'Recalling Armenian genocide not attack on Turks'

Rivlin says Knesset discussion of murder of more than a million Armenians nearly a hundred years ago not political.

June 12, 2012 18:35
2 minute read.
Armenian community in Romania

Armenian community in Romania 370. (photo credit: Bogdan Cristel/Reuters)


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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 motivated.

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“Those who drafted the Final Solution for the Jews figured the world would be silent as they were when the Armenians were murdered,” Rivlin said.

“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 gassed.”

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.

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