An official with a leading American Jewish organization told the The Jerusalem Post on Monday that a deterioration in Israel-Turkey relations might prompt his group and others to reconsider Armenian efforts to win recognition of the century-old Turkish massacres as genocide.
A bill that would ensure such recognition by the US, which was backed by Rep. Adam Schiff — a Jewish Democrat who represents a heavily Armenian area of Los Angeles – failed to make it to a Congressional vote in 2007. However, it sparked a row in the American Jewish community between those who sided with Turkey in an effort to protect Israel’s political interests, and those who argued that Jews were particularly responsible for helping other groups block the public denial of genocide.
“No Jew or Israeli in his right mind will insult Turkey,” the official told the Post. “But next time… they might not come to Turkey’s aid or equivocate quite so much on the issue.” — Jerusalem Post (my emphasis)
I have no idea who the un-named ‘official’ is, but his point of view is repugnant.
Does it even need to be said that it is everyone’s moral duty — not just Jews — to ensure that victims of genocide are remembered, so that present and future genocides can be stopped?
To suggest that recognition of historical events should be granted or withheld for political reasons is cynical; if the event in question is a genocide, it’s obscene.
I’ve written about this at least ten times, but it won’t go away. For example,
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 [Bush] 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. (“A little irony for the Turks“, 8/2008)
The reason for recognizing the Armenian Genocide is that it happened.