Photo: Vandalized Armenian Genocide commemoration poster, Jerusalem, Armenian Quarter, Armenian Patriarchate street, 2015.
By Jirair Tutunjian, Toronto, 2 July 2020
Armenia has announced it will open an embassy in Israel.
Armenia’s President Armen Sarkissian believes Armenia can benefit from Israel’s technical know-how and from joint scientific research projects. The presence of the embassy would also be good for Armenians living in Israel, Sarkissian maintains.
Sarkissian is a good PR man for Armenia. He knows all the comforting words, comes across avuncular, and has superb interpersonal skills but his reasons for opening the embassy are smoke-and-mirror or wishful thinking.
Opening an embassy in Israel is a bad idea.
- To believe Israel would be interested in joint scientific projects with Armenia—or help the country that is at war with Israel’s number-one weapons’ buyer–is a non-starter. Besides, why would Israel—one of the scientifically most advanced countries in the world–need scientific assistance from Armenia?
- The Haredim have a history of insulting Jerusalem Armenians. These “religious” hooligans have also ripped Armenian Genocide posters from the Armenian Quarter’s walls. What will the Armenian ambassador do when he hears a Haredim student has yet again spat at an Armenian priest or torn a Genocide poster? The fundamentalist Haredim, with 1.8 million members, is one of the biggest “minorities” in Israel. They are also notoriously unlawful: the authorities treat them with kid gloves because of the Haredim voting clout. Should a developing country like Armenia invest millions for an embassy when the returns are so meager?
- In the past decade, Azerbaijan has, on the average, bought $1.2 to $1.3 billion worth of weapons from Israel every year. In 2016, President Ilham Aliyev said: “We have bought almost $5 billion worth of Israel military goods.” Israel buys more than $1-billion of oil from Azerbaijan (Baku is Israel’s top energy provider). Soon it will also buy natural gas from Azerbaijan. What will Armenia buy from Israel or sell to it?
- Despite President Recep Erdogan’s theatrical fulminations against the Israeli treatment of Palestinians, Turkey and Israel cooperate in many ways, including in intelligence gathering. Israeli and Turkish friendship goes back to the early months of Israel when Turkey sold much-needed food to Tel Aviv. Israel exports annually more than $1.1 billion worth of goods to Turkey and imports about $1.6 billion in goods and services. Why would Israel compromise—even slightly–its lucrative trade and important strategic relations with the Turkbeijan pair for the sake of Armenia?
- Despite U.S. and Western European support, Israel is ostracized by my countries (the UN has passed more resolutions against Israel than it has against the combined 185 UN states.) Recently, Israel annexed Syria’s Golan Heights and is planning further annexation of the West Bank.
- Not only it doesn’t recognize the Armenian Genocide, but through its lobby in the U.S., Israel has made sure the Genocide is not recognized by Washington. It has extended the “favor” to Turkey to keep Ankara on its side. Now the Israeli media—with few exceptions–is going after Armenia to demonstrate to Baku the advantages of being friendly with Israel. As well, many Jewish Diaspora “journalists” have found the Israeli media eager to publish anti-Armenian propaganda. The attacks on Armenia are so pervasive that one suspects it’s a concerted campaign.
- Although Armenian prime ministers, presidents, foreign ministers, and Catholicos have visited Israel, the only prominent Israeli who has been to Yerevan is its chief rabbi.
- The opening of the embassy would hurt Armenia’s vital relations with Iran. Iranian leaders have already expressed their dismay while Iranian university students have demonstrated at the Armenian Embassy in Tehran.
- The embassy’s existence would hurt the dwindling Armenian communities of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt. Egypt has hinted it might recognize the Genocide. If it does, other Arab states might follow. Twice in the past year, the Tobruk-based Libyan government, which is headed by Marshal Khalifa Haftar, recognized the Armenian Genocide.
- When Armenia announced its intention to open an embassy, there was no sign from Israel that it would even consider opening a consulate in Armenia. It was like sending a love letter and not receiving a reply. Not reciprocating, nay, not even considering opening a consulate in Armenia is an Israeli slap that only Armenia’s leadership seems to have not heard. In North American parlance, someone should translate the Israeli message and ask Armenia’s Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: “What part of ‘No’ don’t you understand?”
- Some might believe having an embassy in Tel Aviv might endear us to Washington. That’s not likely: we are not on Washington’s radar these days. Even petrodollar-rich Azerbaijan gets more U.S. aid than does the impoverished, blockaded and embattled Armenia.
- There are scores of more worthy countries where Armenia should have diplomatic representation. In next-door Jordan, whose King Abdullah II recently visited Armenia, there’s an honorary consul. Uruguay, which is the first country to recognize (April 20, 1965) the Armenian Genocide, Armenia is represented by an honorary consul. Meanwhile, Israel has embassies/consulates in such international heavyweights as Eritrea, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Guatemala, the Dominican Republic…
- Did you know Armenia has diplomatic representation in Andorra and Liechtenstein? The main ‘industries’ of these two-stamp-sized jurisdictions are banking, money-laundering, and secret bank accounts. Their importance to Armenia’s elite can’t be overstated: how would politicians, diplomats, and oligarch in Armenia function without these outlets which facilitate their under-the-table transactions?