JERUSALEM—During a debate in the Israeli legislature, the Knesset, on Tuesday, on the Armenian Genocide, its speaker, Yuli Edelstein joined other Knesset members in calling for Israel’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, however, as has been the case in the past, the issue was deferred to the body’s education committee.
Edelstein said in his remarks that the Knessed did not shy away from the issue in the wake of recent deal for détente between Israel and Turkey, reported the Jerusalem Post.
“We cannot ignore, dwarf or deny this terrible genocide,” Edelstein stated. “We must disconnect current interests of this time and place from the difficult past.”
Edelstein quoted Nobel Prize-winning author, philosopher and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who died on Saturday, as saying apathy to suffering helps the enemy.
“We cannot remain apathetic, even if it’s late, to the suffering the Armenians experienced. Recognizing the Armenian genocide is important to us as human beings who carry the moral responsibility and constantly hope to improve the world and society,” Edelstein stated.
Meretz party chairwoman Zehava Gal-On, who initiated the discussion, also quoted Wiesel, in an open letter his foundation published in 2007 calling to recognize the Armenian Genocide.
“Children and grandchildren of survivors must know what genocide looks like and how one tragedy turned into another giant one. But here, in the Knesset, the elected parliament of the state in which the memory of the Holocaust is constant and ‘never forget’ is a moral commandment – we haven’t heard about it,” she said.
Gal-On said that despite the agreement with Turkey making recognition more difficult, Israel must do it.
“This is a decision Israel must make. Sometimes there is a price to doing the right thing, and sometimes the right choice is not the easy one. We are tested when we have to pay a price,” she stated.
Tzachi Hanegbi presented the government’s position, saying that he understood the emotions behind the Knesset members’ speeches, but did not use the Hebrew phrase for “genocide,” simply saying “tragic events.”
The Members of Knesset present at the legislative session approved Gal-On’s motion to the agenda, and the discussion will be moved to the Knesset Education Committee.
In a searing rebuke to the Israeli government published in the daily Haaretz on Tuesday, Prof. Yair Auron, a leading voice for Israel’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, said, “When we [Israel] deny the Armenian genocide, we are desecrating the memory of its victims. In my opinion, in so doing we are also desecrating the memory and the victims of the Holocaust.”