Saturday, March 6, 2010

None dare call it genocide.

An easy play on words, recalling John Stormer’s stalwart book of the 1960’s ‘None Dare Call it Treason’.

Today, all kinds of people are prepared to call many acts ‘treason’ – not always the right things, of course -- but society is much more willing to identify something as ‘treason’ than they were, back in 1964.

Today the word we can’t use is ‘genocide’ – or at least some of us can’t.

Not that we need any more examples to prove that the Community Organizer is a crass hypocrite, but one ongoing issue sticks in my craw more than most – I walk by that memorial pictured above very frequently, and every time I pass it, I cringe.

Really. That monstrous phallic symbol shouldn’t be there at all. What does it honor? Genocide. It’s there because of some high-handed political sophistry carried out several years ago, then installed with music, flags, speechifying, dancing girls and marching bands – I remember it well. I was there.

The problem is, tributes to Turkish soldiers shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere, much less in the State of Israel, a country born out of the ashes of the Shoah.

Let’s start at the beginning.

The monument pictured above is here in Beersheba and was erected to honor Turkish soldiers, the warriors of the Ottoman Empire. It’s located in a residential neighborhood, near the old Turkish Railroad Station where supply trains ran during the latter years of Turkish rule in these parts, until the Ottoman Empire bit the dust in 1918. It’s not the train station I object to – in fact, that’s an interesting building now under restoration, one which will be an asset as a tourist attraction.

It’s the monument I find offensive. My issue with honoring any Turkish soldiers – with monuments or anything else – is rooted in the fact that up to today, Turkey continues to refuse to admit, let alone apologize for, the Armenian Holocaust carried out by those Turkish soldiers.

The Armenian Holocaust, lesser known than the Nazi atrocities carried out against the Jews shortly thereafter, was the systematic attempt by the Turks to slaughter an ethnic minority, the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire during the years 1915-1923. It was the first of the modern attempts at ethnic cleansing: Armenians were rounded up, deported, massacred and/or forced into death marches with the intent that they would die in the process. The Turks systematically executed somewhere between a million and 1.5 million Armenians for no other reason than that they were Armenians.

The Turks also applied their extermination efforts against the Assyrians and Greeks, but the intensity of their attacks on the Armenians had no parallel until Hitler came along. In fact, Germany and the Turks were allies in WWI, and today, scholars see what the Turks and Germans did to the Armenians in 1915-1918 as a warm-up for the Germans and what they would shortly begin doing to the Jews of Europe.

It all started on April 24, 1915 when Ottoman authorities arrested about 250 Armenian intellectuals and other community leaders in Constantinople. The action spread, until ‘ordinary’ Armenians – men, women, children, none of them military combatants – were forced from their homes and made to march, at sword and gunpoint, for hundreds of miles until they perished in the desert of what’s now Syria. Rape, sexual abuse and torture were the order of the day.

The Armenians died of hunger, thirst and heat prostration. No food, water or shelter from the desert sun was provided. Some were herded into about 25 established concentration camps, where burning the hapless civilians alive became the preferred means of execution. Eitan Belkind -- a member of Nili, one of the early Jewish military organizations – had been assigned to infiltrate the Ottoman Army and was stationed at the headquarters of Camal Pasha. In his reports, Belkind wrote in detail about seeing 5,000 Armenians burned alive – forced into wooden buildings which were then set on fire. Entire villages were destroyed in that manner. One Russian official, sickened at the sight, reported that the stench of burning human flesh lasted for days.

Understand, there is no question that these events occurred -- hundreds of eyewitnesses, including the neutral United States and the Ottoman Empire's own allies, Germany and Austria-Hungary, recorded and documented numerous acts of state-sponsored massacres.

So what’s the problem? To this day, the government of Turkey has never admitted these acts, much less apologized. The Republic of Turkey – successor to the Ottoman Empire – insists, in almost the same words as those used by Jewish Holocaust deniers, something along the lines of, ‘deaths may have occurred, but those were turbulent times.’

It is Turkey’s abject refusal to recognize the premeditated, systematic and organized killing of Armenians, because they were Armenians, that should be required to take place before any ‘memorials’ to the Turkish soldiers who carried out these inhuman deeds should be erected. That being the case – that Turkey has never admitted the acts, never apologized, never admitted wrongdoing – why should the other nations of the world honor the ‘fallen Turkish soldiers’ who carried out those merciless deeds?

The existence of that monument is especially offensive for us here in Beersheba, in Israel. Would we erect a monument to the ‘valiant Nazi soldiers’ who fell during their attempts to eliminate the Jewish race? Of course not – and in quasi-mitigation of Germany, they at least have had the decency to admit their guilt and apologize, for whatever that’s worth. Not so, the Turks.

For going on a hundred years, now, the Turks have steadfastly refused to allow the word ‘genocide’ to be applied to what they did. That’s really funny – in the sense of gallows humor – because the very word ‘genocide’ was coined to describe their acts. It was in 1943 that a Polish-Jewish legal scholar named Raphael Lemkin coined the word to describe what the Turks did to the Armenians. He took the Greek word γένος (génos, “race, kind”) and combined it with the Latin gēns (“tribe, clan”), +‎ -cide to make our modern word, ‘genocide’.

It’s not that recognition of the atrocities hasn’t been demanded of the Turks. The international community has demanded it on a regular basis. In spite of Turkey’s absolute resistance, some 20 countries have officially recognized the Turkish acts as ‘genocide’.

But not the United States. The twenty countries that should be recognized for their courage – at least on this issue -- are: Argentina, Armenia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Lebanon, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Uruguay Vatican City and Venezuela.

Once again, it’s the pure hypocrisy of the Community Organizer and his Merry Men that’s most infuriating – not that saying one thing and doing another is uncommon, certainly not among these yahoos in the White House. But during the campaign, Barack Hussein Obama specifically promised, time and time again, that he would support a Congressional resolution to apply the world “genocide” to the Armenian Holocaust.

Now that he’s elected? He’s doing precisely the opposite – working hard against such a resolution.

On Thursday, the House Foreign Affairs committee passed the bill that recognizes the mass murders as “genocide.” The Community Organizer opposed it, saying that the bill “could damage ties between the US and Turkey.” In fact, the Community Organizer went so far as to personally telephone Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, offering reassurances that the legislation would not pass.

On Friday, Missus Bubba -- ole’ chipmunk cheeks herself -- told reporters that the Community Organizer’s administration would “work very hard to make sure it (the resolution) does not go to the House floor.”

So there you go – not only is The One breaking another campaign promise, a matter that’s hardly worthy of note anymore. But now in this matter – as in others -- he’s working to see that the elected representatives of ‘we, the people’ never get a chance to vote on the matter.

I guess he’s thinking that with him there, in the White House, making decisions, the opinion of the Congress and/or the American people isn’t really needed. After all, he knows best.

Well, one thing about that unfortunate Beersheba memorial to the Turkish soldiers – every time I see it, it has the desired effect: I remember the Turkish soldiers – but what I remember is what they did to the Armenians.

And now I’ll remember this, too: how hard the Community Organizer is working to deny historical reality.

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