Armenians: Call slaughter 'genocide'

Organizers of J'lem protest say Israel "jeopardizing claim to moral high ground on the Holocaust."

October 22, 2007 19:22
1 minute read.
Armenians: Call slaughter 'genocide'

armenian genocide 224 88. (photo credit: AP [file])

Armenians demand Israel recognize genocide Jerusalem's tiny Armenian community held banners and flags at a protest Monday to demand that Israel recognize the mass killings of ethnic Armenians in Turkey nearly a century ago as genocide. About 100 people stood outside the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, singing songs in Armenian and holding banners. A group of teenage girls stood in school uniforms alongside an elderly woman holding a sign that read, "I am a survivor," in English and Hebrew, and others waved colorful flags. The mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish troops took place between 1915 and 1917 as the 600-year-old empire collapsed. It was again thrown into focus over US congressional debates about whether to recognize those events as genocide. Turkey says the killings were a result of widespread chaos and political upheaval. Israel has become a player in the US debate. Armenians expect Israel to sympathize with their demands, because of the Jewish state was built in the shadow of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. But Turkey has threatened to cool its ties with Israel if it doesn't use its influence in Washington to quell the campaign. Turkey is one of Israel's few Muslim allies. Armenians say Israel is actively lobbying on behalf of Turkey in the US Congress, where Democrats have pulled back from their attempt to label the mass killing as genocide, under pressure from the White House. "It's frustrating for us, and it's frustrating for Israelis," said George Hintlian, an Armenian historian, who attended the protest. Organizers of the protest said Israel "jeopardizing its claim to moral high ground on the Holocaust" by not taking Armenia's side. Israel's government has said previously that massacres were perpetrated against Armenians and expressed sympathy for their suffering. But it has stopped short of calling them genocide. Thousands of Armenians fled to nearby states during the mass killing, including to Jerusalem, where they established a neighborhood in the walled Old City. Their numbers have steadily shrunk as younger generations emigrate to the West, and now only about 1,000 Armenians live in Jerusalem.

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