Mazzaglia: Rethink the Armenian genocide

Milford Daily News, MA
Daily News Tribune, MA
MetroWest Daily News, MA
Aug 5 2007

Mazzaglia: Rethink the Armenian genocide

By Frank Mazzaglia/Local columnist
Sun Aug 05, 2007, 12:21 AM EDT

An unlikely squabble broke out last week between Watertown’s Armenian
community and the Anti-Defamation League. This is what happened.

Along with scores of other cities and towns, Watertown proclaimed
itself a "No Place for Hate" community back in 2005. The idea, of
course, was to promote public policy against discrimination. Indeed,
Watertown is one of the most densely populated communities in the
Commonwealth. It is also home to the state’s largest Armenian
concentration. Closely built houses encourage neighborliness. Still,
there is genuine anger out there.

It turns out that the Anti-Defamation League, which sponsors "No
Place for Hate," refuses to acknowledge a dark period from 1915 to
1923. That’s when the Turkish army implemented a policy of ethnic
cleansing and mercilessly murdered an estimated 1.5 million helpless
Armenian civilians. Turkey’s subsequent denial of having anything to
do with the Armenian genocide caused Hitler himself to believe he
could get away with the ruthless slaughter of Jews which we now know
as the Holocaust.

Leaders of Watertown’s Armenian community want to maintain the "No
Place for Hate" program but are lobblying to separate its connection
with the ADL.

Mark me down as one who believes that there is real danger in looking
the other way when any nation attempts to cover up shameful episodes
of its past. Japan attempted to do that by changing school textbooks
and omitting its unspeakable attrocities in China and Korea.

Modern China, too, gets more than a bit touchy when the subject of
Tibet comes up.

Turkey’s refusal to accept any responsibility for its past history
against the Armenian people, however, gets a bit more problematic
because of its political and strategic importance. Even the United
States drags its feet when it comes to Turkey. It’s more in our
interest to be concerned about the present and the future than to
dwell on the past.

Still, there are some of us who get very angry with anyone who denies
the Holocaust. That’s why the ADL’s position, or rather lack of
position, about the Armenian genocide just doesn’t make sense.

Founded in 1913 to fight anti-Semitism, the ADL has taken risky
positions which have done us all proud. The ADL condemned the
senseless killings in Darfur and the genocide in the Balkans. That’s
part of the problem. There’s nothing ‘selective’ about genocide. It’s
wrong to condemn one genocide and turn a blind eye to another.

Following World War II, a huge wave of anger was directed against
Pope Pius XII for his ‘silence’ during the Holocaust. Some still seem
to think the Swiss Guard could have been a real match against the SS.
Dan Kurzman’s new book "A Special Mission," however, reveals evidence
concerning a secret Nazi plot in which Hitler planned to kidnap and
then kill Pope Pius XII precisely because he was aiding and abetting
Jews whenever and wherever he could. Notwithstanding Kurzman’s
evidence, there has been no apology for the defamation.

The real problem comes right down to money. To acknowledge its past
would mean that Turkey would have to pay compensation to Armenians
who suffered under the genocide in the same way the German government
was required to compensate the victims of its Nazi past.

The sad fact remains that no amount of compensation could ever be
enough for what Jews and Armenians have suffered at the hands of
morally sick tyrants.

Sadder yet is the growing conflict between two groups that have both
experienced the terrible result of senseless hatred and intolerance.
In the end, the ADL’s refusal to support the truth about the Armenian
genocide places a serious dent in its own integrity. That’s why it
makes sense for the ADL to re-think its position. It’s too important
an organization to risk losing its moral authority.

The faster wise minds come to that conclusion, the better it will be
for us all.

Frank Mazzaglia can be reached at [email protected]