A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post for the Times of Israel on my plans to see The Promise, a new film that prominently brings to light the horrors of the Armenian genocide perpetrated during Turkey’s Ottoman regime. My piece got shared on Facebook more than 500 times. The Armenian ambassador to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia tweeted it.
Yet I’ve seen and heard little on the subject—save a few comments here and there—from people who share my Jewish faith. And that troubles me. Jews and Armenians both experienced a history of persecution. We both survived holocausts.
Why are the voices of my Hebrew brothers and sisters so muted when it comes to calling the Armenian event a “genocide”?
In my own country, the United States of America, this tragedy isn’t officially recognized as something with that hideous label. In Israel, too, this is the case. So it’s not as if my people are the only ones who haven’t taken this necessary step. Many populations have. Many governments have.
But I’m singling out those who share my religion because we’re obligated to condemn this injustice. Our path throughout the ages is similar to the Armenians’ in this respect. We are required to say something, to protest this miscategorization. Because our own lives have been affected by genocide at the hands of the Nazis. Because we are survivors as well.
I urge all of my fellow Jews around the world to see The Promise when it comes out; in my case, here in the U.S., the date is April 21. The mantra that arose from the bones of our own Holocaust was “Never again.” That should apply to other genocides as well—including the Armenian one, the Rwandan one and our own sorry atrocity in the States: the American Indians’ one. I urge Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to see this movie. I urge U.S. President Donald Trump to see it, too. But mostly I urge my cultural brethren to see it, as it’s a vital part of the understanding we must cultivate of the worst parts of our existence. We know. We’ve been through anti-Semitism. We’ve been through horrors as well. We can’t ignore them. We can’t leave them for others to discuss.
My hope is that someday the Israeli and United States governments will officially recognize the Armenian catastrophe as a genocide. The evidence is clear. Documentation exists and is plentiful. People have remembered.
We, as Jews, must remember, too. And that is all I have to say.