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Deeply entrenched antisemitism within Armenian culture surfaces at L.A. protest

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Twenty miles from the front lines, the Azerbaijan city of Barda was rocketed for two days by Armenian cluster bombs after a US-brokered ceasefire fell apart

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There was great hope late last week after U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met in Washington with representatives of the combatants in Nagorno-Karabakh, seeking a solution to the carnage that has taken place between Azerbaijan and Armenia. 

“Today, the U.S. facilitated an intensive negotiation with the FMs of Armenia, Azerbaijan, & @OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to move closer to a peaceful resolution of the N-K conflict,” Pompeo announced on Twitter on October 25. ”@ZMnatsakanyan & @bayramov_jeyhun have committed to implement & abide by the ceasefire at midnight.”

“Congratulations to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who just agreed to adhere to a cease fire effective at midnight. Many lives will be saved,” tweeted U.S. President Donald Trump. Two other ceasefires were agreed to on October 10 and 17 with Russian and French mediation via the Minsk Group, but failed almost immediately.

According to numerous reports, the peace lasted until 8.05 a.m. when Armenian forces shelled Azerbaijani military units in the village of Lachlin, and thereafter, once again, rockets flew across the skies and homes, buildings, streets and unarmed residents were blown apart.

The Azerbaijan city of Barda, 20 miles from the front lines, was subjected to attacks on consecutive days, with 4 civilians including a child killed, and 13 injured in the farming community of Garayusifli, just outside the city. The next day, Armenia launched 30 Smerch cluster munitions at the downtown area of Barda, taking the lives of 21 adults and children, and wounding over 70 other Azeris.

The terror on the ground was witnessed firsthand by a news crew from the New York Times, which reported Armenia denied responsibility for the attack. One passage quoted Yagubiya Hamidova, a 44 year old cardiologist who “had moved recently from the frontline town of Terter, thinking it would be safer here. “Please help us,” she said. “No one in the world knows what is happening to us.”

President Aliyev assured his people, “Azerbaijan will retaliate in the battlefield. We will never target civilians.” Following a briefing between Foreign Affairs officials, Switzerland reiterated its support for the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh and stood ready to assist in negotiating a peaceful settlement.

The Network of Azerbaijani Canadians strongly condemned the targeting of innocent lives.

“The Canadian Azerbaijani community is concerned about the escalation of the war and attacks on civilians that are not part of the military operations. This goes against the International Humanitarian Law enshrined in Geneva Conventions. The Network of Azerbaijani Canadians is urging the Prime Minister and Global Affairs Canada to condemn Armenia’s actions in the strongest possible terms and urge Armenia to withdraw from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan to achieve sustainable peace and stability in the region.”

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As the casualties and destruction continued, there were increasing reports of confrontations far outside the theatre of war throughout October.

In France, a staff reporter for TF1 received online threats as well as harassment on her personal phone from Armenian loyalists. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), after her report was telecast, one comment on Facebook stated, “It’s possible that with a few beheadings of senior TF1 personnel, they will think better and more clearly.” RSF also maintained two reporters for a leading French daily were also subjected to online threats from members of the Armenian community in France in early October.

“We firmly condemn the harassment to which Liseron Boudoul and TF1 have been subjected,” said Pavol Szalai, the Head of RSF’s European Union and Balkans Desk. “It is unacceptable for a journalist and a media outlet to be hounded in this way for covering a conflict, on the grounds that they placed themselves on a certain side of the front line. We also call on Franck Papazian, the co-chair of the Coordinating Council of Armenian Organizations in France, to unequivocally condemn this grave attack on freedom of the press.”

In Los Angeles, where the Armenian community wields significant influence in political and social affairs, a large protest outside the Israeli Consulate on October 19 showed the ugly antisemitism that lurks within some elements.

The Armenian Youth Federation – a youth wing of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation – organized the rally and paraded offensive signs smearing the longstanding military cooperation of Israel with Azerbaijan as the equivalent of supporting Hitler. “You are not any better than the Nazi Germany”, said one placard, asserting “Israel is complicit in war crimes and genocide against Armenians.” The AYF was, in fact, founded by a national hero of Armenia, Garegin Nzhdeh, a commander of the Armenian Legion under the Wehrmacht in World War ll. Approximately 20,000 Armenian collaborators helped round up Jews for the Nazis to torture and murder.

"The Armenian Legion in an epic battle for the liberation of Armenia." Recruitment poster for the Armenian Legion of the Wehrmacht showing soldiers charging towards Mount Ararat (Wikipedia)

In stark contrast to the acceptance of Jewish people as part and parcel of the Azerbaijan culture, the hatred of Jews is deeply embedded within Armenia. As previously reported by Fern Sidman of the Jewish Voice, an Anti-Defamation League survey painted a bleak picture of underlying old-style antisemitism fueled by Soviet-era propaganda against Zionism. 

Based on data collected by ADL in 2014, a majority of Armenians believed:

– Armenians 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).

Sidman observed, “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.”

Based on a Pew Research poll conducted in 2015-16, “Armenia is cited as the least tolerant towards Jews among 18 countries in Central and Eastern Europe,” Sidman reported. “… 32 percent of Armenian survey respondents said they would not even accept Jews as fellow citizens.”

Rabbi Schneur Segal attended to Jewish homes that were blasted by Armenian rockets in Ganja (Photo Courtesy of Chabad Azerbaijan)

Despite this history, and the fact Rabbi Schneur Segal of Chabad confirmed Jewish homes were wrecked in Ganja by Armenian attacks, the leadership of Canadian Jews has remained silent about providing humanitarian assistance for their brethren in Azerbaijan.

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) acts as the “advocacy arm” of the regional Jewish Federations in Canada. On October 6, they specifically avoided our questions about helping the Azeri Jews.

“Our comment on the situation centre’s around Turkey’s efforts to fuel the conflict”, replied Adir Krafman, Associate Director of Communications and Analytics. He continued, “As for the Caucasian Jewish community, I would be happy to put you in touch with someone from the World Jewish Congress (we are the Canadian affiliate) who may have some more insight. Let me know and I’ll find the right person.”

TheJ.ca immediately accepted the offer, and sent a reminder to Krafman on October 20 when no further communication was received. At press time, despite the reminder and sending a direct message to the Congress, there has still been no acknowledgement. A review of the World Jewish Congress website reveals the organization has made no official statement about the plight of Jews in Azerbaijan during the course of the hostilities.

Is the fear of straining relations with Armenia – a country steeped in Jew-hate – more important to Jewish leaders in Canada and worldwide than supporting Jews who are living with the spectre of cluster munitions bringing violent death in Azerbaijan, a country with zero tolerance for antisemitism? TheJ.ca has requested an interview with the CEO of CIJA, Shimon Koffler Fogel, to ask him directly.

To read the previous stories about the conflict affecting the Jews of Azerbaijan:

Humanitarian Crisis Looming After Armenian Military Targets Azerbaijanis In South Caucasus Region

Canadian Government Urged To Help With Humanitarian Needs In Azerbaijan

Ceasefire Evaporates Within Hours As Azerbaijan Civilians Shelled

Azerbaijani Canadians Reaching Out As Israel Voices Support

Marty Gold is the Editor-in -Chief of TheJ.ca. Known for investigative reporting, he has specialized in covering municipal and provincial politics, and a wide range of sports and entertainment, in newspapers, magazines, online, and on his first love, radio. His business and consulting experience includes live events and sales, workplace safety, documentary productions, PR, and telecommunications in Vancouver, Los Angeles and across Canada, and as a contestant on CBC-TV Dragons Den.

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We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

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Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

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