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'Recognizing Armenian genocide is a moral imperative for Jews'
By LAHAV HARKOV
05/13/2014
Knesset speaker maintains discussion does not blame any modern country, but shows Israel identifies with victims of massacre.
 
As Jews, we must recognize the suffering of the Armenian people, even if we do not blame anyone, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said on Tuesday at a plenum discussion of the Armenian Genocide of 1915.

“This discussion does not blame any modern country, rather it shows that we identify with the victims of the massacre and its terrible outcome,” he said.

“We are not placing blame; we are acting like Jews and being faithful to the truth and the suffering of another people,” Edelstein continued. “We cannot deny history and hold back human values out of diplomatic or political caution.”

He spoke in response to a motion to the agenda by Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, calling for the government to recognize the Armenian Genocide before its 100th anniversary next year.

“The government should not sacrifice the recognition in the name of temporary interests,” she said. “Every time there’s a different diplomatic situation. When we’re for relations with Turkey, we don’t recognize the genocide and then there’s the Marmara [Turkish Gaza protest ship in 2010] and we change our mind.”

The Meretz leader pointed out that many MKs are children of Holocaust survivors.

“As a nation that experienced the Holocaust, we cannot continue to ignore the Armenian Genocide because of irrelevant considerations,” she said.

According to MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu), the Jewish People were “next in line” after the Armenians to be killed.

“Whoever thought of the Final Solution got the impression that, when the day comes, the world will be silent, as it was about the Armenians. It is hard for me to forgive other nations for ignoring our tragedy and we cannot ignore another nation’s tragedy. That is our moral obligation as people and Jews,” Rivlin said. A recent expression of regret from a Turkish official is connected to the fact that many countries, including Israel, refuse to ignore the genocide, Rivlin added.

Tourism Minister Uzi Landau (Likud Beytenu) responded to the motion in Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s place, saying that as Jews and Israelis, there is a moral obligation to recognize human tragedies, including the Armenian Genocide.

“It is a good thing that the Knesset marks these tragedies. The State of Israel never denied what happened,” Landau said.

However, the tourism minister said that in recent years the topic became a political one between Turkey and Armenia and each side is trying to prove it is right.

“We hope these two countries will implement the agreement they signed several years ago and will continue to have an open, deep dialogue that will allow them to heal from the wounds that remained open for decades,” Landau said.

When the discussion ended, the motion was moved to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, as opposed to the Knesset Education Committee as Gal- On proposed. She accused Liberman of sending MK Shimon Ohayon (Likud Beytenu) to make sure the motion was moved to the classified committee in order to “bury” it.
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