Eldad Ben-Aharon charts the history of Israel's refusal to recognise the Armenian Genocide.
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).