The Banality Of Denial:Israel And The Armenian Genocide

The Jewish Press, NY
Dec 9 2004

The Banality Of Denial:Israel And The Armenian Genocide
Posted 12/8/2004
By Aharon ben Anshel

We have an ugly name for people who commit the ugly crime of
declaring that The Holocaust never happened — they are called
“deniers,” and have been successfully prosecuted both here and
abroad. But “our” genocide was not history’s only crime against
humanity, and even in our time we have witnessed several other crimes
of mass murder, including Rwanda and Biafra, from which the blood of
the victims cry out from their graves.
No less a personage than the then American diplomat, and Ambassador
to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, kept a diary and eventually wrote a book
describing what he observed as a genocide of Armenians then residing
in the border area with Russia by “The Young Turks” of the Ottoman
Empire in 1915. Under the guise of “relocation” at least
three-quarters of a million to as many as one-and-a-half million
Armenians — including Armenian members of the Turkish armed forces,
were either systematically starved to death or driven in forced
marches or simply killed in situ.
Prior to the armistice that settled the boundaries of World War I,
the Armenian nation had been promised statehood, but the Turkish
regime decided that this “Third column” that may have become faithful
to their Russian sponsors were a danger to the new nation-state and
decisions were made to “deal with them.” In the ensuing years,
conflicting opinions even in Turkey resulted in some 1,400 military
courts martial, with punishments meted out to the perpetrators — but
then “mysteriously” — most of the official records vanished.
Yair Auron’s book doesn’t itself delve into the actual facts or
issues of the Armenian genocide, but deals with the posturing of
historians, both in and outside of Israel, of not wishing to deal
with the issue or to even deny that there ever was a genocide. He
discusses the uncomfortable position of the government of Israel,
which has been pressured by the government of Turkey — Israel’s major
trading partner among Muslim countries — to not officially bring up
the subject of the Armenian genocide.
He bemoans the influence — and interference — of Israel’s foreign
ministry on the Israeli Academy, and delves into the delicate
governmental “pandering” to the Turks during times when they were the
only Muslim nation — with a substantial Jewish community — to
maintain friendly relations with the State of Israel. He also bemoans
that there is still no current curriculum for the study of the
Armenian genocide in Israel’s school systems; that textbooks
(including one written by him) on the subject have not been
promulgated nor published; that educational television programs
produced by Yad Vashem and for an American production have still not
been aired in Israel; that Yad Vashem has — unlike New York’s Museum
of Jewish Heritage and Washington, D.C.’s United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum — still not provided recognition that the Armenian
genocide “may” have happened (although they have provided recognition
to the nazi genocide of Europe’s Roma (“gypsies”).
Each time governmental action is called for, in recognition and for
educational efforts in Israel, the foreign ministry, and
coincidentally, also the Prime Minister’s office, are pressured by
Israel’s Turkish allies into quashing the effort. The Turkish
position is that such “discussion” is more properly in the academic
sector among historians and the like. But — each time the subject
comes up the Turks evenly “trounce” the sometime perpetrators of
truth. This happened when The First International Conference on the
Holocaust and Genocide was held in Tel Aviv in 1982. Among over one
hundred fifty lectures only six included mention of the Armenian
genocide, and through Turkish and Israeli governmental pressures
these were neatly excised before the event was even held.
Elie Wiesel, who was President of the conference, resigned over the
pressure, and Prof. Arthur Hertzberg, who offered his services as
Keynote speaker in Wiesel’s stead, also withdrew over the issues
after enormous pressure. The resulting colloquium was thus
emasculated and muzzled by the Turks who, to this day, deny the event
of the Armenian genocide and still hide relevant documents in their
governmental archives from all but the friendliest researchers who
have been completely “vetted” in advance.
Truth, especially so many years after an event, is always elusive,
and there may be more than one “correct” version. It has already
taken more than half a century for many truths to arrive about the
German Nazi experience, with new revelations arising almost weekly,
such as that as many as ten-percent of Hitler’s soldiers may have
been “Mischlinge” (half or quarter Jews), and even that it was a
German officer who rescued The Lubavitcher Rebbe from the Warsaw
Ghetto. Post-war Germany, much as post-Apartheid South Africa, has
owned up to the nation’s crimes and in each case delivered up the
most serious perpetrators either as international criminals or at
least for hearings.
Turkey, on the other hand, continues to deny all, and modern
moralists and humanists wish to assist the efforts of the
international Armenian community to resolve the issues to their
satisfaction to help heal their communal memory of affliction.


From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

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