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

March 15 2021

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.

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Read more at Israel National News

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

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror