Israeli Knesset Members Mark Armenian Genocide in City of Yerevan
Armenia marked the 100 year anniversary of the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in commemorative ceremonies held across the country on Friday, April 24. Attended by world leaders including representatives from Israel, the ceremony in Armenia’s capital, Yerevan, paid tribute to the estimated 1.5 million Armenians that were killed during the first World War.
“We understand perhaps more than any other people, the pain and suffering of the Armenian people and we share this terrible tragedy with you,” said Member of Knesset Nachman Shai in a conversation with the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan.
In Jerusalem, the bells from 18 churches in the Old City of Jerusalem rang 100 times on Thursday evening, April 23, to remember the Armenian Genocide, with Armenians marching with the red, blue, and orange national flag. Approximately 1,000 Armenians live in the ancient Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem today; their presence in the holy city dates back to the fourth century.
Turkey, the successor of the Ottoman Empire, which at one time controlled much of Western Asia, Southeast Europe, North Africa and The Caucasus, and parts of the Middle East, disputes the number of Armenians killed and condemns the use of the term genocide. In Turkey, raising the issue of the Ottomans’ treatment of Armenians is a crime. Last week, the Turkish Foreign Minister warned Austria of negative consequences for its recent parliamentary declaration using the term genocide to describe the massacre of Armenians.
Israeli Knesset members Nachman Shai of Zionist Camp and Dr. Anat Berko of Likud represented Israel in the Yerevan ceremonies from Thursday through Saturday. “Israel must reconsider its position on whether the time has come to recognize the fact that an Armenian genocide occurred,” said MK Shai. “As Jews we must recognize it. This is especially true during these days, when we mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.”
MK Shai noted that the Israeli Knesset has repeatedly remembered the Armenian victims in the past. Israel’s parliament has also held special sessions to discuss the Armenian genocide. But Israel does not officially call it a genocide.
“The ancient Armenian people suffered a terrible disaster and many of its sons and daughters perished in a horrible tragedy,” added MK Dr. Berko. “We, members of the Jewish nation, who have also suffered, recognize and sympathize with the pain and the loss of the Armenian people.”
“It is our great honor and moral duty to take part in such a significant event, along with representatives of other countries,” she said.