Armenian Anti-Semitism Again Rears its Ugly Head

Various experts have cited evidence and others have pondered whether the purported President of the Jewish community of Armenia, Rima Varzhapetyan, is even Jewish. Many believe she is a shill for the pervasively anti-Semitic government. To the Pew data, Varzhapetyan responded, “I’ve read it and I was genuinely surprised. Certainly, there can be cases based on household is-sues, but in general this can’t be true. I believe this is a provocation. I’ve been in numerous coun-tries and I’ve never felt anti-Semitism from Armenians. On the contrary, the Jewish community of Armenia has worked with Armenians, has always been part of joint projects. We are living here for many years and no problems have ever happened.”

In a key symptom inherent in oppressed, closed and wholly monoethnic societies, Armenia is cited as the least tolerant towards Jews among 18 countries in Central and Eastern Europe in data published by the Pew Research Center on March 28. Fully, 32 percent of Armenian survey respondents said they would not even accept Jews as fellow citizens. That figure is jarring, but actually, not surprising.

The Pew data, which was based on a survey conducted from June 2015 to July 2016, affirms previous polling by the Anti-Defamation League in 2014, which showed a majority of Armenians believe that a host of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are “probably true,” including that Jews have too much power in the business world (72 percent) and in international financial markets (68 percent), Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the country they live in (68 percent), people hate Jews because of the way Jews behave (63 percent), Jews don’t care what happens to anyone but their own kind (60 percent), Jews think they are better than other people (53 percent), Jews have too much power over global affairs (51 percent), and Jews have too much control over the United States government (51 percent). This is textbook Jew-hatred is straight out of the arsenal of the most virulently anti-Semitic countries of the Middle East.

The typical official response to anti-Semitism in Armenia is to deny its existence. The Holocaust memorial in Armenia’s capital of Yerevan was vandalized multiple times in 2004 and 2005, but police reportedly concluded that the monument “had just fallen on its own,” and no officials publicly condemned the incidents.

In an article for the Armenian newspaper 168 Hours, journalist Emil Danielyan wrote that the roots of Armenian anti-Semitism can be traced to the 1960s and 1970s, when some Soviet historians claimed that the Young Turks were guided by “Zionists” when carrying out the Armenian genocide.

“Many Armenian nationalists adopted this ridiculous theory,” wrote Danielyan. “Those nationalist forces became more active during the past couple of years by spreading their Anti-Jew[ish] comments in the press. The most influential representative of the ‘Tribe Worshippers,’ Armen Avetisyan, was the most talked about figure in the [Armenian] media throughout 2003-2004. In one of the interviews, Avetisyan threatened to exile all Jews from Armenia. Even owner of the ALM television network Tigran Karapetyan enjoyed cursing the Jews.”

Danielyan also noted that in 2006, the local Jewish community invited various Armenian government officials and public figures to an International Holocaust Remembrance Day event at Yerevan’s Holocaust memorial, but “only one of them, National Assembly MP Mkrtich Minasyan, decided to be present at the ceremony.”

In Armenia, even the “Jewishness” of the head of the Jewish community seems to be somewhat in dispute. Various experts have cited evidence and others have pondered whether the purported President of the Jewish community of Armenia, Rima Varzhapetyan, is even Jewish. Many believe she is a shill for the pervasively anti-Semitic government. To the Pew data, Varzhapetyan responded, “I’ve read it and I was genuinely surprised. Certainly, there can be cases based on household issues, but in general this can’t be true. I believe this is a provocation. I’ve been in numerous countries and I’ve never felt anti-Semitism from Armenians. On the contrary, the Jewish community of Armenia has worked with Armenians, has always been part of joint projects. We are living here for many years and no problems have ever happened.”

In either case, it is doubtful that Varzhapetyan is “surprised” by the well-documented anti-Semitism problem in Armenia. More likely, she is intentionally denying it, in line with Armenia’s modus operandi and the government talking points charged to her on the anti-Semitism issue.

There is denial, and then there is ignorance. In its website post revealing the data on Central and Eastern European countries’ rates of rejection of Jews as fellow citizens, Pew focused almost entirely on Poland and did not even mention Armenia, the survey’s least tolerant nation towards Jews. Readers can only find the figure on Armenian anti-Semitism within an interactive map. Why does Pew not consider Armenia, which produced the highest rate of intolerance among the 18 countries studied, worthy of any further analysis? It is puzzling that this well-respected research institute would seemingly ignore its own data.

The numbers don’t lie: Armenian anti-Semitism is a serious problem, and the issue must not be denied, whitewashed, or ignored. Perhaps, this is why Israel shows so little interest in closer bilateral relations with Armenia yet embraces its neighbor, Muslim-majority and eminently tolerant Azerbaijan?

 

Fern Sidman, the news editor of The Jewish Voice newspaper in New York, is a veteran investigative journalist and editor with more than 25 years of experience. Her reporting and expert commentary on the geopolitics of the Middle East and issues affecting world Jewry have been published in a wide cross-section of Jewish and secular publications.

LEAVE A REPLY

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

COMMENTS
  1. Follow the money and you’ll find Azeri petro dollars speaking through this “investigative journalist’s” pen.

    Just give it up, it won’t work anymore as your racist, anti-Armenian hysteria is a manufactured one for all to see. Pur your investigative talents in uneathing why almost all major American Jewish organizations are actively working for Turkish interests, then we’ll talk. And follow up on the trails of Israeli highest politicians doing Azerbaijan’s bidding against Armenia.

    Shame on you!

  2. This article most assuredly has some connection to Azerbaijan, most probably in the form of a large sum of money to support “The Jewish Voice.” It presents a one-sided and skewed view.

    Jews fled Russia and other parts of the Soviet Union in Soviet times and settled in Armenia due to the higher level of tolerance for Jews there.

    Levon Aronian, a world renown chess player, with Jewish roots, has been honored by the Armenian government.

    Another example of a Jew living in Armenia.

    https://www.jta.org/2006/09/11/life-religion/features/jewish-composer-stands-tall-in-armenia

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Weiner

    There are more stories like these.

    What proof do you have that Rima Varzhapetyan is not Jewish? Have you checked with the Jewish community in Armenia to see who knows he family background?

    Major Jewish organizations have been carrying water for Turkey for decades to bury what happened to the Armenians in the early years of the last century.. Perhaps that is the root of what Armenians in Armenia feel.

    Please don’t drive a wedge between the Jewish and Armenian members of my family by publishing such articles.

  3. Ms. Sidman, I am getting tired of articles similar to the one you’ve penned alleging that Armenians are anti-Semitic. Despite provocative and even hostile acts by Israel against Armenia(arming Armenia’s belligerent foe Azerbaijan, refusing to recognize the Armenian Genocide when Armenia has for a long time had a Holocaust monument), Armenians haven’t fallen into the trap of opting for anti-Semitism in retaliation. We are a compassionate, disciplined, knowledgeable and sophisticated people who know how to differentiate between Israeli policy and Jews. Your article is not only wrong-headed. It is a conflation of fake news and anti-Armenian racism. Beware: articles such as this can become wish fulfillment. There’s also the “crying wolf” syndrome. If you accuse people left and right, eventually nobody will believe you. I know of many instances where Armenians saved the lives of Jews during Israeli-Arab War in 1948 and during the Second World War. I don’t feel obliged to tell you: you are one of a dozen or so Jewish writers who has taken it upon themselves to denigrate Armenians on behalf of petro-dictatorship Azerbaijan. I have read more “convincing” pieces by several other members of your propaganda squadron.

  4. Ms. Sidman, I just searched the internet looking for “anti-Semitic acts in Armenia”. Other than finding no acts, I found a US State Department document, _Excerpts on Anti-Semitism from the 2016 U.S. Department of State Country Reports on Human Rights Practices_. It states on page 6:

    “Armenia
    Observers estimated the country’s Jewish population to be between 500 and 1,000 persons. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.”

    I also found that Armenia has 24 Righteous Among the Nations Awards, which I believe is the highest based on population. How many Armenians did the Sidman family save during the Turkish genocide of the Armenians?

    Ms. Sidman, you want to create the impression of anti-Semitism where none exists! I won’t even bother calling you a racist anti-Armenian, however, I do suggest you study the antecedents of your efforts: https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2018/01/04/returns-diplomatic-investment-zionist-policies-armenians/

    You are a disgrace to the Jews I know and I lived most of my life just outside of Boston, MA.

    Yerevan, Armenia

  5. Pew is 100% right, there is not many Jewish live in Armenia and there is no anti-Semitism. This fake, misleading article made up by corrupted veteran “journalist” Fern Sidman, azeri servant, who himself is shame of Jewish peopl. Because of this fake news carrier anti-Semitism is going world wide. Just the Azeri oiled money that you got, Fern Sidman, wish you to spend for your health and your lawyers.

  6. Armenia: 24 Righteous Among the Nations Awards
    Azerbaijan: ZERO Righteous Among the Nations Awards

    Israeli flags burned in Armenia: ZERO
    Israeli flags burned in Azerbaijan: Count ’em here https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b&biw=1394&bih=645&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=OSPxWqqrMIGn6ASCl7mIBg&q=israeli+flag+burned+in+azerbaijan&oq=israeli+flag+burned+in+azerbaijan&gs_l=img.3…7996.22964.0.23406.5.4.1.0.0.0.214.656.0j3j1.4.0….0…1.1.64.img..0.0.0….0.0-WSY1JrPyI

  7. Let me get this straight. This author (obviously a paid hack for Aliyev murderous genocidal regime) is arguing that Armenians are anti-Semitic, despite the fact that there are no evidence of that, even with his made up statistics and conspiracy theories he looks completely desperate.
    What amazes me, he questions the Jewish Armenian leader “Jewishness”, that’s what you see usually from radical islamists who ask to behead other muslims, moderate ones, for not being crazy enough or being wrong kind of muslim.
    This hack is doing exactly that. No wonder, the money came from an islamic radical regime, Azerbaijan and its tyrant how tortures and kills his own people, wants another genocide committed against Armenians. You know the old saying, they think alike.
    The irony in this, he says that’s why Israel “embraces” Azerbaijan, ignoring the fact that Azerbaijan buys weapons from Israel, and that is the only interest, as unfortunate as it is, that Israel has in that cesspool of blood money coming from a tyrant.
    Then the epic irony, the lunacy in the claim “Muslim-majority and eminently tolerant Azerbaijan”, in which not only the religion’s text books call to annihilate Jews, calls them names, blame them for every problem in the world, but also, Jews and other minirorites working there are ONLY allowed to live in peace if they align to the regu=ime’s demands and agenda, live in virtual hiding.
    That “eminently tolerant Azerbaijan” is yet another pathetically lame slogan copied word for word from the Azerbaijani state propaganda.
    Where is this tolerance?
    Number of Armenians before the post Soviet Union collapse in Azerbaijan, close to 390,000. Today, there are less than 1500 Armenians in Azerbaijan, living in virtual hiding, can’t use their ethnic last name, can’t own properly, can’t be in high ranking gov jobs, ..etc.
    So Mr. Sidman, spare us your parroting of state propaganda of a genocidal regime and its criminal blood thirsty tyrant who are paying you. People like you have no soul.
    Half of my family is Armenian, and the other half is Jewish. My grandmother’s entire family was wiped in Warsaw’s Jewish ghettos during WW II, and before she passed she used to tell us heart breaking stories of what was done to them. Something we all should stand up against, and yet I read this drivel and hate from you against another group that went into similar persecution. People like you have no shame. You sold your soul for money.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

INTERNATIONAL NEWS