Don’t fall for the lie of Armenian antisemitism

Opinion: This falsehood likely spread by Armenia's enemies engaged in global malicious gaslighting; it seeks to fuel antisemitic sentiments, stirring Israeli resentment against Armenia, even as it confronts its own security issues

Grigor Hovhannissian|
As the world grapples with the unfolding tragedy in Israel and Gaza, we are witnessing on its sidelines a distressing reemergence of a shopworn fake narrative: That Armenia harbors antisemitic sentiments.
<< Follow Ynetnews on Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok >>
More stories:
Please don’t fall for this lie, which is a calumny almost certainly originating from forces hostile to Armenia that are part of the global phenomenon of rogue players who practice malicious gaslighting like a dark art. It aims to exploit the current global wave of antisemitism to whip up resentment of Armenia among Israelis and their allies – at a time when we in Armenia face our own security challenges.
5 View gallery
Armenian Orthodox clergy
Armenian Orthodox clergy
The Armenian Patriarch and Apostolic clergy in Jerusalem
(Photo: Tiulim Israel)
Armenia, like any society, has indeed produced its antisemites, and they are assuredly a scourge. But they in no way typify the overwhelming number of Armenians, who if anything seek a connection to Israel as a fellow non-Muslim nation-state on the periphery of the Muslim world.
We are a Christian nation – the world’s oldest, we like to boast – and we are proud of our leading presence in the Old City of Jerusalem. Like Israel, we are surrounded by Muslim neighbors in three directions – in our case with Azerbaijan to the east, Turkey to the west and Iran to the south.
Two of these neighbors – Turkey and Azerbaijan – have harbored ill will toward us, and indeed just two months ago Azerbaijan, with Turkey’s support, orchestrated the largest ethnic cleansing in many years, of over 100,000 ethnic Armenians from the self-governing enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.
As some readers will know, Israel has enjoyed a close alliance with Azerbaijan, and it sells it weapons which have helped its despotic, unelected, kleptocratic regime in aggressions against Armenia. That is unfortunate, and it has certainly not been appreciated by many of my compatriots. But if anything the absence of significant anti-Jewish sentiment in Armenia despite the situation attests to the truth.
5 View gallery
פליטים ארמנים ברחו ל ארמניה ממובלעת נגורנו-קרבאך נגורנו קרבאך ב אזרבייג'ן
פליטים ארמנים ברחו ל ארמניה ממובלעת נגורנו-קרבאך נגורנו קרבאך ב אזרבייג'ן
Armenian refugees fleeing Nagorno-Karabakh
That is the context in which we have suddenly been seeing a flurry of reports about supposed Armenian antisemitism. I won’t dignify most of them, but as an example, I’ll point out an article that appeared in recent days in The Jerusalem Post casting a preposterous amount of attention upon a marginal Armenian figure (who signs show may not even be local) and who made outrageous statements against Jews in a video shared on social media.
It boggles the mind why such prominence is awarded by a respected publication to the ravings of a vile and marginal character whose views are a stark departure from the historical reality of Armenians, who, throughout the millennia, have not exhibited any animosity toward Jews.
On the contrary, the Armenians have a track record of positive interactions, reflected in the strong bonds formed between Armenian and Jewish communities across the globe.
Contrary to such malicious claims, Armenians have a history of standing up for Jews and seeking to protect them. We are proud that at Yad Vashem, many Armenian names are listed among the righteous who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust. No other nation in the wider Middle East comes even close – a remarkable feat for a nation that at the time was still recovering from its own genocide (during World War I at the hands of Ottoman Turks).
5 View gallery
נשיא ארמניה ארמן סרקיזיאן טקס פורום השואה יד ושם שואה ירושלים
נשיא ארמניה ארמן סרקיזיאן טקס פורום השואה יד ושם שואה ירושלים
Former Armenian President Armen Sarkissian lays a wreath at Yad Vashem in 2020
(Photo: AFP)
The question arises: Who stands to gain from painting Armenians as antisemitic? The unequivocal answer is Azerbaijan. Since the early 2010s, Azerbaijan has actively pursued a policy of denigrating Armenia in the eyes of Jewish communities globally, especially where they are considered to wield significant influence. This orchestrated campaign aims to portray Armenia as hostile to Israel while conveniently assigning to Azerbaijan the role of an irreplaceable energy supplier and lucrative arms buyer.
Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s dictator president, is close to circles that are the main purveyors of digital era fakeries. Like us, Israel too has suffered the social media chicaneries of this cynical cabal.
This is not conspiracy theorizing. As a former senior Armenian diplomat, I have witnessed Azerbaijani officials and their paid lobbyists fabricate stories about Armenian antisemitism, particularly targeting Jewish institutions. These baseless campaigns, though often recognized as disingenuous, were not adequately countered, allowing some of the venomous allegations to take root, particularly in Israel.
Azerbaijan's attempts at tarnishing Armenia's image extended – outrageously – to Armenia and its diaspora communities. In a feat of astonishing cynicism, Azerbaijan has attempted to whip up actual anti-Israeli feelings precisely based on its own good relations with Israel.
5 View gallery
נשיא אזרבייג'ן אילהם אלייב
נשיא אזרבייג'ן אילהם אלייב
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev
In essence, there is a well-thought-out, planned, and orchestrated policy aimed at antagonizing the only two democracies in the wider Middle East.
Against this backdrop, it becomes imperative for both nations to stay vigilant, especially in anticipation of more seismic shifts in our region and the world at large.
Israel’s ties with Azerbaijan are at the moment a matter of short-term gains and convenience; we may not love it but we understand realpolitik. But the Armenian and Jewish people share something deeper based on common values and aspirations.
We should be celebrating successful partnerships, such as the Armenian Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives featuring a substantial number of Jewish Americans.

5 View gallery
ראש ממשלת ארמניה ניקול פשיניאן ותומכיו צועדים ב ירבאן אחרי שטען ל ניסיון הפיכה
ראש ממשלת ארמניה ניקול פשיניאן ותומכיו צועדים ב ירבאן אחרי שטען ל ניסיון הפיכה
Civilians waving the Armenian national flag in the streets of the capital Yerevan
(Photo: AP)
We should commemorate our common heroes, among them Franz Werfel, an Austrian Jewish writer whose epic novel, "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," played a vital role in depicting Armenian resistance during the Ottoman genocide. This book not only helped inspire the rebuilding of the Armenian nation but also the Jewish resistance under Nazi rule. Passed hand-to-hand in Jewish ghettos in Nazi-occupied Europe, it became a symbol for the Jewish underground. It was also read by many young Jews in Palestine as they prepared to defend Haifa against a possible Nazi invasion.
These are trying times for both our peoples. We want to reach out to you in friendship and camaraderie. Let’s focus on what unites us, recognizing the common values and aspirations that can bridge gaps and foster understanding between our two nations.
  • Grigor Hovhannissian served as Armenia’s Ambassador to the United States and Mexico, and as the country’s deputy foreign minister.
The commenter agrees to the privacy policy of Ynet News and agrees not to submit comments that violate the terms of use, including incitement, libel and expressions that exceed the accepted norms of freedom of speech.