Rabbis protest Armenian usage of the Holocaust as a foreign propaganda tool

Ariel Kogan

Political analyst, Israel

6 min read
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Vladivostok, Russia.
Sergei Bobylev/TASS News Agency Host Pool Photo via APArmenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Vladivostok, Russia.

A group of 50 leading European rabbis sign a joint letter condemning the Armenian leadership for using Holocaust rhetoric in a campaign against Azerbaijan

Protests erupted this week across the European Union, the United States, and Muslim countries against the constant use of the Holocaust as a propaganda tool by the Armenian government. 

A group of 50 leading European rabbis (RCE) signed a joint letter on Wednesday condemning the Armenian leadership for using Holocaust rhetoric in a campaign against its neighbor, Azerbaijan.

“Expressions such as ‘ghetto,’ ‘genocide,’ ‘Holocaust,’ and others are… inappropriate to be part of the jargon used in any kind of political disagreement,” read the rabbis' letter addressed to Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and President Vahagn Garniki Khachaturyan.

An Instagram post by an Armenian clothing brand.
An Instagram post by an Armenian clothing brand.An Instagram post by an Armenian clothing brand.

The letter followed recent interviews and statements by Armenian leaders about the conflict with Azerbaijan over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

“In a recent interview by Prime Minister Pashinyan to AFP, the Armenian leader drew comparisons between Nazi-created ghettos and the Holocaust, and what Azerbaijan is currently doing in the conflicted region,” the RCE press service said in a statement. 

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This joint letter by European rabbis was in response to an article written by Rabbi Zamir Isayev, head of the Sepharadi-Georgian community in Baku. He cited shocking examples of Armenian officials' use of terms such as "Holocaust" and "ghetto," and who published a video comparing Nazi atrocities to the current social media photos of Armenians in the separatist enclave in Azerbaijani Karabakh.

Rabbi Isayev explained to i24NEWS how the ethnic Armenians are "claiming that they are 'dying like Jews in the ghettos from starvation.’” 

But the Rabbi said, “They also post Instagram stories of weddings with huge cakes, seek to hire extra staff for restaurants, and advertise discounted shish-kebabs.”

Twitter screenshot of An Armenian official
Twitter screenshot of An Armenian officialAn Armenian official comparing the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh to the Holocaust.

“Officials in the enclave, who have blocked the road used by the Azerbaijani government to bring all the necessary products, claim that it is better to die than to accept 'Hitler's handouts'," Rabbi Isayev continued, adding that Armenian claims of "famine" in the enclave echo the "Palestinian genocide" narrative of which Israel is falsely accused.

Isayev, who is an Israeli citizen and served in the IDF, noted that "Iran has been pushing the 'genocide' theme with all its might, spreading lies and fabricated images, accusing us of 'starving millions of Palestinians in Gaza.'" 

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“The Iranians have gone to international organizations with delusional demands for sanctions on Israel, which has fought such lies for decades, publishing photos of the gap in the quality of life in between the majority of the population in Gaza and its wealthy local leadership. Today, Azerbaijan is in the exact same situation: not a single piece of unbiased media emerges from the enclave. Social media, though, reveals a completely different picture." 

Isayev's article received the support of 30 rabbis around the world, including Rabbi Aryeh Ralbag, head of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis of the United States and Canada; Rabbi Abraham Weill of Strasbourg and the Rhineland in France; Rabbi of the Caucasian community in the world Yaniv Naftaliev; Rabbi of Poland Mordechai Schudrich; Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Vienna Jaron Engelmayer; Rabbi Eliyahu Hamara, founder of the Latin American Rabbinical Conference and president of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA); Zsolt Balla, the state Rabbi of Saxony and Federal Military Rabbi of Bundeswehr; Chief Rabbi at Geneva Izhak Dayan; Senior Rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community of the UK Joseph Dweck; Chief Rabbi of Belgium Avraham Gigi, and many others.

AP Photo/Sergei Grit, File
AP Photo/Sergei Grit, FileRussian military vehicles roll along a road toward the separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Two more letters condemning the use of the Holocaust by Armenian officials were written by rabbis from Muslim countries and the American "Israel Heritage Foundation,” established by Holocaust survivors.

It should be noted that 500 rabbis from the EU are planning to visit Baku in November 2023 for the biennial congress of the Conference of European Rabbis, which will be held at the invitation of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who will act as the honorary host.

Azerbaijan is now considered a key ally of Israel in the fight against Iran. It has no history of anti-Semitism, and for nearly a millennium Azerbaijanis have protected their Jewish community. At least twice it hosted tens of thousands of Jewish refugees – during the pogroms in the Pale of Settlement and the Holocaust.

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