An Open Letter to Special Envoy Elan Carr: Time to Counter Armenian Antisemitism
Dear Special Envoy Carr,
As the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism, your job description states that you are “responsible for directing U.S. policies and projects aimed at countering anti-Semitism throughout the world.”
Admittedly, that’s no easy task. However, as I’ve observed from your actions and from speaking with you directly about these and other issues over the past few years, I firmly believe in your tenacity and commitment to see this task through.
As you know, violent antisemitic incidents rose 13 percent worldwide during 2018, including a 74 percent surge in France, according to the Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.
In these challenging times for Jewish safety, it’s clear that you aren’t taking your responsibilities lightly. You’ve expressed your commitment to combating not only centuries-old forms of antisemitism, but also the “new anti-Semitism that clothes itself as anti-Zionism.”
Given your encouraging words, I want to call your attention to another kind of Jew-hatred that doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.
In light of a reported attack in which 60 Armenian Church students attempted to lynch Jews in Jerusalem’s Old City on the eve of Shavuot, now is the time to speak the disturbing truth about Armenian antisemitism.
Did you know that, in an Anti-Defamation League (ADL) study of antisemitic attitudes in 100 countries, Armenia produced the third-highest antisemitism index score (58 percent) outside of the Middle East and North Africa?
A majority of Armenians believe that a series of ugly antisemitic conspiracy theories are “probably true,” including that Jews have too much power in the business world (72 percent) and financial markets (68 percent), are more loyal to Israel than to the country where they live (68 percent), have too much power over global affairs (51 percent), and have too much control over the American government (51 percent). The ADL survey revealed that Armenians subscribe to those antisemitic stereotypes at a higher rate than Iranians (56 percent). Let that sink in for a second.
Moreover, a study published by the Pew Research Center documented that 32 percent of Armenians would not accept Jews as fellow citizens.
Antisemitism is sufficiently dangerous when it’s spelled out plainly and clearly. Yet it’s arguably even more lethal when it lurks in the shadows. Take the recent Foreign Policy Journal article by Armenian-American journalist David Boyajian — “Hypocritical Jewish Organizations and the Armenian Genocide.”
The author takes aim at the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and its CEO, David Harris, for accepting the “Order of Friendship” award from Azerbaijan — the nation that has pioneered Muslim ties with the Jewish state of Israel.
Boyajian laments that “many Jewish writers worldwide have been gratuitously slandering Armenian Americans and Armenia, all because Israel buys oil from and sells billions in weapons to Azerbaijan, Armenia’s adversary.” It’s incumbent upon you to read between the lines of Boyajian’s words, Mr. Carr. The real slander here comes only from the author himself, through his claim that the Azerbaijani-Israeli relationship is controlling media coverage about Armenia.
It’s unmistakably revealing that Boyajian opens the same article by minimizing the condemnations that AIPAC, ADL, AJC, B’nai B’rith International, and members of Congress issued when Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) tweeted that support for Israel on Capitol Hill is “all about the Benjamins.” In the Armenian writer’s worldview, Omar’s promotion of the new antisemitism through the usage of a classic antisemitic stereotype is somehow not antisemitic.
In his accusation that Jewish organizations have “colluded with Turkey to defeat Armenian Genocide resolutions in Congress” — without offering any evidence of such collusion — Boyajian conveniently ignores how Armenian politicians themselves have immortalized Holocaust-era fascists while some have shockingly refused to recognize the Holocaust as the genocide of European Jewry. In fact, former Armenian Prime Minister Hrant Bagratyan has said, “Some say that we should not recognize the Holocaust unless Israel recognizes the genocide of Armenians.”
Finally, Boyajian feels the need to point out that “America has special Holocaust and Anti-Semitism envoys.” Yes, he’s talking about you, Mr. Carr.
In your admirable quest to deepen the world’s understanding of the inextricable link between anti-Zionism and antisemitism, you’ve embodied Justice Louis D. Brandeis’s famed words, “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Now, it’s time to lift another veil by placing the issue of Armenian antisemitism squarely on your agenda, and using the influence of your office to expose the true colors of that hatred.
The author is a journalist and filmmaker whose work in national security, religious freedom, and human rights has gained her international acclaim.