Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Armenian News...@...The Independent: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie Robert Fisk

The Independent

Armenian genocide: 
Monday 20 April 2015 
At seven o’clock on Thursday evening, a group of very brave men and women will gather in Taksim Square, in the centre of Istanbul, to stage an unprecedented and moving commemoration. The men and women will be both Turkish and Armenian, and they will be gathering together to remember the 1.5 million Christian Armenian men, women and children slaughtered by the Ottoman Turks in the 1915 genocide . That Armenian Holocaust – the direct precursor of the Jewish Holocaust – began 100 years ago this Thursday, only half a mile from Taksim, when the government of the time rounded up hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and writers from their homes and prepared them for death and the annihilation of their people.

The Pope has already annoyed the Turks by calling this wicked act – the most terrible massacre of the First World War – a genocide , which it was: the deliberate and planned attempt to liquidate a race of people. The Turkish government – but, thank God, not all the Turkish people – have maintained their petulant and childish denial of this fact of history on the grounds that the Armenians were not killed according to a plan (the old “chaos of war” nonsense), and that the word “genocide” was anyway coined only after the Second World War and thus cannot apply to them. On that basis, the First World War wasn’t the First World War because it wasn’t called the First World War at the time!

Two thoughts come to mind, then, on this centenary of the butchery, mass rape and child killing of 1915. The first is that for a powerful government of a strong – and courageous – European and Nato nation such as Turkey to continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie. More than 100,000 Turks have discovered that they have Armenian grandmothers or great-grandmothers – the very women kidnapped, enslaved, raped or converted on the death marches from Anatolia into the northern Syrian desert – and Turkish historians themselves (alas, not enough of them) are now producing the most detailed documentary evidence of the sinister Talat Pasha’s extermination orders issued from what was then Constantinople.

Yet anyone who opposes the government’s denial of genocide is still vilified. For almost a quarter of a century, I have been receiving mail from Turks about my own writing on the genocide. It started when I dug the bones and skulls of massacred Armenians out of the Syrian desert with my own hands in 1992. A few correspondents wanted to express their support. Most letters were little short of pernicious. And I rather fear that the continued denial by the Turkish government could be as dangerous to Turkey as it is outrageous for the Armenian descendants of the dead. I remember an elderly Armenian lady describing to me how she saw Turkish militiamen piling living babies on top of each other and setting fire to them. Her mother told her that their cries were the sound of their souls going up to heaven. Isn’t this – and the enslavement of women – exactly what Isis is perpetrating against its ethnic enemies just across the Turkish border today? Denial is fraught with peril.

And let’s ask ourselves what would happen if the present German government was to claim that any demand to recognise the “events” of 1939-1945 – in which six million Jews were murdered – as a genocide was “Jewish propaganda” and “mutilating history and law”. Yet that was pretty much what the Turkish government said when the EU last week asked it to recognise the Armenian genocide. The EU, the foreign ministry said in Ankara, had succumbed to “Armenian propaganda” about the “events” of 1915, and was “mutilating history and law”. If Germany had adopted such unforgivable words about the Jewish Holocaust, you would not have been able to see through the Berlin exhaust fumes as the world’s ambassadors headed for the airport.

Yet the very day after the brave little commemoration scheduled for Taksim Square this week, the great and the good of the Western world will be gathering with Turkish leaders a few miles to the west of Istanbul to honour the dead of Gallipoli , Mustafa Kemal’s extraordinary – and brilliant – 1915 victory over the Allies in the First World War. How many of them will remember that among the Turkish heroes fighting for Turkey at Gallipoli was a certain Armenian Captain Torossian – whose own sister would soon die in the genocide?

I plan to report on the commemoration next week in the company of Turkish friends. But the second thought that comes to mind – and Armenian friends must forgive me – is that I’m not terribly interested in what the Armenians say and do on this 100th anniversary. I want to know what they plan to do on the day after the day of the 100th anniversary. The Armenian survivors – those who could remember – are now all dead. In about 30 years, Jews around the world will suffer the same deep sadness as their own last survivors disappear from the world of living testimony. But the dead live on, especially when their victimhood is denied – a curse that forces them to die again and again. Armenians must surely now compile a list of the brave Turks who saved their lives during their people’s persecution. There is at least one provincial governor, and individual named Turkish soldiers and policemen, who risked their own lives to save Armenians at this gruesome moment in Turkish history. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s triumphalist prime minister, has spoken of his sorrow for the Armenians, while continuing to deny the genocide. Would he dare to refuse to sign an Armenian genocide book of commemoration listing the brave Turks who tried to save their nation’s honour at its darkest hour?

I’ve been banging on about this idea to Armenians for years. I said the same to Armenians in Detroit last week. Honour the good Turks. Alas, everyone claps. And does nothing.

The Tablet
Jews and the Armenian Genocide
The 100th anniversary is the time for Israel to rethink the 
moral concession it has made by abetting Turkish denial
By Peter Balakian
April 20, 2015

The role of the Righteous is a vitally affirmative part in any history of mass-violence. In the Holocaust the place of the Righteous is well documented at the Yad Vashem memorial in Jerusalem where the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations was inaugurated in 1962. A memorial of trees with plaques honors non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

While rescue is one of the noblest acts of courage in histories of genocide, other kinds of righteous action in the aftermath of genocide can also be of vital importance. In the case of the Armenian genocide this has had a distinctive meaning because the aftermath of the extermination of the Armenians has been marked by an aggressive state-sponsored assault by the Turkish government on the historical truth of the Armenian genocide. Scholars, writers, filmmakers, editors, curators, journalists, and others who have engaged with the history of Ottoman Turkish government’s extermination of the Armenians in 1915 have played a particularly important role in redressing Turkey’s denial.

So continuous is Turkey’s pressure on institutions outside of its own country to suppress the Armenian genocide that in 2008 Turkish diasporic organizations mounted a campaign to stop the Toronto school board from including the Armenian genocide in a human rights curriculum. In 2007, Turkey demanded that the Rwandan government scrap a presentation on the Armenian genocide at a panel on genocide at the United Nations. In 2010, the Turkish government was successful in demanding that the British government order the Tate Gallery to remove the word genocide from the wall text of the exhibit of the work of Armenian genocide survivor Arshile Gorky.

In confronting Turkey’s refusal to accept the history of the Ottoman government’s eradication of the Armenians and their 2,500-year-old culture, many Jewish voices have been eloquent and pointed. The distinguished Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt’s statement reminds us what a morally important issue denialism is for both Jews and Armenians: “Denial of genocide whether that of the Turks against the Armenians, or the Nazis against the Jews is not an act of historical reinterpretation … but an insidious form of intellectual and moral degradation.”

Henry Morgenthau returning on leave to New York on Feb. 22, 1916, and being greeted by philanthropist Cleveland Hoadley Dodge and educator Samuel Train Dutton. The men were all members of the New York Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief. ( Library of Congress )

Jewish witness to the Armenian genocide goes back to Henry Morgenthau, Sr., the U.S. ambassador to Turkey (1913-16) who had the courage to confront the Turkish leaders about the massacres of the Armenians and implore the U.S. government to intercede and stop what he called “a campaign of race extermination in progress.” After he lost his job because of his outspokenness, he wrote an acclaimed memoir, Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story , which contained the first full narrative about the Armenian genocide in English.

In 1934, Franz Werfel, the Austrian Jewish novelist who escaped Hitler’s death list by a hair, wrote the first major novel about the Armenian genocide, The Forty Days of Musa Dagh , which depicted Armenian resistance to the massacre in a small mountain village, and in the narrative he also embedded warnings to the Jews of Europe about what could happen to them soon. The Nazis banned and burned the book in 1934.

Raphael Lemkin, the Polish Jewish legal scholar who coined the word genocide , also noted in his autobiography Totally Unofficial that the destruction of the Armenians during WWI was instrumental in his developing the concept of genocide as a crime in international law. It was Lemkin who first used the term Armenian genocide in the 1940s. As he put it on CBS TV in 1949: “I became interested in genocide because it happened so many times. It happened to the Armenians. And after, the Armenians got a very rough deal at the Versailles Conference, because the criminals, who were found guilty, were not punished.”
The Israeli government has not been able to pass an Armenian genocide resolution, which is to say, to make an official gesture of redress to Turkish denial.

In recent decades, the contributions to the understanding of the Armenian genocide made by Jewish scholars both in Israel and worldwide have been extraordinary. The list is long and includes Elie Wiesel, Deborah Lipstadt, Robert Jay Lifton, Robert Melson, Irvin Staub, Jay Winter, Yehuda Bauer, Israel Charny, Donna-Lee Frieze, Colin Tatz, Yair Auron, documentary filmmaker Andrew Goldberg, and many others. In the United States, the Center For Jewish History, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, U.S. Holocaust Memorial and Museum, the Houston Holocaust Museum, the Illinois Holocaust Museum, and the Museum of Tolerance have all made a difference in giving space to program Armenian genocide events over the past two decades.

Notwithstanding the deep involvement and commitment of Jewish intellectuals to the Armenian plight and discourse, the Israeli government has not been able to pass an Armenian genocide resolution, which is to say, to make an official gesture of redress to Turkish denial. In recent years, the Israeli government has reiterated at times some of the Turkish government’s propaganda. For example, several years ago Foreign Minister Simon Peres stated , “We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. What the Armenians went through is a tragedy, but not genocide.” Until recently Turkey has been a friendly Muslim ally in a hostile region. In their trade relationship Turkey is a key supplier of water to Israel, and Israel supplies Turkey with high-powered weapons, and the lucrative military manufacturing deals are important to Israel’s economy. But in recent years the alliance between Turkey and Israel has eroded . The Turkish flotilla incident of 2010—when Turkey sought to bring relief to Palestinians in Gaza and were met with gunfire by Israeli forces that killed several Turks—created a significant rupture. And a new wave of anti-Semitism has erupted in Turkey, and now Hamas has its headquarters in Istanbul. Recently, President Tayyip Erdogan accused Israel of surpassing Hitler’s “barbarism” for its military actions in Gaza.

At the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide might this be a time—when the ironies of history have surfaced, especially in the wake of the collapse of Israeli-Turkish relations—for Israel to rethink the moral concession it has made in this ethical arena? Not as revenge against Turkey, but as thoughtful reflection on painful truths.

Given Turkey’s relentless campaign to deny the Armenian genocide and insinuate its own extreme national narrative into democratic societies around the world, Israel’s call for the genocide’s proper and long-overdue recognition would have important ethical meaning. It would, among other things, be a redress to genocide denial in general. As scholars have noted, denial is the final stage of genocide. Deborah Lipstadt has written that “denial of genocide, whether that of the Turks against the Armenians or the Nazis against the Jews … strives to reshape history in order to demonize the victims and rehabilitate the perpetrators.” And, as Pope Francis made clear in his recent address about the Armenian genocide, “Concealing or denying evil is like allowing a wound to keep bleeding without bandaging it!”

In officially recognizing the Armenian genocide Israel would embrace the deeply rooted relationship between Jews and Armenians in the modern age. When Hitler exhorted his military advisers eight days before invading Poland in 1939: “Who today, after all, speaks of the annihilation of the Armenians?” he made it clear that he was both inspired by what the Young Turk government had done to the Armenians in 1915 and also noted that because the memory of what had been the most well-reported human rights catastrophe of the first quarter of the 20th century had been washed away, it was easier to commit genocide again.

Hitler learned a good deal from the genocide of the Armenians because Germany was Turkey’s wartime ally, and there was a great deal of documentation from German foreign officers and other German personnel in Turkey at the time. There are, of course, parallels—in bureaucratic organization, killing squad implementation, race ideology and more—between the two events. Yet what ties Jews to Armenians even more deeply is the powerful role Jews have played in bearing witness to and later defining Turkey’s genocide.

Given this long-standing record of Jewish engagement and intellectual achievement concerning the Armenian genocide and the deep ties between the two cultures—it would seem an organic thing for Israel to finally say: The game is over. The truth of history, the meaning of genocide, the importance of ethical memory is a defining part of Jewish intellectual tradition and identity. And, in the Armenian case, the two genocidal histories commingle in deep and historical ways. As for fear of Turkey? The other 22 countries (including Argentina, France, Italy, Sweden, Poland, Greece, Canada) that have passed Armenian genocide resolutions have witnessed Turkey’s initial diplomatic anger, an ambassador recalled for a short time, etc., and then it’s been back to business as usual—proving that the hysteria passes and life goes on.

The Israeli government could recognize the Armenian genocide by honoring the words of the great founding genocide scholar Lemkin—a Holocaust survivor who lost 49 members of his own family to the Nazis. In August 1950 Lemkin wrote to a colleague: “Let us not forget that the heat of this month is less unbearable to us than the heat of the ovens of Auschwitz and Dachau and more lenient than the murderous heat in the desert of Aleppo which burned to death the bodies of hundreds of thousands of Christian Armenian victims of genocide in 1915.”

The depth of Jewish engagement with the Armenian past in all forms and genres and especially in the face of Turkish efforts to pressure Jewish museums when they program Armenian genocide events recalls the importance of the Jewish values of tzedakah and tikkun olam . Tzedakah is the Hebrew word that signifies righteousness, justice, and fairness; and tikkun olam embodies the notion of repairing or healing the world. In the Jewish response to the injustice of the Armenian genocide of 1915 and the continual wound of Turkish state denialism for the past 100 years, these humane values have been wedded to intellectual and ethical work of an uncommon kind by Jewish voices worldwide and remind us how much scholarly and cultural work can also make an ethical difference.

Amos Elon, writing in Haaretz about the “hypocrisy, opportunism, and moral trepidation” of Israeli collusion with Turkey, put it well when he asked: “But where is the boundary between the natural chauvinism of exploitation and the cheap opportunism of hypocrisy? What happens when the survivors of one Holocaust make political deals over the bitter memory of the survivors of another Holocaust?” For Israel, colluding with a denialism is too ironic, and it is a fitting moment for the Israeli state to follow the lead of Jewish intellectual and cultural leaders. 

The New York Times
April 17 2015

Next Friday, April 24, Armenians the world over will commemorate the
100th anniversary of the start of the mass killings of Armenians in
Ottoman Turkey, now widely recognized as the first genocide of the
20th century. Widely, that is, outside Turkey, where the government
and the majority of Turks continue to furiously attack anyone who
speaks of genocide.

When Pope Francis used the term at a memorial service for the
Armenian victims on Sunday, Turkey recalled its ambassador from the
Vatican and a government minister insidiously noted that the pope
was Argentine, and "in Argentina, the Armenian diaspora controls the
media and business." And even before the European Parliament passed a
resolution on Wednesday urging Turkey to recognize the genocide and
seek a "genuine reconciliation" with the Armenians, President Recep
Tayyip Erdogan declared that whatever the Europeans say "will go in
one ear and out the other."

The hard Turkish line is especially unfortunate, because a year ago
Mr. Erdogan seemed to be moving toward a more conciliatory stance,
offering condolences to descendants of the Armenian victims and
suggesting that a panel of international historians be formed to
examine the historical evidence. No such panel was convened, and this
week Mr. Erdogan was back to painting Turkey as the aggrieved victim
of international slander: "It is out of the question for there to be
a stain or a shadow called genocide on Turkey."

For Armenians, millions of whom form a global diaspora outside the
Republic of Armenia, demanding recognition of the mass executions,
death marches and concentration camps inflicted on their ancestors in
the disintegrating Ottoman Empire, in which as many as 1.5 million
died, has been a decades-long, global mission. While Turkey has
admitted that many Armenians died, the official narrative is that this
was a nasty episode in a nasty war, and not a premeditated attempt
to destroy a people -- not, in other words, a genocide. To assert
otherwise is a crime in Turkey -- "insulting Turkish identity" --
and intolerable from foreigners.

The narrative, however, is simply not one Turkey can sustain against
the weight of scholarship that leaves no doubt of a regime-sponsored
campaign against Armenians during and after World War I. Mr. Erdogan
was on the right track last year when he called for an independent
panel, and it is difficult to understand why he has backed away now.

The longer Turks refuse to examine and acknowledge that history fully,
the greater the damage to Turkey's international standing.

The United States should not condone that posture of denial. During his
2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama declared that "as president,
I will recognize the Armenian genocide." But, like his predecessors,
he then became reluctant to upset an important NATO ally.

Maintaining good relations with Turkey is important, but at the least
the United States should join Europe and Pope Francis in making clear
to Mr. Erdogan that the greatest danger to Turkey lies not in anyone's
use of the word "genocide," but in refusing to acknowledge what took
place 100 years ago. 

Wall Street Journal
April 16 2015

The White House signaled Thursday that President Barack Obama won't
use the word "genocide" to describe the killing of 1.5 million
Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Empire -- continuing to break a
longstanding pledge.

As a candidate for office, Mr. Obama said he would use the word
"genocide" to describe the killings. In a strongly worded statement
in 2008, Mr. Obama said: "The Armenian Genocide is not an allegation,
a personal opinion, or a point of view, but rather a widely documented
fact supported by an overwhelming body of historical evidence.

He added: "As president I will recognize the Armenian Genocide."

But since taking office, geopolitical concerns about the strategic
relationship with Turkey have kept the Obama administration from
fulfilling that 2008 promise. Turkey, a key U.S. ally in the Middle
East, has long opposed legislative efforts around the world to address
whether the killings were in fact genocide.

The White House has been under pressure to use the term this year --
the 100th anniversary of the killings -- but a spokesman said Thursday
that there was no shift in its longstanding policy to eschew the
term genocide.

"The president and other senior administration officials have
repeatedly acknowledged as historical fact that 1.5 million Armenians
were massacred or marched to their deaths in the finals days of the
Ottoman Empire," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

"We've further stated that we mourn those deaths and that a full,
frank, and just acknowledgement of the facts is in the interest of
everybody, including Turkey, Armenia and the United States," he added.

But Mr. Earnest said the longstanding position of the U.S. of avoiding
the term would likely remain in place when the White House puts out
a statement later this month.

"I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and
my view has not changed," Mr. Obama said last year, without using term

Turkey says the issue of whether the killings were genocide isn't
for modern-day governments to decide, contests the number of deaths,
and argues those killed were casualties of a larger armed conflict.

On Sunday, Pope Francis referred to the mass killings as the "first
genocide of the 20th century," angering T 

Independent Catholic News
April 17 2015

The Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople, based in Istanbul, will
soon commemorate the 100th anniversary of the systematic massacres of
the Armenian people which began on 24 April, 1915 with the roundup
and killing of hundreds of Armenian intellectuals, living in the
metropolis on the Bosporus.

A Mass presided over by the Patriarchal Vicar Aram Ateshian, will be
celebrated in the church of the patriarchal Seat to commemorate the
victims of mass murder, which on this occasion will be commemorated
as saints.

The Turkish press emphasizes that the celebrant will not use the word
'genocide' to remember the suffering experienced "from all sides"
in the tragic events of a hundred years ago.

However, journalist and Turkish Armenian writer Etyen Mahcupyan,
current first counselor of Turkish Premier Ahmet Davutoglu,
acknowledged that the massacres of Armenians perpetrated in Anatolia in
1915 under the direction of ideological Young Turks, may legitimately
be defined as 'genocide'.

"If one recognizes that those that occurred in Bosnia and Africa
were genocide" - Mahcupyan said in an interview for an online site
- ?it is impossible not to call genocide also what happened to the
Armenians in 1915".

He added that the use of such term for the Armenians has a "more
psychological than political" meaning.

Prime Minister Davutoglu, said that with his citation of the Armenian
Genocide, the Pope has sided with the "face of evil" hostile to
Turkey. While President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in statements relaunched
by Turkish media said that Turkey "acts generously" by not expelling
100 thousand Armenian immigrants working in the country without being
Turkish citizens, even if he "could do it".

Meanwhile, Pope Tawadros II, Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church,
will travel to Yerevan on April 20 to take part in the most significant
events planned to commemorate the centenary of the Armenian Genocide.

Pope Tawadros' visit to Armenia will last about a week. Sources of
the Coptic Patriarchate consulted by Agenzia Fides report that it
will be the first participation of a Coptic Orthodox Patriarch in
official commemorations of the Armenian Genocide.

The commemoration of the centenary of the 'Big Evil' will culminate
in the liturgy for the canonization of the victims of the Armenian
Genocide, scheduled for April 23 in Yerevan, at the Patriarchal See
of Echmiadzin Catholicosate, governed by Patriarch Karekin II. About
40 Churches, ecclesial communities and ecumenical bodies, have already
confirmed the presence of a delegation to the rite of canonization. On
that same day, at 19.15 - the hour chosen to symbolically recall the
year 1915 - all Armenian churches in the world, except those scattered
on Turkish territory, will ring bells.

Articles from the mass distribution press that are somewhat lurid

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