Setting the Record Straight on Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Jews

When a longstanding conflict in the Caucasus erupted into war last year, some argued that Israel should support Azerbaijan—with which it has strong economic and security ties, and which has proved an important ally in containing Iran—against Armenia—which has in recent decades been more closely aligned with Russia and Iran. (Jerusalem, in fact, opted for a more neutral stance.) Others took this argument even further, contrasting a philo-Semitic Azerbaijan to an anti-Semitic Armenia. But such a perspective picks and chooses facts without context, and obscures long-standing Armenian ties with Judaism and the Land of Israel, argues the historian Reuven Amitai, along with several other experts:

The Armenians are an ancient civilization, and were the first to accept Christianity as their national faith. The Armenian Quarter in the Old City of our national capital, Jerusalem, has existed for 1,500 years. . . . The far-flung Armenian community excelled in business, in medicine, and in the arts and letters—their name for their diaspora comes from the Hebrew word galut. Although Armenia has no indigenous Jewish community, the presence of Hebrew religious terminology in Armenian suggests some very early connections.

A century ago, Ottoman Turkish nationalists used the First World War as a pretext to exterminate the Armenians, who were accused, as Jews often are, of being a disloyal fifth column. . . . A Czech Jewish novelist, Franz Werfel, wrote The Forty Days of Musa Dagh, a bestseller about the successful armed resistance of Armenian villagers against Turkish deportation orders. The book inspired both our Warsaw Ghetto fighters in 1943 and our Haganah as it prepared to fight a last stand on Mount Carmel if the Nazis broke through to the Land of Israel.

Anti-Semitism is deep-rooted and endemic in Armenia, though no more so than it is in most Christian societies. [It is also true that] Armenia erects statues and otherwise reveres the memory of Garegin Nzhdeh, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, [or “Dashnaks”], who formed and commanded an Armenian unit in the Nazi army. . . . But he is commemorated in Armenia not for his record in World War II but for his previous military role in the defense of the nascent first Armenian Republic after the genocide of 1915.

Read more at Israel National News

More about: Anti-Semitism, Armenians, Azerbaijan, Israel diplomacy

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy