հայ eng heb
armenia-israel.com armenia-israel.com





News

30 09 2012
Only Israel Can Understand Our Suffering

Yediot Ahronot












Eldad Beck visited the Armenian Genocide Museum and could not help thinking about the Jewish Holocaust, nor could he avoid the questions that arose related to the Israeli ignorance about the Armenian suffering. "If people recognize what we have suffered, then everyone would follow in their footsteps."

A visit at the national monument dedicated to the memory of the one and a half million victims of the Armenian genocide should be a must for every Israeli person. The monument stands facing the snowy peak of Mount Ararat, just a few meters from the border with Turkey. This site of remembrance, whose construction was completed 45 years ago, is of a simple design. A tapered obelisk of dark basalt rises to a height of 44 meters. If you look at the sky, it looks as it is crying claiming the loss of nationality, which was the result of ethnic purity executed by the Turks, who are currently under the control of its hostile neighbor. The obelisk symbolizes the rebirth of the Armenian nation after the horrific genocide. Next to it, twelve columns encircle an eternal flame that burns in memory of the dead, forming a dome out of the sky that looms above the monument.

The site that commemorates the Armenian Holocaust is located at the outer boundary of the capital city Yerevan, and it also includes a small museum composed of three modest rooms. The austereness reinforces the pervasive melancholy that spreads around the place. The photos of mass graves, emaciated bodies of the victims resulting from forced starvation, and trains packed with people being sent into exile, bear a striking resemblance to photographs of the Jewish Holocaust in Europe. The Germans, allies of the Turks during World War I, were inspired by the genocide that occurred some twenty years before the Holocaust. A sentence attributed to Adolf Hitler, which is also repeated by the German army captains, is, "who mentions the massacre of the Armenians today?"

The Israeli Parliament debated the Armenian genocide in plenary. This could not have occurred without the Israeli understanding that there is almost no remedy to the crisis related to the relations with Turkey.

A few days before that, I was invited to participate in a ceremony organized by an independent group of Israeli women that took place at the Armenian Holocaust Museum. The event was sponsored by Magma Co., which usually organizes special visits to Armenia. Additional ceremonies will also take place at the monument in the fore coming weeks. Most women participating in the ceremony believe that Israel should have and has the moral obligation to acknowledge the tragedy of the Armenians, setting aside political considerations, and even though some of the participants avoided making comparisons between the Armenian genocide and the Jewish Holocaust.

 "I see no reason however to compare the Armenian genocide with the Holocaust, despite the existence of some similar elements," states Hanni Shavit, a native Israeli whose parents fled Poland to Russia with the coming of the Nazis, and whose extended family was exterminated. "I think each Holocaust is different, and we cannot compare the Armenian genocide with the dead of Darfur. I do believe that Israel must recognize the Armenian Holocaust, as we also strive mightily to avoid forgetting our Holocaust, and relentlessly pursue those who deny it. We should not ignore the extermination of a people, no matter who perpetrated it, because tomorrow this could happen to you. All these things can happen in a minute anywhere in the world”.  Dorit Yaacobi and Shoshana Magen joined our conversation and asserted, "We must recognize the Armenian Holocaust, and we hope people do not forget our own Holocaust".

Jews and Armenians are very similar

The minimalism of the Armenian Genocide Museum is a painful testimony to the continuity of the Armenian tragedy. Most elements are intended to convince visitors that the Armenian holocaust occurred. In three years the Armenians will commemorate the centenary of the genocide of their people, and they are still struggling for international recognition of it. The Turks, who boldly deny the claims of organized genocide, continue to put pressure on the world not to give legitimacy to "the false Armenian version”. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared  "Muslims cannot carry out a genocide."

A few rows of young trees stand at the entrance to the memorial. Israel has not planted a tree yet, although every day Jewish visitors and Israeli delegations come to the site. In an unprecedented move on behalf of Israel, Minister of Agriculture, Orit Noked, visited the place and offered a wreath in memory of Armenian victims. But Israeli public recognition of the Armenian Holocaust remains tied to the challenging relations between Jerusalem and Ankara. Even if Israel is willing to rub nerves in Turkey, the Netanyahu government is not yet ready for a move that would officially end relations with the Turks.

"It would be trivial for me to say that I hope for Israel's recognition of the Armenian genocide," says Dr. Hayk Demoian, Director of the Museum in Yerevan, to Yediot Aharonot. Repudiation on behalf of the Parliament would also be a way to honor the memory of the victims of the Jewish Holocaust. We experienced the same. I would not use banal rhetoric by saying that Jews and Armenians suffered greatly; it simply is.  Any version of double standards in relation to the Armenian case also harm the memory of the Holocaust. I myself cannot accept, nor can I tolerate, anyone who denies the Holocaust. Any denial of it is, in my opinion, a denial of the Armenian genocide. "

I toured the museum guided by 34 year old Grigorian Suren. He had visited the site only once despite his work in the tourism industry. In the museum there is such a feeling of depression that it stopped him from going back. Suren thinks that Israeli recognition of the genocide is very important. "You, more than any other people in the world, experienced distress and suffering similar to ours," he said. "The scale of the Holocaust was of course much higher and the Jewish extermination was performed in an industrial manner, but you are the only ones able to really understand what we have experienced.”
Dr. Demoian has a skeptical view on the interest shown by Israel about the tragedy suffered by his people, which is late arriving. "If the debate is done based on conscience and ethics, why is it carried out only now? If the debate in Parliament is growing because it is being linked to Turkey and Marmara issue, then that is not the right motivation". Demoian will soon visit Israel and Yad Vashem as a step towards the expansion of the Armenian Genocide Museum. "We want to learn from the experience of the Israeli memorial museum and we fervently hope for some cooperation," he says. "If you acknowledge our Armenian genocide, the rest of the world will follow."

Eldad Beck «Yediot Aharonot» 17.7.2012
   
Hebrew text has been translated into English by The International Raoul Wallenberg  foundation

From English into Armenian by ` Amalia Harutyunyan 
 
ידיעות אחרונות |אלדד בק 17.7.2012  


BACK