BY GIL HOFFMAN
From the Jerusalem Post
JERUSALEM—Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Tuesday that Israel has an obligation to remember the murder of more than a million Armenians at the hands of the Turks more than a hundred years ago, but warned that the issue should not be turned into an attack on the Turkish government of today. The Knesset speaker made the comments at a Knesset discussion of the Armenian genocide.
Speaking a day before State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss was scheduled to release a report on Israel’s interception of Turkish ships bound for the Gaza Strip which led to a diplomatic crisis between the countries, Rivlin insisted that the discussion of the Armenian genocide was not politically motivated.
“We have an ethical obligation to remember that a million Armenians were killed. It is forbidden to make the issue political. Our charges are not pointed at the Turkish regime today. We must make our voices heard when other nations are targeted for destruction,” Rivlin stated.
“Those who drafted the Final Solution for the Jews figured the world would be silent as they were when the Armenians were murdered. The Knesset cannot ignore this episode that is factual. We cannot forgive nations who ignore our disaster and we cannot ignore the disasters of others,” the Knesset speaker added.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, who initiated the Knesset discussion, accused the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of using the Armenian tragedy to attack Turkey.
Gal-On stated the government should “finally recognize” the episode as a genocide and restore relations with Turkey by agreeing to apologize for the deaths of nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists at the hands of IDF commandos during the May 2010 raid of the Mavi Marmara vessel, which was part of a flotilla attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
“The Armenian genocide is not an opportunity for public diplomacy,” Gal-On told the Knesset plenum, adding that “Israel is strong enough to apologize for the killing of Turkish citizens without it harming Israel’s honor or its security. We don’t need to choose between recognizing genocide and relations with Turkey. We can have both.”
The Meretz leader stated that “the Jewish people who have experienced the worst Holocaust have an obligation to show sensitivity to the disasters of others.”
National Union [party Knesset Member] Arieh Eldad called on Turkey to recognize its responsibility for its “historical crime,” which he said included children being “put into cellars and gassed.” Eldad quoted Adolf Hitler as having said “who remembers what happened to the Armenians,” when he was asked what the world would say about his Fianl Solution against the Jews.
Kadiam [party Knesset Member] Robert Tibayev was the only lawmaker to speak against Israel recognizing the Armenian genocide, saying that Israel should not interfere in the issue, but rather let historians, or an international body decide if there was a genocide.
Balad [party Knesset Member] Saed Nafaa, a Christian, took the opportunity to accuse current Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of being hypocritical by complaining about the atrocities being committed by Syrian President Bashar Assad against his people while he himself has killed dozens of Kurds.