Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Wiesel is Right on Genocide Recognition; Wrong on Armenians’ Quest for Justice

Nov. 1, 2007
The California Courier
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice published on October 28 an important interview with Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Reporter Charles Smolover asked him to comment on the fact that "some in the Jewish community are reluctant to touch this issue [congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide] for fear of damaging Turkey’s relationship with Israel."

Mr. Wiesel’s response: "I have been fighting for the right of the Armenian people to remember for years and years. How could I, who has fought all my life for Jewish remembrance, tell the Armenians they have no right to remember? But I understand the [Bush] administration's view. Fortunately, as a private citizen I don’t have to worry about Turkey’s response. But I do feel that had there been the word ‘genocide’ in those days, what happened to the Armenians would have been called genocide. Everyone agrees there was mass murder, but the word came later. I believe the Armenians are the victims and, as a Jew, I should be on their side."

This is a very important and straightforward answer from someone of Mr. Wiesel’s moral stature. As an internationally-acclaimed personality, his pronouncements carry great weight. Despite the fact that the reporter’s question linked the recognition of the Armenian Genocide to possible damage to Israel’s relations with Turkey, Mr. Wiesel remained steadfast on the side of the truth.

Mr. Wiesel, however, was not as forceful back in 1982 when the Israeli Foreign Ministry, under pressure from the Turkish government, asked him to exclude Armenian scholars from an international conference on the Holocaust and Genocide that was to be held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Faced with the dilemma of not wanting to eliminate Armenian participation or acceding to Israeli government’s demands, Mr. Wiesel resigned as president of the conference. He explained that he chose to remove himself rather than challenge the Israeli government’s demands, because he had to be mindful of the threat to Jewish lives in Turkey.

In recent years, Mr. Wiesel has been much more resolute in defense of the Armenian Genocide. In his introduction to the 1986 French edition of Franz Werfel’s Forty Days of Musa Dagh, he described the brutalities committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian minority as "mass murders aimed at the extermination of a people in its entirety," and called the brutal killings "the first genocide of the 20th century."

On March 7, 2000, he joined 126 Holocaust scholars in signing a joint statement affirming that the Armenian Genocide was an incontestable historical fact and called on Western governments to likewise recognize it as such.

Earlier this year, he joined more than 50 other Nobel Laureates in signing a statement that recognized the Armenian Genocide.

On August 21, 2007 Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he consulted Elie Wiesel before issuing a statement acknowledging for the first time that "the consequences" of the Armenian atrocities were "indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide."

Mr. Wiesel, however, leaves a lot to be desired in answering Philadelphia Jewish Voice reporter’s second question on whether "the Turks have an obligation to take some responsibility" for the Armenian Genocide?

Mr. Wiesel responded by saying: "No one is asking for the Turks to take responsibility. All the Armenians want is the right to remember. Seven generations separate us from the events that happened in World War I and nobody in his right mind would say that today's Turks are responsible for what happened. The Armenians don’t want reparations; they don’t even want an apology. They want the right to remember. The Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened. I have spoken with Turkish leaders at the highest level and their attitude about this issue is totally irrational except for one thing, which I do understand. They don’t want to be compared to Hitler. But of course, nobody does."

Just about every single statement contained in the above paragraph is inaccurate. Contrary to Mr. Wiesel’s assertions, Armenians do not need anyone’s permission to remember or mourn their dead. Their right to remember has never been in question. It is also untrue that "seven generations separate us" from the era of the genocide. There are still surviving eyewitnesses of the Armenian Genocide. This writer is the grandson (third generation) of genocide survivors.

Regarding Turkish responsibility, while Armenians do not blame today’s Turks for the killings, they do hold the Turkish state responsible for falsifying and denying the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, Mr. Wiesel is wrong in asserting that "Armenians don’t want reparations, they don’t even want an apology. They want the right to remember." The fact is that Armenians do not really care whether Turks apologize for the killings or not. Armenians do insist, however, on obtaining adequate restitution for the enormous damages they suffered. Why is it that the victims of the Holocaust are entitled to reparations and Armenians are not? In contrast to the Jews, Armenians were uprooted from their ancestral homeland losing their property, cultural heritage as well as their lives. One has to agree, however, with Mr. Wiesel’s assertion that "the Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened." Yet, contrary to Mr. Wiesel’s expectations, and probably that of the Turkish government, there can be no reconciliation between Armenians and Turks without justice, which requires the return of the occupied lands and looted properties, and restitution for the 1.5 million murders.

Since the Philadelphia Jewish Voice describes Mr. Wiesel as an "outspoken advocate for justice," it is hoped that he would live up to that reputation in both the Jewish and Armenian cases. While Mr. Wiesel may not choose to be an advocate for Armenian demands, he should not misrepresent Armenians’ quest for justice!

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Turkey Threatens To Jump

Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2007
By Shmuel Rosner

Ankara beat Congress; now it's taking on the Bush administration.

"She's going to talk primarily about the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship and talk about the fact that it is a good, strong relationship," claimed State Department spokesman Sean McCormack in his daily briefing to the press Monday. "She" is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; the "talk" will happen on her trip to Turkey later this week; and that "strong relationship" is in trouble. The Turks have recently re-learned that they can influence America's decision-makers and policies, and they're going to use that power again.

Last month, the Turks and their friends in the administration defeated Nancy Pelosi, a determined, commanding speaker of the House. The passage of a resolution that would label the 1915 killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks as "genocide" was postponed indefinitely. Pelosi's friends on the Democratic side of the House were kind enough to save her from even greater embarrassment: The sponsors asked her to delay the vote—and she agreed.

This was a political blunder. The speaker, as committed as anyone to passing the symbolic legislation, was humiliated by an even stronger and no less committed Turkish lobby. However—as often happens with acts of foolishness committed by Congress—the price will be paid by another branch of government, the executive. The check will be submitted later this week to its senior representative, Secretary Rice. A week later, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will visit an even higher authority, President George Bush, with the same purpose.

America lost twice in this congressional battle of political will—by losing the chance to gain the high moral ground by recognizing the Armenian tragedy and by angering an important ally. Turkey was able to benefit twice: It defeated the bill, but it was also handed an excuse to get angry by its earlier passage through the House foreign affairs committee. Now it can feel justified for its somewhat vindictive mood.

America, as a Pew Global Attitudes Survey showed just last week, is not the hottest political commodity in Ankara these days. "[N]egative views of the United States are indeed widespread and growing in Turkey," the study concluded. "Only 14% [of Turks] think the U.S. considers the interests of countries like Turkey when making foreign policy decisions," the study found. Ankara's demand that Washington increase its efforts to curb a wave of terror that originates in the Kurdish part of Iraq provides the U.S. administration with the perfect opportunity to show that it does "consider the interests of countries like Turkey."

The strategic relationship between Turkey and the United States has a long and complicated history. However, Turkey's importance to Washington can be easily, if somewhat simplistically, summed up in a slogan borrowed from the world of real estate: location, location, location.

Turkey is a bridge that connects parts of the former Soviet bloc to Europe and the oil of the East with the needs of the West; it is a neighbor to Syria and Iran and to the still-struggling Iraq; it is a candidate for European Union membership that is also well-connected to the countries of Central Asia. It is a former empire, with all the pride and tradition of regional responsibility that involves. And it's a moderate, democratic, Muslim country. Turkey—all things considered—is almost too good to be true.

But it now has a problem, which happens to come from an area controlled by the United States, namely Iraq. The PKK, a Kurdish terror group dedicated to a radically separatist cause, is harassing and killing Turkish soldiers and citizens, and Turkey wants it to stop. In the past couple of weeks, Turkey has muttered threats of invasion, while maintaining talks with American and Iraqi leaders. But talk will not be enough. Washington will have to do something about the PKK.

The problem is that the Iraqi government can make promises, but it can't deliver on them in the difficult northern terrain that's controlled by the Kurds. America might be able to do more, but it is reluctant to use its already strained forces, and it is reasonably afraid of destabilizing the only region in Iraq that has been relatively calm all along.

The Pentagon isn't happy with Turkey, which could have been far more helpful in 2003 and since. Diplomats are also worried, as they see the Islamist government moving away from the West and toward a more regionally focused strategy. Relations with Israel aren't as good as they used to be. Commerce with Syria is well-established. Discussions with Iran are frequent—though Turkey has no desire to hand Tehran a victory. Ankara can even maneuver between the United States and Russia—not that Turkey wants to help Russia, a longtime nemesis.

Turkey, it seems, has more leverage over the United States than the other way around. It can eliminate crucial supply lines for American forces in Iraq. It can invade Iraq. It can destabilize it. These threats were all used by the U.S. administration—backed up by high-ranking military commanders—to persuade Congress to back down on Armenian genocide. These same threats will be now used on the administration and, even more so, against reluctant CENTCOM officials, to make them invest more effort in solving the problem of the PKK attacks.

Iraq is your fault, anyway, the Turks say. They were better off with Saddam Hussein's regime—or, at least, that's what they now claim. Turkey was willing to stay on the sidelines while the United States was messing with the region, but they will not be the ones to pay the price. Not for a country that almost passed a bill condemning their actions nearly 100 years ago.

So, Turkey successfully used its leverage against Pelosi last month, and now—angrier but also more confident in its power to curb American will—it is embarking on another such journey. Presumably, it still needs the United States to deter its powerful neighbors against possible aggression. But if Turkey was threatened by Iran or pressured by Russia, does anyone believe that America would let it fall? Turkey knows that Washington can't afford such a scenario, and Washington knows that Turkey knows it. Through the Middle East and the world, the power of the weaker party is working against countries allied with the United States. It is the not-so-subtle threat of "do what I want or I will fall"—or, in the case of Turkey, jump.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


AHI and ANCA Issue Joint Statement on Senate Resolution Regarding U.S.-Turkey Relations

30 OLctober 2007
Hellenic News of America, PA

WASHINGTON, DC – Executive Director Nick Larigakis issued a joint statement today with Aram Hamparian Executive Director for the Armenian National Committee, to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee regarding the introduction by Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Robert Byrd (D-WV) of S.Res. 358 regarding U.S.-Turkey relations.

The statement says:

The resolution introduced by Senators Smith and Byrd neither serves U.S. interests nor advances American values by sugarcoating Turkey�s record or by ignoring serious tensions in the U.S.-Turkey bilateral relationship.

Any legislation that the Congress considers on this issue should clearly and prominently address Turkey�s threats to invade and destabilize northern Iraq, its immoral and heavy-handed threats against the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, military occupation of Cyprus, continued airspace violations of Greek-sovereign airspace over the Aegean, blockade of Armenia, mistreatment of the Kurds, and restrictions on the religious freedom of the Ecumenical Patriarch and other Christian leaders.

Below is a copy of S.Res. 358 regarding U.S.-Turkish relations.


S.Res. 358

Mr. SMITH (for himself and Mr. Byrd) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:

Whereas the United States and Turkey share common ideals and a clear vision for the 21st century, in which freedom and democracy are the foundation of peace, prosperity, and security;

Whereas Turkey is a strong example of a predominantly Muslim country with a true representative democratic government;
Whereas for more than 50 years a strategic partnership has existed between the United States and Turkey, both bilaterally and through the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has been of enormous political, economic, cultural, and strategic benefit to both countries;

Whereas the Government of Turkey has demonstrated its opposition to terrorism throughout the world, and has called for the international community to unite against this threat;

Whereas Turkey maintains an important bilateral relationship with Israel and seeks to play a constructive role in Middle East peace negotiations;

Whereas Operation Enduring Freedom entered its 6th year on October 7th, 2007;
Whereas Turkey commanded the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan twice, from July 2002 to January 2003, and from February 2005 to August 2005;

Whereas Turkey has provided humanitarian and medical assistance in Afghanistan and in Iraq;
Whereas the Government of Turkey has made its base in Incirlik available for United States missions in Iraq and Afghanistan;

Whereas Secretary of Defense Robert Gates credits United States air bases in Turkey with handling 70 percent of all air cargo deployed into Iraq;

Whereas 95 percent of the Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protective vehicles (MRAPs) deployed into Iraq transit through air bases in Turkey;

Whereas MRAPs protect coalition forces from improvised explosive devices and roadside bombs;
Whereas the people of Turkey have been victims of terrorist attacks by Al-Qaeda on November 15, 2003, and November 20, 2003;

Whereas the United States supports Turkey's bid for membership in the European Union; and
Whereas the Secretary of State has listed the Kurdistan Workers' Party, which has taken up arms against Turkey since its founding, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, as amended: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

1. reiterates its strong support for the strategic alliance between the United States and Turkey;
2. urges Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to communicate the continuing support of the Senate and of the people of the United States to the people of Turkey;
3. condemns the violent attacks conducted by the Kurdistan Workers' Party over the last 2 decades;
4. urges Kurdish leaders in Iraq to deny safe harbor for terrorists and to recognize bilateral agreements between Iraq and Turkey for cooperation against terrorism;
5. encourages the Government of Turkey and the Government of Iraq to continue to work together to end the threat of terrorism; and
6. thanks Prime Minister Erdogan and the people and Government of Turkey for—

(A)assuming command of the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan from July 2002 to January 2003, and from February 2005 to August 2005;

(B) providing humanitarian and medical assistance in Afghanistan and in Irag;
(C) their willingness to contribute to international peace, stability, and prosperity, especially in the greater Middle East region; and

(D) their continued discussions with officials in the United States and Iraq regarding constructive stabilization efforts in northern Iraq.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Divide and Conquer

Monday, Oct. 29, 2007
By Christopher Hitchens

The United States should be squeezing Turkey, not the other way around.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani
In the past century, the principal victims of genocide or attempted genocide have been, or at least have prominently included, the Armenians, the Jews, and the Kurds. During most of the month of October, events and politicians both conspired to set these three peoples at one another's throats. What is there to be learned from this fiasco for humanity?

To recapitulate: At the very suggestion that the U.S. House of Representatives might finally pass a long-proposed resolution recognizing the 1915 massacres in Armenia as a planned act of "race murder" (that was U.S. Ambassador Henry Morgenthau's term for it at a time when the word genocide had not yet been coined), the Turkish authorities redoubled their threat to invade the autonomous Kurdish-run provinces of northern Iraq. And many American Jews found themselves divided between their sympathy for the oppressed and the slaughtered and their commitment to the state interest of Israel, which maintains a strategic partnership with Turkey, and in particular with Turkey's highly politicized armed forces.

To illuminate this depressing picture, one might begin by offering a few distinctions. In 1991, in northern Iraq, where you could still see and smell the gassed and poisoned towns and villages of Kurdistan, I heard Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan say that Kurds ought to apologize to the Armenians for the role they had played as enforcers for the Ottomans during the time of the genocide. Talabani, who has often repeated that statement, is now president of Iraq. (I would regard his unforced statement as evidence in itself, by the way, in that proud peoples do not generally offer to apologize for revolting crimes that they did not, in fact, commit.) So, of course, it was upon him, both as an Iraqi and as a Kurd, that Turkish guns and missiles were trained last month.

And here, a further distinction: Many of us who are ardent supporters of Kurdish rights and aspirations have the gravest reservations about the so-called Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. This is a Stalinist cult organization, roughly akin to a Middle Eastern Shining Path group. (Its story, and the story of its bizarre leader Abdullah Öcalan, are well told in Aliza Marcus' new book Blood And Belief: The PKK and the Kurdish Fight for Independence.) The attempt of this thuggish faction to exploit the new zone of freedom in Iraqi Kurdistan is highly irresponsible and plays directly into the hands of those forces in the Turkish military who want to resurrect Kemalist chauvinism as a weapon against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government, which it sees as soft on Kurdish demands. There's a paradox here, in that the uniformed satraps who claim to defend Turkish secularism are often more reactionary than the recently re-elected and broadly Islamist Justice and Development Party. The generals vetoed a meeting earlier this year between Abdullah Gul—now president of Turkey and then foreign minister—and the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq. This alone shows that they are using the border question and the PKK as a wedge issue for domestic politics.

This is enough complexity to be going on with, but Congress and the executive branch have been handling it with appalling amateurishness. The Armenian resolution is an old story. I can remember when it was sponsored by Sen. Robert Dole and stonewalled by President Bill Clinton. What a shame that we didn't get it firmly on the record decades ago. But now a House and a White House that can barely bring themselves to utter the word Kurdish are both acting as if nothing mattered except Turkish amour-propre. And, as a consequence, the United States and its friends are being squeezed by Ankara instead of—to put it shortly—the other way around. This is disgracefully undignified.

In 2003, the Turkish authorities, who had been parasitic on American and NATO support for several decades, refused to allow our bases in Turkey to be employed for a "northern front" in the removal of Saddam Hussein unless their own forces were allowed to follow us into Iraqi Kurdistan. The Bush administration quite rightly refused this bargain. The damage done by Turkey's subsequent fit of pique was enormous—nobody ever mentions it, but if the coalition had come at Baghdad from two directions, a number of Sunni areas would have got the point (of irreversible regime change) a lot sooner than they did. The rogue PKK presence was not then a hot issue; Turkey simply wished to pre-empt the emergence of any form of Iraqi Kurdish self-government that could be an incitement or encouragement to its own huge Kurdish minority.

So, let us be clear on a few things. The European Union, to which Turkey has applied for membership with warm American support, has insisted on recognition of Kurdish language rights and political rights within Turkey. We can hardly ask for less. If the Turks wish to continue lying officially about what happened to the Armenians, then we cannot be expected to oblige them by doing the same (and should certainly resent and repudiate any threats against ourselves or our allies that would ensue from our Congress affirming the truth). Then there remains the question of Cyprus, where Turkey maintains an occupation force that has repeatedly been condemned by a thesaurus of U.N. resolutions ever since 1974. It is not our conduct that should be modified by Turkey's arrogance; we do a favor to the democratization and modernization of that country by insisting that it get its troops out of Cyprus, pull its forces back from the border with Iraq, face the historic truth about Armenia, and in other ways cease to act as if the Ottoman system were still in operation.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Armenian Groups Slam University For Honoring Ahmadinejad

OCTOBER 29, 2007
JTA Wire Service
Ben Harris
New York

Armenian Americans slammed the decision by a university in the Armenian capital of Yerevan to honor Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ahmadinejad during a state visit to Armenia last week was presented with a gold medal and an honorary doctorate Monday from Yerevan State University.

An editorial in the Armenian weekly, the house organ of the Armenian National Committee of America, condemned the university, noting that Ahmadinejad is a Holocaust denier who has disregarded historical research.

"The university's decision to bestow an honorary doctorate is simply unacceptable," the editorial said. "We are surprised that as the officials in charge of the alma mater of a nation that rose from the ashes of another genocide, they did not take this fact into consideration before deciding to award the honorary degree."

Ahmadinejad's visit came as Armenian Americans and their supporters continued to press for a resolution in Congress recognizing the World War I-era killings of Armenians by Turkey as genocide.

Part of their campaign has focused on the Anti-Defamation League, which initially refused to use the word genocide to describe the killings but backtracked amid opposition from its leadership in the Boston area -- home to one of the highest concentrations of Armenians in the country. The ADL called the massacre of Armenians "tantamount to genocide."

Despite the shift the ADL, along with other major U.S. Jewish groups, continue to oppose a congressional resolution out of concern for its impact on Turkish ties with Israel and the United States. Consequently, the Armenian activists' campaign against the ADL has not eased.

A Web site, No Place For Denial, continues to accuse the ADL of genocide denial, alleging that its statements on the subject have been ambiguous, a charge the ADL denies. The continuing momentum has led several communities in the Boston area to end their partnerships with a highly regarded anti-bigotry program sponsored by the ADL.

Dikran Kaligian, chairman of the Armenian National Committee of America's Eastern Region, rejected the suggestion to mount a similar campaign against Yerevan State University, asserting that such a comparison was "apples and oranges."

The proper analogue to the ADL, Kaligian said, is not Yerevan State but ANCA, which is the largest Armenian grass-roots organization in the United States. The organization is an affiliate of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation, an international political party founded in 1890.

Kaligian said ANCA has never taken an ambiguous position on the Holocaust. The ADL, by contrast, has endorsed a proposal for Armenia and Turkey to form a joint commission to arrive at a resolution of the issue, a step Armenians adamantly reject.

"The ANCA has never called for further study of the Holocaust," Kaligian said. "That's the analogy you have to make, and I think we've been very clear on it."

Both Kaligian and Sevag Arzoumanian, who runs No Place for Denial, agree that it was appropriate for Ahmadinejad to be invited to Armenia, a landlocked country that depends on good relations with its neighbors for trade and energy. But they said bestowing an academic honor was one step too far.

In an e-mail to JTA, Arzoumanian wrote, "How can Yerevan State University give an academic degree, however symbolic, to someone who takes the intellectually dishonest position that there needs to be further research and academic conferences to determine if the Holocaust occurred? What were they thinking? I think the YSU made a terrible error of judgment, both academically and morally."

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Sunday, October 28, 2007

It's a decades old question: Who now remembers the Armenians?

Packet & Times
By McGarvey, Pete

The question is attributed to Adolph Hitler in the mid 1930s. His henchmen were plotting the extermination of Europe's Jews and someone wondered aloud how world opinion would react to it. A mere 20 years earlier, one and half million Armenians were murdered by Ottoman Turkish soldiers in the 20th century's first genocide, and already the slaughter was fading from the public's mind.

"Who now remembers the Armenians?"

Not the Bush White House, it seems. When Congress proposed a resolution two weeks ago, recognizing the 1915 killing of the Armenians as genocide,Washington's top brass harrumphed, and struck back. "Ancient history!" they proclaimed, The death count was wildly exaggerated! There are two sides to the story and the Turkish side deserves equal time! More important, passage of the resolution would do irreparable harm to the US-Turkish alliance. If unduly angered, Turkey may cut off vital American supply routes to Iraq!"

In other words, historic truth and the pursuit of justice be damned. Commentators railed against "those stupid congressmen" and George W. Bush himself joined the critical chorus.

The facts of the genocide are meticulously recorded. Midway through the First World War, Ottoman Turkish leaders ordered its minority Armenian Christians into exile on charges they were waging a civil war against the government in Ankara. It was a lie.

Regular readers know my sentiments on this subject. I have spent 30 years studying, reporting and editorializing on this unprecedented catastrophe, waiting for a plausible Turkish explanation of why it happened. I'm still waiting.

The April 1915 "exile" order was code for "get rid of the Armenians by whatever means." It was the latest and the most extreme of organized attacks on this harried minority, the first nation in the world to convert to Christianity. (The year was 301 AD.)

The soldiers obliged. Towns and villages were put to the torch, Armenians by the thousand rounded up, many males murdered on sight, while women and children were forced, at bayonet point, to trek toward the Syrian wilderness with little food or water. The horrors multiplied daily - random shootings, hangings, rape, death by fire, even mass drownings. Soldiers competed in devising new and fiendish means of disposing of their prisoners.

If the Ottoman government thought that all this would be below the world's radar screen, in the middle of a world war, it miscalculated badly. Within weeks, first-hand accounts of the butchery made the front pages of leading American and British newspapers. Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador to Turkey, was among the first to report what was happening. His fury was shared by historian Arnold Toynbee and Britain's Winston Churchill. Soon, thousands of ordinary citizens were roused to demand a stop to the slaughter and to hold Ottoman Turkey accountable. Relief efforts were launched to help survivors who managed to cross into Syria. "Save the starving Armenians" became a rallying call, heard across the western world.

I have a shelf full of books dealing with the killings, written by impartial witnesses, respected scholars and survivors. In April 1980, Eileen and I were in Yerevan, the ancient Armenian capital, to observe the 65th anniversary of the genocide. We joined a solemn procession of Armenians, both native born and from the North American and European diaspora, to a monument on a hillside outside the city, to lay flowers beside an eternal flame. On the eastern horizon, Mount Ararat was in clear view.

In the week we spent in Soviet Armenia, our appreciation of this unique nation increased tenfold. We visited Etchmiatsin, site of the Cathedral of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, the first building in the world to be topped by a cross. The museum nearby, joined to the palace of the church's pontiff, known as the Cathilicos, was a treasure house of relics and documents, recording the rise and fall of a proud and culturally accomplished race over three millennia. Here, too, were hundreds of bones of 1915 martyrs.

There's an ironic touch to events in Washington two weeks ago. In the same week the Armenian genocide proposal was roundly condemned, Congress awarded a gold medal to the Dalai Lama, who was lauded by U.S. President George W. Bush for his life-long crusade to win autonomy for Tibet.

There were the usual declarations of America being the beacon of hope and the agent for justice for oppressed people everywhere.

Unless, of course, you belonged to a nation shattered by the first documented genocide of the 20th century, when such a declaration would be politically inconvenient.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Interview with Elie Wiesel

PJV#29 November 2007
The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
-- Charles Smolover

Elie Wiesel is a Romanian-born French-Jewish novelist, political activist, Nobel Laureate, Holocaust survivor and outspoken advocate for justice. He is the author of over 40 books, the best known of which is Night, a memoir that describes his experiences during the Holocaust. He is attending the AIPAC Summit in Philadelphia at the end of October and spoke recently with the Philadelphia Jewish Voice.


PJV: The subject of the Armenian Genocide has been in the news. The U.S. Congress has been debating whether to officially recognize the events in question as genocide, and the Turks, to no one’s surprise, are not pleased. Some in the Jewish community are reluctant to touch this issue for fear of damaging Turkey’s relationship with Israel. What is your take on this issue?

I have been fighting for the right of the Armenian people to remember for years and years. How could I, who has fought all my life for Jewish remembrance, tell the Armenians they have no right to remember? But I understand the administration's view. Fortunately, as a private citizen I don’t have to worry about Turkey’s response. But I do feel that had there been the word “genocide” in those days, what happened to the Armenians would have been called genocide. Everyone agrees there was mass murder, but the word came later. I believe the Armenians are the victims and, as a Jew, I should be on their side.

PJV: If the Armenians have a right to remember, don’t the Turks have an obligation to take some responsibility?

No one is asking for the Turks to take responsibility. All the Armenians want is the right to remember. Seven generations separate us from the events that happened in World War I and nobody in his right mind would say that today's Turks are responsible for what happened. The Armenians don’t want reparations, they don’t even want an apology. They want the right to remember. The Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened. I have spoke with Turkish leaders at the highest level and their attitude about this issue is totally irrational except for one thing which I do understand. They don’t want to be compared to Hitler. But of course, nobody does.


Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Laying memory's ghosts to rest

28 October 2007
Financial Times

Sunday's beatification by the Vatican of 498 "martyrs" killed by anti-clerical militias during the Spanish republic and 1936-39 civil war has resurrected many ghosts at a time when history and memory have returned to haunt Spain.


There are obvious risks in excavating the pain of the past. Yet the selective memory preferred by the Catholic Church and the right is not the answer. Countries and peoples need a shared narrative of their past, even when that means settling painful accounts with history.


Turkey is in a similar bind over Armenia. Attempts by France, and now the US Congress, to characterise the first world war massacres of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as genocide have outraged the government and the Kemalist establishment, and inflamed public opinion.

In calmer circumstances, Turkish politicians and intellectuals will acknowledge the need to come to terms with this blood-soaked chapter in their history - and that Turkey has no hope of ever entering the EU without such a reckoning.

But today's Turks have no knowledge of these horrific events, which have been airbrushed from history, leaving them without the means to make a judgment. There is always a price for suppressing memory.

Copyright The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Art Tonoyan, guest column: Turkey blackmails U.S. to ignore its sins

Sunday, October 28, 2007
Waco Tribune Herald, TX

Some 90 years ago the Ottoman Turkish government set out in the most thorough fashion to destroy its Christian minorities. But the brunt of the Turkish ire fell on Armenian Christians.


Actually, considerable credit went to the combined relief efforts of American Protestant missionaries, philanthropists such as John D. Rockefeller and statesmen such as William Jennings Bryan.

The U.S. Congress is debating a non-binding resolution recognizing that the Ottoman government’s efforts to destroy Armenians indeed constituted a genocide.[...], backed by self-evident facts, has brought shameless Turkish tantrums combined with political blackmail, and meddling into U.S. internal affairs.

So doing, Turkey indirectly has threatened the lives of U.S. service personnel in Iraq.


Who would have thought that the United States could be so bullied?

The timing of the resolution? I would argue it is 90 years too late. But similar resolutions have come up year after year in Congress. Year after year the proposal is shot down for fear of offending the Turks.

Always, say the opponents, the time is not right.

Either it’s the Cold War, or the first Gulf War, or this Gulf War or the war on terrorism.

[...], this Turkish government, while allowing the shipment of supplies, refused to allow the staging of coalition troops in opening of the northern front into Iraq. Turkey did so in hopes of scoring political points with the European Union.

This ended up costing time, U.S. lives and U.S. tax dollars.

That’s not all. Turkey’s Islamist government has courted the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, called the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians a “genocide” (a dose of inescapable irony) and has signed lucrative business deals with the regime of Iranian mullahs by effectively sidestepping U.S. calls to isolate Iran.


The symbolic resolution in question before Congress is a simple act of affirmation of history. It is not by any stretch of the imagination directed at the current Turkish government, although Turkey perceives it as such.

Some 23 nations have passed similar resolutions in the past decade.

The fault for the current debacle should not therefore be located in partisan politics, as the cynics at the Fox News and the likes of Rush Limbaugh would have us believe.

It’s in the fact that Turkey is yet to take an honest look at a past it tries so hard to deny. The tantrums it now throws are more worthy of my 2-year-old than a modern state aspiring to join the family of European nations.

Art Tonoyan is a Ph.D. candidate at Baylor University’s J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

For Genocide Survivor Descendants Genocide Seems to Have Happened Yesterday

By Vahe Balabanian

Amidst the noise created on the genocide resolution, both pro and con, Armenians have relived the Genocide. Many argue that it happened 92+ years ago, but wait a moment, ask a genocide survivor descendant and you will hear that the feeling is like as if it happened yesterday. Some argue that it should be left to historians to decide. Do they realize that historians have already spoken out? The controversy is created by a state sponsored denial who has funded historians to deny the genocide. Do you really believe that Armenians should sit down with revisionists to debate the history of their genocide? Just think a moment. If Armenians do that it is like throwing doubt on the genocide. I do not think Armenians will ever do that.

Besides what business does Turkey have in forcing Armenians to abandon the recognition of the genocide in order to open up its border with Armenia and end its blockade, also stop isolating Armenia from regional projects?

If a 71 Million country with the second largest Army treats a land locked impoverished Armenia of population of 3 Million in this fashion, do you think Turkey has the best interests of Armenia at heart? What Turkey wants is to weaken Armenia so that it will achieve its long sought Turanian ambition by bringing into its fold all the Turkic speaking nations spanning Asia, with their oil resources.


The horrible legacy of genocides

By Fawaz Turki, Special to Gulf News
Published: October 27, 2007, 01:07

Recep Tayyip Erdogan: call your lobbyist in Washington. Congressmen there, choosing a bad time to pick a fight with Ankara over a century-old dispute, are determined to put Turkey and the US on a collision course.

Early this month, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives voted to declare the massacres of roughly a million Armenians by Young Turks in 1915 to be genocide.

The full House has yet to vote on the resolution, but the Turkish government, reacting angrily, immediately recalled its ambassador, hinted at denying the American military use of its vital supply line at Incirlik airbase, and threatened to launch a major ground offensive in northern Iraq in pursuit of guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), who in the past two weeks have killed well over two dozen Turkish soldiers. A messy situation was about to get messier.

Turkey considers the question of Armenian genocide not only a sensitive issue, virtually taboo in the public debate, but places it under the rubric of "insulting Turkishness" in the penal code, for which a conviction will get you three years in jail.

To this day, 92 years after the incidents, Turkey continues not only to obfuscate the facts surrounding the massacres but to deny them outright. Very simply, you don't bring up the issue, but if you must do so, accept the official version: a "mere" 300,000 to 600,000 "died" at the time, and their deaths were "the unfortunate consequence of war".

That is the version modern day Turks learn at school from their sanitised textbooks, which barely mention the tragedy. They thus grow up with little comprehension of its scope.

Turks must own up

It's a mystery why Turks do not want to own up to their past and why they persecute those intellectuals and academics in their midst who do.

The novelist Elif Shafak, author of the critically acclaimed The Bastard of Istanbul, and Orhan Pamuk, the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, have both faced charges of (you guessed it) "insulting Turkishness" when they spoke up.

And Taner Akam, a prominent professor of history at the University of Minnesota, opted not to return to his homeland after writing his seminal work Shameful Act: The Armenian Genocide and the Question of Turkish Responsibility, in which he meticulously chronicled the destruction of the Armenian community whose members where hunted down and slaughtered throughout their habitat by the Ottoman military.

Hundreds of thousands of others were deported to what was then called Greater Syria or, in Arabic, Bilad Al Sham. For what are these Armenian enclaves that exist in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Iraq today, but the survivors of that dreadful act?

If this narrative is not factual, and these figures are wrong, and the killing of Armenians was indeed the "unfortunate consequence of war", then the Turkish authorities have nothing to fear of an open debate at academic conferences and panel discussions devoted to exploring the issue.

By silencing or incarcerating those who have something to say, you make a pact with the devil who will shield your history and your name from shame. But the devil will return one day asking for his fee to be paid.

Turks should exercise their right to throw a backward glance at their past without fear of retribution, in the name of intellectual integrity of nothing else.

Congressmen on Capitol Hill, however, opting to probe another nation's historical experience and pass judgment on it, is another story. If these folks are such titans of moral rectitude, guardians of the truth, why not pass a resolution, say, identifying the mass killings and deportations of Chechens by Stalin's regime in 1944 as genocide?

At the time, in February that year to be exact, in the dead of winter, Russian troops, after slaughtering thousands who resisted, deported virtually the entire population of Chechnya to the Kazakh steppe in Central Asia.

About half a million Chechens were loaded on trains, like cattle, and expelled. As many as 78,000, men, women and children, among them the elderly, the sick and the infirm, died on the road from starvation and the cold.

Or a resolution condemning Israel for its genocidal acts in Deir Yassein in 1948 and the ethnic cleansing it mounted against the entire population of the twin cities of Lydda-Ramlah that same year? Or the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 against 500,000 Tutsis, whose misfortune was that they belonged to the wrong tribe?

Why not, you ask? Because Chechens, Palestinians and Tutsis do not have large, organised communities with arm-twisting lobbies in Washington.

And, yes, I do share the Turks' anger, indeed their outrage, at Congressmen, pandering to constituents in California, who feel entitled to dig into the long-gone past of a country half way around the world and issue it a report card.

Here's how it should be done. Instead of souring their relationship with the US or embarking on an ill-conceived military adventure in Iraq (heaven knows we don't need another of these over there!), Turkish parliamentarians should give their counterparts in Washington a taste of their own medicine: they should pass a resolution, in the same cavalier fashion, condemning the United States for the genocide it inflicted on Native Americans and African Americans almost two centuries ago. And leave it at that. Deal?

Fawaz Turki is a veteran journalist, lecturer and author of several books, including The Disinherited: Journal of a Palestinian Exile. He lives in Washington D.C.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

An Ex-Leader in Congress Is Now Turkey’s Man in the Lobbies of Capitol Hill

Published: October 17, 2007
The New York Times
Turkey is America's ally and its lobbying effort has made America its accomplice. Now that the vote on the genocide resolution is delayed how much more money will Turkey sink in? May be America will give them more still to spend on lobbying so the lobbyists can get richer. How can a sovereign country allow a foreign country to divert its course on such a moral issue?
WASHINGTON, Oct. 16 — Since leaving Capitol Hill in 1999, former Representative Robert L. Livingston has been the main lobbyist for Turkey in blocking Congressional efforts to pass an Armenian genocide resolution.

Turkey has paid former Representative Robert L. Livingston, top, more than $12 million to lobby against Armenian genocide resolutions. Former Representative Richard A. Gephardt, who was the House majority leader, has also received payments.

After succeeding twice before — and collecting more than $12 million in fees for his firm, the Livingston Group — he is pushing once again for his client.

In recent months, Mr. Livingston, [...] escorted Turkish dignitaries to Capitol Hill to warn that the resolution threatened to destroy a strong Iraq war alliance.

He made a phone call that helped persuade a Louisiana member to change his position and got other Republicans to remove their names from a growing list of co-sponsors. And he courted a powerful Democrat, Representative John P. Murtha of Pennsylvania, who earlier this year asked Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a fellow Democrat, not to bring the measure up for a House vote.

Mr. Livingston has also showered money on House and Senate members, the National Republican Congressional Committee and other political causes. He and his firm gave more than $200,000 in campaign donations in the last election cycle, records show.


The issue has pitted Turkey’s money and high-placed connections against a persistent and emotional campaign by Armenian-American citizens’ groups.

“The Turks have done everything they possibly could,” said former Representative Stephen J. Solarz, whose firm got $165,000 this summer lobbying for Turkey under an arrangement with Mr. Livingston. Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, a resolution sponsor, called Turkey’s lobbying “the most intense I’ve ever seen.”


Turkey has never mustered the intense grass-roots support in the United States that has been Armenia’s strength, with constituents pressing lawmakers to back the measure. Records show that Armenia has spent far less money on lobbying. Its largest expenditure went to the public relations firm of Burson-Marsteller, which earned about $300,000 from August 2006 to April 2007.

After Mr. Livingston resigned from the House in 1999 amid disclosures about an extramarital affair, Turkey retained the Livingston Group, his new bipartisan firm. It has built a large foreign practice, representing among others the governments of Azerbaijan, the Congo Republic and the Cayman Islands. More than a quarter of the firm’s income, which has totaled more than $71 million, has come from foreign clients, records show.

Mr. Livingston earned Turkey’s gratitude by helping stop two resolutions in 2000 and 2004. When Democrats took control of the House last year, Turkey continued to rely on him as its principal lobbyist, though it eventually brought in Mr. Gephardt’s firm. Reports on Mr. Gephardt’s activities have not been filed.

Mr. Livingston contacted Mr. Rove on Nov. 28, 2006, just after a Livingston Group lobbyist attended a weekend retreat at the Greenbrier resort in West Virginia for key Congressional supporters of Turkey. In January, Mr. Livingston talked with a Cheney aide and prepared for Capitol Hill visits by Ambassador Nabi Sensoy of Turkey and other officials.


In December 2006, Mr. Livingston and an associate contributed $10,000 to Mr. Jindal’s campaign for governor of Louisiana. Mr. Jindal’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Livingston’s courtship of Mr. Murtha began in February. After a meeting with Mr. Livingston and another lobbyist from the firm, Mr. Murtha was among a group of members who met with Mr. Livingston, Mr. Sensoy and the Turkish foreign minister, Abdullah Gul. Long opposed to a genocide resolution, Mr. Murtha wrote Ms. Pelosi on Feb. 8 asking her not to allow a floor vote.

Mr. Livingston contributed $3,000 to Mr. Murtha’s campaign in February. A Murtha aide said the contribution reflects support for his record on the issue.

On April 24, the annual observance of the Armenian genocide, President Bush made a brief tribute to the dead, avoiding the term genocide. In Congress, attention focused on the Iraq war.

The resolution soon rebounded. Mr. Livingston made a concerted, though unsuccessful, effort to win over Representative Tom Lantos, Democrat of California, a Holocaust survivor and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Lantos had opposed a similar resolution in 2000.


Mr. Livingston’s logs end at July 31. His firm will file another report detailing activities up to and including the House committee vote in favor of the resolution. Since then, a Republican and a group of Democrats have dropped their backing.

Kitty Bennett contributed reporting.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Turkish fascism organized pogroms in Brussels

Brussels, 26 October 2007
European Armenian Federation, Belgium
America the fortress of freedom just gave Turkey the green flag to use terror in the West to get its own way. If Turkey is that much sensitive to terrorism why does it not check its own "Grey Wolves" as opposed to tracitly encouraging them?
A demonstration organised by the Turkish extremist right-wing group, the sinister Grey Wolves, caused chaos and mass violent disturbance last night in Brussels. Their demonstration was initially conducted before the American Embassy in response to the US Congress project to recognize the Armenian Genocide, and also because of the US opposition to the invasion by Turkey into Iraq. The demonstration soon became a riot after the US flag was torn from where it hung and burned!

Mehmet Köksal, a young journalist of Turkish origin known for his revisionist opinions relating to Ankara, has been recognized after a demonstrator cried out: “hey guys, here is Mehmet Köksal, this son of the bitch of a journalist, this traitor to the homeland, our enemy! Stop this damn fool, we will bump him off!” He survived only by being fleet of foot. All this occurred before the eyes of the Belgian police.

Later, at about midnight, the procession of hatred passed in front of a café owned by an Armenian in the district of Saint-Josse, and savagely destroyed the place by screaming: “he is an Armenian, death to Armenians” whereas, although the police were on the scene, they were forced to find shelter in front of this barbarian horde of 400 Grey Wolves.

The European Armenian Federation strongly condemns the import into Europe of these racist and criminal customs which are well-known by the Armenians as a prelude to the systematic massacres of Armenian citizens. “We are expecting from the police and judicial authorities exemplary reaction regarding members of these criminal bands and their rulers” declared Laurent Leylekian, the director of the European Armenian Federation.

“We know that Turkey is always behind these pogroms” added Laurent Leylekian. The Federation is certain that the Turkish State bodies – police, army, and judicial powers – are deeply infiltrated by these ultra nationalistic units, and it is attested that Ankara regularly gives orders to the Grey Wolves paramilitary forces, orders that emanate from the MHP (political group represented in the Turkish Parliament) to accomplish their dirty jobs in Turkey as well as in Europe.

A day before the European Parliament vote on the resolution on Turkey, the Federation felt anxious about the outcome of the vote. “The freedoms that these criminal groups have in Europe is encouraged by the indulgent attitude of our institutions towards racism. Turkish state ultra nationalism, compromise from our institutions (European Parliament and Commission, national and European political parties) towards the systematic denial of the Turkish state is interpreted by Ankara as authorization to develop its ultra nationalism in the European Union,” concluded Leylekian.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Thursday, October 25, 2007

He who pays the piper…

25 October 2007
The Socialist
"Gephardt who secured a $1.2 million contract to lobby for Turkey had previously co-sponsored an earlier genocide resolution."

Dear Richard Gephardt, what is the rate of inflation since Judas took 30 pieces of silver to denounce Jesus? Thirty pieces now equal to $1.2. Shame on you!
THE RECENT furore in the US Congress over a resolution condemning the massacre of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey during World War One has revealed the powerful lobbying system entrenched in US politics.

Initially it seemed that a 'non-binding resolution' condemning the atrocity, passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, would find an easy passage through Congress.

However, former Republican Representative Robert Livingston - who since leaving Capitol Hill in 1999 has earned $12 million in fees from Turkey to block such resolutions - successfully got fellow Republicans to remove their names from the resolution's sponsorship. Livingston argued, along with George Bush, that 'national security concerns' were paramount ie Turkey's threat to invade northern Iraq.

Livingston's effort has been joined by another lobbyist, former Democrat and House majority leader Richard Gephardt. Gephardt who secured a $1.2 million contract to lobby for Turkey had previously co-sponsored an earlier genocide resolution.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Lawmakers delay push for House vote on Armenian genocide measure

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
October 25, 2007
If I were Turkey I would not hail this delay as success but only that it bought some time. The world now knows more than before about the Armenian Genocide and that the only argument Turkey has in order to delay it consists of threats. No nation worth its salt accepts threats least of all America.
WASHINGTON -- Sponsors of a congressional resolution to recognize the Armenian genocide said today that they would delay their drive to bring the measure before the House for a vote, amid waning support for the measure sparked by concerns that it could harm relations with Turkey, a key U.S. ally.


The resolution's chief sponsors said in a letter today to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) that they would still press for passage of the long-debated measure.

"We believe that a large majority of our colleagues want to support a resolution recognizing the genocide on the House floor and that they will do so, provided the timing is more favorable," the sponsors, Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), Anna G. Eshoo (D-Menlo Park) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in the letter.


The resolution has been strongly opposed by the Bush administration, which warned it could offend Turkey. After the committee vote, the administration and Turkey, aided by high-paid, well-connected lobbyists, stepped up their efforts to persuade the House to shelve the measure, which calls on the president to "accurately characterize the systematic and deliberate annihilation of 1,500,000 Armenians as genocide."


The resolution's sponsors said they would continue to work for consideration of the measure "sometime later this year, or in 2008."


Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Jews, Armenians : « Solidarity for the befallen »

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

U.S. To Again Press For Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement

24 October 2007
Armenialiberty.org, Armenia

By Emil Danielyan

The United States hopes to defuse the latest surge in Turkish-Armenian tensions and will make a fresh attempt to help normalize Turkey’s strained relationship with Armenia, a senior U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza said the controversy surrounding the possible passage of a U.S. Congressional resolution recognizing as genocide the mass killings of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey underscores the need for the two neighboring states to have diplomatic relations and an open border.

“This incident has demonstrated in America, Armenia and Turkey how important it is that there be a serious initiative to fully normalize Armenian-Turkish relations,” he told RFE/RL in Yerevan.

Bryza, who was visiting the Armenian capital in his capacity as the U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, said he will travel to Ankara on Thursday to discuss the matter with Turkish leaders on the margins of a Black Sea economic forum. “One of my own main goals is to explore the possibility of rejuvenating efforts to bring the countries together,” he said.

“The resolution will either pass or won’t pass. Either way, there is still going to be this problem out there that he is behind the whole controversy over the resolution. We have to get the two sides together,” he added.

Official Ankara has reacted furiously to the draft resolution’s approval by a key House of Representatives committee earlier this month, warning that its passage by the full chamber would not only damage U.S.-Turkish ties but have negative consequences for Armenia. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan indicated on October 16 that his government would be even more unwilling to unconditionally normalize ties with Yerevan.

"Those who expect openings from Turkey will be left alone with their problems," Erdogan said. "They will have to pay the cost of their hostility towards an important country like Turkey."

"I don't understand what the Turks are saying," Armenian Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian told the Associated Press news agency in Washington on Tuesday. "We have no relations now. We cannot harm something that is non existent."

While reaffirming Yerevan’s support for the House bill, Sarkisian stressed that his country does not view genocide recognition as a precondition for improving relations with Turkey.

Successive Turkish governments have made the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border and establishment of diplomatic relations conditional on a settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and a halt to the decades-long campaign for international recognition of the Armenian genocide. The U.S. has for years tried unsuccessfully get them to drop those preconditions. It has also urged Armenia to explicitly rule out territorial claims to Turkey.

In Bryza’s words, many officials in Ankara now recognize the need to reconsider Turkey’s policy towards Armenia. “It is outrageous that the [Turkish-Armenian] border is closed,” the official said. “I think that there are a lot of people in the upper reaches of the Turkish government who recognize that an open border would change the strategic map here in a very positive way. I hope that we can convince everybody in the region, including in Azerbaijan, that that’s indeed the case.”

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OTHER VOICES: Tibet vs. Turkey

October 24, 2007
Bedford Times Register, OH

There was quite a scene in the Capitol rotunda: President Bush and many members of Congress honoring the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, with the Congressional Gold Medal. China is terribly upset with the U.S. over the award. But the honor is certainly warranted; the Dalai Lama is a compelling figure in the global fight for justice.

That came on the heels of stories about some members of the House of Representatives scuttling away from earlier support for a nonbinding resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide. They fear Turkey's wrath, and want to protect military supply routes to Iraq that run through Turkey.

So the president is willing to anger China, a world power, and members of Congress jostle each other to get a photo-op with the Dalai Lama, but they don't want to risk making Turkey mad over historically established events that cost the lives of 1.5 million Armenians.

The United States has been willing to condemn past and present genocides, including the Holocaust and more recent atrocities in Cambodia, Darfur, Ukraine and Bosnia.

But not, apparently, in Armenia. Bush, the State Department, the Pentagon and a high-powered group of former U.S. officials --paid by Turkey -- have been working overtime to derail the Armenian genocide resolution.

This has turned into a serious test of the moral fiber of the House of Representatives. How will it fare?

(Reprinted from Fresno (Calif.) Bee)

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Turkey’s Hidden Agenda

Octoaber 24, 2007
Kurdish Aspect, CO

Kurdish National Congress of North America
Turkey will always find an excuse to carry out its hidden agenda and blame others for the result. Why? Because they have been successful in the past committing the genocide of Ottoman Armenians under the guise of WWI and the world kept silent. No more silence. It is not the same world. It is Turkey that needs to adjust to the new world. This is one trick which is not going to work this time. If Turkey wants to be a regional power it must behave responsibly including the recognition of the genocide of the Ottoman Armenians.
Press Release

Since Turkey’s establishment, its pseudo-democratic policy has been discriminatory and inhumane towards all non-Turkish populations in Anatolia, including the Kurds. Under the pretext of fighting terrorism, the Turkish military has used every violent mean to suppress Kurdish rights. At times Kurds have been led down a path of violence that only has hurt the Kurdish cause. The violence had given Turkey the ammunition it needs to do its dirty deeds against the Kurds, who have tried to resolve their situation by political means.

For over a year Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan has resisted pressure from the Turkish Generals and the ultra-nationalist MHP to enter Iraqi Kurdistan to attack Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) forces. What has changed that now makes Mr. Erdogan request such authorization from the Parliament?

On October 11 the US House Foreign Affairs Committee adopted a resolution labeling the Turkish attacks on Armenians in the period 1915-1923 as genocide. The bill now moves on to the US Congress for a vote. This provoked immediate, angry reaction from the Turkish Government. Now the Turkish Government attempts to pressure the US to stop the vote on the resolution by approving authorization to invade Iraqi Kurdistan.

By threatening to destabilize the only safe area in Iraq, endangering the American army, and to cut the US supply routes to Iraq and Afghanistan by closing down the American airbase in Turkey, the Turkish Government hopes to stop the US Congress vote on the Armenian resolution. This is a test for the US Government. Will they protect the Kurds, their only allies in Iraq, or will they give in to Turkish demands? The US must bear in mind the Turkish Parliament’s 2003 vote denying American troops access through Turkey for the invasion Iraqi.

What are the motivations behind the Turkish Parliament authorization to enter Kurdistan of Iraq? Their ultimate goals are to destroy the achievements of the Kurdistan Regional Government and to stop the referendum on Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution – the vote to determine the fate of Kirkuk.

The Kurdish National Congress condemns the vote by the Turkish Parliament authorizing Prime Minister Erdogan to send Turkish troops into Kurdistan of Iraq to pursue PKK fighters. We call on the Turkish government to solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey peacefully and democratically, not through military action.

We call on the United States Government, the United Nations and the European Union to pressure the Turkish Government to solve the Kurdish problem in Turkey through political dialogue in order to avoid further bloodshed in the region.

We call on the Iraqi Government to stand firmly with the Kurdistan Regional Government to defend their land from any attack carried out by a neighboring country.

In case of an incursion to Southern Kurdistan we at KNC-NA invite all Kurds, friends of Kurds, and all human rights activists around the world to join us in counteracting the Turkish state terror with peaceful means including gathering in front of every consulate and embassy of the Turkish state around the world until they end their violence and negotiate a mutually agreeable solution.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Forget Turkey

Tuesday, October 23, 2007
New Republic
by Irshad Manji
The only remaining superpower in this world has responsibilities beyond its borders. The moral issue stands high in exercising this responsibility. Some cynics would say that America has already lost its moral standing and recognizing the Armenian genocide will not restore it. But I agree with Irshad that even the longest trip starts with a first step. Whether the time has come for such a step depends on the fortitude of the full Congress. The reason for being an ally should not override the reason for telling the truth no matter how much it hurts. If America waivers then it is a discredit to itself. Likely Turkey will show less respect towards America in the future.
What the Armenian Genocide Resolution Is Really About

Now playing on Capitol Hill: a political drama over whether Turkey deserves denunciation for its mass deportation and murder of Armenians starting in 1915, otherwise known as genocide.

Initiated by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, this symbolic vote has sparked more than symbolic anger from at the White House--and from the Turkish government itself. The Bush administration insists that now is the not the time to be offending Turkey, which borders Iraq and provides the United States with key access routes in its war on terror.


The timing of this resolution should raise questions--all the more so because of who initiated it: Democrats in Congress. They are the gang for whom success in today's Iraq, not slaughter in yesterday's Turkey, is the signal issue in America. HBO's Bill Maher nailed that point when he quipped, "This is why the voters gave control of the House to the Democrats. To send a stern message to the Ottoman Empire."

Still, there is at least one important reason to recognize the Armenian genocide now, and it relates directly to America's implosion in Iraq: Democracy has been redefined not just in the Middle East, but also in the United States. These days, American politicians must pay attention to "voters" who live well beyond their shores.

As House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has put it, "Some of the things that are harmful to our troops relate to values--Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, torture.... Our troops are well-served when we declare who we are as a country and increase the respect that people have for us as a nation."


America remains the only country in the world with a universal constituency. Domestic politics in the United States often have a profound effect in every corner of the earth, from determining immigration flows and investment patterns to handing leaders and their heirs the excuses they crave to blur the lines between God and government.


How many countries enjoy a reach so long and far that non-citizens would care enough to want a say in its leader--or journalists would care enough to speculate how the rest of the world would vote?

America's universal constituency is what House Democrats are acknowledging in their Armenian genocide resolution.


The campaign is on. Welcome to democracy.

IRSHAD MANJI, author of The Trouble with Islam Today and senior fellow with the European Foundation for Democracy, is writing a book about the need for moral courage in an age of self-censorship.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Turkey as a Regional Power

October 23, 2007 20 30 GMT
By George Friedman
If Turkey is on its way to become a regional power as the article below says, it is more important for the world to stand up to the Turkish denial of the Armenian genocide. Turkey will only seek stability through domination. It already knows which ropes to pull to get its own way. America was largely behind making Turkey what it is today. America is now reduced to begging Turkey to keep the regional stability. What a reversal in fortunes this is. And this is just the beginning. If this is not a wake up call for America I do not know what is.
[...]it is difficult to imagine that the Turks won't move into northern Iraq and re-establish the sphere of influence and security they had during the Saddam Hussein era. The United States is working furiously to satisfy Turkey by taking responsibility for controlling the PKK. It is not clear whether the United States can deliver, nor is it clear whether the Turks are prepared to rely on the United States. Some move into Iraq is likely, in our mind, but even if it doesn't happen in this particular case, tensions between Turkey and the United States will remain. More important, Turkey's willingness to play a secondary role in the region is declining.

[...] the Turks did not want a rupture with the United States -- given that the relationship has been the foundation of Turkish foreign policy since World War II. The refusal of the European Union to admit Turkey in particular made it necessary for Ankara to preserve its relationship with Washington. Therefore, although the invasion was problematic for the Turks, they have cooperated with the United States, allowing a large portion of the supplies for U.S. troops in Iraq to come through Turkey.

[...] Turkey's perception is that it already is dealing with the post-war world, one in which an increasingly bold Iraqi Kurdistan is pursuing a policy of expanding Kurdish autonomy by facilitating a guerrilla war in Turkey. The PKK's actions in recent weeks confirm this view in their mind. They also believe they cannot deal with the Kurdish challenge defensively, and therefore they must defend by attacking. Hence, the creation of a security zone in Iraq.

From the Kurds' point of view, if there ever was a moment to assert their national rights, this is it. However, their highly risky gamble is that the United States will not chance an anti-American uprising in Iraq's Kurdish areas and so will limit the extent to which Turkey can intervene. Moreover, with the United States at odds with Iran, it might support a Kurdish uprising there. Hence, though the stakes are high, the Kurdish gamble is not irrational.

The Kurds in Iraq are correct in their view that the United States does not want conflict in the one area in Iraq that is not anti-American. They also are correct that this is a unique moment for them. But they are betting that the Turks don't recognize the danger and thus will place their interests second to those of the United States -- which is more concerned with stability in Iraqi Kurdistan than with suppressing attacks in Turkey's Kurdish areas. Although this might have been true of Turkey 10 years ago, it no longer is true today. The U.S.-Turkish relationship has flipped. The United States needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the United States -- for reasons beyond getting supplies to Iraq.

[...] Turkey and Iran have a common interest in preventing an independent Kurdish nation anywhere, the more the United States supports the Iraqi Kurds, the greater the danger of an Iranian-Turkish alliance. At the moment, that is the last thing the United States wants to see, which is why the resolution on Turkish responsibility for Armenian genocide in the U.S. Congress could not possibly have come at a worse moment.

[...] Turkey is the heir to the Ottoman Empire, which at various points dominated the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus and deep into Russia. Its collapse after World War I created an oddity -- an inward-looking state in Asia Minor. Cautious in World War II and strictly aligned with the United States during the Cold War, Turkey played a passive role: It either sat things out or allowed its strategic territory to be used.

The situation has changed dramatically. [...] Turkey should be viewed as a rapidly emerging regional power -- or, in the broadest sense, as beginning the process of recreating a regional hegemon of enormous strategic power, based in Asia Minor but projecting political, economic and military forces in a full circle. Its willingness to rely on the United States to guarantee its national security ended in 2003. It is prepared to cooperate with the United States on issues of mutual interest, but not as a subordinate power.


Its current stance on the Kurdish issue is merely a first step. What makes that position important is that Turkey is pursuing its interests indifferent to European or American views. Additionally, the reversal of dependency between the United States and Turkey is ultimately more important than whether Turkey goes into Iraq. The U.S. invasion of Iraq kicked off many processes in the world and created many windows of opportunity. Watching Turkey make its moves, we wonder less about the direction it is going than about the limits of its ambition.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


When truth offends honour

Oct 23, 2007 04:30 AM
The Star
Mark Abley

One of the stupidest trends in Canadian education has been the decline in history teaching. History is a regular victim when school boards and education departments decide that glossy topics like "information technology" outweigh the past.

The trend is unfortunate for many reasons. One of them is this: We can't understand the contemporary world without some grasp of what formed it and deformed it.

Consider the uproar about a resolution now before the U.S. Congress, defining the Turkish killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1923 as "genocide." To Turkey's rulers, and most of its people, the idea is an outrage – an offence against national honour.

Those events happened so long ago that few eyewitnesses remain. One of the oldest survivors, Arousiag Aghazarian, died in Montreal last month at the age of 104. Throughout her adult life she was haunted by the memory of a girl's decapitated head in a pile of body parts, ribbons still attached to her ponytail.

Nearly all Armenians are convinced that their people's destruction was carefully planned. Before the atrocities, 2 million of them lived in the Ottoman Empire (the precursor to modern-day Turkey); about 500,000 survived.

Turkey, however, insists that the killings took place on a much smaller scale. It notes that most occurred in wartime, when the Ottomans were battling Russia; they saw Armenians as an internal enemy.

The rhetoric on both sides is heated. But the Armenians' evidence is strong. "I am confident that the whole history of the human race contains no such horrible episode as this," wrote Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to the Ottoman Empire. "The great massacres and persecutions of the past seem almost insignificant when compared to the sufferings of the Armenian race in 1915."

Empty rhetoric? Not if you read what Turkey's allies were privately saying. Richard von Kuhlmann, Germany's foreign minister in 1917, deplored "the large-scale destruction of the Armenians" and warned that "this policy of extermination will for a long time stain the Turkish name."

Some Turks were prepared to admit responsibility. Gen. Mehmet Vehib, a celebrated army commander, wrote in 1919: "The massacre and destruction of the Armenians and the plunder and pillage of their goods were the results of decisions reached by the Central Committee (of Turkey's ruling party)."

So why the endless genocide denial by Vehib's successors – a denial that continues to affect how events unfold in the Middle East today?

History is not a bare list of dates and events; history also involves story and psychology. For Turks to admit what many of their grandparents and great-grandparents did would be to acknowledge the most shameful act any people can commit. Small wonder the admission sticks in their throat.

A much smaller admission sticks in ours. From the day its new building opened in 2005, the Canadian War Museum was attacked by veterans' groups who charged that its display concerning the carpet-bombing of German cities during World War II had reproachful overtones.

The veterans finally won. Two weeks ago, the museum changed the display's wording – even though its previous label was factually correct. Viewers are now told: "Allied aircrew conducted this gruelling offensive with great courage against heavy odds."

That's not the point. Or rather, it shouldn't be. As history makes clear, Allied bombs killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people for very dubious military reasons. But we don't like an offence to our national honour.

And so, like the Turks, we sometimes close our eyes to the truth.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


Armenians Continue To Press Despite ADL's Flip On 'Genocide'

OCTOBER 22, 2007
JTA Wire Service
Penny Schwartz
Lexington, Mass.

Nearly two months after the Anti-Defamation League reversed itself by acknowledging the World War I-era massacres of Armenians as "tantamount to genocide," activists in the Boston area are pushing ahead with their campaign against the organization.


Speaking before the Lexington selectmen, Laura Boghosian, a longtime resident of Armenian descent, dismissed Foxman’s statement, calling it "disingenuous." She and others also criticized statements by Foxman endorsing Turkey's call for a joint commission to study the massacre.

Arzoumanian said that "it’s as if this is an issue between Armenians and Turks and not about truth."

"They’re asking us to sit down with the equivalent of David Irving to work something out as if history is a bazaar," he said, referring to the Holocaust denier.


This story reprinted courtesy of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

To read more, pick up a copy of the Jewish Times at one of our newsstand locations.

To purchase a subscription or send a gift subscription, fill out our on-line form.

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.

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Ahmadinejad Cuts Short Armenia Visit

Tuesday October 23, 2007 11:31 AM
Guardian Unlimited, UK

Associated Press Writer

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad cut short his two-day visit to Armenia on Tuesday and returned to neighboring Iran, an Armenian presidential spokesman said.

The Armenian government had expected Ahmadinejad to address parliament and, in what was likely to cause controversy, plant a sapling at a memorial commemorating the victims of what Armenians consider genocide.

He also had planned to visit the 18th century Blue Mosque in central Yerevan, which was rebuilt with Iranian funding after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.


The visit to the genocide memorial was the most sensitive part of his agenda, and he may have wanted to avoid the ceremony there so as not to risk causing tensions in relations with Turkey.


Ahmadinejad avoided taking sides on the issue Monday in a speech before Armenian university students, saying only that Iran condemns any crimes against humanity.

He has caused outrage in the past by suggesting that the Holocaust is a ``myth'' invented by Jews. An estimated 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust.


Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.


By Caving in to Turkish Threats, U.S. Is Held Hostage to Foreign Powers

October 25, 2007
By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier
While Turkey has poured millions of dollars into high-powered lobbying and public relations firms to inundate the mass media with denialist propaganda, it has lost its main argument that there was no genocide. Even the staunchest congressional opponents of the genocide resolution have acknowledged that Turks did commit genocide against the Armenians.
Incidentally, the Incirlik airbase in Turkey, which the Turks have threatened to close should Congress adopt the Armenian Genocide resolution, is actually not so vital for the U.S. war effort in Iraq, according to a top American commander. U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley stated in a Feb. 21, 2007 briefing: “I wouldn't say that we have to [use] Incirlik to conduct operations in Iraq.”
The Armenian Genocide resolution has now turned into a major tug of war between truth on one side and the combined might of the Bush administration, some American-Jewish organizations, Israeli leaders, the Turkish government and its high-powered lobbyists on the other side. The U.S. Congress has become the battleground for the hearts and minds of Americans.

While it is disturbing to read the daily barrage of denial by descendants of those who committed mass murder against the Armenian nation, it is much more upsetting to witness the leaders of the United States, the bastion of democracy and human rights, acting as spokesmen for liars and deniers.

It is absolutely appalling that the Bush administration is caving in to the pressures and blackmail of a quasi-fascist state, rather than rejecting Turkey’s threats and urging its leaders to face up to the truth and admit the facts of history. It is astounding to see how U.S. officials are groveling in front of Turkish denialists, instead of mustering the courage to tell them to get lost. After all, Turkey needs the United States much more than America needs Turkey. Should the Turks take any punitive action against American interests, they would end up losing much more than the United States.

While Turkey has poured millions of dollars into high-powered lobbying and public relations firms to inundate the mass media with denialist propaganda, it has lost its main argument that there was no genocide. Even the staunchest congressional opponents of the genocide resolution have acknowledged that Turks did commit genocide against the Armenians.

Moreover, a handful of American-Jewish organizations that still oppose the resolution have stated that they do so out of fear for the lives of the Jews in Turkey -- not exactly a ringing endorsement of human rights in that so-called democracy! Sooner or later, Turkey’s Islamist leaders are bound to take actions that contradict American and/or Israeli interests, thereby weakening the opposition to the genocide resolution.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Dem.-CA) has bravely stood her ground despite the recent onslaught of media criticisms against her and the betrayal of some of her own Democratic colleagues. She is neither intimidated by massive Bush administration pressures nor by Turkish threats. Incidentally, the Incirlik airbase in Turkey, which the Turks have threatened to close should Congress adopt the Armenian Genocide resolution, is actually not so vital for the U.S. war effort in Iraq, according to a top American commander. U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff General Michael Moseley stated in a Feb. 21, 2007 briefing: “I wouldn't say that we have to [use] Incirlik to conduct operations in Iraq.”

A core group of Democrats and Republicans, who probably constitute more than half of the House members, are still backing the Speaker’s stand on this morally just issue, despite the heavy-handed tactics of powerful and well-financed opponents of the resolution. In addition, there are many Republican House members who support the resolution, but have not publicly endorsed it in order to avoid being pressured by the administration.

Armenian-Americans need to rally to the support of this core group while providing political cover to the Speaker’s valiant efforts by blanketing the media with letters to the editor, op-ed columns, interviews with journalists, and full-page ads in newspapers and magazines. Such a massive campaign is necessary in order to counter all the lies that were spread through the media in recent days by well-connected public relations firms hired by Turkey at a cost of more than $300,000 per month. The negative articles and TV talk shows have created the false impression that the American public is against the genocide resolution, causing some congressional sponsors to go back on their word and remove their names.

While the Turks, due to their obsessive opposition to any and all references to the Armenian Genocide, have unwittingly globalized this issue, it is important that the Armenian community’s efforts continue unabated until this resolution is approved by the full House.

In next year’s primaries and general elections, the Armenian-American community should remember some of these turncoats and target them for defeat. Other ethnic groups have successfully practiced this method of making an example of politicians working against their interests.

This controversy carries an important lesson for U.S. policymakers. One needs to remember that appeasing Turkey would encourage other countries to also blackmail the United States, holding American policies hostage to foreign interests. Two recent examples of other countries lifting a page from the Turkish book of threats would suffice: Japan’s demand that Congress not pass a resolution to condemn the abuse of Korean "comfort women" by Japanese soldiers during WWII and Chinese threats to dissuade the White House from honoring the Dalai Lama.

By buckling under Turkish pressure, the U.S. government has left the door open not only for major powers like Japan and China, but also to lesser states to force the United States to take positions contrary to its values and interests.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

U.S. Denial of the Armenian Genocide

Stephen Zunes October 22, 2007
Foreign Policy In Focus www.fpif.org

Editor: John Feffer
In his piece below John Feffer makes a strong case why the full Congress should vote on the genocide. America is loosing its moral bearing fast. President George Bush while you had the chance you blew it. How can you honestly pray to God? Sorry God I am denying a genocide because I am fighting for freedom? Come on give us a break!
It continues to boggle the mind what the Democratic leadership in Congress will do whenever the Republicans raise the specter of labeling them “soft on terrorism.” They approve wiretapping without a court order. They allow for indefinite detention of suspects without charge. They authorize the invasion and occupation of a country on the far side of the world that was no threat to us and then provide unconditional funding for the bloody and unwinnable counter-insurgency war that inevitably followed.

Now, it appears, the Democrats are also willing to deny history, even when it involves genocide.

The non-binding resolution commemorating the Armenian genocide attracted 226 co-sponsors and won passage through the House Foreign Relations Committee. Nevertheless, it appears that as of this writing that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – in response to pressure from the White House and Republican congressional leaders that it would harm the “Global War on Terrorism” – will prevent the resolution from coming up for vote in the full House.

Call It Genocide
Ironically, Congress earlier this year overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for refusing to acknowledge the German genocide of the Jews. That same Congress, however, appears quite willing to refuse to acknowledge the Turkish genocide of the Armenians.

While awareness of anti-Semitism is fortunately widespread enough to dismiss those who refuse to acknowledge the Holocaust to the political fringe, it appears that tolerance for anti-Armenian bigotry is strong enough that it is still apparently politically acceptable to refuse to acknowledge their genocide.

The Turkey Factor
Opponents of the measure acknowledging the Armenian genocide claim argue that they are worried about harming relations with Turkey, the successor state to the Ottoman Empire and an important U.S. ally.

In reality, however, if the Bush administration and Congress were really concerned about hurting relations with Turkey, Bush would have never asked for and Congress would have never approved authorization for the United States to have invaded Iraq, which the Turks vehemently opposed. As a result of the U.S. war and occupation of Turkey’s southern neighbor, public opinion polls have shown that percentage of the Turkish population holding a positive view of the United States has declined from 52% to only 9%.

Turkish opposition was so strong that, despite the Bush administration offering Turkey $6 billion in grants and $20 billion in loan guarantees in return for allowing U.S. forces to use bases in Turkey to launch the invasion in 2003, the Turkish parliament refused to authorize the request. [...].

The United States has antagonized Turkey still further as a result of U.S. support for Kurdish nationalists in northern Iraq who, with the support of billions of dollars worth of U.S. aid and thousands of American troops, have created an autonomous enclave that has served as a based for KADEK (formerly known as the Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK), which Turkey considers a terrorist group. [...].

Since almost all House members who oppose this non-binding resolution on the Armenian genocide were among the majority of Republicans and the minority of Democrats who voted to authorize the invasion, antagonizing Turkey is clearly not the real reason for their opposition. [...].

Why a Resolution Now?
Another bogus argument put forward by President Bush and his bipartisan supporters on Capitol Hill is that Congress should not bother passing resolutions regarding historical events. Yet these critics have not objected to other recent successful congressional resolutions on historic events: recognizing the 65th anniversary of the death of the Polish musician and political leader Ignacy Jan Paderewski, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the American Jewish Committee, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz extermination camp in Poland, or commemorating the 150th anniversary of the first meeting of the Republican Party in Wisconsin, just to name a few.

These opponents of the resolution also claim that this is a “bad time” to upset the Turkish government, given that U.S. access to Turkish bases is part of the re-supply efforts to support the counter-insurgency war by U.S. occupation forces in Iraq. [...].

For deniers of the Armenian genocide, it is always a “bad time.”

The Bush administration, like both Republican and Democratic administrations before it, has refused to acknowledge that the Armenian genocide even took place. [...].

Similarly, Paul Wolfowitz, who served as deputy secretary of defense in President Bush’s first term, stated in 2002 that “one of the things that impress me about Turkish history is the way Turkey treats its own minorities."


Failure to pass a resolution calling on President Bush to acknowledge the genocide, then, amounts to an acceptance of his genocide denial.

Genocide Denial
Given the indisputable documentary record of the Armenian genocide, it would appear that at least some of those who refuse to go on record recognizing Turkey’s genocide of Armenians are, like those who refuse to recognize Germany’s genocide of European Jews, motivated by ignorance and bigotry. Claims that it would harm relations with Turkey or that the timing is wrong appear to be no more than desperate excuses to deny reality. If the Bush administration and members of Congress recognized that genocide took place, they should have no problem going on record saying so.

One problem may be that members of Congress, like President Bush, are themselves ignorant of history. For example, the Middle East scholar most often cited by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress as influencing their understanding of the region is the notorious genocide-denier Bernard Lewis, a fellow at Washington’s Institute of Turkish Studies. In France, where genocide denial is considered a criminal offense, he was convicted in 1996 following a statement in Le Monde in which the emeritus Princeton University professor dismissed the claim of genocide as nothing more than "the Armenian version of this story." The court noted how, typical of those who deny genocide, he reached his conclusion by “concealing elements contrary to his thesis” and “failed in his duties of objectivity and prudence.”

This is not to say that every single opponent of the resolution explicitly denies the genocide. Some have acknowledged that genocide indeed occurred, but have apparently been convinced that it is contrary to perceived U.S. national security interest to state this publicly. This is just as inexcusable, however. Such people are moral cowards who apparently would be just as willing to refuse to acknowledge the Holocaust if the Bush administration told them that it might also upset the German government enough to restrict access to U.S. bases.

Though it has been Democratic members of the House, led by California Congressman Adam Schiff, who have most vigorously led the effort this time to recognize the Armenian genocide, opposition to acknowledging history has been a bipartisan effort. In 2000, President Bill Clinton successfully persuaded House Speaker Dennis Hastert to suppress a similar bill after it passed the Republican-led Foreign Relations Committee by a vote of 40-7 and was on its way to easy passage before the full House. [...].

Not only is this a tragic affront to the remaining genocide survivors and their descendents, it is also a disservice to the many Turks who opposed their government’s policies at that time and tried to stop the genocide, as well as to contemporary Turks who face jail by their U.S.-backed regime for daring to acknowledge it. If the world’s one remaining superpower refuses to acknowledge the genocide, there is little chance that justice will ever be served.

Adolf Hitler, responding to concerns about the legacy of his crimes, once asked, “Who, after all, is today speaking of the destruction of the Armenians?” Failure to pass this resolution would send a message to future tyrants that they can commit genocide and not even have it acknowledged by the world’s most powerful countries.


As a result, the fate of the resolution on the Armenian genocide is not simply about commemorating a tragedy that took place 90 years ago. It is about where we stand as a nation in facing up to the most horrible of crimes. It is about whether we are willing to stand up for the truth in the face of lies. It is about whether we see our nation’s glory based on appeasing our strategic allies or in upholding our longstanding principles.

Stephen Zunes is Middle East editor for Foreign Policy in Focus . He is a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco and the author of Tinderbox: U.S. Middle East Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Common Courage Press, 2003.)

Note: Above are excerpts from the article. The full article appears here. Clarifications and comments by me are contained in {}. Deletions are marked by [...]. The bold emphasis is mine.