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The World Union of Jewish Students: No Matter What Israel’s Official Policy Is, It Is Wrong Not to Recognize the Armenian Genocide (EXCLUSIVE)

Toronto Hye


"Armedia" IAA presents an exclusive interview with Yosef Tarshish (co-author of the motion on the Armenian Genocide and the President of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS), when the motion was adopted) and Avigayil Benstein, the newly-elected President of the WUJS, on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide during WUJS’s 44th World Congress in Israel.

The Congress was attended by participants from 36 countries coming from Eastern, Central and Western Europe, North and South America, Australasia, South Africa, India, Turkey and Israel.

The WUJS was founded in 1924.


Recently the World Union of Jewish Students recognized the Armenian Genocide. Why now? How did you come to that decision?

Yosef Tarshish: The reason that it was right now is that the Australasian Union of Jewish Students and also the New Zealand in the recent years have been building a closer partnership with local Armenian communities, especially in Sydney and I recently returned from a trip to Australia. I was there in November.

When I was there I discussed with their leadership the issue of bringing this motion to the General Assembly of the World Union of Jewish Students. And we did that.  

At the WUJS’s General Assembly, which took place in January, I spoke on the motion and I raised the issue of Israel not recognizing the Armenian Genocide. In general the motion was passed only with few abstentions, but there was nobody, who voted against the motion.

-Avigayil Benstein: It was clear for everyone in the room that it does not matter what Israel’s official policy is. What matters is that it is wrong not to recognize. We, as Jewish people, are horrified when people try to deny the Holocaust and we cannot justify doing that to other people. This was very clear for everyone in the room.


Do you have any further plans in this regard or was it only about recognition?

Avigayil Benstein: I think there is going to be an interesting conversation between us and our Unions as to how far we want to take this and what we want to do. There isn't consensus yet. However, I have been in touch with a professor in an Israeli University, he has given me contact information for the local Armenian community here and I think that together we would do some kind of educational program on Genocide. We would also like to organize Armenian Diaspora talking to our Diaspora about Genocide.

Yosef Tarshish:  The European Union of Jewish Students have also been doing a lot of work for building partnership between the Diaspora communities in Europe. Specifically working alongside the Armenian Diaspora in Europe and the Jewish Diaspora in Europe. They are doing some kind of three-way dialogue.  


You said that you cooperate with the Armenian Diaspora in different countries. Did you try to cooperate with any organization right in Armenia?

Yosef Tarshish: The World Union of Jewish Students does not have any formal partnership with Armenian organizations in Armenia, but I am pretty sure that the European Union of Jewish Students has.

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