Pope Francis and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II attend a ceremony in commemoration of Armenians killed by Ottoman forces during World War One at the Tzitzernakaberd Genocide Memorial in Yerevan, Armenia, June 25, 2016..
(photo credit: MAURIZIO BRAMBATTI/ REUTERS)
The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation expressed “deep disappointment” in the Knesset’s rejection of a bill to recognize the Armenian genocide earlier this month.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said that while Israel had sent a parliamentary delegation to the 100th anniversary event in Yerevan, it will not take an official stance on the matter, “in light of its complexity and diplomatic repercussions, and because it has a clear political connection.”
The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation sent a letter on Thursday to Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, with a copy to Hotovely and Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid, who sponsored the bill.
Edelstein called on the government in 2015 to change its stance, and in 2016 the Knesset Education Committee recognized the genocide.
However, any motion for official state recognition of the genocide has failed to go through.
“Regrettably, this voting down has been repeating itself, time and again, for the last few years, as a constant ritual,” read the letter, signed by foundation chairman Eduardo Eurnekian and founder Baruch Tenembaum.
“With all due respect, we are not able to understand, let alone justify this stance,” they said. “Israel is the national home of the Jewish people, who suffered an indescribable plight during the Shoah [Holocaust].
Twenty-five-years earlier, the Armenian people endured another unspeakable tragedy, which, in light of the world’s silence, many believe has encouraged the Nazis to perpetrate their atrocities against the Jews during World War II.”
The foundation believes that of all the nations in the world, the Jewish state should have “the intellectual honesty and the spiritual generosity to recognizing the horrific tragedy of the Armenian people. Alas, the Israeli government and its Knesset have lost this opportunity time and again. There is no political reality that could provide a reasonable excuse for that.”
Eurnekian and Tenembaum observed a “deep connection” between Jews and Armenians. The NGO, which works to recognize Righteous among the Nations, notes that 24 Armenians have officially received that title so far, which is a large number in relation to the size of the population.
“Mr. Edelstein, we know your personal support for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as is the case of your predecessor, President Reuven Rivlin,” the letter concluded. “We feel that the Knesset would be praised around the world for taking a bold ethical stance, regardless of any short-term political considerations. We regret that this has not happened yet.”Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.