Mark Arax, the Armenian Genocide, and the Jews

Mark Arax likes to write about conflict among Jews. Last year he published a piece in which he blended a tendentious and distorted view of Fresno’s Jewish community (Victor Davis Hanson and Bruce Thornton called it a ‘caricature’) with what can only be called harassment of a family bereaved by the war in Iraq.

Now he’s written an article which apparently discusses the ‘split’ in the Jewish community over a congressional resolution to recognize the Armenian Genocide. I say ‘apparently’ because he’s embroiled in a controversy with the Times, which does not wish to run the article. But never mind — is there a ‘split’ in the Jewish community over this issue?

Jewish voices opposed to the genocide resolution are a small minority. The resolution’s author, Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), is Jewish. Many synagogues and Jewish organizations have expressed support for it, despite lobbying by the Turkish government, which has even hired a lobbyist to work with the Jewish community:

“How can we, the people decimated by the Holocaust, stand on the sidelines?” asked Rabbi Harold Schulweis [of the huge Valley Beth Shalom congregation in Encino]. “Perhaps if the world had stood up against the first genocide of the 20th century against the Armenians, the Holocaust might have been prevented…

In 2004, Schulweis channeled his demand for action against world genocides by founding Jewish World Watch, focusing first on the ongoing massacres in Darfur. This year, the nonprofit was organized well enough to expand its reach, sponsoring a joint commemoration of “the 92nd anniversary of the Armenian Genocide” at Shulweis’ [synagogue]…

Schiff noted that his resolution, now under consideration by the House Foreign Affairs Committee… is co-sponsored by 21 out of 30 Jewish representatives and by eight out of 13 Jewish senators in a companion resolution. He acknowledged that he is under considerable pressure by the Bush administration and by former fellow legislators now working for the Turkish lobby, which Schiff described as “one of the most powerful” in Washington.

But a few Jewish groups have opposed the resolution:

[Rep. Schiff] admonished the American Jewish Committee (AJ Committee), B’nai B’rith International, the Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), which had jointly transmitted to House leaders a letter from the organized Jewish Community of Turkey.

In the letter, addressed to the AJCommittee, the Turkish Jewish leaders expressed their concern that the Schiff resolution “has the clear possibility of potentially endangering the interests of the United States” by straining Turkey’s relations with Washington and Israel.

JINSA supported the letter’s view, while the Jewish Telegraphic Agency quoted ADL National Director Abraham Foxman as stating that “I don’t think congressional action will reconcile the issue. The resolution takes a position, it comes to a judgment.” — Tom Tugend, Jewish Journal

Why would they hold this view, opposed to that of most other Jewish Americans?

These groups received the letter in question from a delegation of Turkish Jews who visited the US at the time of the AIPAC convention and ‘voluntarily’ asked Jewish leaders to pass on their concern that the passage of the resolution would not be good for Turkish Jews.

Do you think these Jews, led by Turkish Jewish community president Silvyo Ovadya, decided to take this step by themselves? Were they perhaps encouraged to do so by the Turkish government? What would be the likely reaction of the Turkish government if they returned home with no results?

As I wrote on May 3, it’s likely that the US Jewish organizations above, by passing on the letter as requested, protected Turkish Jews from possible reprisals. Especially since the new ‘moderate’ Islamist regime has come to power in Turkey, the position of Turkish Jews has been uncomfortable.

Much of the buzz around this incident seems to be an attempt to exaggerate the importance of it — and to suggest that Jews oppose the resolution because of their support for Israel. But the state of Israel has no interest in a resolution about Turkey passed by the US Congress, which is unlikely to have any effect whatever on Israel. And the ‘strategic’ relationship between Israel and Turkey is not so great lately either.

So why should Arax and others want to drive a wedge between American Jews and Armenians? Because the real target is Israel and her supporters.

Arax is a subtle guy. He lets others do his talking. Let me present a snippet from his “Not so Civil War” article. When you read this excerpt — in which Arax quotes two good friends of mine, incidentally — ask yourself “what does Mark Arax think about the relationship between Israel and our war in Iraq?

The Iraq war, [Barry Price] said, had put temple lefties in a bind, raising questions they weren’t keen to address. Was the decision to topple Saddam Hussein motivated in part by America’s devotion to Israel? Was it relevant that several of the neoconservatives who pushed hardest for war inside the Bush-Cheney administration—top defense aides Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith and consultant Richard Perle—were Jews who had worked for years to marry the security concerns of the U.S. and Israel? Feith, for one, had been honored by the Zionist Organization of America for his contributions as a “pro-Israel activist.”

“It was the one topic that people were most afraid to touch,” Price said. “The progressives in the temple had ceded the field to the vocal Jews on the right. We were cowed into silence.”

Sitting in his office in his khakis and tennis shoes, brow furrowed and head cocked, [Stuart] Weil now wondered if I might be betraying some prejudice for even raising the idea that a love of Israel had motivated the Jewish war hawks in the White House. “Is that how your liberal friends talk when you’re together?” he asked, eyes narrowing. He rejected the notion as a new version of the old canard that Jews operated with dual loyalties. The term “neoconservative” had become a liberal code word for “Zionist,” he believed. If the neoconservatives got us into war, the translation read: “The Jews did it.”

I think that Weil had it nailed, and I think that Arax is trying to make a very similar point this time, that Jews are ‘split’ because some of them prefer supporting Israel over opposing genocide. This is, though, an entirely false dichotomy. American Jews — even strong supporters of Israel — overwhelmingly identify with the Armenians in their struggle to force Turkey to accept the historical truth of the Genocide. Israel did not cause the US to invade Iraq, and Israel is not using US Jews to help the Turks hide their crimes.

I don’t think his first article made Arax a lot of friends in Fresno’s Jewish community. Maybe Doug Frantz, the LA Times’ Managing Editor, saved him from losing whatever few he has left by pulling his latest one.

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5 Responses to “Mark Arax, the Armenian Genocide, and the Jews”

  1. scanny says:

    “Jewish voices opposed to the genocide resolution are a small minority.” We don’t determine truth by majority opinion. If there is an overwhelming voice with barely any opposition, of course it will be the rare person of honor to take the trouble of scratching underneath the surface. For example: at one point everyone was saying Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Nay-sayers were branded as unpatriotic, and voices of dissent were squashed by a compliant media. The parallel is exact: “genocide” is presented as a noble cause. Armenians, with their wealth, have been wily enough to support genocide institutions, precisely to give the impression that their invented “genocide” is on a par with the Holocaust. The real historians who know the truth have been chased away by vicious ad hominem attacks, and the few who say otherwise — that is, the ones who tell the truth — are now put in the position of “genocide deniers.” That was the whole idea; to stifle debate.

    Jews who mindlessly follow this drumbeat do so for various reasons. Some are Holocaust-sensitive, and since the overwhelming propaganda has led them to believe the Armenians’ experience is also a genocide, they rush to support their “brothers-in-arms.” Others have an irrational fear that by not supporting the Armenians, the Holocaust will be questioned. Still others are motivated by the same racism that most other Westerners have toward Turks. Why, everyone knows the Turks are savages, and they must have been guilty.

    Then there are those as Rep. Schiff, who are complete slimeballs, hungering for generous Armenian contributions, or fearful of Armenian activists’ relentless attacks.

    This is why the honorable ones among us must scratch beneath the surface. There are plenty of Jews who know the truth, as well. Some, as the venerable historian, Bernard Lewis, have been accused as being David Irving types. Some have been smeared (Norman Itzkowitz, Alan Fisher) and have learned to stay away from the debate. Some were horribly harassed and even physically threatened, as Prof. Stanford Shaw, and their nerves got shot. Even Shimon Peres was branded as a liar, when he declared in 2001 that what the Armenians had gone through was a tragedy, but not a genocide.

    But there are brave ones coming out of the woodwork, from time to time. A real scholar, Guenter Lewy, bent over backwards to be fair to Armenians; a Holocaust survivor to boot, Prof. Lewy could find no evidence. The book is called, “The Armenian Massacres in Ottoman Turkey: A Disputed Genocide.”

    There is really no evidence to support a systematic extermination plan against the Armenians. The British sought desperately to find such evidence in their Nuremberg at WWI’s end (The Malta Tribunal, 1919-21), couldn’t find any, and released every imprisoned Ottoman.

    People haven’t looked into anything besides the propaganda, because the propaganda is so overwhelming. (Google “Armenian genocide,” to get a taste.) But even when it is only the propaganda people are looking at, almost exclusively the “evidence” boils down to hearsay, as well as forgeries. Just because a bigot gives his opinion does not put such “evidence” into the factual category. This is why we must be reminded that courts of law reject hearsay.

    When Armenians were in charge of parts of Eastern Anatolia with and without their Russian allies, they systematically exterminated those who were different, including Jews, in order to claim the majority they never had within these provinces, in addition to feelings of racial superiority that their fanatical leaders and the missionaries instilled in them. Internal Ottoman reports never meant to be publicized verify Armenians killed over half a million “Turks.” (Able-bodied Turks were off to war; the defenseless villagers were easy pickings, taking place over a time span of 1915-1919/20.)

    Yes, The total “murdered” by Armenians (with some Russian help) equals the total of Armenians dead from all causes combined. (1.5 million was the entire pre-war population for Ottoman Armenians. That was the consensus of Western opinion of the period, e.g., the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica. Today’s worst propagandists agree one million survived. After the subtraction, we can see the total killed was half a million, mostly from non-murderous reasons such as famine and disease, the same as most of the 2.7 million other Ottomans who died. The ones we never hear about.)

    That means many more “Turks” were “murdered” by Armenians than the other way around. This was the real systematic extermination policy of the war. We don’t hear about this other side of the coin. Why not? Because as the Jews were historically “The Other,” so were the Turks. The difference these days is Jews have political power, and Turks do not. It is still open season on the Turks, and they still don’t qualify as valuable human beings.

    Jews should be especially wary about jumping on the “Armenian Genocide” bandwagon, because from the days of the Spanish Inquisition to WWII, the Turkish nation has been perhaps history’s greatest defender of Judaism, for pure-hearted reasons, unlike today’s greatest defender. (A WWII example: in France alone — there were other regions were Jews were saved as well, as with Rhodes — the Turkish ambassador saved 18,000. Schindler, by contrast, saved 1,000.)

    That does not mean Jews should whitewash Turks; it does, however, mean that Jews had morally better make doubly sure the evidence against the Turks is ironclad.

    What can be said regarding Mark Arax is that he is a Dashnak activist, and will do whatever he can to support the “Armenian Cause.” If that means driving a wedge between Armenians and Jews, so be it. Armenians have historically turned on their friends, once the friends did not go far enough for them (examples: the missionaries, and Woodrow Wilson). The question for any Jewish person, however, is how supportive of Jews have Armenians been? As mentioned, Ottoman Jews were along for the ride in the Armenians’ extermination campaign. During WWII, the great Armenian hero, Dro (who was a chief architect of the WWI campaign for innocent blood), joined Hitler. Tens of thousands of European Nazi-Armenians policed the occupied territories. Jews are welcome to visit the nearest Internet Armenian forum, and discover how closely Armenians hold their “Aryan” identity to heart. You get one guess as to which people these Armenian extremists vent their hatred upon the most, after the Turks.

    A recent example is “Memorial sought for Mountain Jews” (May 6, 2007, Jewish Telegraphy Agency, “The Jewish leaders cited research saying that some 3,000 Mountain Jews, along with tens of thousands of Azeris, were murdered in the region of Guba by Armenian bandits and nationalists — an incident marked March 31 by the Azeris as genocide.”

    Another extermination policy conducted by Armenians occurred in 1919-20. “The Jewish Times” of June 21, 1990 wrote:

    “An appropriate analogy with the Jewish Holocaust might be the systematic extermination of the entire Muslim population of the independent republic of Armenia which consisted of at least 30-40 percent of the population of that republic.”

    There weren’t that many Jews in this episode (the victims were mostly Azeri Turks), but the unfortunate ones encountered had to be snuffed out as well. This is one reason why what is Armenia today is designated as 98% Armenian-pure, according to the CIA Fact Book. (When today’s “Armenia” was conquered in 1828 by Russia from Iran, there were almost no Armenians.) We received a taste of the Armenians’ ethnic cleansing practices in 1992 Karabakh, but the world quickly forgot, and the Armenians made up their stories, as usual; the Armenians must always be the designated victims, and are off the agenda of the hypocritical and dishonest genocide crowd.

    People must learn to put their prejudices aside and take the time to conduct their own research.

  2. yonason says:


    I agree with Scanny, as does Sultan Knish

    And what about all the Jews the Turks saved from the expulsion from Spain through, till and including the Holocaust?
    And Turkey’s relatively constant support of it’s Jewish minority?
    That’s not the behavior of a people who hate minorities.

    Noted Genocide Scholar, Guenter Lewy, has this to say…
    “According to Article II of the Genocide Convention of 1948, “intent to destroy” is a precondition of genocide. A large number of dead alone is not sufficient. Thus, for example, collateral casualties of an aerial bombing do not constitute genocide, no matter how large the number of victims. There exists no evidence that the Ottoman regime had intent to destroy the Armenian community.

    On the other hand, as Scanny points out, there is plenty of evidence that Armenians indulged in genocide, themselves.
    I wonder if their slander of the Turks could be to cover their own tracks?…or to justify what thy did to the Turks?

    This is a great resource on the subject, with lots of references.
    Don’t rely on Armenian’s with a political agenda. Do as Scanny says, “conduct your own research.”

    “Jewish voices opposed to the genocide resolution are a small minority.”
    Most Jews voted for Obama. So much for the validity of the collective wisdom of our majority.

  3. Vic Rosenthal says:

    First of all, it is irrelevant if the Armenians were or are antisemitic, or murdered Jews themselves.

    Second, it is irrelevant if Turks were friends of the Jews in the past or if the newly-Islamicized Turkey is becoming more and more antisemitic.

    The only thing that’s in question is whether what the Ottoman Turks did can be called ‘genocide’. I will accept the ‘intent’ criterion.

    I’ll write more about this in the future.

  4. yonason says:

    Oh, and here’s another good reference, with informatin on Armenian Nazi connections, including those who fought as Nazis.

    Sorry, but for me that makes their claims of genocide by Turks ring pretty hollow.

  5. Vic Rosenthal says:

    See my new post on this subject, in response to your comments.