The perversity of denying genocide

The Providence Journal:

ANDRE W G. BOSTOM: The perversity of denying genocide

01:00 AM EDT on Wednesday, August 15, 2007

THE CAMPAIGN sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to combat
bigotry and celebrate diversity ("No Place for Hate") has sparked bitter
resentment in Watertown, Mass., a Boston suburb whose 8,000
Armenian-Americans make up nearly 25 percent of the population. Local
Armenians do not object to the initiative, rather to the group behind
it, the ADL and its director, Abraham Foxman – whom they charge,
correctly, with denying the ugly established legacy of the World War I
era Armenian genocide.

Under the authoritarian Young Turk (Ittihadist) regime, the bulk of the
Armenian population from the territories of the Ottoman Empire – some 1
million to 1.5 million Armenians – were purged by violent and lethal
means, which reproduced the historic conditions of a classic Islamic
jihad: deportation, enslavement, forced conversion and massacre.

Mr. Foxman maintains that dismantling a program designed to fight hatred
simply because the ADL does not share what he refers to as the
"Armenians’ viewpoint" would be "bigoted." Moreover, Foxman and the ADL,
who have spoken out in recent times against ethnic cleansing of Muslims
in the Balkans and the genocide against the syncretist black African
Animist-Muslims in Darfur, are, in effect, oddly "neutral" on the
Armenian genocide: "We’re not party to this, and I don’t understand why
we need to be made party."

But even this morally challenged "neutrality" is disingenuous. According
to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency ("Turks want genocide commission,"
April 23), Mr. Foxman and the ADL are lobbying against legislation
recognizing the Armenian genocide in the U.S. House (HR 106) and the
Senate (SR 106), including the presentation of letters from the Jewish
community of Turkey complemented by, "their own [i.e., the ADL’s]
statement opposing the bill."

Interviewed for a Nov. 19, 2003, story in The Christian Science Monitor,
following the bombing of Istanbul’s two main synagogues by indigenous
Turkish jihadist groups, Rifat Bali, a scholar, and Turkish Jew,
acknowledged the chronic plight of Turkey’s small, dwindling Jewish
community, whose social condition remains little removed from the formal
"dhimmi" status of their ancestors.

Dhimmis were those non-Muslims, including Jews, subjugated by jihad and
forced to live under Islamic law as non-citizen pariahs, physically
segregated, often in squalid ghettoes, as was the case for the Jews of
Istanbul. Discriminatory regulations limited their most basic rights,
vis–vis Muslims, with regard to penal law, taxation and religious
practice. Bali’s informed remarks echoed the chronic, unresolved
concerns that led to the mass exodus of 40 percent of Turkey’s Jews to
Israel within two years of its creation in 1948, and the dual 2003
Istanbul synagogue bombings transiently illuminated a largely
marginalized society, whose shrinking numbers and "other problems" were
deliberately downplayed by community leaders:

The Turkish Jews have not been fully integrated or Turkified, and they
have had to limit their expectations. A kid grows up knowing he is never
going to become a government minister, so no one tries, and the same
goes for positions in the military.

Amoral denial of the Armenian genocide by Foxman and the ADL abets the
exploitation of beleaguered Turkish Jews as dhimmi "lobbyists" for the
government of Turkey.

Also, since 1950, both the Turkish press and Islamic literature have
steadily increased their output of theological Islamic anti-Semitism –
based upon core anti-Jewish motifs in Islam’s foundational texts – the
Koran, hadith and sira. This theologically-based anti-Jewish animus grew
steadily in stridency, and from the 1970s through the 1990s, was melded
into anti-Zionist and anti-Israel invective by Turkey’s burgeoning
fundamentalist Islamic movement.

The Armenian genocide denial "strategy" of Mr. Foxman and the ADL has
succeeded, perversely, in further isolating Jews, while failing,
abysmally, to alter a virulently anti-Semitic Turkish religious (i.e.,
Islamic), and secular culture – the latter perhaps best exemplified by
the wildly popular and most expensive film made in Turkey, Valley of the
Wolves (released in February 2006), which features an American Jewish
doctor dismembering Iraqis supposedly murdered by American soldiers to
harvest their organs for Jewish markets.

Prime Minister Recep Erdogan not only failed to condemn the film, he
justified its production and popularity. This is the same Mr. Erdogan
who, serving in 1974 as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of the
Islamic fundamentalist National Salvation Party, wrote, directed and
played the leading role in a play entitled Maskomya, staged throughout
Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a compound acronym for
"Masons-Communists-Yahudi [Jews]," and the play focused on the evil,
conspiratorial nature of these three entities whose common denominator
was Judaism.

As a Jew, I find the efforts by Mr. Foxman and the ADL to deny
recognition of the Armenian genocide morally repugnant, ignorant and
particularly inappropriate for an organization geared to reducing, as
opposed to abetting and fomenting, anti-Semitism and other forms of
irrational hatred.

— Andrew G. Bostom, M.D., is an associate professor of medicine at the
Brown Medical School and author of The Legacy of Jihad (2005) and the
forthcoming The Legacy of Islamic Anti-Semitism (2007)