Israel’s President Backtracks on Genocide Recognition

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin


Once an outspoken advocate for Israel’s recognition of the massacres, president quietly distances himself from the campaign

TEL AVIV (Times of Israel)—Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, formerly an outspoken advocate of Israel’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, decided not to renew his signature on an annual petition calling for Israel to officially recognize the mass killings as genocide.

Those responsible for the petition were surprised by Rivlin’s change of stance, Israel’s Channel 10 News reported on Thursday night, which was ascribed to the heightened sensitivity of his position since Rivlin was elected president earlier this year. The TV report said Rivlin was apparently concerned not to further harm Israel’s strained relations with Turkey.

Ties have been all but frozen in recent years, notably as a consequence of the 2010 killing of nine Turkish citizens by Israeli naval commandos. The Turks were attacked when they intercepted the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara as it sought to break Israel’s security blockade of Hamas-run Gaza.

The 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide will be commemorated on April 24, 2015.

Beit Hanassi, the president’s official residence, confirmed that Rivlin had not signed the petition, Channel 10 said. It said unnamed Foreign Ministry officials welcomed the president’s “statesmanship.”

Israel has avoided formally recognizing the Armenian Genocide in the political arena for years, for fear of straining diplomatic ties with Turkey, which was Israel’s closest ally in the Muslim world until the deterioration under the leadership of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, an open supporter of Hamas who has issued a stream of highly critical statements about Israel.

In years past, Rivlin on numerous occasions encouraged Israeli lawmakers to reject the politicized discourse that has dominated the discussion of the issue. “I’m aware of the sensitivity, but I’m not blaming modern-day Turkey,” Rivlin told Knesset members last year, when he was still a member of parliament himself. “The government that committed these acts was overturned by Turkey itself,” he said during a special session on the topic.

“I’m sure Turkey will be an ally. I think a solution needs to be found for this crisis, but it’s unthinkable that the Knesset ignore this tragedy,” Rivlin said. “We demand that people don’t deny the Holocaust, and we can’t ignore the tragedy of another nation,” he said.

During an interview with Israel Army Radio in 2013, Rivlin highlighted the differences between the Holocaust and the murder of the Armenian people. But without blurring those differences, Israel must find a way to “fulfill its moral obligation of remembering wrongs done to others,” he said.

Some 1.5 million Armenians (as well as hundreds of thousands of other Christian minorities) were killed and displaced by Ottoman Turks during and after World War I.

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13 Comments

  1. Satenik said:

    30 pieces of silver comes to mind…..he is not the only one who has sold his soul for the money…..he may feel cold from time to time but sure is going to go to a very hot place when his time comes. Shameless!

  2. Marshall said:

    Armenia does not need Isreal or any other nation
    Recognize the Armenian Genocide ! What they really
    Need in this Godless work is to put there trust in God
    As the first Christian nation.

  3. Hratch said:

    This is the most boring thing ever. I mean, put it to rest. Israel is too intelligent to play naive games like this. Their stand is obvious. They know what’s good for the geese and the gander. So please, stop reporting on the nonsense that comes out of Israel once in a while concerning anything Armenian.

  4. Vindicated Man said:

    He doesn’t appear like someone with decent principles. He is looking cheap.

  5. GeorgeMardig said:

    Turkey will recognize the Genocide before Israel, F..ck the Israeli hypocrisy

  6. Urardatsy said:

    This is what happens when you put hope in conniving liar politicians who would whore their soul and principles without blinking an eye. We keep repeating the same mistake over and over. Israel is and has always “used” the Turkish Genocide of Armenians as a pawn in their self-serving chess game with Turkey. When will we learn?

  7. zorik said:

    This is not new. We Armenians have seen many of these Politicians within last 99 years who change their mind after they get elected . For instance President Obama who made too many empty promises before election .

  8. GB said:

    Israeli president has no political power, but ceremonial duty of opening Knesset, and reading the speech. Sign state papers as and when he is told to.

    Constitutional presidents act like monarchs, often have only “ceremonial powers”, such as representing the country while traveling or acting as a symbol for the whole country.

    The real power in Israel is in the hands of Knesset and Prime Minister of Israel!

  9. Ari said:

    There in nothing surprising about Mr. President’s u-turn on what is more beneficial to his country. This is how the short-sighted Western world (including the Middle Eastern Countries) have been operating for 100 years since the Armenian tragedy.

    What the West does not want to recognize is that there is no such thing as moderate Islam. The Christians (and soon the Jews) have been/will be wiped out of the region and the Western & Easter Europe are next on the list.

    That time is no too far in the distance.

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