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

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security