Photo Credit: Courtesy the Knesset
A delegation of Armenian clergy attended the Knesset debate on scheduling a debate on recognizing the Armenian Holocaust.

The Knesset on Wednesday evening approved a motion submitted by MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) to hold a plenum debate on the official recognition of the Armenian genocide. The motion was carried by a vote of 16-0.

At the opening of the session, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein (Likud) said, “I must say that I have mixed feelings: on the one hand – the time has come. For years I have been calling to fulfill this moral duty; more than a million people were slaughtered and murdered within a short time. This is a horror that is even hard to imagine. But in the past week, I’ve also been embarrassed, or at least uncomfortable.”

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“I have heard elected officials and public figures openly talking about the fact that the recognition of the Armenian genocide is an ‘appropriate Zionist response’ to Turkey’s behavior after the recent events on the Gaza border. I really have a hard time understanding this position. Since when does Ankara pull our moral strings? Does history change according the nature of relations with a leader like Erdogan?” Speaker Edelstein wondered.

“I do not deal with comparisons, and I think it’s right not to use the term ‘Holocaust’ when dealing with the Armenian genocide, but just think how we would feel if the reactions to the Holocaust were also weighed on diplomatic scales: ‘Is it worth recognizing or not? Is it convenient for us at the moment or not?’ We would have screamed [in protest]. The Knesset should recognize the Armenian genocide because it is the right thing to do, because that is the just thing, and I hope that we will eventually also do it.”

MK Zandberg said, “Time after time, this issue has fallen victim to political struggles. The failure to recognize the Armenian genocide is a moral stain on the State of Israel, especially when it is done out of political interest. The disaster of another people is not a merchant’s bargaining chip, valid only when you oppose [Turkey] or when you want to stick a finger in the eye of one leader or another (Erdogan). There are those in this house who have turned this issue into a tool for political gain.”

“It is precisely because of the fate of the Jewish people that it is our historic and moral duty to be the first to do [recognize the Armenian genocide]. Who knows better than we how it feels when big powers know about the atrocity and stand by,” Zandberg added.

“Exactly for this reason we call every year, ‘Never Again,’” she continued. “Recently, MKs from all factions of the house have announced that they would promote a bill to recognize the Armenian genocide. I will support the proposal, but today we have a chance to make history, so I ask that the matter not be transferred to the committee and buried, but rather to vote in favor of holding a debate in the Knesset.”

That would be a very significant step in the moral message that the State of Israel sends to the entire world,” MK Zandberg concluded.

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