Armenian Genocide should go on Israeli school program

April 24, 2000
Source: American Free Press (Washington, D.C.)

By Yossi Sarid

JERUSALEM, April 24 (AFP) - The Turkish genocide against the Armenians should be put on the history curriculum studied in Israeli secondary schools, Education Minister Yossi Sarid said Monday in a ceremony commemorating the event.

The proposal came on the day regarded as the start of the 1915 massacre, when the Turkish authorities rounded up the Armenian leadership in Istanbul. It is commemorated annually by Armenians throughout the world, including the community in Jerusalem who hold a march in the Old City.

Sarid joined some 1,000 Armenians who attended a meeting of the Jerusalem Armenian Committee at the Armenian church in the Old City, where he made a speech attacking "those who want to keep their eyes closed to this genocide."

Sarid, who was the first Israeli minister ever to attend the commemoration service in Jerusalem, described the massacre as "one of the most atrocious events that happened in the modern era."

"As education minister of the state of Israel... I will do everything so that Israeli pupils will study and know about the Armenian genocide," he said in his speech.

The Israeli Holocaust memorial Yad Vashem, which commemorates the Nazi genocide of Europe's Jews in World War II, supported Sarid's plan to teach the Armenian genocide in schools.

The commission drawing up the history curriculum within the ministry has previously opposed the inclusion of the Armenian genocide, largely as a result of pressure from the foreign ministry, which fears possible repercussions on Israel's relations with Turkey.

The two have particularly close military links.

History professor Yair Oron of Tel Aviv's open university told Israeli public radio: "It is high time for the Turkish leadership to put an end to their silence over this genocide and recognize the crimes committed by their predecessors."

"There can be no compromise over Holocaust denial, or over a genocide such as the one committed against the Armenians," he said, adding that "there is no reason for relations between Israel and Turkey to be affected by what is taught in Israeli schools."
Most historians believe that some 1.5 million Armenians were either massacred by the Turks during World War I or perished when they were deported into the desert.

The Turks put the figure at 300,000, and deny that the killings were part of a planned genocide.

Nearly 1,000 survivors of the massacres managed to reach Jerusalem, where they joined other Armenians who had lived there for centuries. The community in Israel and the Palestinian territories now numbers about 3,500.