In an open letter to the American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris, Rimma Varzhapetyan-Feller, President of the Jewish Community of Armenia, reveals the bias in articles inciting and propagating hatred towards Armenia and the Armenian people regularly published in the Israeli newspapers. The letter published by the Jewish Journal reads:
Dear Mr. Harris,
I am making this appeal to you in an open letter to draw your attention to the fact that during the recent months articles inciting and propagating hatred towards Armenia and the Armenian people, and to me, as the leader of the Jewish community of Armenia, are published regularly in Israeli newspapers by a number of so called analysts – Arye Gut, Alexander Murinson, Maxime Gauin (e.g. Baku to the future: Azerbaijan, not Armenia, is Israel’s true ally , Anti-Semitism in Armenia.)
Biographies of the aforementioned authors and the content of the articles prove that they try hard to set public opinion and, particularly, the Jews, against the Armenian people, casting shadow on the centuries-old friendship of the two peoples.
Especially worth mentioning is Arye Gut’s latest brainchild – an article built on overtly false facts and attempts of manipulation.
A former citizen of Azerbaijan (he is Jew, not an Azeri), Gut, whose Facebook account provides ample evidence of his attempts to ensure the approval of the Azerbaijani authorities, speculates and manipulates data, positioning himself as allegedly “impartial” analyst.
In this article Gut yet again endeavors to convince the readers of the existence of anti-Semitism in Armenia and Diaspora. It is worth mentioning that Gut, Murinson and Gauin have already written nearly a dozen of articles, trying to provide proof of supposedly numerous cases of anti-Semitism in Armenia. Nevertheless, the examples they cite are either false or distorted. No representative of any political force, political party or NGO in Armenia has ever uttered any anti-Semitic remarks.
Rights of the Jewish community have never been questioned here. The Armenian people always have respected the Jews and admired the rich history of our people. Since time immemorial the Jewish community of Armenia has found favourable environment for free existence and enrichment of their culture on this land of rich culture.
The evidence of the Jewish presence in Armenia is a medieval Jewish settlement and cemetery, both preserved due to Armenian government’s and people’s care for it.
Not only does Arye Gut ignore it all, but also dares to voice poignantly indecent expressions addressed to me and the Jewish community of Armenia which is nothing but an example of anti-Semitism in itself.
As Michael Chlenow, Vice-President of the World Jewish Congress, stressed during the recent Global Forum “Against the Crime of Genocide” held in Yerevan a couple of weeks ago, “Even if the Jewish community of Armenia is small, it is well-organized and proud, and through its activity contributes to both enrichment of the Jewish culture and strengthening of centuries-old friendship of the two peoples.”
Armenia has never denied the Holocaust. This year on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day President Serzh Sargsyan addressed the Jewish community in a statement. During his visit to the USA in May, the President of Armenia also visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Armenia is the only country in the region where school curriculum includes direct reference to the Holocaust; moreover, according to various assessments, from the point of view of the awareness of the Holocaust, the Armenians are amongst the best-informed people in the world.
In his article Gut once again tries to use to his advantage the fact of cooperation between some representatives of the Armenian Diaspora and the Nazis during WWII. It is a historical fact that the Armenian legion did not take part in the combat operations and was stationed in the rear – mainly in France, Holland and Poland. The Nazi leadership never trusted the Armenian legion. On December 12, 1942 Hitler said that “…In spite of all declarations from Rosenberg and the military, I don’t trust the Armenians”. The members of the Armenian Legion never missed a chance to revolt against the Nazis and join the resistance groups. The Armenian POWs played important role in the liberation of South France, while another group of Armenian POWs revolted in Holland.
Most probably, Arye Gut is also aware that the Azerbaijani legion in the German Armed Forces was four times larger than the Armenian one. The Azerbaijani legion participated in a range of massacres of the Polish and the Jews (particularly, 40.000 people were annihilated during Volyn massacre). The former President of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (1918-1920) Mamed Rasulzade, who nowadays is glorified in Azerbaijan, spared no effort to recruit the Azerbaijani prisoners of war to the ranks of the Nazi army.
As for the Armenians, they fought against the Nazis in the frontlines of the Red Army, as well as in Diaspora. More than half a million Armenians fought in WWII, and only half of them returned home. Armenian soldiers fought in all the bloody battles, liberating from the Nazi yoke numerous peoples, including Jews.
As if following a the long-standing tradition, Gut’s article ‘circulates’ the theses of Azerbaijani-Turkish anti-Armenian propaganda, i.e. the blatant denial of the Armenian Genocide and the repetition of the official Baku’s assessment of events in Khojaly in 1992. What is more, all this is by no means done in a professional manner. In reality, Mr. Gut would rather quote the then President of Azerbaijan Mutalibov on the events in Khojaly, who inadvertently exposed the masterminds and those who even today use these clichés for propaganda purposes.
I was raised in a Jewish family. From the very first days of war my father joined up and reached Berlin. He was given numerous military awards and decorations. Together with her parents and my elder brother, my mother was evacuated three times. My husband’s ancestors, Armenians, suffered the Genocide in the Ottoman Empire and a considerable part of the family was annihilated.
My family spares no effort to strengthen the friendly ties between Armenia and Israel. We wish peace and prosperity to the two countries, and, of course, all the people on Earth. Unfortunately, shameless liars and provocateurs like Mr. Gut accuse me of “complicity in Nazism, Fascism and anti-Semitism”.
They must have forgotten that people should think twice before they utter such remarks – one could be detained for that.
It is inconceivable that leading newspapers and journals publish rubbish, without thinking of their own reputation.
Dear Mr. Harris, your organization has always emphasized the importance of strengthening of tolerance between peoples and fight against hate speech.
Authors of articles, pointed out by me, try to manipulate the Jewish media and the Jewish community in their dirty and unacceptable propaganda stunts.
I am grateful to you and proud that for years I have been invited to participate in the American Jewish Committee Annual Forums, which always pay a great deal of attention to strengthening of tolerance and fight against inter-ethnic hatred.
I am full of hope that you will share my concern and together we will be able to exert joint efforts to resist such provocative behavior.
President of the Jewish Community of Armenia