During Tuesday`s special plenary debate marking the Armenian genocide, Knesset Speaker Yuli-Yoel Edelstein said, ”It is no secret that [in Israel] as well this event has been controversial, at least with regards to the publicity it should be given. I am reiterating this year as well, and from this podium: We must not ignore, diminish or deny this terrible genocide. We must differentiate between our current interests and the difficult past, which this dark chapter is a part of.”
”This is the correct and appropriate thing to do, seeing as we are part of the family of nations and a nation whose values of morality and compassion towards every human being are paramount. Let us not remain indifferent, albeit a bit late, to the suffering the Armenians experienced,” Edelstein said, while pledging that the Knesset would continue to send representatives to memorial ceremonies in the Armenian capital of Yerevan.
“We cannot remain apathetic, even if it’s late, to the suffering the Armenians experienced. Recognizing the Armenian genocide is important to us as human beings who carry the moral responsibility and constantly hope to improve the world and society,” Edelstein stated.
MK Zehava Galon (Meretz), who initiated the debate, said, ”For years [MKs] have been coming here, to the plenum, in order to ask that the genocide be called by its name. This year, after the agreement with Turkey has been signed, I know that granting this request has become particularly difficult. There was pressure from the Foreign Ministry and from elements in the government – `why are we suddenly raising this issue, with all the diplomatic sensitivity?` But despite this, I am declaring that the Knesset must recognize the Armenian Genocide.”
”Over the years we have let the recognition of the genocide turn into a toy that can be dangled when relations with Turkey are in crisis, and then shelved to placate Erdogan,” she added. ”We have started walking along the most dangerous path of politics, where everything is for sale.”
“Children and grandchildren of survivors must know what genocide looks like and how one tragedy turned into another giant one. But here, in the Knesset, the elected parliament of the state in which the memory of the Holocaust is constant and ‘never forget’ is a moral commandment – we haven’t heard about it,” she said.
Gal-On said that despite the agreement with Turkey making recognition more difficult, Israel must do it.
“This is a decision Israel must make. Sometimes there is a price to doing the right thing, and sometimes the right choice is not the easy one. We are tested when we have to pay a price,” she stated.
Minister without portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi presented the government’s position, say he understands the emotions behind the MKs’ speeches, but did not use the Hebrew phrase for “genocide,” simply saying “tragic events.”
The MKs present approved Gal-On’s motion to the agenda, and the discussion will be moved to the Knesset Education Committee.