Armenians Should Counter Azerbaijan’s Pressure on Israel to Deny the Genocide
As relations between Israel and Turkey have become increasingly strained in recent years, shifting from strategic alliance to outright hostility, many analysts began to wonder about the Israeli government’s uncharacteristically muted reaction to Turkish Pres. Erdogan’s anti-Semitic diatribes and anti-Israeli actions.
Under these circumstances, Armenians and their supporters are puzzled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued complicity in the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide and the blocking of its recognition by the Knesset (parliament).
Some Middle East experts offer two explanations of Israel’s puzzling stance:
1) Despite the apparent bad blood between Israel and Turkey, the two countries continue their covert intelligence sharing and arms trade.
2) Azerbaijan, Turkey’s junior brother, has taken an aggressive role in pressuring Israel not to recognize the Armenian Genocide by using as leverage its purchase of billions of dollars of advanced Israeli weapons, providing Israel much needed petroleum products, and a base in Baku to infiltrate and spy on Iran with which it has a 400-mile border.
The Israeli government has become so overly sensitive to Azerbaijan’s diktats that during a recent visit by Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian to Jerusalem, Israel’s Foreign Minister rudely refused to meet with him. Only through a last minute intervention, Mr. Nalbandian managed to meet with the President of Israel.
An article in the November 1 issue of The Jerusalem Post fully illustrates the extent of Israel’s kowtowing to Azerbaijan. At a time when most Western groups, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), refused to monitor Azerbaijan’s Parliamentary elections because of restrictions imposed by Baku, four Israeli Knesset members rushed to Azerbaijan to show their support for Aliyev’s despotic regime!
The Israeli delegation, led by former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, now chairman of the Israel-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Group, included ex-ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren, Sofa Landver, and Yoel Razbozov.
The Jerusalem Post reported that Lieberman, as Foreign Minister, “worked to strengthen Israeli ties with Azerbaijan,” and quoted him saying in Baku that it is “an important country and a good friend of Israel…. Even in the time of the Soviet Union, [Azerbaijan] was known to treat its Jewish community well, and there is no anti-Semitism there. We must continue strengthening our relations with Azerbaijan.”
Azernews also quoted him telling the Azeri Elections Media Center that Azerbaijan “is an example of democracy, stability, and successful foreign policy.” Most knowledgeable people would dismiss such ridiculous and false statements.
One wonders why the former Foreign Minister is so anxious to whitewash Azerbaijan’s past and present practices of anti-Semitism? After the four Knesset members return from Baku, they should be asked to disclose the lavish gifts they must have received in appreciation for their rubber stamping of the fraudulent elections in Azerbaijan. Not surprisingly, Aliyev maintained its tight grip on power after his ruling party retained its majority in parliament, while the mainstream opposition boycotted last Sunday’s elections.
The Jerusalem Post reported that “Azerbaijan is considered the Muslim country friendliest to Israel, and the two countries have close ties and significant trade. Azerbaijan is Israel’s biggest oil provider, and trade between the two countries reaches $5 billion, more than with France. In recent years, Lieberman, then-president Shimon Peres, and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon visited Baku.”
In pursuing its arms for oil policy, Israeli officials have conveniently ignored Azerbaijan’s gross violations of human rights, lack of freedom of speech, and jailing of journalists and activists, including Leyla Yunus, head of the Baku-based Institute for Peace and Democracy, and investigative reporter Khadija Ismayilova of Radio Free Europe.
While it might be somewhat understandable that Israel and Azerbaijan are pursuing their self-interests, no matter how reprehensible the means, Armenia must also pursue its own national interests and counter the actions of any country that jeopardizes its security and questions the Genocide. The Armenian government should make crystal clear to Israeli officials that by selling multi-billion dollar sophisticated weapons to Azerbaijan, they become responsible for putting at risk thousands of Armenian lives. Azerbaijani officials have publicly announced that they intend to use the arms acquired from Israel to attack Nagorno Karabagh (Artsakh) and Armenia.
Lastly, Armenia should warn Azerbaijan that its unwarranted denials of the Armenian Genocide and pressures on other countries, such as Israel, to join its denialist cause, would further antagonize Armenians, making it impossible for them to accept any concessions on the Artsakh conflict.
The content of this article, as such, is mainly correct or plausible (though it is particularly astonishing to find in it a reference to Azeri “information” sources…)
In any event, this criticism is founded on the traditional premise that Israel and the Jews are all-powerful, that they are calling all the shots, doing always whatever they want and the way they want it, etc., etc.
The current reality is fundamentally different.
For quite some time now, and more and more, the political and economic alliances of Israel are generated by its insecurity, in the various senses of that word.
Consequently, yes, the position at issue of the Israeli government, against the interests of Armenia and the Armenians, is indeed disappointing, unworthy, and often aggravating.
But it would be appropriate to understand that Israel is under much more threat than Armenia, in terms of its very existence. Cornered (literally and metaphorically) in an untenable situation, its government is grasping at straws, so to speak, and its relations with Turkey and/or Azerbaijan (same difference) have to be situated in this context.
It is interesting to note that we are displaying a much more “forgiving” approach towards other governments, notably in the Middle-East – but also in the Western world -, who are acting blatantly against the Armenians interests and in favor of the Turks, without having at all the above-stated “extenuating circumstances” of Israel.
As for the last sentence of this article, it is downright awkward… Who ever said that, in any scenario, we would accept any concession regarding Artsakh ? Is Artsakh some bargaining chip, for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide ? This reasoning is not helpful at all, from any point of view, and especially not with regard to some…
misunderstandings between Armenians.
Haytoug Chamlian, Canada