Yesterday, Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein introduced legislation for Israel to officially recognize the Armenian genocide. The proposal was preliminarily approved, but still requires the government’s approval, which is unlikely. In his short but moving address, Edelstein argued that it was time for Israel to join the 28 nations around the world that already recognize the Armenian genocide, and criticized his colleagues who supported the measure strictly as a diplomatic move against Turkey’s anti-Israel policies. Here are his comments in full:
My fellow members of the Knesset,
I will soon call on Member of Knesset Tamar Zandberg to present a proposal to recognize the Armenian genocide. I have to say that my own feelings are mixed. On the one hand, it’s about time. I’ve been calling for years on Israel to fulfill this moral duty. More than a million people were slaughtered and murdered in such a short period of time. It’s a horror we can barely fathom.
But I’m also ashamed. I’ve heard some of my fellow legislators say openly that recognizing the Armenian genocide is the right Zionist response to Turkey’s despicable behavior this past week, in light of the events on the Gaza border. I find it very difficult to understand this position: Since when does Anakara pull the strings on our moral decisions? Does history change according to the nature of our relationship with a man like Erdogan?
I’m not interested in comparisons, and I think it’s more appropriate not to use the term “shoah” when discussing the Armenian genocide. But just think how we would’ve felt if the reactions to the Holocaust were weighed on the scales of diplomacy: Is it profitable to recognize the Holocaust or unprofitable? Had that happened, we would’ve rightly roared out against such moral failure.
The Knesset in Israel must recognize the Armenian genocide because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s the just thing to do, as human beings and as Jews.