Israel has officially protested against the planned visit of Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Turkey next week.
Israel’s ambassador to Turkey, Gabi Levy, presented the protest to officials in Ankara, and the Turkish ambassador to Israel was summoned to Jerusalem.
“Israel is disappointed that Turkey has invited for an official visit a leader who denies publicly the Holocaust, and thus grants him legitimacy,” was the message given to the Turkish ambassador to relay to his government.
Will the Turks will see the irony in being asked to shun a Holocaust denier, when they themselves officially deny that their predecessors committed genocide against the Armenians?
Israel and American Jews have been caught between a rock and a hard place in regard to the Armenian Genocide. I’ve written a number of posts on the subject.
The Turkish government has its reasons for not admitting that the Young Turks, and later the Turkish Nationalists, murdered about a million and a half Armenians during and after World War I. The Israeli government also has its reasons for not wanting to irritate the Turks. Even the US administration seems to feel that Turkey is too strategically important to annoy by using the word ‘genocide’ to describe the events. But the truth is the truth.
When I first came to Fresno in 1971, you could meet people in the supermarket who had been adult eyewitnesses to the murders, rapes, torture, dislocation, disease and starvation that characterized the Armenian Genocide. Now it’s not so easy, even harder than finding Holocaust survivors.
Survivors sometimes feel that denial is the final stage of extermination. First the physical forms of the victims were destroyed, and then their memories are erased. Most Jews are familiar with the rage that comes over them when confronted with Holocaust denial. But — at least in the West, if not in Iran or the Arab world — deniers are marginal. After all, the present government of Germany has officially accepted responsibility for the Holocaust.
One can imagine how Armenians feel — actually, you don’t need to imagine, they will tell you — when, almost 100 years after the fact, the Turkish government still insists — against the huge preponderance of historical evidence — that while something happened to the Armenians, it wasn’t genocide, the Turks were not responsible, and it might even have been the Armenians’ fault.
Turkey wants to join the EU. It would only be fair to ask them to follow the example of Germany.