Some 50 rabbis from throughout Europe have denounced the use of the term “genocide” to describe the activities of Azerbaijani forces towards Armenians living in the contested region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The subject of an armed conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, sporadic fighting between the two countries has once again broken out in the region, with a blockade imposed by Azerbaijan prompting international fears of famine in the region.
Writing to the President and the Prime Minister of Armenia, the rabbis denounced any use of the term “genocide” regarding the current crisis, claiming such language was inappropriate.
“Expressions such as ‘ghetto’, ‘genocide’, ‘holocaust’ and others are in no uncertain terms inappropriate to be part of the jargon used in any kind of political disagreement,” the rabbis wrote in the open letter, which was organised by the Rabbinical Centre of Europe.
“Usage of these terms belittles the terrible suffering experienced by the victims of the horrific Holocaust and the Jewish people at large which still bears the indescribable pain of the largest tragedy ever experienced by a single group.”
The letter, which was also sent to both European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, went on to criticise Armenia’s “collaboration” with Iran, “a country which incessantly openly and publicly calls for its destruction of the only Jewish country in the world – Israel”.
The humanitarian mission failed in its objectives as Azerbaijan did not want to let the delegation pass. https://t.co/gAgaiRRYmF
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) September 1, 2023
Many international bodies have recognised the increasingly dire situation of Armenians in the region, with the European Council President Charles Michel warning on September 1 that the situation was “deteriorating rapidly”.
Michel stopped short of describing the humanitarian crisis as a genocide, only calling for a dialogue between Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the impasse.
Others have issued far graver warnings, with a former chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court telling US Congressmen that Azerbaijan appeared to want the ethnic-cleansing of Armenian Christians in the territory.
“This is an ongoing genocide,” Luis Moreno Ocampo, an expert on the region said. “There is no doubt that genocidal intentions are there.”
Politicians in both the European Union and the US have since put pressure on both national and international governments to intervene, with Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo visiting the Armenia-Azerbaijan border late last month to raise awareness.
The European Union Mission in Armenia (EUMA) patrolling in the border region with Azerbaijan was fired upon, however, the EU initially denied the incident before being forced to backtrack as evidence of the shootings was published online. https://t.co/Oe3xrUeDo6
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 16, 2023