OpinionIsrael at War

The inversion of victim and victimizer

Gazans' plight is the result of, not the reason for, their smoldering antisemitism.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after a meeting in Tehran in 2019. Credi: Press Office of the Government of Armenia.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani after a meeting in Tehran in 2019. Credi: Press Office of the Government of Armenia.
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman
Martin Sherman spent seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli defense establishment. He is the founder of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), a member of the Habithonistim-Israel Defense & Security Forum (IDSF) research team, and a participant in the Israel Victory Project.

The surge in antisemitism across the U.S. and elsewhere has once again thrown into sharp relief the pervasive and perverse loathing to which the Jewish people are subject.

This hate bubbles just below the surface, dormant but not dead, ready to erupt on the flimsiest pretext, even in the most allegedly liberal, cultured and erudite societies.

“Geographically challenged louts”

Since World War II, the naked expression of Jew-hatred has been muted, even frowned upon, in many parts of the world. Now, it appears that much of this restraint has been released; perversely, just after the Jews had been subjected to a brutal genocidal assault within the Jewish state itself.

By any rational standard of decency, the horrific atrocities of Oct. 7 should have unleashed a massive wave of, if not international sympathy, then at least of severe and unreserved condemnation of the murderers.

Yet, stunningly, the opposite occurred.

Especially on campus, we witnessed a groundswell of vicious and visceral hate, directed not only against the Jewish state’s righteous retaliation to a tsunami of barbaric war crimes but against Jews as Jews who were guilty not of any action but merely association    

Instead of being excoriated for their inhuman savagery, the Gazans were lauded and lionized as bold fighters for freedom. “Geographically challenged” louts chanted “from the river to the sea”—a euphemistic slogan for the destruction of the Jewish state—without the slightest idea which river and/or which sea was involved.

Perverse inversion of victim/victimizer

Arguably, some of the most egregious manifestations of this perverse inversion of victim and victimizer have been promulgated by Armenian sources.

An August 2023 analysis by The Institute for the Study of  Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP), entitled “Antisemitic and Anti-Israeli Narratives in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora,” warned that  significant circles of Armenian society are “under the influence of “antisemitic cliques.” As a result, a “popular construct has become the uncritical assimilation of the Arab-Islamic narrative of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

According to ISGAP, this “leads [them] to deny Israel’s right to exist and, accordingly, the right of Jews to their national self-determination—which falls under the internationally recognized definition of antisemitism.”

The ISGAP analysis cautions that “in recent months, the Armenian segment of the Internet (including the Russian and English language segments) has been [inundated] with expressions of unconditional solidarity with Palestinians on the 75th anniversary of the Nakba (the catastrophe of the Palestinian people, which, according to this narrative, is the creation of the State of Israel).”

It cites the policy director of the Washington-based Armenian National Committee of America as insinuating that the creation of Israel is “a crime that never ended.”

Misplaced pique

Allegedly, Armenian rancor against Israel is due to its supply of weapons to Azerbaijan in its successful wars (2020, 2023) in Nagorno-Karabakh, which resulted in the Armenian enclave being overrun and absorbed into Azerbaijan.

However, the real purpose of Israel’s supply of weapons to Baku was not conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, which has no strategic significance for it.

Rather, it was to strengthen its strategic cooperation with moderate, pro-Israel Azerbaijan against the extremist anti-Israel Iran that is an existential threat to the Jewish state. Significantly, polls by Pew and the ADL show that distinct antisemitic sentiments prevailed well before these military conflicts, now blamed for their manifestation,    

Likewise, the Armenian inference that the situation in Gaza and in Nagorno-Karabakh were in any way similar is utterly baseless. After all, it should be recalled that since 1993 and particularly in 2005 Israel tried repeatedly—albeit ill-advisedly—to extricate itself from Gaza, being thwarted only by unremitting aggression from Gazan terror groups, which made Israeli military action imperative. Indeed, the plight of the Gazans today is manifestly the result, not the reason for their smoldering antisemitic hate.

Incandescent incoherent vitriol

Recently, echoes of the irrational Jew-hatred that has reduced Gaza to rubble were spluttered (for want of a better word) by Vladimir Poghosyan, a former advisor to the Armenian military and purportedly an expert on his country’s national security.

Virtually apoplectic, he ranted: “I will scream to the whole world, about the just killing of Jews. … You jackals must be exterminated completely. … I never recognized the Holocaust. … Jews are a destructive people who have no right to be on this earth.”

Soaring off into a hate-filled tirade, he charged, “You suckers have not left your mark in any country in the world, never. You have always been situational temporary workers killing different people.” He was somehow ignorant of the fact that Jews (0.2% of the world’s population) comprise over 22% of all Nobel prize laureates.

While it is true that Poghosyan no longer holds any official position, his toxic diatribe is still worthy of mention because of his past standing.

Bearing the blame

Since the dissolution of the USSR, Armenia, as a small landlocked country subject to myriad constraints and pressures from larger and stronger neighbors, has found itself between a rock and a hard place. That truth, however, cannot obscure the fact that it has brought considerable animosity on itself by making some grossly injudicious choices and rash decisions of its own for which it alone must bear the blame.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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