Kosach and Armenia

In at least one respect Grigorii Grigorevich Kosach’s comparison of the Armenian Democratic Movement with the World Zionist Congress is worse than lame; it is pernicious (MER 169). Whatever one thinks of the Armenian Democratic Movement, one thing is clear: The ADM is not a European colonial movement. Rather, it is a genuinely national movement of a people who have continuously inhabited their land for centuries. Like their Arab neighbors, Armenians have suffered greatly at the hands of both Ottoman and European colonialists. Zionism, by contrast, is essentially a European settler movement which sought to unite people of various nationalities (including the Yiddish-speaking nationality of Russia) around a messianic political ideology. To ignore this point is to concede much to Zionist mythologists, while at the same time detracting from the just demands of Armenians.

In relation to the conflict in Karabagh (or Artsakh), for example, the obvious parallel is not with Zionism, but rather with the intifada in the West Bank. In both cases, indigenous peoples that comprise the overwhelming majority populations of their respective regions have been subjected to systematic deprivations in an official attempt to create new demographic majorities. In both cases, the indigenous populations have resisted these attempts at the grassroots level. And in both cases, the verdict of fair-minded advocates of self-determination should be clear: Stop the “population transfers” and disassemble the state mechanisms by which they are carried out.

This implication that the organizational forms of the ADM resemble those of the World Zionist Organization is perplexing. If Kosach had been at all specific about this alleged resemblance, his comparison would have fallen flat. True, the ADM has received support from Armenians of the diaspora. It should be pointed out, however, that the Armenian diaspora, like the Palestinian diaspora, was largely the result of a state policy of deportation and mass terror. In view of this fact, one wonders why Kosach did not draw the closer parallel between the “organizational forms” of the ADM and the PLO.

Kosach’s motives can only be guessed at. What is less a matter of speculation, however, is that recent Soviet diplomatic overtures to the Zionist state have been accompanied by an attempt to equate Zionism with legitimate national, democratic and anti-colonial movements. This, it seems to me, is one implication of Kosach’s “new thinking.”

Markar Melkonian
North Chicago, Illinois

How to cite this article:

"Letter," Middle East Report 171 (July/August 1991).

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