Text size
related tags

Four years ago I was invited to participate in a conference of researchers and intellectuals to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Armenia is an unfortunate nation whose diaspora outnumbers its population, while Yerevan, its capital, is hardly glorious. The Soviet Union left behind scorched earth in the Caucasus - after the deluge.

I accepted the invitation because of my prolonged and frustrating involvement in the disgraceful Israeli attitude toward other holocausts, along with my strong desire to see Mount Ararat; it was here that the human race was saved from extinction - and it's not certain it will be saved again, when not only flood waters threaten to drown it, but also heavy water.

I could see the mountain opposite me. The main part of it lies in Turkish territory, the border is closed, and Armenia is isolated and asphyxiated, in need of an outlet to the world, to the sea. Only the large and hostile neighbor is capable of resuscitating the small one.

For lack of choice, Armenia signed an agreement this month with Turkey, normalizing relations between the two nations. Such an agreement is hard to accept, as it ignores crimes against humanity. It's hard for me to digest, too: An important moral issue is being pushed into a corner of history.

In fact, the Armenians and their allies - primarily in France and the United States - tried to prevent the agreement from being signed. The Armenian president even encountered demonstrators who called him a "traitor," and the Parisian police were called in to protect him. "There is no alternative to forming relations with Turkey," he said in his defense, "the time and the conditions dictate it."

It's easy to be heroic and principled from afar. The Armenian despair looks simpler from Paris and New York. But it's unfair to be more Armenian than an Armenian in Armenia.

Nor is it fair to be more Palestinian than a Palestinian in Palestine. How pleasant it is to sit in Damascus or Beirut, in Tehran or South Waziristan, and add fuel to the fire. The hell of Gaza is paradise to all the warmongers in the Arab and Muslim world; they are not being burned by the fire.

And it is not fair to be more Israeli than an Israeli in Israel. From a distance, from a bird's-eye view, even the local despair looks different. A lobby like AIPAC therefore has no right to be more destructively patriotic than many of the actual citizens in our country. What do Diaspora wheeler-dealers care if we live by the sword forever, if we get screwed forever - we and not they?

Two days from now, in Washington, another Israel lobby by the name of J Street is convening. It was founded two years ago and has gained strength following the election of U.S. President Barack Obama. Will the new lobby be able to serve as a counterweight to the veteran group? Will it be able to take away from AIPAC the representative monopoly granted to it on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the settlers, and on behalf of only a minority of American Jewry? The ambassador of the Israeli government to the United States, it seems, will boycott the J Street council - which is only proof that it is on the right path, and that it has power.

When one lobby neutralizes its colleague-rival; when our distant-close friends leave us to our destiny and do not play with our fire; when we will be able to do without either of them - we need neither your honey nor your sting; perhaps then the blood will subside, and the ark will rest on the mountains of Ararat.