“We remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide,” said President Joe Biden.
By Josh Plank, World Israel News
President Joe Biden on Saturday officially recognized the World War I era massacre of Christian Armenians by Muslim Ottoman Turks as genocide, inspiring renewed calls for the government of Israel to issue a similar declaration.
“We anticipate and we look forward that Israel will do the right thing and, like the United States of America, change its policies towards this tragedy and call it by its name, genocide, and not try to find other terms to call it,” Harout Baghamian, co-chairman of the Union of Armenian Communities in Israel, told i24 News on Sunday.
“We don’t believe that this issue is a political issue. Israel should do its moral obligation and recognize the Armenian genocide,” he said.
MK Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid party called Biden’s recognition of the Armenian genocide “an important moral statement.”
“I will continue to fight for Israeli recognition of the Armenian genocide; it is our moral responsibility as the Jewish State,” Lapid tweeted Saturday evening.
MK Tamar Zandberg of the Meretz party said, “The time has come for Israel to also clean itself of political interests and act for the most basic justice and recognize the Armenian genocide,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
“The Jewish state cannot lend a hand to attempts to erase history,” she said.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Saturday that “the State of Israel recognizes the terrible suffering and the tragedy of the Armenian people,” but stopped short of using the term genocide.
“Especially at this time, we and the nations of the world have the responsibility to ensure that events like this are not repeated,” the statement said.
On Saturday, Biden issued a statement saying, “Each year on this day, we remember the lives of all those who died in the Ottoman-era Armenian genocide and recommit ourselves to preventing such an atrocity from ever again occurring.”
“The American people honor all those Armenians who perished in the genocide that began 106 years ago today,” he said.
Biden is the first American president to officially label the historical event as genocide.
President Donald Trump, for example, referred to the massacre as “one of the worst mass atrocities of the 20th century” in his annual Armenian Remembrance Day statements.
Due to sensitive relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan, the official position of Israel has been to neither recognize nor deny the Armenian genocide, though the topic has remained a source of considerable debate within Israel.
In 2016, the Knesset’s Education, Culture, and Sports Committee announced its recognition of the Armenian genocide and urged the government to officially acknowledge it as well.
“It is our moral obligation to recognize the Armenian genocide,” MK Yakov Margi of the Shas party said at the time.
Beginning on April 24, 1915, an estimated 1.5 million Christian Armenians were killed by the Muslim Ottoman Turks.
Turkey strongly rejected Biden’s characterization of the event as genocide.
“This statement of the U.S., which distorts the historical facts, will never be accepted in the conscience of the Turkish people, and will open a deep wound that undermines our mutual trust and friendship,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu according to Al Arabiya.