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TEARS ARE NOT BORROWED: REACTIONS TO ARMENIAN WRITER’S COMMENTS RELATED TO THE AZERBAIJANI – ARMENIAN WAR Print E-mail
Friday, 27 November 2020 12:13
In his “open letter to the Ambassador of Israel in Athens” (published in the website of the daily “Efimerida ton Syntakton”, efsyn.gr, on Nov. 19, 2020), Greek-Armenian writer Sifis Kassesian drew parallels between the Israeli policy on the Azerbaijani-Armenian war over Nagorno-Karabakh and the Nazis, and made comments relating Israel to Judas and Shylock with regard to Israel’s selling of weapons to Azerbaijan. The writer skillfully promotes anti-Semitic stereotypes by denying any intention of doing so: “Far from me the thought of correlating the present Israeli policy with stereotypes such as the 30 silver coins or the Merchant of Venice, which for so long have linked the image of the Jew motivated by economic interest to the collective conscience… Maybe many others will do it… Even further far from me is the thought that the murderers of your own people had also argued their own raison d'etat in order to justify their crime against the Jews and that now you are assimilated with them…”. The writer, after referring to his many Jewish friends and his feelings of sympathy towards the Jews over the Holocaust, he mentions the tears he shed for the Holocaust victims when, as a young man, he had visited an exhibition. “You abused of that tear Mr Ambassador, therefore I ask you to find a way to give me back my tear”, Kassesian concludes.

In reaction to Kassesian’s open letter, the Israeli Ambassador to Greece Yossi Amrani, as well as Victor Eliezer, journalist and KIS Secretary General,  replied with their respective letters, published in the website of “Efimerida ton Syntakton”, on November 25, 2020. Both letters, translated into English, are published here under:  

EFIMERIDA TON SYNTAKTON (efsyn.gr), November 25, 2020: "Tears are not borrowed", by Victor Eliezer:

I have carefully read the open letter of the Armenian writer Mr. Kassesian to the Ambassador of Israel and I intervene because I simply believe that this text is an attempt to provoke an artificial crisis in the relations between Armenians and Jews.

Unfortunately, ignorance and selective memory often lead to the creation of impressions which, even when surrounded by an emotional cloak, can become convincing for the reader of a text. I will refer the Armenian writer Mr. Kassesian to the announcement of the Armenian Assembly of America of October 28, 2019, where it welcomes the cooperation with the Jewish organizations and their contribution to the recognition of the Armenian genocide by the American Congress, emphasizing on the strong links between Jews and Armenians.

I will not deal with the accusations made by Mr. Kassesian against the Israeli government. But when someone states how far away some of his "thoughts" are from him and at the same time reproduces them, he finally reveals how much he adopts them. So, when Israel supplies weapons to a third country, an immediate association is made with the “Thirty Silver coins” or the “Merchant of Venice”. It is as if the other states that supply Azerbaijan and Armenia with weapons do it for free … But, far such thoughts from Mr. Kassesian !!!! Far be it from his "thought" to equate the Jews with their "murderers". It's just like "I do not want to tell you how stupid you are"…

The hypocrisy that reaches the vulgarity... He invokes his Jewish classmates and the "forearm of Albert's father, with the Dachau number indelibly imprinted with a tattoo" to show his supposed sensitivity to the Holocaust but does not hesitate to claim that "The hands of the little Armenian children who die from the Jewish missiles do not have a number...". The classic form of modern anti-Semitism that belittles the Holocaust through the identification of Jews with the Nazis, with their perpetrators. And let no one come and tell us, you know, I did not mean you, I mean Israel… The identification of the Jews with absolute evil is nothing but a firm questioning of their right to exist either as individuals or as a national entity in the State of Israel.

Finally, Mr. Kassesian asks for the return of the "tear that spontaneously flowed from my childish eyes and dripped on the floor of Parnassos ..." 60 years ago in an exhibition about the Jewish children imprisoned in German concentration camps. We have never asked for anyone's "tears", so we must not return them, and the "tears" Mr. Kassesian is claiming are obviously pretentious to cover up his stereotypical views of Jews. Because tears are the expression of a personal feeling that concerns the joy or sadness that a person experiences. Because tears are not borrowed…   

Letter of the Ambassador of Israel, Mr. Yossi Amrani, to “Efimerida ton Syntakton” responding to the open letter of Greek-Armenian Writer, Sifis Kassesian

Dear Mr. Kassesian,

Thank you for your open letter published November 19th, brought to my attention through the good services of this esteemed newspaper. I would have appreciated engaging in a face to face dialogue as I had just recently with the leadership of the Greek - Armenian Community but I guess exchange of views and discussion is not the aim of your letter.

I read your letter with much attention and respect to the Armenian people and the suffering it has endured. I can reassure the Greek Armenian Community of my own sympathies and I believe of the people of Israel. I therefore decided to reply to you using the same medium. 

Your choice of some images and connotations, even if you preempt by vague disassociation, is troubling to say the least. Repeating anti-Semitic diatribe, in my opinion, is uncalled for and shed a doubt on the rhetoric used by you, the mentioning of numerous Jewish friends, the usual anti-Semitic stereotypes or the repeated motive of a tear shed. Let me say, I would have expected of a man speaking of morals, values and love of mankind to use a different argumentation and show in his polemics a certain sensitivity, the same sensitivity you call for when your people is involved.

Major part of your so called open letter, guess it’s still somewhere in the post office, is about morality in international relations. As a diplomat for almost four decades, representing my country and nation in different places, I believe that morality should be embedded in diplomacy. True diplomacy is the art of balancing interests while having values as a compass. My country was born with a mission and its policies are not only about interests and or expediencies. 

In the conflict in the Caucuses, more precisely between Azerbaijan and Armenia, Israel is not taking sides. We maintain close cooperation with Azerbaijan and I don’t see a reason why it should contradict close cooperation with Armenia, the return of Armenia’s Ambassador to Israel is, in my own view, Armenia’s interest. The accusation you make that “Jewish missiles” kill Armenians is poor demagoguery, to say the least, and I’m using an understatement. Use of such a language is a clear indication of discriminatory rhetoric not to say racist.

Your letter occupies itself with Israel arms deals with Azerbaijan, let me say, one element of extensive economic and business cooperation and once again, you decided to single out Israel of all nations. I wonder why? I wonder why you invoke the dark years of Second World War and make implicit insinuation, which I’ll not credit by repeating. Shedding a tear in your childhood visiting a Holocaust exhibition should have taught you history better. Shame you invoke your childhood friends and you still know nothing about my people history. Your artistic freedom is not an excuse for falsifying history, for your information the Jewish people was uprooted from its land, always maintained presence, always praying to return to it. We have not being emigrants when we returned to the land of Israel, the historic name of the land which you tend to omit or never known.

The other contention which reappears in your letter is that’s Israeli weapons system responsible for Armenian human suffering is also well calculated, unsupported and manipulative, I think you know perfectly well why you used this, you should answer your own conscience and moral pretension.

As much as I sympathize and touched by tears, true tears I should say, not metaphoric or crocodile’s, trying to be sensitive to human suffering wherever it is, I’m not willing as an Israeli, as a diplomat representing the idea which is Israel, homeland to the Jewish people,  to be targeted for a blame which is not ours. History taught me, my nation, how often blame was attributed to Jews as scapegoats. In what way are you any different?
 

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