Armenians and Jews
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The Armenians and the Jews have been often compared in both academic and non-academic literature since at least early 20th century, often in the context of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, which along with the Rwandan Genocide are considered among the most notorious genocides of the 20th century. Historians, journalists, political experts have pointed out a number of similarities between the two ethnic groups: the wide dispersion around the world, the relatively small size, the former lack of statehood, the fact that both countries are largely surrounded by Muslim and mainly hostile countries, their influential lobby in the United States, and even their success in chess.
Armenian-Jewish relations are complex and sometimes conflicting, often due to political and historical reasons.
The first contacts between the Armenians and the Jews date back to the antiquity. Tigranes the Great, under whom Armenia reached its greatest extent, deported thousands of Jews into Armenia in 1st century BC. Today, there is only a small, mostly Russified Jewish community of 800 in Armenia still remaining.
Armenians have had a presence in Israel for centuries. The Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem was founded in 638. It is located in the Armenian Quarter, the smallest of the four quarters of the Old City of Jerusalem. According to a 2006 study, 790 Armenians live in the Old City alone.
One of the earliest mentions of the Armenians and the Jews is in the 1723 book Travels through Europe, Asia, and into parts of Africa by French traveler Aubry de La Motraye, where the author writes that the Armenians and Jews are "reckon'd more honest" compared to the Greeks in the Ottoman Empire.
Israel supported Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh War against Armenia in the early 1990s. According to the Journal of Turkish Weekly, "Turkey's and Israel's good relations with Georgia and Azerbaijan cause conspiracy theories in Yerevan, and the radical Armenians argue that the Jews play the main role in this 'anti-Armenian great strategy'."
In 2004, a private TV company named ALM owned by Tigran Karapetyan has "used the platform to air views that portrayed Jews as an unsavory race bent on dominating Armenia and the wider world." In 2005, Armen Avetisyan, the leader of a small radical nationalist party, Armenian Aryan Union, was arrested on charges of inciting ethnic hatred. The Holocaust memorial in a Yerevan park was vandalized in 2004.
During her visit to Armenia in 2012, the Israeli Minister of Agriculture Orit Noked stated, "We are like each other with our history, character, with our small number of population and having communities abroad."
Jewish/Israeli position on the Armenian Genocide
Ambassador Morgenthau's Story (1918), one of the major primary sources discussing the Armenian Genocide, was written by Henry Morgenthau, Sr., an American Jew. Similarly, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh (1933), one of the best-known novels about the Genocide, was written by Franz Werfel, an Austrian Jew. Raphael Lemkin, a Polish Jewish laywer, coined the concept of Genocide as a crime against humanity, basing it on the Armenian experience.
There has been a controversy around the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by Israel. It is suggested by Yair Auron that Israel doesn't want to hurt its relations with Turkey and wants to retain the "uniqueness" of the Holocaust.
In 2001, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres described the Armenian Genocide as "meaningless." In response, historian and genocide expert Israel Charny accused Peres of going "beyond a moral boundary that no Jew should allow himself to trespass." In his letter to Peres, Charny stated: Template:Cquote
In 2008, Yosef Shagal, former Israeli parliamentarian from far-right Yisrael Beiteinu in an interview to Azerbaijan media stated: "I find it is deeply offensive, and even blasphemous to compare the Holocaust of European Jewry during the Second World War with the mass extermination of the Armenian people during the First World War. Jews were killed because they were Jews, but Armenians provoked Turkey and should blame themselves."
The Knesset failed to vote for the Armenian Genocide bill in 2011. Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, among its supporters, stated "It is my duty as a Jew and Israeli to recognize the tragedies of other peoples."
Notables of mixed Armenian-Jewish descent
- Levon Aronian (Jewish father, Armenian mother), Armenian chess grandmaster
- Yelena Bonner (Armenian father, Jewish mother), Soviet and Russian human rights activist
- Sergei Dovlatov (half-Jewish father, Armenian mother), Soviet journalist and writer
- Garry Kasparov (Jewish father, Armenian mother), Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster, considered by many the greatest chess player
- Yevgeny Petrosyan (Armenian father, Jewish mother), Russian comedian
- Aram Saroyan (Armenian father, Jewish mother), American poet (son of William Saroyan and Carol Grace)
- Richard Shepard (Jewish father, Armenian mother), American film and television director
- Jackie Speier (Jewish father, Armenian mother), US Congresswoman from California
- Michael Vartan (Armenian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian father, Jewish mother), French-American film and television actor
- Zurab Zhvania (Georgian father, mixed Jewish-Armenian mother), Georgian politician
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