Presidents Herzog and Aliyev at Munich Conference: The High Rate of Antisemitism in Armenia Is Influenced by Israel-Azerbaijan Relations

By Hamodia Staff

Israeli President Yitzchak Herzog and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. (The Executive Office of the President of Azerbaijan)

Israeli officials and Jewish leaders held a number of key talks behind the scenes at the Munich Security Conference with state leaders and government officials. They raised grave concerns regarding the rise of antisemitism throughout the world in the wake of Israel’s defense response to the terror attacks of Oct. 7 and the ongoing war against Hamas in Gaza.

Community leaders expressed the need to increase security for Jewish communities and institutions.

Following special talks held between Israeli President Yitzchak Herzog and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, Jewish leaders brought up the distress of the Jewish community in Armenia, which has been experiencing harsh, violent antisemitic attacks as a result of Israel’s close relations with Azerbaijan, which is considered an enemy of Armenia in the context of the territorial conflict in the separatist enclave, in the Karabakh region of Azerbaijan. Jewish community leaders requested the intervention of the governments to protect the small Armenian Jewish community, most of whom live in the capital city, Yerevan. The synagogue in Yerevan has been attacked several times by antisemitic elements.

The talks highlighted that the highest rate of increase in antisdsemitism over the past year in general, and since the attack on Simchas Torah in particular, was recorded in Russia, Belarus, Armenia, and Central Asian republics, according to the Ministry of the Diaspora Affairs’ latest report on world antisemitism, which was issued to the government to mark International Holocaust Day, as well as in the context of the Swords of Iron war. The report denotes a most concerning rise in attacks and displays of antisemitism in supposedly friendly countries, too.

The grave report mentioned Armenia as a new party in the ranks of rising antisemitism, as it made its first appearance in this year’s annual report. According to the report, “The antisemitic discourse in Armenia is largely influenced by Israel-Azerbaijan relations, and the Israeli security exports to Azerbaijan. These ties arouse a great deal of anger in Armenian society in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh war raging between Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, the fact that Armenia chose to focus on Israel in particular and not necessarily on other countries supporting Azerbaijan goes to show that the antisemitic attitude in Armenia is deeply rooted and may even be influenced by outside factors.”

The comprehensive report further states that “Armenian social networks were quick to respond positively to the Hamas attack and share mass propaganda produced by Hamas. This action was accompanied by harsh criticism of Israel, explicit demands to support Hamas, and comparisons between Israel, Azerbaijan, and Nazi Germany.”

Additionally, the report mentioned that “Vladimir Poghosyan, a prominent anti-Israel political commentator and previous holder of official security positions, who is known for his harsh antisemitic leanings, has openly threatened the Jews and Israel, repeatedly calling for attacks on Jews. As a result of this violent rhetoric, the small Jewish community in Armenia has often been victim to antisemitic harassment, which culminated in two attempts to burn down the only synagogue in the country.” The report notes that setting fire to the synagogue was selected as one of the 10 most obtrusive antisemitic incidents in the world.

It should be noted that the statement in the report, “the antisemitic attitude in Armenia is deeply rooted and may even be influenced by outside factors,” matches a study conducted by the Anti-Defamation League approximately a decade ago, which stipulates that 58% of the Armenian adult population hold antisemitic views, and 72% believe that Jews have too much power in the world. The most negative data in Europe revealed by the study indicated that 32% of the entire Armenian population are not prepared to accept Jews as citizens of their country.

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