Executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem, Dr. Israel W. Charny was in Yerevan to participate in the international scientific conference on Genocide. Following is the text of an interview conducted with him by Panorama.am journalist.
– What is the moral significance of recognizing the Armenian Genocide in the case of Israel?
– I am laughing but I am crying and I am angry and I am laughing. Israel’s failure to recognize the Armenian Genocide is a terrible shame, it’s evil, it’s a failure on our part and many of us are fighting it day and night. I have one piece of good news which helps me to laugh; culturally we have won the battle in Israel, the people of Israel absolutely know the Armenian Genocide, they do not deny it. The Media in Israel, the newspapers, the magazines, TV programs recognize the Armenian Genocide, refer to it regularly and I cannot think right now of a single article even that is ever supported the Government for its denial, and yet the real politic, and you see my fist, the manipulative approach to life that you look out for yourself even when great moral principles are involved is still winning and we have to defeat it, so that’s the significance.
– The recent developments have led to an aggravation of Turkish – Israeli relations. In this context, many people deem it possible for Israel to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Don’t you think that any considerations of the political landscape in such a sensitive and delicate issue may devalue the meaning of recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the State of Israel?
– I appreciate your question because I agree completely. I would be in a very difficult position if Israel now recognizes the Armenian Genocide, because the Turks have become allies of a totalitarian access of Iran, Syria and people who are real threat to Israel and to the whole free world. Still I want Israel to recognize the Armenian Genocide under clear, moral bases that it must be recognized and honored. Yossi Sarid was one of the two ministers in Israel’s history who recognized the Armenian Genocide. Yossi was with me and Professor Yair Auron, to pay tribute at the Armenian Genocide Memorial a few years ago. Yossi is now a colonist for Ha’aretz and he wrote, it’s a bit funny but it’s all very serious, he wrote a column that he is getting calls from many people saying “Yossi ok now is the time to recognize the Armenian Genocide and get back those miserable Turks” and Yossi writes in the Ha’aretz “When they speak to me that way it makes me want to vomit.”
– What means do the Jewish scholars employ for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Israel?– Academically of course, professionally of course, in terms of our contributions to the culture continuously. We are all interviewed regularly, we all give talks regularly, we are all on television regularly. The question is whether we have any means for reaching the political level which is our mutual enemy. And an interesting answer is that there is a proposal in the Knesset to recognize the Armenian Genocide, it was voted positively by the Knesset a few months ago. This is a fine step-forward. In Israel it goes from the Knesset to a committee. In America it goes from the committee to the Congress. The man having the move in the Knesset is a Knesset member who is the head of Israel’s tiny, weak, beautiful liberal party. His name is Haim Oron. Politically we work with Haim Oron. By now there is a significant number of Knesset members from all the fractions including the man who is the head of the Right Wing Government party of Knesset members who are very strongly in favour of the resolution on the Armenian Genocide. We do not expect to win, I am sorry to say this on television to Armenia. But we are doing our best. That’s all we can do in any generation.