Professor Israel Charny–Executive Director of The Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem–Israel–issued a public letter on Thursday April 12 in response to Shimon Peres’s statemen’s as reported in the Turkish Daily News (see Asbarez 4/11/01). Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has said that claims of an Armenian Genocide are "meaningless." The newspaper quoted him saying: "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenia’s went through but not a genocide."
Dr. Charny has devoted considerable energy to and published extensively on denial of genocide–which has become a major sub field of its own in the overall field of genocide studies.
It is important to remember that there are plenty of Jews and Israelis who recognize the Armenian Genocide and share Dr. Charny’s opinion of Peres’ position on the issue. Official Israeli foreign policy does not necessarily reflect the views of the Israeli people. Dr. Charny should be praised for his consistent affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.
In response to inquiries from Asbarez Daily Newspaper to the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles–the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed that Peres had in fact rejected any comparisons between the two of the major Genocides of the 20th Century. The Israeli Consulate released the following statement: "This issue [of the Armenian Genocide] should be dealt with by historians and not politicians. We do not support the comparison of the Armenian tragedies to the Jewish Holocaust. Israel will not take a historical and political stance on the issue."
Contact the Israeli Foreign Ministry and other Israeli government offices to voice your concerns about the Foreign Minister’s offensive commen’s. For a sample letter and contact information log onto www.anca.org. For additional information–contact the ANC-Jerusalem: The Armenian Cause Committee of Jerusalem–P.O.Box 14150–91140–Jerusalem–Israel–Fax:972-2-6264040–E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Armenian Genocide Resource Center (AGRC) received the following letter from Dr. Charny who asked that it be made public in the Armenian press.
The Honorable Shimon Peres–Foreign Minister
Ministry of Foreign Affairs–State of Israel
Re: Report in Turkish Daily News–Ankara–10 April 2001
Dear Mr. Peres:
I offer you my deepest respects for your enormous contributions to the security and development of Israel–and to peace.
Nonetheless–it has been my privilege for many years not to agree with your position regarding the Armenian Genocide. It seems that because of your wish to advance very important relations with Turkey–you have been prepared to circumvent the subject of the Armenian Genocide of 1915-1920.
(Thus you advised me in a telephone conversation in 1982 not to insist on including the subject of the Armenia’s in the First International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide that we convened in Tel-Aviv–and I then made the decision not to give in to pressures of the Foreign Ministry to cancel the lectures on the Armenian Genocide or to cancel the entire conference).
It seems to me–according to yesterday’s report in the Ankara newspaper–that you have gone beyond a moral boundary that no Jew should allow himself to trespass. You are quoted as follows: "We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenia’s went through but not a genocide."
For the record–in 2000–at a Conference on the Holocaust in Philadelphia–a large number of researchers of the Holocaust–including Israeli historians–signed a public declaration that the Armenian Genocide was factual.
Also for the record–in 1997–at the meeting of the Association of Genocide Scholars–the Association as a whole officially voted a resolution that the Armenia’s had been subject to full-scale genocide.
Even as I disagree with you–it may be that in your broad perspective of the needs of the State of Israel–it is your obligation to circumvent and desist from bringing up the subject with Turkey–but as a Jew and an Israeli I am ashamed of the extent to which you have now entered into the range of actual denial of the Armenian Genocide–comparable to denials of the Holocaust.
Prof. Israel W. Charny
Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide–Jerusalem–Israel
Editor-in-Chief–Encyclopedia of Genocide