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GENOCIDE? THIS AMERICAN SAYS ?NO!?

Renee ABRAMSON
05 November 2007 - Turkish Daily News
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!àáPce="Verdana" sizeÿâ "GENOCIDE? THIS AMERICAN SAYS ?NO!?Ê

The Anti Defamation League (ADL) has recently stated it supports the claim of an Armenian genocide occurrence. Does this come to anyone as a surprise? What else can we expect from a human rights group? The ADL is not a political group. The ADL is not Israel. It does not represent Israel (who has not taken a position). It does not represent the Jews. The ADL represents itself. That is all.

„%r certainly some lone member of Knesset, would support the claim on this sensitive issue of a possible genocide with an ally as close as Turkey is to Israel. Even more interesting is the time frame of this “ethnic cleansing” that the Armenians claim. During the same time that they claim the Turks set out to annihilated their entire existence, the Ottoman Empire was in Palestine, in Jerusalem . For centuries the Armenian Quarter had existed in Jerusalem. Why not start there? One would think that the Turks occupying Palestine would wipe out that quarter. Even back then it would probably take them all but an hour to do so. However, not only did the Armenians in Jerusalem, survive, but they thrived. There were no skirmishes. In fact, the Turkish Ottomans gave the Armenians, just as they had given the Jews, the freedom to practice their own religion.

  Must we Jews be reminded that on Mar. 28, 1949,  Turkey became the first country with a Muslim majority to formally recognize the State of Israel? Not only this but they were among the first nations to ratify Israel's Statehood. When 150,000 Spanish Jews fled the inquisition, the crusades and the Black Death, They repopulated Constantinople's (today's Istanbul) declining population. These Sephardic Jews settled in Constantinople, but also in Thessalonica which came to be known as "Mother of Israel" due to its large Jewish population.

  Do we forget that Turkey also served as a transit for European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution during the 1930s and 1940s? The Israeli foreign ministry has characterized its relations with Turkey as "perfect." With the dissolve of the Ottoman Empire, Israel has maintained a friendship for almost 90 years. These two countries train their armies together. If Israel had thought for a moment that their allies were capable of ethnic cleansing, then they would not have a long established friendship. If there were an ethnic cleansing, then the Armenian quarter that was long established for centuries would not have flourished during the Ottoman Empire.

 

This was war

  We Jews know what ethnic cleansing is. Probably more so than many other ethnic groups do. What happened to the Armenians was a horrific massacre and loss of life. Was every massacre throughout history motivated by ethnic cleansing? Certainly not. What Hitler tried to accomplish is a far cry from any Armenian so-called genocide. You cannot deny that many Armenians lost their lives as they were looking for a land of their own, however, what is not recognized is that the Armenians themselves inflicted as much damage as others in the hostilities of that time for their own selfish objectives. The Turk's only policy was the removal of Armenians from the front line with Russia, where they were collaborating with the Ottoman Empire's enemies. They were a threat to security. This is called war.

  Regarding persecution, the Ottomans had one of the most tolerant policies toward non-Turks of any empire of its day. The three communities of Jews, Greeks and Armenians were virtually autonomous within the empire. It cannot be denied that throughout history the Ottoman Empire unlike any other empire of its time allowed Jews to practice their own religion as well as many freedoms of their time. When the Ottoman Empire had taken over Jerusalem, had they tried to annihilate the strong presence of the Armenians who had their own quarter? Never. Could you say that the Russians committed genocide against the Circassians and Adyghes? If you could then the Armenians slaughtered 200,000 people including Turks and Kurds and Jews in Eastern Anatolia during Turkey 's Independence War while the Turks were fighting against the imperial powers of Europe on five fronts. Armenians took advantage of the Turks' weak position and waged a war against them by opening a new front. But, this was war.

  As a Jew, I have huge respect for the Ottoman Empire as they gave us freedom of religion to not only Jews but to the Christians as well. My grandfather was born under the Ottoman Empire in Jerusalem. We return to our history books that once again show us that the Ottomans allowed freedom of religion unlike every other empire that existed. This set the precedence for a friendship between Israel and Turkey . Once more, one does not befriend its enemy. Could it be that the Armenians massacred were only the victims of war?

  When the public is given the correct information, then we can make an intelligent choice. Our history books give us the proof as the Armenians had a complete alphabet at that time and kept good records as did the Ottomans. In 2007, however, history was ignored and replaced with slanting, propaganda and lies. The House's decision to rewrite history and rename the Armenian/Turkish conflict as genocide is ridiculous. Not even the United Nations or Israel has supported this as true. It was not racially motivated. There was no ethnic cleansing. If this held any truth then the Armenian quarter could have been wiped out in an hour but instead was respected by the Muslim Ottomans allowing the Armenian quarter to flourish and grow giving them freedom of religion. 

 

Genocide is being used as a loose term

  In a recent article in the Jerusalem Post Armenians in Israel led a small protest and were upset that Israel had not taken an official position. One would think that Israel would be the first country to define Genocide with its own history. The problem is that Genocide is being used as a loose term. Israel, a people who have tasted the bitterness of ethnic cleansing would be the first to declare this as genocide. They have had nearly 90 years to do so. Instead, they have befriended Turkey as the two nations train their military together and have become close allies.

  Here in the year 2007, nearly 100 years after the decline of the Ottoman Empire, Armenians are still trying wake the dead in this controversy. This is alike to Black African Americans looking for reparations for slavery. And like this it falls upon deaf ears. Society has little tolerance for people with a chip on their shoulder.

  It is not enough that this country had not learned from Vietnam and Iraq, but now the House wants to re-write history concerning the Armenian Turkish conflict. The problem is, the West is trying to judge history with respect to its own historical and cultural references. Racism is a Western concept, which didn't have a place in Turkish or Ottoman history and the West cannot understand anti-racist Ottomans. Annihilation is a Western concept and the West cannot understand the Ottomans which chose to let live instead of wipe out. Assimilation is a Western concept and the West cannot accept the fact that different ethnic groups could live together.

  Mainstream Western understanding has given the word "culture" a specific meaning and does not understand culture beyond that. And it chooses to denigrate what it does not understand. The problem is, the last real empire that the West had was the Roman Empire. Later so-called "empires" were only colonial formations, not real empires, and depended on exploitation and repression. Like ?lber Ortayl? said, the last Roman type empire was the Ottoman Empire.

  You can't really expect the (declining) Western powers to understand and appreciate something that is really different from their understanding of politics. That's like Americans appreciating Martian culture and politics. However while the House committee voted, acknowledging the Armenian Genocide, it disregarded the Azerbaijan Genocide of 1905-1907 by the Armenians. War is war. This claim of genocide happened as much as the Jews crucified Jesus. When will the House stop robbing Peter to pay Paul? The ADL, and like organizations such as CAIR and the NAACP should go back to their support of illegal immigrants rights as they have been doing and leave history to the books.

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