It is a historical fact that no country in Eurasia has closer or warmer ties with Israel than Azerbaijan. The relationship between the two countries is particularly surprising because Azerbaijan is a majority Muslim secular and strong country in the region of South Caucasus. Over the 26-year history of diplomatic relations between Azerbaijan and Israel, there have been many positive and worthy events between the two countries and peoples, demonstrating the strategic value and vitality of these relations. These countries proved the necessity and viability of the relationship between the Jewish state and the secular state with the Muslim majority. Our friendly states act as true and stable strategic partners and relations continue to strengthen.
Azerbaijanis have never viewed Jews as foreigners or aliens. The Jewish people have never experienced harassment, insults, pogroms and antisemitic actions in Azerbaijan. Every Jew who has ever visited Azerbaijan can confirm that the Jews living here can quietly visit a synagogue without going through a police cordon, walk around the city in their national clothes and head covering, whereas doing so even in some developed countries of the West can be dangerous.
In contrast, the American Armenian newspaper Asbarez recently published a hostile antisemitic and anti-Israeli article, called “What Would Happen If an Armenian Diplomat Questions the term Holocaust while in Israel?”
The article’s author, Ara Khachatourian, wrote, “‘The tragedy of the Armenian nation is a historical question of what to call it, but what has happened is a fact that everyone accepts. It is not a matter of political discussion. Let historians decide what to call the tragedy.’ This is what Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Ben-Zvi [he is actually a deputy of the Eurasia Department of Israeli Foreign Affairs] said on Tuesday when visiting the so-called ‘Armenian Genocide’ Memorial Complex.
“Upon reading this, I thought what would happen if one of Armenia’s deputy foreign ministers visited Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, and paid tribute to the victims of Nazi Germany’s systematic annihilation of Jews and pussyfooted around using the word ‘Holocaust.’ Most likely, all hell would break loose.”
Such statements are common in the Armenian media. Israel does not officially recognize the events of 1915 year as a genocide; this causes significant anti-Israeli and antisemitic hysteria in Armenia and the Armenian press. Among the range of sins that Jews and Israelis are accused of is the display of natural egoism and a desire to monopolize the very concept of “genocide.”
The article’s author emphasizes that the recognition of the so-called “Armenian genocide” will strengthen relations between Israel and Armenia. How can one react to this? They set a condition, so if Israel recognizes the “Armenian genocide,” then Armenia will cooperate with it?”
The Israeli Knesset should not bother with this historical and controversial subject. Due to false data and misinformation surrounding the topic, it is necessary for both states to open archives; so that researchers, based on documents and facts, can sort out the truth about these events.
Some say that the Jewish people have a “moral duty” to the Armenian people, yet former Armenian president Serzh Sargsyan officially opened a monument two years ago to the fascist and antisemitic Garegin Nzhdeh, who participated in mass extermination of 20,000 Jews in the Crimea region in Feodosiya and Sevastopol. We do not interfere in the sovereign right of nations to interpret their history and perpetuate the memory of their national heroes. However, we must not remain silent when people who are involved in the monstrous Holocaust crimes are made national heroes. When fascism raises its head in Armenia or anywhere else, the Israelis cannot and should not be silent. Popularization of Nazism, terrorism and fascism must be stopped early or it can spread like fire.
Modern Germany meticulously teaches its young people about the Nazi horrors, but a profound blemish on modern Armenian society is the cult of personality that exists today around Nzhdeh and Drastamat Kanayan, better known as “Dro.” Coins are minted with their likenesses, monuments are erected and films are produced about their lives and deeds as though they are folk heroes. The Jewish people will never forget the cruelty and barbarity of the Armenian Legion of the Nazi Wehrmacht during the Second World War. History will not forget the cruelty of a 20,000-strong Nazi Wehrmacht Armenian Legion.
The anti-Israel article continues: “I am not suggesting that Mnatsakanyan should have started a diplomatic row with Israel, but he and other officials should consider what Israel would do if the situation were reversed and say Armenia were supplying arms to the Palestinians and disrespecting the Holocaust all at the same time.”
As an Israeli citizen, I am not afraid of Armenia’s supplying arms to Palestinian terrorists, as does the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is known that Armenia at the state level pursues a policy of terrorism and separatism. Some 5,000 Azerbaijani hostages that have been in Armenian captivity for more than 26 years are tortured, abused, humiliated and insulted daily.
Moreover, Armenia occupies 20% of the territory of Azerbaijan – Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding regions. Because of the Armenian occupation and ethnic cleansing, Azerbaijan sheltered one million refugees. The conflict itself and the occupation of Azerbaijani territories remain a threat to peace and security in the South Caucasus region.
The State of Israel supports the just position of Azerbaijan and calls for the settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict within the framework of international law and the principle of territorial integrity of states. I think that Israel should continue to appreciate and develop friendly relations with the leader of the South Caucasus – Azerbaijan and not allow any forces to harm these ties.
The writer is a political analyst.