As the last war between Azerbaijan and Armenia was raging, Armenian lobby groups in the U.S., especially in Los Angeles, were making enormous efforts to get American Jewish organizations to side with Armenia in the conflict. Only one small organization – Jewish World Watch (JWW) – agreed to be part of the Armenian lobby’s well-funded campaign, targeting Azerbaijan.
All other major American Jewish organizations refused to collaborate with the Armenian lobby and target Azerbaijan. In fact, the Simon Wiesenthal Center (SWC), a globally acclaimed champion against antisemitism, discrimination and hatred, with 400,000-members strong, went on to publicly condemn the L.A.-based Armenian lobby’s equation of Israel to Nazi Germany and Armenia’s distortion of the conflict as a “holy war.”
The question is: why did JWW suddenly decide to side with Armenia and attack Azerbaijan – one of the most trusted allies of the state of Israel and the Jewish people?
This matter cried out for more investigation.
First, review some interesting aspects of the Israel-Azerbaijan partnership and then how anti-Semitic ANCA lured JWW to side with Armenia. This comes with a very interesting twist linking J-Street that makes it easier to understand how JWW could work with Armenia against Israel.
Israel and Azerbaijan
Gabi Ashkenazi, Israel’s current Foreign Minister, recently said: “Azerbaijan is an ally, friend, and the largest energy supplier to the State of Israel. We will continue to work to develop the important relations with Azerbaijan and expand them to new areas.” The minister also announced the opening of official Azerbaijani Tourism & Trade offices in Israel, with diplomatic status. This is a valiant and decisive step taken by Azerbaijan, a secular majority-Muslim nation bordering all major regional powers – Iran, Turkey and Russia.
Although this announcement is quite exciting, the basis for it is far from new. Azerbaijan and Israel have been close allies for over 30 years, sharing intelligence, energy, technology, values and enemies alike.
Azerbaijan has also served as a rare safe and stable haven for Jewish people for the past 2,000 years or more. Today, the 30,000-member thriving Jewish community in Azerbaijan is the largest Jewish community in the Muslim world.
The fact is that Azerbaijan has faced significant risks in respecting and protecting Jewish life. During modern tragedies which the Jewish people experienced, the Holocaust to name one, Azerbaijan has perpetually harbored Jews while confronting the Jews’ enemies. During WWII, Azerbaijan sheltered over 10,000 Jews who fled the killing fields of Europe. This 95% majority-Muslim nation lost 400,000 of its sons and daughters on the frontlines of WWII.
In September 2020, the Israel-Azerbaijan relationship was thrown into political discourse, when Azerbaijan was unexpectedly attacked by Armenia. This unprovoked attack was the most recent in nearly 30 years of Armenia’s violence against Azerbaijan and its illegal occupation of Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region. The Armenian occupation action has been condemned by the United Nations Security Council and successive U.S. Administrations.
In the early 1990s, during its invasion of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territory, Armenia expelled and thus displaced over 800,000 Azerbaijanis from their ancestral homelands. Following the 1993 ceasefire, the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) condemned this invasion, occupation and ethnic cleansing by passing four resolutions.
Witnessing the Armenian destruction course in Azerbaijan’s land, the once 50,000-strong Azerbaijani city of Aghdam was razed to the ground during 30 years of Armenian occupation:
Three decades later, last fall 2020, within 44 days of fighting Azerbaijan unilaterally defeated Armenia, liberating much of its occupied territory. After signing a capitulation agreement, Armenia withdrew from the remaining sovereign territories of Azerbaijan.
Israel’s support to strengthen Azerbaijan’s military capacity over the last decade became the target of Armenian propaganda against both countries.
However, this was hardly a matter of choosing sides; as mentioned, both the U.S. and the U.N. have repeatedly condemned Armenia’s illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Azerbaijan’s sovereign territories.
During 30 years of Armenia’s occupation and official ceasefire, almost all houses of forcibly displaced Azerbaijanis in the occupied territory have been dismantled, brick by brick, and sold in Armenia and Iran. Over 700 Azerbaijani villages, 15 towns and 7 cities were completely razed to the ground by Armenia.
The obliterated area is 6 times larger than the Los Angeles area. Out of 67 Azerbaijani mosques, 63 were desecrated and destroyed, with many turned into pigsties and cowsheds. Even graveyards were not spared, with the headstones of Azerbaijani graves used in Armenian homes. They headstones were often used as stone steps, similar to what the Nazis did throughout the Holocaust.
Even during the latest 44-day war, Armenia committed serious war crimes, murdering over 100 Azerbaijani civilians, including 12 children outside the war zone. These crimes were strongly condemned by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, and due to Armenian missile and artillery attacks, 80,000 Azerbaijanis were displaced.
Armenian lobby attacks Israel
In October, 2020, the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) held an irate protest outside the Israel Consulate building in Los Angeles, rejecting Israel’s support for Azerbaijan. Signs comparing Israel to Nazi Germany were seen. Such comparisons are clearly defined by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) as antisemitism. The Simon Wiesenthal Center condemned this outrageous display.
Antisemitism in Armenia
Armenia has a rather shocking track record of antisemitism. According to the global antisemitism survey, conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Armenia is the second most anti-Semitic nation in Europe, with 1.3 million people in this country harboring anti-Semitic sentiments.
The same survey notes that Armenia is one of the top three countries in the world, outside the Middle East and North Africa, with the highest antisemitism scores. Additionally, a Pew Research Center survey found that 32 percent of Armenians would not accept Jews as fellow citizens, which is the highest percentage in this survey among Central and Eastern Europe countries.
Recently, Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Ministry released its annual antisemitism report, that also highlights the rising antisemitism trends in Armenia.
An important attestation of this trend is the tribute efforts to General Garegin Nzhdeh, considered Armenia’s most revered hero, a passionate Hitler devotee. During the Holocaust, Nzhdeh oversaw the Wehrmacht’s 20,000-strong Armenian Legion, who served Hitler and led the rounding up of Jews for Death Marches in France, Crimea and the Caucasus.
Today, there is a very large statue of Nzhdeh, erected in 2016 by the Armenian government in the center of Yerevan, Armenia’s capital.
A 2021 Forward Magazine study found that the 22 Nzhdeh monuments in Armenia are making the country one of the largest concentrations of Nazi monuments in the world. There are schools, streets and even an entire village in Armenia named after this Nazi. Nzhdeh’s devotion to serving Hitler was not for naught; as a passionate racial nationalist, he believed, espoused and preached for a pure Armenian race, an Armenian-centered version similar to the racial purity Nazi ideology.
Another infamous Armenian Nazi collaborator is General Dro (Drastamat Kanayan), also glorified as a national hero.
In 2020 ANCA, the U.S. Armenian lobby held a protest in front of Israel’s Consulate building, in Los Angeles. ANCA that was once chaired by a convicted terrorist is the lobbying arm of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, or Dashnaks, a movement reinforced by the Nazi General Nzhdeh’s racial philosophy,
In 1945, in addition to discussing their terror and violence record within the United States, in the U.S Congress there were also discussions to expose Dashnaks as openly sympathizing with Hitler and supporting the Holocaust. Armenian Dashnaks called Hitler a “gift to mankind,” describing the Holocaust as a “surgical operation” to cleanse Germany of “poisonous elements.”
Dashnaks, including ANCA, have not only refused to acknowledge their pro-Hitler and pro-Holocaust past, but they also continue to glorify Armenian Nazi collaborators both in Armenia and diaspora.
Armenian Lobby Lures Jewish World Watch (JWW)
During the Armenia-Azerbaijan war last fall, at the behest of the anti-Semitic ANCA, the Los Angeles-based non-profit “Jewish World Watch” (JWW) started gathering signatures, from mostly local Jewish rabbis and community activists for a letter targeting Azerbaijan. The letter was published after the war was over.
I must give credit to the authors of this letter. Though it is titled “Jewish Leaders in Support of Artsakh” (Artsakh is name Armenia uses for Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region), half of the letter speaks about the Armenian Genocide of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire, which has nothing to do with Azerbaijan and the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict nor Israel. It is a prime example of a letter that can easily mislead the signers into believing its content is about the Armenian Genocide claim. That was exactly the goal of the JWW-ANCA alliance as it now becomes clear.
The other half of the letter parrots Armenian propaganda, without mentioning a word about the internationally condemned invasion, occupation, ethnic cleansing, massacres and other recent war crimes committed by Armenia against Azerbaijan.
JWW Supported Crimes Against Humanity
Why did Jewish World Watch, an organization claiming to be committed to addressing and preventing genocide, sponsor a letter supporting Armenia’s crimes against humanity, including the Khojaly Massacre of Azerbaijani civilians, characterized by Israel’s President Rivlin, at the UN, as an example of genocides the world has been unable to prevent since the Holocaust.
JWW Sides With Ally of Iran
Why did JWW sponsor a letter against Azerbaijan, one of the most trusted allies of Israel and the Jewish people, in support of Armenia, the most trusted ally of Iran, Syria and Russia, that glorifies its Nazi collaborators and is ranked among the top anti-Semitic nations in the world?
JWW Sides With Anti-Semites
Why did JWW partner with ANCA – a deeply anti-Semitic Dashnak organization, built on its infamous support for Hitler and the Holocaust that considers Nazi collaborators their most important national heroes?
JWW Tricked Rabbis
Perhaps most disturbing is that the letter is signed by rabbis, who surely believed they were participating in a just and righteous act when they added their names to such a virulent document. None of these rabbis and Jewish activists, signed on the letter, have any identifiable history with the issues addressed in the letter, especially the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict. Assumably, they signed it because they trusted Jewish World Watch.
Jewish World Watch’s intense alignment with ANCA sprang out of nowhere, following the recent hiring of its new Executive Director Serena Oberstein. Oberstein was formerly the founding member and southwest regional director of J-STREET, which begs a number of questions. Armenian Dashnak groups are infamous for luring various American organizations to support their causes and to side with Armenia by making large donations, directly or indirectly.
ANCA Supports Recent Hamas Attack on Israel
In one other demonstration of antisemitism, last week ANCA officials issued statements accusing Israel of “vilifying, dehumanizing, terrorizing, oppressing the Palestinians.” They ridiculed the concept of Israeli self-defense, without even mentioning, as of this writing 4000 rockets fired by Hamas terrorists onto Israel civilian population. Armenian groups also joined the anti-Israel protests in Los Angeles.
Despite this absurd letter and ANCA’s many other attempts to chink away at the strength of Israel-Azerbaijan friendship and cooperation, and more so against the deep friendship Azerbaijan shares with Jewish people across the world, nothing has changed but that the strength of those ties continues to forge deeper and wider.
The unarguable facts of history, the sacrifices, the courage, and vision that nurtured Israel-Azerbaijan bonds throughout the years cannot be undone or broken by racist propaganda or pay-for-play alliances. Nor can the history of Armenian antisemitism be erased, or permanently overlooked, despite ANCA’s constant efforts.
And finally … if all the above was not enough, the video below tells how the Armenian lobby tricked the misinformed U.S. Congress into one of the biggest scams of its history.
With all the factual details provided here, do Ms. Oberstein and the JWW she leads still side with Armenia? Will JWW retract the letter of distortion they issued as well as apologize to the letter’s signers for misleading them?.