Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's Turkish for "First they came"?

The last few years have been marked by signs of genocide around the world. In the Second Congo War, the Pygmies were hunted down and eaten by both warring factions. More to the point, in Sderot a roof was broken by a Hamas missile two weeks ago.

But the world can't take any more massacres, be it of short black people or of Jewish real estate. That's why we have Holocaust Museums, and Holocaust experts who tour the world's auditoriums to preach their Never again message.

But, is it working?

Not according to Ben Cohen, an occasional contributor to Harry's Place. Under the title Antisemitism roars in Turkey, Cohen scares us out of our ignorance by painting a grim picture of the situation of Jews in Turkey:

There are people around the clock besieging the Israeli consulate in Istanbul shouting their hatred against Israel and Jewish people. All around Istanbul billboards are full of propaganda posters against Israel like; “Moses, even this is not written in your book” and “Israel Stop this Crime.” On the streets the people are writing such graffiti as: “Kill Jews,” “Kill Israel,” “Israel should no longer exist in the Middle East,” and “Stop Israeli Massacre.”

The week-end before, some people wrote, “We will kill you” on the door of one of the biggest synagogues in Izmir resulted in the closing down of synagogues. Near Istanbul University, a group put a huge poster on the door of a shop owned by a Jew: “Do not buy from here, since this shop is owned by a Jew.” A group put posters on his wall saying that: “Jews and Armenians are not allowed but dogs are allowed.” Some young people are even threatening others with violence if they are seen as pro-Israel in social networking websites such as Facebook and Hi5.

However, I ask for Cohen's forgiveness if I'm a bit skeptical about his post. In a world in which the Lord's Revolutionary Army kidnaps young children in Uganda and brainwashes them into guerrilla fighters, are a few hate posters such a big deal?

Of course, it can be argued that, because Cohen is Jewish, the LRA's horrible practices are not as important to him as attacks that are related to the Jewish community. In that case, one wonders why he didn't write a post on this Jewish-community-related incident:

Extremists spray-painted "Mohammed is a pig" and "Death to Arabs" early Sunday on the walls and doors of the Sea Mosque in Jaffa, sparking the fury of the Islamic Movement in the mixed Arab-Jewish city.

The hate slogans also included "Kahane was right," a reference to the slain Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the outlawed anti-Arab Kach movement, and "No peace without the House of Peace," alluding to the Hebron structure from which dozens of far-right activists were evicted earlier this month.

Haaretz, 21 Dec 2008

But, more importantly, it's startling that Cohen manages to write a full post on Turkey without addressing the shameful attitude of Israel, Zionism and the organized Jewish comunity vis-à-vis the state's brutal assault on other minorities. In a country that murdered or expelled Armenians, Greeks and Kurds, with the Jews remaining silent, it was a matter of time before the Jewish community itself would be targeted.

Particularly outrageous is organized Jewry's refusal to acknowledge, and in some cases outright denial of, the Armenian Genocide. Here's a short reminder:

  • In 1982, the Israeli government asked Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel not to attend the International Conference on the Shoah and Genocide held in Tel Aviv, because the Armenian genocide would be discussed there. Wiesel gave in to the pressure and boycotted the conference, under the aliby "I can't do anything against Israel's will."
  • In 2001, then-Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made the astonishing claim that the Armenians – 1.5 million of whom were slaughtered by Ottoman Turks in 1915 – never experienced a genocide. He went so far as to refer to the Armenian account of the mass slaughter as "meaningless".
  • In 2007, Bernard Lewis, one of the main propounders of the concept of a "new antisemitism," had this to say to Haaretz: "The meaning of genocide is the planned destruction of a religious and ethnic group, as far as it is known to me, there is no evidence for that in the case of the Armenians." For remarks in a similar vein published in Le Monde, Lewis had been found guilty of genocide denial by a French court the previous year.
  • The US Jewish community has sabotaged repeated times efforts to give Congressional recognition to the Armenian Genocide. Among the institutions involved in the repulsive drive were the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), B'Nai Brith, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC)..

As can be seen, the government of Israel, Zionist and Jewish institutions, and Jewish-studies scholars have repeatedly engaged in efforts to downplay and in fact deny the Armenian genocide. The excuse given was that acknowledging it would endanger the position of the Jewish community in Turkey. If what Cohen reports is accurate, it looks like the brilliant strategy has failed and they sold their intellectual honesty for a bowl of lentils.

In fact, that's what would be suggested by the poem found at the house of Martinesip Niemollerzöglu, a Turkish Jew who committed suicide days ago:

First they came for the Armenians — and I said nothing because I’m not an Armenian.

Then they came for the Greeks — and I didn’t speak up because I’m not a Greek.

Then they came for the Kurds — and I remained quiet because I’m not a Kurd.

Now they come for me — I always said they were a bunch of antisemites!!!


levi9909 said...

Cohen signed the Return statement calling for the abolition of Israel's Law of "return" and the right of Palestinians to return. He never talks about it these days.

Ernie Halfdram said...

Ermeniler için ilk geldiler...

Ibrahim Ibn Yusuf said...

Ernie, congratulations on your Turkish or your automatic translation (check the appropriate option).

Mark, rest assured that he's not the first or the most notorious born-again Zionist. His case is by no means as extreme as Benny Morris's.

About Medicine Blog said...

The week-end before, some people wrote, “We will kill you” on the door of one of the biggest synagogues in Izmir resulted in the closing down of synagogues.