Monday, October 22, 2007


Armenians in Israel are calling on a state that should understand their anguish to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Armenian-Israelis marched in Jerusalem's Justice Square singing and chanting Armenian songs and slogans. The protest was attended by two parliamentary officials, Yaeer Tsaban and Khayeem Oron, who both gave speeches castigating the denial of the genocide by the Israeli government.

Israel has acknowledged that massacres were perpetrated against the Armenians and expressed sympathy for their suffering. But the government has stopped short of calling it genocide.

So how can the Israeli government join the ranks of pragmatic deniers? Just like US leaders, they don't want to tick off the Turks.

But the Turks don't seem concerned with saying things that sure as hell ought to tick of the Israelis.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan on visit to Israel last week, told The Jerusalem Post,

"All of a sudden the perception in Turkey right now is that the Jewish people - or the Jewish organizations, let's say, and the Armenian diaspora, the Armenian lobbies, are now hand-in-hand trying to defame Turkey, and trying to condemn Turkey and the Turkish people. This is the unfortunate perception right now in Turkey. So if something goes wrong in Washington, DC, it inevitably will have some influence on relations between Turkey and the US, plus the relations between Turkey and Israel, as well."

The Turks have implied that this whole episode could put the Jewish community in Turkey at risk.

Tom Segev wrote recently in Haaretz:
"Israel has removed itself from the nations whose voice ought to be heard on all matters pertaining to the violation of human rights; its military and other interests in Turkey are even leading Israel to lend a hand to the concealment of the Armenian genocide. The Turks are putting the Jews, and Israel, at the center of this affair.

This galling threat is just as despicable as the denial of the Armenian genocide itself, and just goes to show why decent people need to demand that Turkey finally learn to look in the mirror."

Sergov continues:

"...The Turkish Foreign Ministry attributes the "lie" about the Armenian massacre to two Jews - Henry Morgenthau and Franz Werfel. Morgenthau was U.S. ambassador to Turkey, and much of what the world knows about the Armenian genocide it learned from a book the ambassador wrote after his return home. The Turkish Foreign Ministry is careful not to identify Morgenthau as a Jew; it just paints him as a foolish propagandist.

About Werfel, the Turkish Foreign Ministry writes that he published a book entitled "The Forty Days of Musa Dagh," but that was just a novel that can teach us nothing more than the film "Amadeus" might teach us about the composer Salieri. In this equation, the Armenians are Mozart and the Turks are Salieri, and just as Salieri didn't murder Mozart, the Turks didn't slaughter the Armenians."

It is shameful for the government of Israel, a nation born out of the Holocaust, to bow to political expediency and succumb to Turkish pressure, lies and slurs.

At the Holocaust Museum in Washington, these words from Adolph Hitler advising his general that the world would remain silent in the face of German atrocities are etched on one of the walls: "Who, after all, speaks today about the annihilation of the Armenians?,"

The following is from the Jerusalem Post.

Armenians: Call slaughter 'genocide'

Jerusalem's tiny Armenian community held banners and flags at a protest Monday to demand that Israel recognize the mass killings of ethnic Armenians in Turkey nearly a century ago as genocide.

About 100 people stood outside the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, singing songs in Armenian and holding banners. A group of teenage girls stood in school uniforms alongside an elderly woman holding a sign that read, "I am a survivor," in English and Hebrew, and others waved colorful flags.

The mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman Turkish troops took place between 1915 and 1917 as the 600-year-old empire collapsed. It was again thrown into focus over US congressional debates about whether to recognize those events as genocide.

Turkey says the killings were a result of widespread chaos and political upheaval.

Israel has become a player in the US debate. Armenians expect Israel to sympathize with their demands, because of the Jewish state was built in the shadow of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II. But Turkey has threatened to cool its ties with Israel if it doesn't use its influence in Washington to quell the campaign. Turkey is one of Israel's few Muslim allies.

Armenians say Israel is actively lobbying on behalf of Turkey in the US Congress, where Democrats have pulled back from their attempt to label the mass killing as genocide, under pressure from the White House.

"It's frustrating for us, and it's frustrating for Israelis," said George Hintlian, an Armenian historian, who attended the protest. Organizers of the protest said Israel "jeopardizing its claim to moral high ground on the Holocaust" by not taking Armenia's side.

Israel's government has said previously that massacres were perpetrated against Armenians and expressed sympathy for their suffering. But it has stopped short of calling them genocide.

Thousands of Armenians fled to nearby states during the mass killing, including to Jerusalem, where they established a neighborhood in the walled Old City. Their numbers have steadily shrunk as younger generations emigrate to the West, and now only about 1,000 Armenians live in Jerusalem.

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