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.

Read more at Israel National News

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

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada