December 25: Double murder

The International Association of Genocide Scholars unanimously affirmed the Armenian genocide in 2005.

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Double murder Sir, - It is astonishing to read that only some historians describe the slaughter of Armenians as genocide, when the International Association of Genocide Scholars unanimously affirmed the Armenian genocide in 2005. ("Armenia optimistic Israel will recognize massacre as genocide," December 24). The mass killings of Armenians have already been the subject of a number of studies conducted by organizations such as the International Center of Transitional Justice in 2003, concluding the verdict of genocide. Although the slaughter of Armenians (1915-23) was not called "genocide" - because the word did not exist until 20 years later - the word "holocaust" had been used by Winston Churchill and others to describe the barbarity. Raphael Lemkin, a lawyer of Polish-Jewish descent, coined the word "genocide" in 1933 to properly characterize the slaughter of the Armenians, explaining that the Turks had intent to annihilate. To deny the Armenian genocide "is like Holocaust denial," said Dr. Gregory Stanton, vice president of the IAGS and president of Genocide Watch. Genocide denial is the worst type of hate crime. Not only does it murder the historical memories of the victims but it also murders the victims a second time by erasing them from the pages of history. Imagine if back in the days of West Germany the US refrained from condemning the Holocaust, "not wanting to offend" or "sour relations" with a strategic ally. Rabbi Hillel said it best: "If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?" BERGE JOLOLIAN Cambridge, MA Sit tight Sir, - Israelis seem to be living in a land of let's-pretend. Everyone makes plans for the years to come but no one knows what is going to happen in a day or two. "Funds allocated for Sderot missile defense system" (December 24) was laughable, but also rather tragic. While a missile defense system is finally going to be put in place, it will only be ready in the 2010. The poor people of Sderot must stay put in their homes and hope that everybody survives until 2010. If anything changes, what good will this defense system be? Perhaps we should organize a huge prayer service every year and pray that nothing worrisome happens until 2010. TOBY WILLIG Jerusalem At the crux Sir, - I suggest that Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury, who by Lela Gilbert's account is "no friend of Israel," read her interesting but equally disturbing description of the plight of Christians at the hands of Muslim Palestinians in Bethlehem ("Bethlehem beyond the Christmas calm," December 23). Rather than show his disdain for Israel, perhaps the archbishop should concentrate on the real problem, which, by virtue of his office, should be close to his heart. RACHEL BIRATI Melbourne Faithful leader Sir, - How could Calev Ben-David's analysis of Tony Blair's change of faith from Anglican to Catholic ("In Blair's conversion, a relevant message of faith and politics for the Middle East," December 23) ignore the obvious? When UK prime minister, Blair's foreign policy with regard to the status of Jerusalem was that of the 1947 Corpus Separandum, to internationalize the city. Lest it be forgotten that when this failed in 1948 and the city was split between Israel and Jordan, only the UK and Pakistan recognized the Jordanian occupation. Clearly, as representative of the Quartet, the new Catholic would be serving his papal leaders well if he pressed their agenda for the Corpus Separandum. Deputy Prime Minister Ramon sent out trial balloons to divide the city before Annapolis and PM Ehud Olmert has on more than one occasion loudly hinted he was prepared to cede parts of the city, whilst Abbas wants the whole of the Old City. What a feather in Blair's cap if he could get a compromise deal by internationalizing the city. Isi Leibler alluded to this in his excellent article "Outright Defeatism" (December 21). COLIN L LECI Jerusalem Judicial tyranny Sir, - The takeover of military decision making by the courts and government lawyers is correctly characterized by Caroline Glick as "lawyerizing" and not "legalizing" ("The triumph of legal defeatism," December 21). It has little to do with international law and everything to do with officious lawyers and judges. Glick quotes Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz stating, "Today international law controls our lives, no less…than domestic law..." Nowhere is that happening except in the Israeli judicial system and the Israeli political elite. No one else assumes the duty to lose wars in order to spare enemy civilians who are being used as human shields by their ruthless and unscrupulous governments. The court and the attorney-general have assumed the role of protector of the enemy population, citing international humanitarian law - but it is an erroneous interpretation of the law. To place responsibility for avoiding civilian casualties on the IDF is to make this war crime an advantageous tactic and encourage its adoption by all warring parties who care nothing for their people. The judicial tyranny in Israel has resulted in disastrous military doctrine and misguided, self-defeating law. It is long past time to rein it in. YA'AKOV PERETZ GOLBERT Jerusalem Safety... Sir, - In Shmuley Boteach's very fine article, "Sex is for adults" (December 24), there seem to have emerged two separate problems. The first problem is how to deal with teens who participate in sex and are not ready to make lifelong commitments and help build a healthy society. The second problem is how to prevent teenage pregnancies. If more families would put into practice Boteach's principles, the problem of teenage sexuality might be reduced and family ties strengthened. The pragmatic approach to effectively reduce teenage pregnancies is through sex education by a qualified instructor, who would encourage the use of condoms and birth control pills. The bottom line is that it is better to be safe than sorry. P. YONAH Shoham ...And security Sir, - That two elderly Jerusalem women were assaulted in their homes should be shocking news ("Elderly woman attacked in capital," December 21). However, with the number of break-ins in the Jerusalem area and with the elderly often home, this was inevitable. Meanwhile, police made arrests after the home of a Jerusalem court judge was broken into ("5 held for breaking into judge's home," December 21). At a ceremony last week, Moshe Lador stated that the law must be enforced not only in the high-profile cases, but also in the lesser cases that do not receive publicity ("Lador takes over from Shendar as state attorney," December 18). "When lesser criminals are not brought to trial and punished, it conveys a message to the public that can lead society to anarchy." Hopefully, Moshe Lador will be able to make any home invasion a crime that is taken seriously. Everyone, not just the elderly, needs to feel secure in their own homes. SHARON ALTSHUL Jerusalem