Rivlin at Armenian Commemoration
Rivlin at Armenian CommemorationMark Neyman (GPO)

President Reuven Rivlin hosted on Sunday morning leaders of the Armenian community in Israel, to mark 100 years since the Armenian tragedy. 

"We are morally obligated to point out the facts, as horrible as they might be, we must not ignore them. The Armenian people were the first victims of modern mass killing. We do not seek to put the blame on any specific country, but rather identify with the victims and the horrible results of the massacre," Rivlin said to start the event. He did not use the word "genocide." 

Stressing the importance of remembering the massacre, the President said, "Today, when the viper of fundamentalism is raising its ugly head once again, we must remember that evil is not the property of any specific religion, just as it is not the attribute of any specific country or ethnic group." 

"Two weeks ago, we the Jewish people, commemorated Holocaust Remembrance Day. After this horrible Holocaust, commemorating the tragedy of the Armenian people is our Jewish obligation; a human and moral one.  I am proud to host you here in the President's Residence to mark this day with you."

Tsolag Momjian, the Honorary Consul of Aremenia in Israel, also spoke: "This is a most historic event today. Armenians all over the world are commemorating the centenary anniversary of the mass killings of the Armenians by the Ottoman Turks.  

"Israel is represented for the first time in Armenia by two Members of Knesset; Dr. Nachman Shai from the Zionist Union and Dr. Anat Berko of the Likud. The Armenian Genocide is not a political case but a moral case.  And I want to thank the President for creating this historic opportunity today," Momijan said with gratitude. 

Archbishop Aris Shirvanian, the representative of the Armenian Patriarch, however, expressed disappointment that Israel has not yet referred to the killings of the Armenian people as "genocide." 

Rivlin - who himself avoided using the term - accepted the criticism, adding that he believed Israel's leadership must do more to address the issue of the Armenian tragedy, and noting that he believed Sunday's discussion was of critical importance.