Even though a peace agreement was recently signed between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Armenian Diaspora continues to utilize social media platforms to attack Jews, Azerbaijanis, and others, who have stood up for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. The insults that are being uttered are grave and undermine the peace process that is presently being implemented by Russia.
Upon tweeting an article by Sivan Gamliel that highlighted from a Jewish perspective why ecological terrorism is strictly forbidden under Halakha after the peace agreement was signed, an Armenian tweeted that I am “despicable” and a “dishonor to a prominent world religion.” In other words, Jewish people do not have the right to condemn Armenians destroying trees and other natural areas in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. This came after I got many insulting anti-Semitic and sexist Facebook messages and tweets during the war.
Another Armenian sent a message to me comparing them losing the war to the Holocaust, which is anti-Semitic for it belittles the significance of the horrors perpetrated during the Holocaust to compare losing a war to the worst genocide of the 20 century. In fact, all over Twitter, many Armenians tweet to different Jewish people, trying to play on the Holocaust to get Jewish people to support their cause.
Avi Shefatja, the Chairman of the Community of Mountain Jews in Germany, noted that some Armenians in recent days have tried to infiltrate Jewish platforms on social media to turn Jewish people against Azerbaijan in the hopes that some Jews will fall for their lobbying efforts, while others merely have been spreading anti-Jewish rhetoric. In a group called Armenians of Jerusalem on Facebook, one Armenian noted that Azerbaijani Jews have been demonstrating in solidarity with Azerbaijan. In response, one Armenian proclaimed: “Jews and Azerbaijanis are the same shit.” Another one declared: “Scum bags.” Yet another one accused Netanyahu of being anti-Christian and worshipping the golden calf due to his support for Azerbaijan.
In an online webinar titled “Territorial Integrity as a Component of International Law: The Case of Azerbaijan,” Benjamin Minick, another journalist, noted that he suffered much abuse online over his support of Azerbaijan: “In California, the influence of the Armenian Lobby is extremely strong. I have been personally threatened and attacked. Got some gunshots and broken windows aimed at my office. That continues, even though the conflict ended.”
The Armenian Lobby’s hate speech does not end there. Foreign journalists coming to Azerbaijan to cover accurately the war and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict also come under heavy pressure from the Armenian lobby. An example of this is French TV channel TF1 and its correspondent Liseron Boudoul. She received dozens of insulting messages on social media after broadcasting a report on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh on October 22, 2020. At that time, the Azerbaijani government defended Liseron Boudoul. The assistant to the Azerbaijani President, the Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration Hikmat Hajiyev made a post on his Twitter account about it: “We strongly condemn threats and hate speech by the Armenian lobby against TF1 and its correspondent Liseron Boudoul for doing her professional work to cover the plight of Azerbaijani civilians and the ongoing war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This is another proof that the Armenian lobby is protesting not in a civil manner.”
Some may ponder why such Armenian lobbying over social media matters. It matters for what starts out on social media eventually also influences the general media coverage of the conflict, which leads to shaping public opinion and government policy in democratic states. If major countries in the West then try to sabotage the peace agreement under the influence of a domestic political lobby, this would be a great injustice to every Azerbaijani and Armenian who seeks to live in peace after suffering from a devastating war. It also would be a great injustice to anyone opposed to Iranian hegemony in the region. Under the present peace agreement, the Asian Times reported that the Islamic Republic of Iran is now entirely bordering Azerbaijan and may even be cut off from Armenia entirely, unless the Russians grant them passage. If this happens, it will be much harder for Iran to utilize Armenia to bypass sanctions, as Azerbaijan is Israel’s eyes and ears in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Thus, this peace agreement also strengthens the national security of the State of Israel.
While it is believed by many that Biden will be too occupied with other matters to get involved in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict especially in light of the fact that Russia will have taken care of the issue by the time he enters office, pressure from the Armenian lobby could render such assessments meaningless. Irina Tsukerman, a prominent international human rights lawyer who arranged the webinar, indicated that such Armenian lobbying has already influenced Western media coverage of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict: “The coverage in the West have been largely uneven and loyal to the Armenian lobby, especially in the US and France.” She noted that they tend to focus on Turkey’s role, the Armenian allegation of a potential genocide and the religious angle.
Minick concurred: “Nobody wants to focus on the IDP’s returning to their homes, the ecological terror, the leaving of cattle dead, the deforestation, the removal of natural resources, etc. This seems to be the modus operendi for how the Armenians act and the lobbying efforts in the US basically leads credence to the mob mentality.” As a result, Azerbaijan’s just message seeking the preservation of its territorial integrity and justice for the internally displaced refugees does not get out there like it should.
However, one thing is certain. If the peace agreement is going to last, the hate speech must come to an end. Comparing the peace agreement to the Holocaust or attacking Jewish people for supporting Azerbaijan will not assist the peace process in the slightest. Posting pictures on Facebook of anti-Azerbaijan signs waving over the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem while complaining that Jews were not the ones who put those signs up there just fosters hatred and is not conducive to peaceful coexistence. For this reason, if we want the peace agreement to last, the incitement and hatred on social media must come to an end now, so that everyone will be able to rebuild their lives in the wake of the new peace agreement.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of JerusalemOnline.