Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

My Thoughts About The 1915 Armenian Genocide, The Turks, The Jews, America, Israel and Perhaps a Way Out…by Robert M. Katzman

THE PROBLEM: (My perspective on this intense topic was first written on 10/23/07 and briefly updated on 12/16/08. In 2/20/12, I added significant and unexpected thoughts about where things are going and ought to go. I was originally totally neutral. Now, less so.The entire article remains intact, including critical commentary toward me, etc. I don’t matter, but I do care about increasing political insanity. Written 14 years ago, i just wanted to help.

As Theodore Roosevelt once said (at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on April 23, 1910) in effect,”If a person wants to express an opinion, get into the arena and be willing to expect the blows that follow.” Not an exact quote. Ok, I’m in the arena. Where are you?

(Original Article:)

I was wondering about the complex issue of where American Jews should stand in regards to the 1915 genocide of 1.5 million Armenians at the hands of the Ottoman Turks; Israel’s very good current military and economic relationship with Turkey; America’s military vulnerability if the Turk’s withdraw their use of Turkey as a staging area for resupplying our troops in Iraq and how can we demand the world must remember our slaughtered families and not acknowledge the Armenians frustration, anger and pain with little international recognition of their people’s losses?

Personally, I find it to be a conundrum because of the vastly evolved current circumstances from what they were 92 years ago. All positions are effectively, correct.

If we antagonize the Turks, everybody loses and the benefit to the Armenians is something that can’t be measured. If we ignore the Armenians, it undermines the Jews’ moral foundation that the World should recognize and deplore all national, religious, racial, etc. slaughter. The debate is dividing Jews from Jews and all sorts of other combinations in this country.


Not that anyone asked me, or anything like that, but after deliberating about the Turkey / Armenia nexus, I decided that the only viable way out (if I was in a position to mediate) that would leave the US –Turkey relationship intact and all that that entails and not risk American Jews causing a rift between Israel and Turkey by their support of a congressional resolution condemning Turkey for genocide in 1915, known as Nahadagas Or (Genocide Day, in Armenian) would be to drop the House resolution as a sop to Turkey, disengage the US Government from any further criticism of our current and strategic ally and have top US leaders meet in a bi-partisan effort to assuage the politically powerful and wealthy Armenian/American community.

Then what?

Let’s say that a diverse group of wealthy and influential people met in a room in a nice hotel in, say, Manhattan, including represenatives of all the groups mentioned above. Smart, politically realistic people who want to actually make something happen..and not talk about it…forever. But also people of maturity and wisdom who not only know how to keep their mouths shut and their egos in check.

A new, but somewhat less explosive “Manhattan Project”.

I’d recommend that the Armenians and ONLY the Armenians buy an appropriate piece of land someplace in this country (but not in the U.S Capitol) and build their own Holocaust Museum, privately, with only Armenian names on a plaque thanking contributors.

In that same room, I’d suggest that if anyone there….Jews, Protestants, Muslims or Americans of all kinds, etc…wanted to help out, to do it privately, through some financial mechanism that would not reveal their participation and support. Ditto for all sympathetic people who comprehend the impossible situation. It wouldn’t hurt if some of the more empathetic and wealthy Turks made secret donations to this cause as well, as a gesture of healing…new generation to new generation.

Armenians would get the message that there is more than one way to accomplish their goal of receiving international recognition of their national loss almost a century ago, and perhaps the great grandchildren of those Armenians and Turks might each make some overtures toward reconciliation and not continuing their condemnation of modern day Turks for the sins of their ancestors. Things do change.

This way, the Armenians would get a memorial that would state their case permanently, for anyone who cared to know, and the Turks couldn’t blame our government, because we’re a free society and private individuals can build memorials to themselves, if they choose to. The politically powerful Turks ruling Turkey, pragmatic people who see the bigger picture and also want all this to go away, would appreciate the clever conspiracy of silence that would restore things to the prior mostly cooperative relationship.

Maybe America would make a little more effort to try to get the European Union to accept Turkey into their currently all-Christian private club. Or appear to try to. Symbolism is everything, where delicate egos and national pride are concerned. Finally, Israel could maintain its currently very positive and productive relationship with the Middle-East’s largest non-Arab Muslim state.

Nobody asked my opinion, but I saw this as a puzzling knot and I wanted to attempt to untangle it.

If you, the Readers of this story, think these are interesting ideas, feel free to forward it to Nancy Pelosi, or to Republican leaders with my blessings, so everyone can move on.

Or not.

Why don’t I call someone myself, if I’m so smart?

Once, long ago when I was deeply imbedded in the Chicago Daley Machine (as a tiny screw) for 20 years, I knew everyone: powerful alderman, major local Jewish chieftains like Marshall Korshack who could get anything fixed in this city (his brother was a mob lawyer in LA) the head of the Chicago Building Department (an elegant and petite black man, who was extremely negotiable if one was delicate in one’s approach) and so on. When Daley died and my world gradually imploded, there was no one left to call.

Now it seems like I live a kind of half-life, remembering and recording what once was.

So, Readers, the reason I offer these ideas to you is because even though I seem to be persistently invisible, my aspirations to being on a stage reading from my books aside, I know this is a very direct, reasonable, plausible solution that will work for all sides. I’ve been in politics, or at the mercy of politicians, all of my life. I know how they think and I know how to mediate really sticky situations.  I bet some of you out there know smart, influential and powerful people. Maybe one of them will see what I sent to you and say,

Aha! This is so simple. Why didn’t I think of it?

I know that this would work. If you think there is real merit to what I suggest, tell someone who knows someone who is local and/or powerful in Washington. It would be irresponsible for me to believe that I understand something and not try to do something about it.

What’s the point of my going to Torah study classes and Talmud classes, as I do every week, if I do nothing when there is a chance to do something good?  So, Reader, if you call someone, then you’ll be doing a good thing too.

There’s probably something in Talmud about that, too, isn’t there?


Significant Follow-up Developments Since This Story Was First Written: 

The forces and attitudes on both sides of the historical dispute were so frozen in their positions, concerning the truth about the history of those times early in 1900, that any effort to soften all the rigidity seemed impossible for anyone to make a difference. Then this happened:

This  difficult-to-believe story was published in The New York Times on Tuesday, December16, 2008:

Turkey: Apology for Armenian Killings

A group of about 200 prominent Turkish intellectuals issued an apology on the Internet on Monday for the World War I-era massacres of Armenians in Turkey.

The group of academics, journalists, writers and artists avoided using the contentious term “genocide,” referring to the killings of more than a million Armenians by the Ottoman Turk government from 1915 to 1918 as a “great catastrophe.”

While Turkey does not deny that many died, it has rejected the word genocide and has prosecuted people who have publicly acknowledged Turkish culpability for it.  The statement said in part:

I reject this injustice, share in the feelings and pain of my Armenian brothers, and apologize for them.”

There were no threats of legal action from the government on Monday.


As a liberal and fair-minded American Jew with no prejudices, I view this as a remarkably positive development.  Tiny Armenia could never have forced it, or ever threatened Turkey militarily, so it is a heartening moment of moral and compassionate reconsideration by a major Asian/European regional power.

As someone who views the election of Barak Obama to be the next United States President as the closest I will ever get to a “Second Coming”, my feeling is that if a person or group of people have the courage and honesty to admit responsibilty for an action their country is accused of committing 93 years ago, and if I was an Armenian, I believe I would offer my hand in friendship if not to the Turkish government, then at least to the Turkish People and bless them for letting the restless souls of my dead ancestors finaly rest in peace.

No, I am not Armenian, but at the age of 58 I have ceased to blame the present day Germans for their grandparents savage killing of my doomed European relatives, sixty-five years ago. Life goes on, if all sides are willing.

Is the statement everything? No it isn’t.  Is it a break in the historic moral standoff?  Yes it is. So why not be equal to the Turk’s brave gesture and return a statement of friendship and appreciation, recognizing that at least some of the Turks, at possible legal risk to themselves, believe they know the truth are willing to say ‘Yes, this really happened and we’re sorry.’

It is what I would do, and I would thank God that such a statement was issued in my lifetime, so I could begin to find closure and start a new relationship with people who are my neighbors.  It is possible to start fresh.  It is possible to forgive people.  And, believe me I know, it can be very, very difficult to say:

“I admit my people did this terrible thing to your people, please forgive me.”  

Think about it. There is a time to embrace your old enemies and give new friendships a chance to grow.

I wish everyone involved: Peace, and healed hearts.

Robert M. Katzman

(The news article I quoted above is copywritten by The New York Times Company.  I am using it for educational purposes only, and I am not using it in any way for commercial purposes.)

Lastly, my commentary, whatever people think of it, was written in October, 2007, or nearly five years ago since I’m adding this note in February 2012.  Yes, I know that Israel’s relationship with Turkey has gone to hell and much of the Middle-East has had revolutions. I also know, am sure, that at some point Syria’s present 2nd generation dictator/leader has a death wish or he’d get out of Syria now before his own army’s generals kills him to save themselves from the wrath of the larger population.

Maybe death is better than giving up absolute power.  Insane.

What do I think, five years later? Turkey is rising and wants to be more powerful in the region.  Israel needs better leaders because what’s happening both inside and outside of that country can be fatal to it. Inside, religious civil war.  Outside, Iran.  Israel needs more friends than just the USA.  If I ran Israel, honestly, I’d bomb Assad’s military into submission to protect the Syrian people.

The world already hates Israel, so no one would expect it.  It would be a selfless act on Israel’s part, embarrass the rest of the world which does nothing to protect the people of Syria and force the world’s powers to see Israel as more than an entity unto itself, or just a vassel state of America. Perhaps Turkey and Saudi Arabia would reconsider their relationship with Israel.  Syria’s people certainly would.  Israel’s aid to to Syria’s struggle would be a lot more important than the Golan Heights issue.

If some evil entity attacted Canada, would America, Canada’s closest neighbor, wait for an invitation to come to Canada’s aid? So, Israel helping Syria, what the hell’s the difference?

I don’t think its all about Jews, Muslims, Christians and power.  I think that its all about people/governments doing the right thing. That’s why I’ll never have political power.

I don’t know any Syrians, but I sure care about what’s happening to them.

America, Turkey, Israel, Armenia: What’s a Syrian life worth?  As much as your own?

Then do something.

Publishing News! 

Bob Katzman’s two new true Chicago books are now for sale, from him!
Vol. One: A Savage Heart and Vol. Two: Fighting Words

Gritty, violent, friendship, classic American entrepreneurship love, death, heartbreak and the real dirt about surviving in a completely corrupt major city under the Chicago Machine. More history and about one man’s life than a person may imagine.

Please visit my new website: https://www.dontgoquietlypress.com
If a person doesn’t want to use PayPaI, I also have a PO Box & I ship anywhere in America.

Send me a money order with your return and contact info.
I will get your books to you within ten days.
Here’s complete information on how to buy my books:

Vol 1: A Savage Heart and Vol. 2: Fighting Words
My books weigh almost 2 pounds each, with about 525 pages each and there are a total together of 79 stories and story/poems.

Robert M. Katzman
Don’t Go Quietly Press
PO Box 44287
Racine, Wis. 53404-9998  (262)752-3333, 8AM–7PM

Books cost $29.95 each, plus shipping

For: (1)$3.95; (2)$5.95; (3)$7.95; (4)$8.95 (5)$9.95;(6) $10.95

(7) $11.95; (8) $12.95; (9)$13.95 (10)$15.95 (15)$19.95

I am also for hire if anyone wants me to read my work and answer questions in the Chicago/Milwaukee area. Schools should call me for quantity discounts for 30 or more books. Also: businesses, bookstores, private organizations or churches and so on.

My Fighting Words Publishing Co. four original books, published between 2004 and 2007 are now out-of-print. I still have some left and will periodically offer them for sale on my new website.


Comment by Don Larson

October 23, 2007 @ 8:35 pm


You offer a reasonable solution.

I don’t see what the value is for Americans to go back generations and say what was wrong about what happened in another part of the world with a Congressional resolution.

Where does it stop? That China killed off millions of people during the revolution? That Stalin killed off millions during his purge? That the Protestants killed women as witches by burning them at the stake? That the Catholics in Europe killed people during the Spanish Inquisition? That the Romans killed people and made slaves out of others? That Egypt conquered the Jews (until Moses anyway)? That Homo Sapiens killed off the Neanderthals?

It’s ridicules to go back in history now and condemn acts that happened then. At the current time is the only time to condemn acts, not decades later.

I’m against the Congressional Resolution, it’s a stupid idea and we in America have much more to be concerned with in current events.


Comment by bob katzman

October 24, 2007 @ 9:23 am

I appreciate your encouragement, Don.

It took me a while to decide to post my thoughts on such a sensitive
topic. I agree with the thrust of your response. This situation was a new
kind of stupid that required some sensitivity—something our government
isn’t famous for.

One comment tho’. I think there is plenty of evidence about the survival of
the Neanderthals. There are at least several thousand currently working
in Washington, DC and in outlying field offices. What other explanation
could there possibly be for the stunted level of intelligence available for
running this country?

If I wanted to start an unprovoked war, I’d attack Indiana. It’s
conveniently close, reachable by truck, plane, skateboard, canoe…has good
weather most of the time…really pretty girls for R & R…barely acceptable
restaurants ( a major negative factor in atacking Indiana, but then, it’s
closer than Michigan and Ohio)… a small population and there would be no
major language barriers, unless the battles continued toward the southern
part of the state. Would Missouri,Tennessee or Kentucky come in on the
Illinois side or the Indiana side? It would probably be wise to check that
out before we attacked. As it would have been in Iraq, too. Oh well, kill
and learn………….


Comment by Kent Sezen

October 30, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

It is funny that I have a 1960’s History book by a well known American Professor who stated that the Armenians first killed the Turks (30,000 plus massacred). The Turks then had to pull troops from the war front to stop the Armenians. The Turks then marched the Eastern Armenians to Syria. The Turks did not have proper supplies, food and coordination. Many Armenians died on this march (200,000 plus). Of course the Turks couldn’t get supplies to many of their own troops as well. This book also states that 1.1 million Armenians lived in the ottoman empire. In the 1970’s I was told by several Armenian lecturer’s that 750,000 were killed. Then in the 1980’s I was told that 1 million were killed. Now the number is reaching 1.2 million. Where will this number stop at? I am now also told that a million Turks were killed by the Armenians.
So what is going on? Did the Armenians attack first with Russians providing assistance? Or did the Turks decide to kill the Armenians for no reason at all? If the Turks killed the Armenians, then how come they didn’t kill the Jews? The Jews are probably the most persecuted people on the planet. It all doesn’t make sense to me.

Comment by Bob Katzman

October 30, 2007 @ 9:42 pm

Kent, you summed up the situation precisely.

I don’t believe I know any Turks, but I can’t be sure of that. My high school biology teacher, (class of 1968) who just died, was Richard Boyajian, and he was a wonderful man. Beyond him, I can’t think of anyone else. The point being, I haven’t any personal relationships or ethnic prejudices to influence my perspective.

Nor do I have a vast and deep knowledge of either of their histories. I was thinking logically from an unbiased starting point about what would resolve this mess, keep our relationship with both angry parties on an even keel, not endanger America’s soldiers currently over there, which until very recently included my nephew, (and I am dead set against this mindless death machine of a “war” that is consuming so many thousands on both sides, just to keep everyone honest here) not somehow throw a monkey wrench into Israel’s very good relationship with her current friend and client, Turkey and allow all sides to save face and retire.

The first country I ever went to in Europe, in 1990 was Germany. As an American Jew, lately, a large number of my relatives in Eastern Europe were killed by the Germans in WWll. But my job required the trip and so, I went. After some time there, and meeting many, many young friendly Germans all over their beautiful country, I realized how pointless it was to carry my forty year old resentment across the Atlantic Ocean and blame millions of young citizens of Germany for crimes that happened decades before they were born. It wasn’t easy, and required some long conversations with my dead relatives and my own conscience. But I gave up my irrational antagonism toward the entire nation, as it was in 1990.

The same logic I wish the rest of the world would extend to the Death of Jesus Christ and today’s Jews. I wasn’t there, and I didn’t do it or know anyone who did.

To me, and I think I’m a rational, fair-minded guy, the plan I offered all parties concerned seemed doable and didn’t slight the Armenians, either. Was what happened in 1915 ok? Excusable? Proveable now?
No, no, and most likely.

But how many more lives should be ruined, how many present day political alliances be shrugged off, how many young people’s minds be filled with hate just to honor the memories of the slaughtered?

I say none of the above. My ideas give all Armenians a central place for the world’s Armenians to mourn their dead and remember them, wherever they build their memorial to them, in America, if they choose to do that, without poisoning today’s existing relationships.

Maybe there could be some kind of cultural exchanges between the young Turks in Turkey and young Armenians in Armenia and all over the world and let some friendships bloom.

I don’t hate the Palestinians or anyone in particular in the Mid-East, even tho’ I’m pretty close to my culture as a Jew. I bet several hundred million Muslims of all countries don’t hate me either. I am not blind to mistakes and prejudice in Israel, either. Rationality is not nothing. It is the basis of civilization.

Why don’t we in the United States figure out some way to get rid of the (present) Republican leadership in Washington and join the rest of the world in finding a way to cope with rising oceans before we all die hating each other? Is ethnic hatred more important than harnessing the sun, wind, and the tides to make our world last a little longer?

Not to this Jew.

Join me.

Comment by Don Larson

November 1, 2007 @ 9:21 am


Ethnic hatred is real to terrorists. They espouse their hatred for anyone not of their beliefs every day. They have killed by the tens of thousands, including Americans.

They are much more of a threat right now to the world than any speculation of rising tides in 100 years. To my knowledge, not one person in this world has died from the speculative rising tides.

But we are turning away from the topic of the original message. America has no business even considering stupid resolutions for things that happened so long ago outside of our borders.


Comment by bob katzman

November 1, 2007 @ 3:00 pm

Don, the best part of receiving a comment from you is receiving any comment at all from you, my friend.

I know your part of the country, southern Caifornia, has been terribly savaged by overwhelming walls of flame, almost biblical in their description by the evidently awed national press and is still on fire as I write this reply to you.

I am grateful you and your family were spared and I’m very sorry for the one’s who’s homes and lives were not. Whether you agree with me (rarely) or not, Don, keep writing. It keeps you in the arena, and honest dissenting voices keep all of us on our toes.

I believe I’ve stated my case as fully as I can between the original proposal and my two subsequent responses to you and the other man, Kent. Those suggestions are now available to be used by all people who agree with me, to send them to their Senators and Represenatives, or that large mob running for the presidentcy.

If I successfully found a way to express what many millions of fair-minded people everywhere feel represents their position as well, but couldn’t or didn’t want to put their thoughts into print–or whatever this new form of silent communication is called–then sieze this day and broadcast this plan wherever it will do the most good.

I’m no political genius, but I’m in there trying to do something to help. Please help me do that. One voice is never enough.

Comment by Don Larson

November 2, 2007 @ 7:51 am

Hi Bob,

Even though we rarely agree about some topics, I support your right to express yourself.

The problems all forms of communication have are that there are more information sources available than people to absorb them.

Every day, the world wide web grows with new voices and new ways to amplify those voices. Some voices are more diluted than others as a result. There is always room to be heard, if one wishes to communicate.

So keep writing your thoughts, my friend!


Comment by Holly Boyajian

November 22, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

To Bob Katzman, The Richard Boyajian that you mention as your high school biology teacher was my father. His mother and father were Armenian refugees from eastern Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire). The genocide of Armenians before and during the first World War is well documented by many reliable sources, including the written policies of the government that was carrying out the genocide. As Ken (above) mentions, there are textbooks that contain a huge amount of misinformation attempting to make the massacre of Armenians seem like a justified action. This is absurd. I have read that the Turkish government finances misinformation in our universities, and of course teaches it in their own schools. I find it both frightening and sad that a Jew like yourself would not do your homework and read your history before expounding your opinion. I ask you how would you feel if the Germans denied that there was a Jewish Holocaust, taught their children that there was no holocaust, and manipulated both the educational institutions in this country and our government to deny it? We have military bases in Germany as well. Should we then appease them because of this? I personally believe that all massacres and genocides everywhere in the world should be recognized, past and present, and that all war must be ended, including re-working our war-dependent economy. Holly Boyajian

Comment by bob katzman

November 23, 2007 @ 5:24 pm

Holly, it’s nice to meet you, if only this way. I was in your Dad’s store on 53rd St. in Hyde Park a couple of times, “Boyajian’s Bazzar” I think it was named. I don’t know if you ever worked there when you were younger, but if so, we may have met.

I had great respect for your Dad in the 3 years of biology I took at Lab School, from 1964 to 1967 and got to know your Dad pretty well, while I was raising fruit flies and programing baby chicks to think I was their mother, and so on. It was quite fascinating, especially if a guy like me, no great scholar, had a patient and gentle man Like Richard Boyajian for a teacher.

I did not view your Dad ethnically, but only as a very effective, infinitely knowlegeable person who felt what he was doing was worthwhile, and wanted to help other people see the value in increasing their understanding of science and how life works. The same way I would not want to be seen a The Jew no matter what I did or tried to accomplish in my life.

I am not avoiding answering you, just remembering and honoring your father, because he was one of the few Lab teachers I connected with and I was glad to have been his student.

On your complaint about what I wrote….thanks for taking the time to do that, even if I irritated you.

My objective was not to deny the reality and tragedy of the oppression and slaughter of the vastly outnumbered and effectively defenseless Armenians by the Turks between 1915 and 1923.

What worldly and historically-aware Jew would ever ignore or deny another nation suffering a genocide so much like the Jews experienced? Not me, Holly. I sell old periodicals and newspapers for a living and I know there were letters to the editor in very old Geographics commenting on the slaughter, so please do not assume I was being insensitive or callous to your people’s loss and pain. I’m not and never have been.

I was trying to figure out a way to untangle a ridiculously complicated contemporary situation, and see if it were possible to keep all parties happy and not sever any existing alliances that would cause harm to America’s vulnerable troops in the region next to Turkey. It was an intellectual exercise and not a taking of sides. I tried to do some original thinking that would end up allowing the Armenians to get what they wanted: A way of communicating to the world about a mostly forgotten horror from 80 years ago.

If you reread what I wrote, and don’t assume I had some ax to grind or a political agenda to push, which I did not, you may possibly see I was trying to work out if there was a real world solution that would give the present day Armenians in this country (America) a shrine to honor their dead and and a place for other of the world’s Armenians to come pay their respects.

If anyone is for the “little guy” in international oppression, it’s me. I don’t have to be Armenian to care about your people. Nobody does. If a person has a beating heart and a rational mind, then there is no confusion about what the Turks did to the Armenians.

I was trying to see if I could find a way to get to there from the political standoff that was being kicked around in congress and on the international stage. It was a challenge to me. Period. I hoped other people would be interested and offer their thoughts, but Holly, for me to deny The Armenian Holocaust ever happened would be an act of gross disrespect to the memory of your father and my long ago warm relationship with him…and I would never do that.

Because of him, I guess I care that you in particular understand what my intentions were in writing what I did. If I failed to effectively communicate my objectives in what I said, and the way I said them, I am sorry.

I hope this response to you clears up what you may have thought previously and perhaps you will consider rereading my article in a different, more objective frame of mind, now that you know the author’s mind a little better.

I wish you well, Holly, and I regret learning about your father’s death. He was a terrific guy.

Best wishes to you, and your family.

Bob Katzman Friday, November 23, 2007

Comment by Holly Boyajian

November 24, 2007 @ 1:07 am

I thank you for telling me of your respect for and fond memories of my father and his teaching. He was an incredible teacher, father, and citizen of the world. I miss him terribly every day, and as we approach the anniversary of his death, my heart is torn apart again.
I worked with him in Boyajian’s Bazaar when he first started operating out of our living room in Hyde Park and for a time at his storefront on 53rd Street. I have many pieces of handcrafted artwork from him that I share with my first grade students when teaching about various cultures. This is one way he lives on as a teacher. I was looking for an article about him, typed his name into Google, and came across your piece here. You might want to do this and find his “Plummer Lecture” given at a Quaker gathering in Illinois.
When My parents and I were members of a choir in Chicago, in 1978 our group went to Russia and Poland. We visited museums that were located directly in the concentration camps near Krakow (Maidanek and Auschwitz). This was heartwrenching an eye-opening, an experience I will never forget, especially the cement torture/operating table and the small oven built just for the purpose of burning the bodies of the murdered children. This horrendous history was acknowledged, physically and graphically, that it could never be denied or forgotten, and the people honored and commemorated.
I am very uncomfortable with on-line public discussions such as this, rather than speaking with you personally, but at this time this is our only avenue to communicate. There are several things you say that I agree with, for example the value of cultural exchanges between young people of different cultures so that understanding can occur and friendships can form. But you must understand that these need to be based on mutual respect and that requires truth and acknowledgment of history as painful as it might be. I suggest that you read “The Burning Tigris” by Peter Balakian and “The Great War for Civilisation” by Robert Fisk (chapter on the Armenian genocide)to become more informed on this issue. There is a straightforward and simple way that this could be resolved in the current day, and in my opinion it is for Turkey to take the initiative to publicly and openly acknowledge the genocide. There need be no repercussions. We can then continue as friendly nations towards one another. I realize that this is unlikely to happen, but it would be plain and honest.
I do object to your suggestion that it is acceptable for the truth to continue to be denied ,as it has been for the last 90 years. Why? So that the Turks will not be upset and supplies can be brought into Iraq? The threat to deny access to supply lines into Iraq appears to me quite controlling and not the action of a true ally. I do not wish any danger to our young people in Iraq, which is why I think they should be brought home. This would remove that problem.
I also object to your suggestion that only Armenians should openly contribute to a memorial in this country and that it should not be allowed in the nation’s capital city. Why should Jewish people and other people not put their name proudly and publicly on their contribution? You appear concerned that this will result in Turkish repercussions against Israel. What does this say about the quality of that relationship? The denial is cowardly behavior all around. I understand that you personally do not refute the genocide of Armenians, though you may not realize that it actually began long before 1915. There were repeated massacres in the latter part of the 1800’s and a history of oppression before that.
You also reply to Ken that he has made a good point. I would argue that his point was based on misinformation and fabrications. There is quite a bit of this spread by the Turkish government and educational system. They also attempt to influence (sometimes successfully) what is taught in Middle Eastern Studies departments in our country through the funding they give and the threat to remove funding for programs. I find this disturbing.
Again, I am uncomfortable with this on-line discussion, and would not have entered into it except that I came across my father’s name and felt compelled to respond in some way.

Comment by bob katzman

November 24, 2007 @ 10:00 am

Happy Saturday, Holly…

I believe you have accomplished what you wanted to do, which is express, quite passionately, a sophisticated Armenian/American’s point of view on the issue I raised.

You don’t have to approve of whatever I’ve written to deserve a place to state your case. If your perspective educates others who read my blog (and currently this story is the most read of all my articles) then I am delighted to provide a forum for you.

If I didn’t care about the issue, I never would have attempted to figure it out. But a blog can be a springboard for intelligent discussion by civilized people, which is whom I hope to attract, even if they consider me ill-informed or just wrong. I can live with criticism. After being married for 30 years, you get used to it.

So, now an unknown number of people will also know about those two books you recommended that I should read. I think that’s the benefit of bothering to respond to a blog that you disagree with, as long as the blog writer is a reasonable guy. But you can decide that for yourself, Holly.

I would be happy to meet with you, if you like.
I own one of America’s last back-issue magazine stores, in Morton Grove, Illinois. I’m there every day with my 100,000 periodicals that go back to 1840.
The website is http://www.magazinememories.com and the phone number is (847) 470–9444. It is 6 blocks west of the Dempster West exit, (6006 Dempster)on the north side of the street.

Please tell your friends about this blog so more people can state their case. I won’t answer all people like in as much detail as I have you, but this was a different situation.

You may be surprised to learn that I sell Armenian flags in my store (bin #52) in case you ever want one. Turkish flags, too, in the interest of equal representation.

I hope you have a sense of satisfaction that your thoughts have been heard and are now available to the public. It certainly can’t hurt, can it?

See you, Holly (maybe)

Bob Katzman

Comment by Don Larson

November 24, 2007 @ 10:16 am


You said, “I personally believe that all massacres and genocides everywhere in the world should be recognized, past and present, and that all war must be ended, including re-working our war-dependent economy.”

Wars will never be ended by discussion. Only force ends wars.

I don’t understand what you mean by our war-dependent economy. Our economy is not based on war.

As to the main point of this thread. The Congress has now widely set aside the measure about genocide. There are much more important matters they need to concern themselves with. Otherwise they should be voted out of office for wasting time on such issues.


Comment by Don Larson

November 24, 2007 @ 3:58 pm

I went to the United Nations site to se what a search on their documents would provide on Armenian Genocide. There are many pages of results there.

It seems to me that if a complaint was to be filed, the United Nations would be that place to make that case. The United States wasn’t involved in the Armenian Genocide issue. Why should we take up a cause that we are not part of? We are not the police force of the world. We are not the political consciousness of the world.

Americans need to realize to stay out of issues that we are not a part of. Until we do, we will be involved in difficult situations, we’ll be targets of terrorism, and involved at times with war.

To get involved with a fight with our ally, Turkey, is a reckless act that increases the chance of war, not lessening it. Since Holly is against all wars, she should see the wisdom of America staying out of issues that can lead to war. She can’t have it both ways.

Instead I think she should petition the United Nations and make her case there. That way she’s heard and her views are not promoted as an elected representative of the United States.


Comment by bob katzman

November 24, 2007 @ 5:23 pm

Hey Don,
I’m gonna let other people pick up the ball from this point on. Your thoughts are always welcome, as you know, but be prepared to duck, ok?


Comment by Don Larson

November 25, 2007 @ 10:03 pm

Hi Bob,

No American expressing their Freedom of Speech should be concerned with ducking. We express ourselves and let it go at that. Disagreement is common and neither you nor I invented disagreements. 🙂

I have nothing personal against Holly. In fact, I am sympathetic that people died unjustifiably. It has happened far too often in the history of humankind.

Most of the discussions we broach here on this site are complex. If readers and writers here can’t handle that there are disagreements to issues, then they should seek out sites that only present single views, their views, and hang out there. Those sites regardless of their “slant” don’t reflect reality of the world, but they do offer a “safe haven” from those that would disagree and upset their simple view of the world.

It’s not safe out here in the real world. There is danger all around us. Each person has a right to interpret their perspective and express their opinions in a peaceful manner. Sometimes a person is persuasive, but rarely are they persuasive if they refuse to communicate. If they avoid disagreement on issues they consider vital to their perspective, then they have bigger problems to face than anything they find here no matter who writes a message. They are ducking their own conscience in such circumstances, in my humble opinion. They need to read your books and see the light.


Comment by Kent Sezen

October 8, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

Hi Bob:

It has been a while since i visited this web site. I didn’t even know that you responded to my comment post quite a while ago. I re-read my comment and feel that the language might reflect the wrong sentiment. Just so that you know, I am very pro-Israel. Every morning I read Haaretz Daily News. I subscribe to a famous columinst, Barry Rubin. I am more pro-Israel than I am Turkey, even though my father came from Turkey.

Comment by Bob

October 13, 2008 @ 6:45 am

Dear Kent,
It’s nice to see your distinctive name again!

As a fellow “Z” name person (Katzman) I am well aware of the life-long pleasures of having to spell my name on the phone and every other place: 100% of the time.

As a new blogger venturing into expressing my feeling and opinions to the world after 55 years of never doing that, I am appreciative that people take the time to read my thoughts and then take even more to to express theirs. No matter what, someone becomes educated, as long as the dialog is civil and mutually respectful, unlike the current election meltdown on the Republican side. I see that steady decent into racism as a modern American tragedy.

People have never stopped visiting that story about how I thought I could take a stab at resolving the complex tangle of ethnic, political, historical and religious frustrations and see if people who read the entry would find my ideas reasonable, fair, logical and politically adroit. My motives were pure and I really cared enough to become involved.

While you can read for yourself how much antagonism my efforts generated, I also noticed people gradually changed their tone to a more civil or even friendly one, when it became obvious to all that I wanted an exchange of perspectives, that I readily admitted I was no expert “with all the answers” and that sometimes fiery passion was the motivation for a person to respond. I think the story served to educate a lot of people who read and continue to read what I wrote, almost daily at this point.

So, I think I did a good think, by trying to help. I think attitude makes a big difference in seeking to resolve disputes. For example, when I referred to the Republican tone in the present campaign, I wasn’t speaking as a liberal midwestern Democrat decended from Eastern European immigrants, I was speaking as an individual who admires the character of a lot of Republicans and as someone willing to listen to their ideas to make this a better country.

What is irrational to me is to bring race into this election for any reason whatsoever–how can McCaine look at himself in the mirror anymore?–because that road leads only to the end result, inevitably, of Armenia, Turkey, Israel and killing.

I lost a lot of relatives in the Holocaust and none of them were soldiers in that war, except my American father and several uncles, all dead now.

I write motivated by a passion for rationality and civility, that all voices deserve to be heard, and that ordinary people are worth listening to.

But “yelling fire in a crowded theater”, when there is none and you ought to get what you deserve: Permanent oblivion, where you have no voice.

Thanks for writing to me again, Kent. I welcome your voice on this blog. By the way, of you haven’t already read it, check out my latest non-fiction entry: Guiseppe Rabinowitz and the Interplanetary Drugstore. It actually all took place 30 years ago this month, October, in Chicago. There aren’t any Turks or Armenians in the story (as far as I know) but if you read it I don’t think you’lll soon forget it.

See you, Kent
Bob Katzman

Pingback by Different Slants » Amazing New Development: My Oct. ‘07 Armenia/Turkey Story……..by Robert M. Katzman

December 20, 2008 @ 8:43 pm

[…] The 1915 Armenian Genocide, The Turks, The Jews, America, Israel and the Only Way Out […]

Comment by Kent Sezen

February 6, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

Dear Robert Katzman:

I just wanted to make it clear that I that am very pro-Israel, even though I am not Jewish. My last comment didn’t make that point clear.

I blame Hamas not Israel.

Comment by Bob Katzman

February 7, 2009 @ 10:55 am

First, thanks for continuing to follow-up and taking the time to comment. Even if people disagree with me, I am open to reading, or hearing, other opinions that differ from my own.

As far as Israel, the situation is so sad, so discouraging. I don’t veiw the Gazans as “Gazans”. I see them as people and I am so sorry for their terror and suffering. They are caught in a nightmare situation, as are the innocents in the cities within hamas’ rockets. What to do?

Well, this is bigger than either side and essentially an insane cycle of irrational behavior. Bigger powers need to intervene and stop any further violence of any sort by either side. America isn’t enough, and shouldn’t be, either. this is a regional matter, as far as I’m concerned, which means Europe and the Arab states should find some way of working together to prevent more war.

It’s always the same: Men yell and shoot and threaten, while women and children burn and die.

Smarter men than me should stop this, and the same elsewhere. Bleeding nations can’t buy anyone’s goods or services. Truly, beyond the insanity of the killing, war’s simply not good for business, either. Nobody can sell anything to the dead.

So, yeah, I’m Jewish, but that doesn’t mean I automatically want Arabs to die or be mistreated or to suffer at all. But I feel the same way about Israelis. There’s another solution out there. I know it. Peace does not equal weakness.

Thanks for staying in touch, Kent. it doesn’t matter to me that you’re not Jewish. It matters to me that you think.

See you,

Bob Katzman

Comment by Don Larson

June 5, 2016 @ 12:28 pm

Hi Bob,

I read your updates as of today’s date, June 5. 2016.

Much has been in the press all these years. The latest just a few days ago:

German Parliament Recognizes Armenian Genocide, Angering Turkey:

I’ll state again, that a person can describe the 100 year-old issue as they se fit. But as a nation, we are absolved. 🙂

Warmest regards,


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>