Why Should We Armenians Want Zionists to “Recognize” Us?

By Markar Melkonian

"Even today I am willing to volunteer to do the dirty work for Israel, to kill as many Arabs as necessary, to deport them, to expel and burn them, to have everyone hate us, to pull the rug from underneath the feet of the Diaspora Jews, so that they will be forced to run to us crying. Even if it means blowing up one or two synagogues here and there, I don't care. And I don't mind if after the job is done you put me in front of a Nuremberg Trial and then jail me for life. Hang me if you want, as a war criminal..."

These are the words of Ariel Sharon, from an interview published in the Israeli daily Davar, 17 December 1982.

At the time he made these remarks he was the Minister of Defense of Israel. In that capacity, he presided over the slaughter of 17,000 civilians in Lebanon, among them Armenians, as well as the massacre of thousands of unarmed civilians, many of them women and children, in the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps just outside of Beirut. Sixteen years later, he would be elected Prime Minister of Israel. On 18 April 2002, U.S. President George Bush praised Sharon as “a man of peace.”

The present Prime Minister of Israel, Benyamin Netanyahu, is widely considered to be more of a “hard-liner” than Sharon. Under his leadership, the Zionist military has: subjected the densely populated Gaza Strip to incessant bombardment at the cost of thousands of civilian lives; subjected millions of people who have been under military occupation for more than half a century to collective punishment; and lied American taxpayers into a trillion-dollar war in Iraq that has so far resulted in well over one million deaths, and turned the lives of tens of millions of children into a living hell. 

Thoughtful people might pause to consider what kind of a country would elect monsters like Netanyahu, Sharon, and Menachem Begin to their highest office.

In addition to serving as Prime Minister, Netanyahu also serves as a member of the Zionist legislature, the Knesset. It is under these circumstances that a delegation from  Armenia's National Assembly paid a visit to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv on December 12 to 14. The purpose of the delegation’s visit, we were told, was to urge members of the Knesset to “recognize” the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian delegation announced that Israel and Armenia, together with “the international community,” must “continue their struggle to prevent crimes against humanity.”

For informed and decent people in “the international community,” the overriding message that this visit conveyed was the cretinism and hypocrisy of Armenian officialdom.

Armenia and Israel: Not Much in Common:

The National Assembly delegation’s advertised humanitarian aim in Tel Aviv is worse than garbled.  Here are several of the ways that this is so: 

--For one thing, Israel has never SURVIVED genocide, for the simple reason that Israelis have never UNDERGONE genocide.  Jewish people, of course, were subject to a horrendous, genocidal campaign of annihilation perpetrated by the German fascists.  We bow our heads to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and the tens of millions of Russians and other victims, too. We must never forget them, and we must guard against those who would trivialize Hitler’s crimes.  

But most Jews are not Israelis, and more than 60% of Israeli Jews, including the Mizrahim, trace their ancestry back generations to lands thousands of miles distant from the European theatre of WWII.  In any case, the lesson holds for Israelis as it does for Armenians and everyone else:  it is indecent to rationalize ethnic cleansing by pointing to past victimhood.   

For people who are not steeped in Chosen People mythology, racial arguments for the “right of return” to any land should be no more convincing than religious arguments.  The relevant principle (in Palestine and in Mountainous Karabagh, too) should be SELF-DETERMINATION, not genetics or religious arguments.  But even if we were to accept the Zionists’ own racial suppositions, they still lose the argument:  molecular geneticists report that Palestinians have as much claim to be genetic descendants of the ancient Israelites as do Israeli Jews.  

--For another thing, the Republic of Armenia and Israel are two very different polities:  Israel is a colonial settler state, and Armenia is not. Like the Afrikaners of South Africa, Israelis are a modern nation of settlers and descendants of settlers who founded a garrison state.  

By concocting far-fetched parallels between Armenia and Israel, the small and diminishing number of Armenian Friends of Israel lend a helping hand to Turkish nationalists who propagate the lie that Armenians are interlopers, with nothing but a mythological connection to the land of Armenia.  This is strikingly similar to Zionist mythology, which depicts Palestinians as recent interlopers in the Land of Israel.  The truth is that Armenians--unlike most Israeli Jews, but very much like Palestinians--are not a PRODUCT of foreign colonial domination; rather, they have ENDURED foreign colonial domination. 

--Israel is a garrison-state, and Armenia is not.  An imperial power lavishly subsidizes Israel as a remote-control device, to control the resources, markets, and populations of a strategically crucial region. American taxpayers subsidize luxury housing for foreign settlers on stolen Palestinian land. Israelis receive billions of dollars of U.S. aid annually, as well as credits, tax-deductible contributions, technology transfers, the protection of the Sixth Fleet, and unqualified diplomatic cover from the United States of America. (See, for example, Shirl McArthur, “A Conservative Estimate of Total U.S. Direct Aid to Israel: More Than $130 Billion,”WRMEA, Oct./Nov. 2013.) 

All of this by way of ensuring American imperialist domination of oil, the Suez canal and vast capital markets, hemming in Russia and Iran, and propping up local clients, notably the House of Saud, the Egyptian army, and corrupt regimes in the Gulf.  Recognizing this, U.S. Secretary of State Alexander Haig described Israel as “the largest American aircraft carrier in the world.”  When the Zionist garrison ceases to fulfill this function, it will cease to exist.  

Israel’s Crimes against Humanity:  

As for the pretended aim to “continue their struggle to prevent crimes against humanity,”let us acknowledge the obvious:  the Zionist regime is itself responsible for crimes against humanity, and these crimes are not limited to Palestine, Lebanon, and Syria.  Tel Aviv has supported far-flung tyrannies, wars, and death squads, from Taiwan to Zaire, and from Nicaragua to Namibia and apartheid South Africa.  

Indeed, the Israeli military has armed and supported perpetrators of genocide.  In the1980s, when even the Congress of the United States of America refused to provide arms to the blood-soaked Rios Montt regime in Guatemala, Israel stepped in to arm the Guatemalan military and the death squads.  Up to 200,000 Guatemalans were killed by the death squads and the Guatemalan military, including tens of thousands under Rios Montt, and (as the Catholic Church and the United Nations have documented) tens of thousands of others have been raped and tortured.  

The Mayan people of Guatemala have committed no crime against Armenians.  Why then should Armenian delegates fawn over those who helped to murder them? And in the name of “preventing crimes against humanity,” no less! If the National Assembly delegates were genuinely concerned about preventing crimes against humanity, they would have stayed home and condemned the Zionist regime.   

And of course, we may add nuclear blackmail to the long list of unprosecuted Zionist crimes against humanity.  They have never signed a nonproliferation treaty, and they have never permitted international inspection of their nuclear facilities.  In collaboration with their strategic partners and ideological twins in apartheid South Africa, the Zionists developed and tested nuclear weapons, and since then they have produced hundreds of nuclear warheads which they have deployed on bombers, missiles, and Dolphin II-class “Doomsday Submarines.”  Yerevan might well be located within one of their blast zones. 

Fawning over Our Enemies:  

Zionists have time and again distinguished themselves as enemies of the Armenian nation.  The decades of active denial of the Armenian genocide is the LEAST of their offenses.  We know about the decades-long strategic alliance between Tel Aviv and Ankara, and the ongoing military aid and intelligence that Tel Aviv has provided to the Republic of Azerbaijan.  There is much more to say about this, but no room here.  Instead, let us note several lesser-known considerations:  

--Zionist collaboration with Turkish ethnic cleansers goes back to the earliest days of the modern Zionist movement:  according to an entry in the diary of Theodore Herzl (an entry dated August 30, 1899), for example, the founder of modern Zionism intervened “to muffle the Armenian business” in the European press, in the wake of the massacres of the 1890’s.  (For more about the relationship between the early Zionists and the Ottoman Sublime Port, refer to Marwan R. Buheiry, “Theodor Herzl and the Armenian Question,” in Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 7, No. 1 (Autumn, 1977); Yair Auron, The Banality of Denial:  Israel and the Armenian Genocide (2003).) 

--Zionist occupation has destroyed the ancient Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem.  For more than sixteen centuries, the Armenian community in Jerusalem managed to survive invasions, crusades, and colonial domination, but seventy years of Zionist occupation, confiscation, and oppression has all but eliminated our ancient presence in the Holy Land. One hundred years ago, the Armenian community of Jerusalem consisted of perhaps 20,000 members.  After the occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, those numbers have dwindled, until today the community consists of only several hundred members. 

The Armenians of Palestine do not want to be under Zionist occupation.  Yasser Arafat, the late Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, was expressing a widespread wish among Armenians in Palestine when, at the 2000 Camp David Summit, he rejected an American proposal to put the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem under Zionist authority.  “My name is not Yasser Arafat,” he said, “It is Yasser Arafatian.”"I will not betray my Armenian brothers." 

--Zionist occupiers treat Palestinian Armenians with the same contempt that they treat other Palestinians.  Settlers regularly insult Armenians, desecrate religious sites, physically attack the clergy, and spit on priests.  

On occasion they have done much worse.  The siege of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem from April 2 to May 10, 2002 is just one of many outrages against besieged Christians in Palestine. 

For thirty-nine days, the Zionist army laid siege to one of the holiest sites of Christianity, under the pretext of searching for “suspected Palestinian militants.”(All of this, aside from the fact that even if these “suspected militants” were in fact militants, they were entirely within their rights, under international law and the Geneva convention, to resist occupation of their land by a foreign invader.) During the siege, Israeli Army snipers killed seven persons seeking refuge inside the church; on April 4, they shot the bellringer of the Church, and on April 10, they shot an Armenian monk in the church. 

--Over the decades, Tel Aviv’s warmongers, operating with the impunity of superpower protection, have destroyed homes and lives and depopulated Armenian neighborhoods in Lebanon and Syria.  They have fomented civil wars that have gutted Armenian communities, and they set the stage for wars in Iraq and Syria that have annihilated ancient Christian communities in these countries. 

Our “Clever” Fools:

One might think that moral and legal arguments (for what little they may otherwise be worth) should be paramount when it comes to making a case for genocide recognition.  If so, then such considerations should stand on their own, without getting mixed up with considerations of diplomatic advantage.  But of course there are practical considerations, too.  And these, too, demonstrate the foolishness of the Armenian delegation’s errand. 

The Zionists and their masters in Washington have set in motion wars in Iraq, Libya and Syria—wars that have already claimed as many lives as the Armenian genocide.  They and their surrogates have created millions of refugees and turned the lives of tens of millions of children into a living hell. They have successfully fomented murderous Wahhabi hatred of Shiite Muslims, and over the past several years we have witnessed them step-by-step setting the stage for the emergence of Daesh.  

And now, having succeeded in their strategic aim to destroy every Arab army that was able and willing to defend its territory against their aggression, they now turn their attention to Iran.  The Zionists and their neocon confederates in Washington want war with Iran.  And so do their strategic allies in Ankara. 

No wonder, then, that year after year, opinion polls have confirmed that Israel is one of the most hated countries on Earth. In Latin America, Russia, India, and China, large majorities of respondents to recent public opinion polls express “negative views” of Israel.  Europeans, on the whole, dislike Zionism and Zionists, and over years the antipathy has only increased.  Even in the super-tolerant Scandinavian countries there is widespread disgust with their impunity and duplicity.  Indeed, even in the thoroughly indoctrinated United States of America, one third of the respondents to recent public opinion polls have expressed a “negative view” of Israel.  

In the course of committing one atrocity after another over the course of decades, Zionist leaders have been poisoning the well for future generations of Israelis.  America will not remain the sole undisputed superpower forever.  Unfortunately, it appears more and more likely that when the American empire wanes, Israelis will follow the Pieds-noirs of Algeria onto ships and airplanes and into oblivion.   People who care about Armenia most assuredly should not take inspiration from the brutal--and ultimately doomed--Zionist project. 

The Armenian delegates met with members of the Knesset, in their official capacity as functionaries of the Zionist garrison state.  To portray this visit as “non-political” is dishonest and naïve.  Their errand is absurd on the face of it:  to beg functionaries of a brutal, genocidal regime to “recognize” a genocide! What is it that these unelected delegates think they are doing?  Do they think they’re being modern and clever?  What message exactly do they think they are sending?  

The Armenian delegates have sullied the reputation of the Armenian nation and brought a disgraceful end to a year that might otherwise have had a redeeming significance.  The last thing decent Armenians want is for the legislature of a brutal garrison state to “recognize” the Armenian genocide.  The National Assembly Committee has wasted the resources of an underfunded state to jeopardize the good will of our most helpful allies, neighbors, and trading partners.  

There are some Armenians who care more about the welfare and dignity of our nation than jumping through hoops for the entertainment of a distant imperialist power. It is time these Armenians raise their voices, to demand that the Republic of Armenia abide by the international cultural boycott of the Zionist regime. 

Markar Melkonian is a philosophy instructor and an author. His books include Richard Rorty’s Politics:  Liberalism at the End of the American Century (1999), Marxism: A Post-Cold War Primer (Westview Press, 1996), and My Brother’s Road (2005).