A New Wave of Anti-Semitism in Armenia

  26 May 2022    Read: 528
 A New Wave of Anti-Semitism in Armenia

Armenia and Armenians, who have great hopes for success in the near future, have been recently, especially after the devastating defeat in the Second Karabakh War, trying to develop relations with Israel, who has close politico-economic and military-technical ties with Azerbaijan. But, apparently, Tel Aviv, who closely follows the policy of official Yerevan and the international Armenian diaspora, does not nurture any particular illusions on this issue, which can be explained logically.

Apprehension on the part of Israel and the Jewish people in general towards Armenia is, firstly, caused by the fact that the Armenian quasi-state, once artificially created by the world’s decision-making centers, have practically become the only mono-ethnic country in the world in less than a hundred years due its grand geopolitical ambitions. The latest census conducted in 2011 says that ethnic Armenians make up 98% of the population in Armenia, although, given the observed trend, even this terrifying number has clearly increased. This ‘enviable’ position is the direct result of the purposeful state policy of Armenia, who is, by all means necessary, casting representatives of other peoples and nationalities out of the country, at times resorting to outright ethnic cleansing and violence. The Jewish people, subjected to centuries of persecutions and well aware of these convoluted methods of ethnic cleansing and ethnocides of the Armenians against other nationalities, are unlikely to ‘justify’ the hopes Armenia is nurturing. The more so because history is replete with facts of Armenia’s undisguised hatred towards Jews. The repeated defamation of the Memorial to Holocaust victims in Yerevan, installed in 1999, speaks a thousand words of this animosity. The first such act of vandalism was committed in September 2004, on the last day of the Jewish New Year celebration. Some unknown people painted a cross and the ‘satanic’ number 666 on the stone in white paint. In the following months, the pedestal was knocked over at least four times.

Interestingly, back in 2006 the joint Monument to the ‘Genocide’ and Holocaust Victims was erected at the same place at the suggestion of the Armenian side. Most likely, the Jewish side, which agreed to erect a monument to symbolize the Jewish tragedy and the Armenian ‘genocide’, hoped that acts of vandalism would at least stop in this way. Nonetheless, subsequent events showed how naive they were, especially the chief rabbi of the Jewish community of Armenia, Rabbi Gershon-Meir Burshtein, who participated in the opening of this monument.

The monument was and still is periodically subjected to desecration. So it was in October 2010. A period of ‘calm’ started after this. At the same time, the authorities and ideologists of Armenia began not entirely tirelessly announcing the termination of such pretensions.

But already in February 2021 the Armenian vandalism against the memory of Holocaust victims took on a more intricate and offensive form. The haters, who did not touch the ‘genocide’ part of the monument with the Armenian inscriptions, smeared the part dedicated to Holocaust victims in red paint and wrote anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans, such as ‘Your hand is blood’ They also attempted to set the monument on fire. The peak of cynicism in the entire story was the fact that the chairman of the Armenian International Public Organization for Humanitarian Development, Tsovinar Kostanyan, shared a “unique” status on her Facebook page. ‘I don't want to believe that an Armenian did this. I think that the act of vandalism may be a deliberate provocation by the secret services of hostile countries to Armenia’, Kostanyan wrote.

There are streets and monuments erected anti-Semites in Gafan and 17 other territorial units, including Gyumri, which is the second largest city of Armenia. 

Nonetheless, numerous facts point to the fact that everything she said was pure talk of the devil. For instance, perpetuation of fascist ideology in Armenia through erecting a monument to Garegin Nzhdeh, a terrorist and henchman of German fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, was hardly a product of love and tolerance for Jews. The article Jews of Crimea on the popular Israeli news portal Cursorinfo.co.il describes the crimes of this ‘public figure’ during the Great Patriotic War as a part of Nazis against a small Crimean community, the Krymchaks who professed Judaism. It is the glorification of such criminals as the fascist Nzhdeh that contributes to the formation and strengthening of anti-Semitic sentiments in Armenia, which is rooted on numerous evidence.

For instance, the survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League reads that approximately 58% of Armenians are prone to anti-Semitic sentiments and bias.

The report shows that in terms of anti-Semitic sentiments, Armenia ranks second in Europe, and it is the third most intolerant country towards Jews outside the Middle East and North Africa.

According to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 18 Central and Eastern European countries from June 2015 to July 2016, 32% of Armenian residents expressed their unwillingness to see Jews among their compatriots. This is the highest rate of anti-Semitism among all the countries included in the study.

Very interesting information was also published on WikiLeaks.org, citing excerpts from a 2008 document by the US State Department, which reads that the Armenian press used anti-Semitism to denigrate the opposition, in particular, ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who is married to a Jewess.

Frankly speaking, the rise of anti-Semitic sentiments in Armenia is not at all surprising. What other ideology can be preached by Romena Yepiskoposyan, who back in February 2002 presented a book called the National System , at the Yerevan House of Writers? It was a book published in Armenian and Russian where Turks are called a ‘killer nation’ and the Jews a ‘destroyer nation’. In the chapter ‘The Greatest Falsification of the 20th Century’ the author downright states that ‘Holocaust is a myth’. It is worth to mention that the teachers present at the event (these are the same individuals responsible for teaching the younger generation) even expressed their genuine admiration: ‘We finally have a book which we can teach to the younger generations.’ It is not for nothing that the President of the Jewish Community of Armenia, Rimma Varzhapetyan, who we also have a number of uncomfortable questions for, shared her suspicions about the double game of the Armenian authorities in this matter. And quite frankly, the glorification of another Nazi henchman and an activist of the ‘Dashnaktsutyun’ armed organization, General ‘Dro’ (Drastamat Kanayan), in history books and mass media, leaves no traces of doubt. In addition, taking into account the second city of Gyumri and Gafan, 17 territorial units of Armenia hold monuments, erected to people who preach anti-Semitic ideas, and streets named after them. At the same time, Armenia is the only Southern Caucasian state, which burns with reverent love for anti-Semites, fascists and terrorists.

The proportion of respondents in Central and Eastern Europe, who do not consider Jews friends.

We cannot help but point out another important matter. The annual report by the Israeli Ministry of Diaspora for 2020 reads that anti-Semitic sentiment in Armenia has intensified to an alarming degree since the Second Karabakh War. The most striking example of this is the desecration of the monument to the Holocaust victims last February, which we mentioned above.

The Armenian media, on the other hand, openly ignores all concepts of journalistic ethics and ethno-confessional tolerance and relishes publishing ardent anti-Semitic comments by experts and representatives of political parties. For example, the Iravunk newspaper published an anti-Semitic article by the former leader of the Armenian-Aryan Order, Armen Avetisyan, which reads that Jewish minorities living in any given country are a threat to stability.

Hranush Kharatyan, who headed the Department on National Minorities and Religious Issues during Robert Kocharyan's rule, clearly announced that the rituals performed on the Jewish Shabbat are allegedly hostile towards non-Jews in his statement to Voice of Armenia newspaper.

The owner of ALM Media, Tigran Karapetyan, also clearly stated that Jews, who rule the world, are an inferior race and pose a threat to Armenia.

Strangely, even with such ‘respectful’ attitude and hostility, Armenian ideologists do not only fail to abandon their attempts to get the ‘Armenian genocide’ recognized by Israel, but at times even try to pressure Tel Aviv. However, apparently, official Yerevan still prefers complimentary rhetoric in its relations with Israel, against the backdrop of these futile attempts. You never know… What if this time is the charm…

But that’s highly unlikely. Proverbial wisdom has it that love can be hidden, whereas hatred never can. Armenia and pro-Armenian ideologists are not only reluctant to even somehow disguise their off-scale anti-Semitims, but quite the contrary, are demonstrating it even more insolently.

The Jewish people have a strong memory and they remember both good and evil very well.


Sahil Isgandarov, political analyst


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