Facing up to the past

To denounce the Armenian Genocide is not to denounce Turkey as a country or its current government.

By
August 29, 2007 20:50
3 minute read.
Facing up to the past

armenia turkey 224.88. (photo credit: AP [file])

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

Anything from several hundred thousand to 1.5 million Armenians are estimated by historians to have been killed by Muslim Ottoman Turks between 1915 and 1923, in what is widely viewed as one of the first modern instances of systematic genocide. Turkey, however, denies that the episode should be regarded as genocide, arguing that the death toll has been greatly exaggerated and that the deaths occurred in the context of civil war and unrest. The dispute has erupted afresh in recent days and weeks, in part because of controversy within the Anti-Defamation League over how to address the issue. The ADL has recently recognized the massacre as "tantamount to genocide," and reinstated a regional director who had been fired for opposing its previous reluctance to do so. While Israel is acutely and understandably sensitive to its relationship with the current Turkish government, a key ally, the Jewish state, which rightly protests Holocaust denial wherever it occurs, cannot possibly be complicit in the denial of genocide elsewhere. To that end, Yad Vashem, Israel's official Holocaust memorial, has always included the massacre of the Armenians in its educational activities on "other instances of genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass murder." Similar stances have always been taken by other organizations dedicated to Holocaust education, such as the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Dating back to its first museum in 1979, the Wiesenthal Center has taken pains to include presentational material relating to the Armenian Genocide. How could it be otherwise? The Jewish nation, the overwhelming victim of the Nazi Holocaust, is centrally committed to learning and promulgating the lessons of the Holocaust - to highlighting man's capacity for inhumanity toward his fellow man and to seeking to curb it, stressing the dangers in order to prevent recurrences of genocide. Unthinkably, genocide has recurred, and continues to recur, because such lessons are not sufficiently internalized. "Never again" has been exposed as an empty mantra, most recently in Rwanda and Darfur. The open, good-conscience examination by affected nations of dark episodes in their history is a key element in trying to change that dire reality. Israel is scarcely in a position to force Turkey to confront its dark episode, but neither can Israel signal any acquiescence in overlooking it. To denounce the Armenian Genocide is not to denounce Turkey and its current government; it did not perpetrate these killings. But its responsibilities are those of a successor government, and must not be ducked. Our global tragedy is that what the former Canadian justice minister Irwin Cotler has described as a "genocide in the making" is being perpetrated, right now, in Darfur, in an era of globalized communication where no nation can claim to be unaware of what is unfolding. And the next potential tragedy is developing before our eyes as well, similarly unobstructed by the international community. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime openly call for Israel's destruction and are seeking the means to achieve it - in open breach of the UN's post-World War II "Never Again" convention. Yet the Iranian president, far from being indicted by the global body established precisely to counter such outrages, is instead afforded a platform by it, and his country is allowed to retain its membership in the family of civilized nations even as it threatens the very existence of another sovereign member. To quote comments made by Cotler to this newspaper several months ago: "Ahmadinejad's genocidal criminality is as clear and compelling as any I've ever seen... This is advocacy of the most horrific of crimes, genocide; embedded in the most virulent of hatreds, anti-Semitism; propelled by a publicly avowed intent to acquire nuclear weapons for that purpose; and dramatized by the parading in the streets of Teheran of Shihab-3 missiles draped in the emblem 'Wipe Israel Off the Map.'" What is required in facing down those who would commit genocide, of course, is an alliance of all enlightened nations, taking concerted action to thwart such ambitions long before they are implemented. Striving for a better future, however, also requires acknowledging and internalizing the crimes of the past.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Letters
November 18, 2018
November 18, 2018: A new Marshall in Gaza?

By LETTERS TO THE EDITOR