Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday that Israel had an obligation to
remember the murder of more than a million Armenians at the hands of the Turks
nearly a hundred years ago, but warned that the issue should not be turned into
an attack on the Turkish government of today.
Rivlin made the comments at
a Knesset discussion on the Armenian genocide. Speaking a day before
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss was scheduled to release a report on
Israel’s interception of Turkish ships bound for the Gaza Strip, Rivlin insisted
that the discussion of the Armenian genocide was not politically
“Those who drafted the Final Solution for the Jews figured the
world would be silent as they were when the Armenians were murdered,” Rivlin
“We cannot forgive nations who ignore our disaster and we cannot
ignore the disasters of others,” Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, who initiated
the Knesset discussion, accused the government of Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu of using the Armenian tragedy to attack Turkey.
Gal-On said the
government should “finally recognize” the episode as a genocide and restore
relations with Turkey by agreeing to apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish
pro-Palestinian activists at the hands of IDF commandos during the May 2010 raid
of the Mavi Marmara vessel, which was part of a flotilla attempting to break the
blockade of the Gaza Strip.
“The Armenian genocide is not an opportunity
for public diplomacy,” Gal-On told the Knesset plenum. “Israel is strong enough
to apologize for the killing of Turkish citizens without it harming Israel’s
honor or its security. We don’t need to choose between recognizing
genocide and relations with Turkey. We can have both.”
“The Jewish people
who have experienced the worst Holocaust have an obligation to show sensitivity
to the disasters of others,” she added.
National Union MK Arieh Eldad
called on Turkey to recognize its responsibility for its “historical crime,”
which he said included children being “put into cellars and
Eldad quoted Adolf Hitler as having said “Who remembers what
happened to the Armenians,” when he was asked what the world would say about his
Final Solution against the Jews.
Kadima MK Robert Tibayev was the only
lawmaker to speak against Israel recognizing the Armenian genocide, saying the
state should not interfere in the issue but let historians or an international
body determine if there was a genocide.
Balad MK Said Nafa, a Christian,
took the opportunity to accuse current Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
Erdogan of being hypocritical by complaining about the atrocities being
committed by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his people while he himself
has killed dozens of Kurds.