Turkey and the Armenians: Today’s Denial is Tomorrow’s Holocaust

Categories: Letters From Leadership

By Yossi Sarid

Congressman Adam Schiff, who proposed the resolution to name the Armenian massacre a genocide, is Jewish. The Jewish nation should be grateful for Schiff’s initiative, for he has saved Jewish honor in America, Israel and everywhere. He restored our humane image, in contrast to the cynics and genocide deniers who are forever demanding payment for being perpetual victims.

Congressman Schiff is following in the footsteps of another Jew, Henry Morgenthau, who served as U.S. ambassador in Turkey in those days. He called the massacre “the greatest crime in modern history.”

Schiff is also the student of another Jew, Franz Werfel, who on his way to the Land of Israel stopped in Damascus and was appalled to see “the starving, mutilated and sick Armenian refugee children.” He published the novel “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh” (1933), which shocked the world.

In 1918 Shmuel Talkovsky, then secretary of Haim Weizmann, wrote with Weizmann’s approval: “Is there any nation whose fate is more similar to ours than the Armenians?”

But in Israel today there are Jews who are less than Jewish and Zionists who are less than Zionist – including heads of state and heads of government. Denying another nation’s Holocaust is no less ugly than denying ours. It is also dangerous. Today’s denial is tomorrow’s Holocaust. The Armenian genocide wasn’t the first in this era. The German imperial army slaughtered 100,000 Namibians in 1904. In 1915, the Armenian genocide began; the Ottomans killed 1.5 million of them in various ways.

If the world had risen up in protest against the genocide of the Namibians and Armenians, the Holocaust of the Jews might also have been averted. This is not a mere assumption; it’s probably a fact. A week before invading Poland, Hitler addressed his officers (August 24, 1939): “It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak western European civilization will say about me … I have ordered my Death-Head Formation to kill mercilessly and without compassion men, women and children of Polish derivation and language. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Such was Hitler’s calming message to his troops.

The next time some Israel hater – Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for example – denies the Jewish Holocaust, and we raise a hue and cry about it, there will be some self-righteous Gentiles ready to say, “You’re right, but we have our own Turkeys.”

As natural and historic victims, we should be the ones to spread the message from one end of the world to another: what happened to us can happen again, to us and to the people of Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, Sudan, Burma.

There is no need to compare between holocausts to recognize other nations’ suffering.

w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m


Oct. 12, 2007

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