economy. The Rothschilds helped finance many European wars starting in the 18th century. They enabled Britain to purchase shares in the Suez Canal Company. The most successful 19th century British prime minister was Benjamin Disraeli. Today, there are 23 MPs and 10 peers who are Jewish. Four-hundred-and-twelve British Jews have received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire. Jewish Dominic Raab is the acting prime minister of Britain. There’s the powerful All-Party Britain-Israel Parliamentary Group, Friends of Israel political group, and the Israel Britain Alliance among others. Two of the biggest supermarket chains (Tesco and Sainsbury’s) are Jewish-owned. The Marks & Spencer department store chain is also Jewish-owned. There are 300,000 Jews in Britain compared to 18,000 Armenians.
The picture in France, where there are 450,000 Jews, is similar to that of Britain. Armenian sources say there are 400,000 French-Armenians but the majority are so assimilated that their only Armenian connection is the “ian” and DNA. Leon Gambetta, president of France in the 19th century, was Jewish. In the 20th century there were four Jewish prime ministers of France (Leon Blum, Pierre Mendes France, Rene Meyer, and Michel Debre) plus three foreign ministers (Maurice Schumann, Jack Lang, and Bernard Kouchner). Ex-President Nicholas Sarkozy is Jewish.
In business: Isaac and Daniel Carasso (founders of Danone), Andre Citroen (founder of Citroen auto company), Marcel Dassault (aerospace and military aircraft), Gerard Louis-Dreyfus (industrialist), the Rothschilds, and the head of the world’s biggest PR company are Jewish. Three 20th century Italian presidents (Alessandro Fortis, Sidney Sonnino, and Luigi Luzzati) were Jewish.
It’s in the U.S. where the Jewish diaspora has made the strongest impact on the creation and survival of Israel. In the Civil War, Judah Benjamin was the Confederate Secretary of State. Although American Jews number around 7.5 million (2.5 percent of the population) many Americans overestimate their number because of the ubiquity of the Jews. Jews in America are the most organized, most dynamic, and most influential group. Twenty-eight members of the U.S. Congress are Jewish with nine in the Senate. The heavyweights of the former (Adam Schiff, Debbie Wasserman Schultz) and the latter (Dianne Feinstein, Bernie Sanders, and Charles Schumer) are Jewish. Nine key members of President Joe Biden’s inner circle (Secretary of State, Director of CIA, Director of National Intelligence, Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of the Treasury, White House Chief of Staff, Deputy Secretary of State, Secretary of Political Affairs, Office of Science & Technology Policy) are Jewish.
It’s estimated by Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Oct. 2015) that (a conservative figure and not adjusted to inflation) U.S. direct aid to Israel since 1948 is about $138 billion. This doesn’t include indirect aid, loan guarantees, emergency aid, training, scholarships, forgiven debts, armaments, etc. It also doesn’t include tax-deduction for donations to Israel. U.S. assistance to Armenia is $2 billion since 1991. U.S. Jewish organizations send about $1 billion a year to Israel. The Armenia Fund has send $100 million to Armenia in the past decade, not counting the emergency funds raised during the September invasion.
The richer Jewish diaspora (9 million) is 50 percent larger and richer than the Armenian diaspora of 6 million. Being new immigrants to the West, Armenians are not as well established as Jews. Ghazaryan is partly justified in his admiration on how Israel has attracted and settled diaspora Jews. He regrets Armenia hasn’t followed a similar policy. Until independence, Armenia had no authority to decide immigration. Post-independence, it had too many problems to attract anyone. There was also no affluent diaspora or a $138 billion U.S. windfall to settle newcomers. We haven’t forgotten Armenia’s corrupt business environment which discouraged diaspora investment. Another incentive for Jews to immigrate to Israel is anti-Semitism and Arab hostility. Since 1948, 800,000 Oriental Jews have settled in Israel.
The above differences are the tip of the iceberg when comparing Armenia and its diaspora with Israel and its diaspora. Armenia desperately needs diasporan repatriation. But rather than try to duplicate what Israel and its super-rich diaspora have done, we should devise our own mission and program on how to make the Armenian diaspora more effective.
Another excellent article from Keghart.
Fully agree with this editorial and am tired of the recommendation that we be like the great deceivers of the universe!
Great editorial! I trust Ghazaryan has seen or been sent a copy of this article...