Supporting Denial: Israel’s Foreign Policy and the Armenian Genocide

Israeli Jolly Ball

Supporting Denial: Israel’s Foreign Policy and the Armenian Genocide

Tuesday, 2 November 2021 - 2:15pm to 4:00pm
The MEC Board Room, The Kirdar Building, St. Antony's College
Eldad Ben Aharon (Groningen) 
Yaacov Yadgar (OSGA and DPIR)
Israel Studies Seminar

In a milestone vote in late 2019, both the US House of Representatives and Senate overturned more than forty years of precedent to pass a bill declaring that the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks was, in fact, a genocide. Subsequently, on 24 April 2021, also US President Joe Biden has officially recognized the Armenian genocide.  These decisions reinforced the importance of the subject matter and which offers the opportunity to learn how the 1980s were a formative period for the campaign for international recognition of the Armenian genocide. In his talk, Dr. Ben Aharon will assess how from the 1980s onwards, the state of Israel found itself in the remarkable position of supporting denial of the Armenian genocide. His talk takes us behind the scenes of the Israeli foreign ministry in the 1980s to examine how these state actors strategically mobilised the memory of the Armenian genocide into International Relations where it has remained for the following forty years. Dr. Ben Aharon will explore how Israeli diplomats took advantage of the growing international prominence of the 1915 Armenian genocide to court Turkey in the late Cold War period, leading to the emergence of a unique relationship between Israel and Turkey. The importance of this relationship is underlined by the successful role Israel played in supporting Turkey’s attempts to undermine the campaign by the Armenian diaspora to secure international recognition of the 1915 genocide. 

Dr. Ben Aharon is a Lecturer in International Relations of the Middle East, at University of Groningen and Minerva Fellow and Associate Researcher at Peace Research Institute Frankfurt (PRIF). He is a historian of International Relations specializing in the Cold War in the Middle East. Dr. Ben Aharon main areas of interest are Israel's diplomatic history, Turkey’s foreign policy, intelligence history, counter-terrorism, oral history theory and practice, Jewish transnationalism, and memory of the Holocaust and the Armenian genocide. His forthcoming book (Edinburgh University Press) offers a critical re-examination of Israel’s relationship with Turkey in the last decade of the Cold War. This book reveals the complicated and often contradictory process of managing the legacies of the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust in International Relations. Dr. Ben Aharon is also involved in research-led public engagement, therefore, he regularly writes short essays on current affairs for Newsweek, The Conversation, The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and the National Interest.  He received his PhD in history from Royal Holloway University of London (2019). Dr. Ben Aharon also holds an MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies from the University of Amsterdam (2014) and a BA in Political Science and International Relations from the Open University in Israel (with honours, 2011). 

Places are limited to 10 people only. First come, first served basis. The first 10 people to arrive at the seminar on the day will get a place; once capacity is reached we will not be able to accept any more audience members. Those who attend must check-in using the NHS QR code provided by the college (or may alternatively give their name and contact details on the door).

COVID-19 Safety Information

If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, please do not attend this event. We encourage attendees to wear a face covering at all indoor OSGA events unless exempt. We encourage attendees to respect social spacing, by leaving the seat next to them free, where possible and to use handwashing and hand sanitisation facilities regularly. We request that attendees, particularly those who are not double vaccinated, perform LFD tests before attending OSGA events. All attendees at OSGA events are expected to have pre-registered through Eventbrite.

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The latest University guidance on the use of face coverings should be checked and followed: unless exempt, you are asked wear one while moving around indoor spaces, where possible, while seated, particularly during larger events.

Attendees are asked to use the official NHS QR code posters displayed throughout the College site.

College general COVID guidance can be found here.

Attendees need to have one of:

  1. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination status,
  2. Registration (via NHS app) of a negative Lateral Flow Device test (LFD test) taken in the last 48 hours, or
  3. Proof of natural immunity via a positive PCR test taken within 180 days of the event, but following the 10-day isolation period