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Israeli president: Armenians were first victims of modern mass murder

Rivlin refrains from using the word ‘genocide’ at ceremony marking 100th anniversary of Armenian genocide, i24 News reports.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday hosted an event at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, but avoided using the term “genocide” to describe the killings in his statement.

During the ceremony, which was attended by Armenian community leaders residing in Israel, Rivlin said that “the Armenian people were the first victims of modern mass murder” and that “commemorating the tragedy of the Armenian people is our Jewish obligation, a human and moral one.”

Throughout his lengthy political career, Rivlin has been a staunch and vocal advocate of official recognition as genocide of the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey in 1915; however, following his election to the top post earlier this year, he reversed his stance to one that falls in line with Israel’s official policy on the controversial matter.

In recent weeks leading up to the event, the Foreign Ministry pressured Rivlin to use specific terminology that the Israeli government uses to describe the event.

Two years ago year Rivlin, then a parliamentarian with the Likud party, spoke at a Knesset session devoted to marking the 98-year anniversary of the Armenian Genocide; he said that “Turkey has always been and will be an ally of Israel. Talks with Turkey at this time are understandable and necessary strategically and politically, but these circumstances cannot justify the Knesset’s denial of another nation’s misfortunes.”

In Sunday’s ceremony, however, Rivlin refrained from using the word “genocide”, relying instead upon the word “massacre.”

“In 1915, when the members of the Armenian nation were being massacred, the residents of Jerusalem, my parents and the members of my family, saw the Armenian refugees arriving in their thousands,” he said. “No one in Jerusalem denied the massacre that had taken place. As you know, this has been my personal view ever since. We are morally obligated to point out the facts, as horrible as they might be, not ignore them.”

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