ANI and the Zoryan Institute Co-Host Dr. Yair Auron; Lecture Focuses on Armenian Genocide

November 17, 2000

Washington, DC – Noted Israeli educator and historian Dr. Yair Auron told a Washington audience Monday night that the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide is equivalent to Germany denying the German crimes committed during World War II.

Speaking to some 70 guests at an event co-sponsored by the Armenian National Institute (ANI) and the Zoryan Institute for Contemporary Armenian Research and Documentation, Auron said, “Recognizing the Armenian Genocide…is of a major historical, moral and educational significance.” He added that such recognition is essential “for the non-recurrence of similar instances in the future.”

Washington was the first stop on Dr. Auron’s North American tour to promote the publication of his most recent book, The Banality of Indifference: Zionism and the Armenian Genocide, whose translation from Hebrew into English was sponsored by the Zoryan Institute. The book was described as “pioneering research” by the former prime minister of Israel Shimon Peres.

In his presentation, Auron focused on the attitudes of the Jewish Community in pre-1948 Palestine, the Zionist Movement, and the State of Israel toward the Armenian Genocide. He described the attitude of the various Israeli governments to the Armenian Genocide as “characterized by evasiveness and denial.” “The State of Israel has officially refrained from relating to the Genocide. A combination of factors connected with Israel’s relations with Turkey and concepts of the uniqueness of the Shoah [Holocaust] have brought about an almost total absence of any mentioning of the Armenian Genocide on state television,” he said.

There are members of the Israeli government, such as Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, who share Auron’s feeling that it is a moral imperative for Israelis to be more aware of and sensitive to other occurrences of genocide. Auron went on to say that he believed it essential to “develop a greater sensitivity among our youth to the suffering of others and to strengthen universal, humanistic values which are an integral part of the Jewish tradition.” In this regard, he noted the statement of Israeli’s Minister of Education Yossi Sarid at an April 24, 2000, memorial gathering of the Armenian community in Jerusalem which concluded with a commitment to ensure that the Armenian Genocide be included in the Israeli secondary school history curriculum.

“Dr. Auron’s informative lecture and vigorous question and answer session received a standing ovation from a well-informed audience Monday night. We are honored and pleased that this respected scholar spoke so openly and honestly about such a sensitive issue and are pleased that ANI and the Zoryan Institute could arrange it as part of our ongoing program to develop collaborative projects,” said ANI Director, Dr. Rouben Adalian.

“The enthusiastic response to this lecture gives Zoryan and ANI the impetus to continue to develop our cooperation,” George Shirinian of the Zoryan Institute remarked. He stated that both ANI and the Zoryan Institute are pursuing universal affirmation of the Armenian Genocide through academic fora and scholarly publications. He praised Auron’s commitment to universal human rights values and exhorted the audience to “…support the work of our research institutes.”