Different Slants

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Amazing New Development: My 10/23/07 Armenia/Turkey Story……..by Robert M. Katzman

Filed under: Armenia stories,Armenia-Turkey-Israel & Justice,Jewish Themes,Politics,Social Policy and Justice — Bob at 8:43 pm on Saturday, December 20, 2008

Significant Follow-up Developments Since The original Story Was written:

My story, (click on the high-lighted link below to read my original story)

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

about trying to resolve the nearly century old unresolved anger and emnity between the Armenians and the Turks, was first published fourteen months ago in October 2007.  I wrote an even-handed proposal suggesting what I felt was fair and possible to make a difference in that part of the world, but I had no real belief that anything would change.

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.


November 5, 2019 News:

US lawmakers recognize killing of Armenians as genocide

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “one of the great atrocities of the 20th century,” after the House voted in favor of the resolution. Turkey said the measure was a “grave mistake” and “a meaningless political step.”

Residents of Los Angeles conmemorate the Armenian Genocide in a rally

The US House of Representatives adopted a resolution on Tuesday, officially recognizing the mass killing of Armenians by the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917 as genocide.

Similar measures had been introduced in both chambers of the US Congress for decades, but never passed due to concerns of a backlash from a NATO ally.

The historic moment comes at a time of tensions between US politicians and Turkey over its military offensive into Syria and a broad assault on Kurdish-controlled areas, following a retreat of US troops from the area that was ordered by President Donald Trump.

Armenians have called for the international community to recognize the mass killings of their people as genocide, which 30 countries including Germany and France have done so far.

House recognizes Armenian genocide rebuking Turkey

Turkey on Monday summoned the US ambassador to Ankara, David Satterfield, to the foreign ministry over what it called “a resolution that lacks any historical or legal basis,” in addition to a bill that imposes sanctions over Turkey’s military action in Syria.

As the successor state to the Ottoman Empire, Turkey officially denies that the events that started in 1915 amounted to genocide and has lashed out at countries that have officially recognized the term.

Read more: New report details Germany’s role in Armenian genocide

Pelosi ‘honored’ to vote for it

To cheers and applause, US House members supported the largely symbolic resolution by 405 votes to 11.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was honored to vote for it “in solemn remembrance of one of the great atrocities of the 20th century: the systematic murder of more than 1.5 million Armenian men, women and children by the Ottoman Empire.”

“Today, let us clearly state the facts on the floor of this House to be etched forever into the Congressional Record: the barbarism committed against the Armenian people was a genocide,” Pelosi said.

Shortly after the Armenian genocide vote, members overwhelmingly backed new legislation calling on Trump to impose sanctions on Turkey over its offensive in northern Syria.

Both measures will now be sent to the US Senate, where it is unclear if the Republican-controlled upper chamber will bring them up for a vote.

Read more: Armenia’s peaceful revolution? 

‘Grave mistake’

Turkey rejected the measure, saying it risked harming ties between both countries. “As a meaningless political step, its sole addressees are the Armenian lobby and anti-Turkey groups,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

“We believe that American friends of Turkey who support the continuation of the alliance and friendly relations will question this grave mistake and those who are responsible will be judged by the conscience of the American people,” it added.

The foreign ministry also said the sanctions measure was “incompatible with the spirit of our NATO alliance,” and contradicted a ceasefire agreement for northern Syria reached with the Trump administration on Oct. 17.

Competing historical accounts

Turkey officially refers to what happened as the “Events of 1915” and denies that the massacre and deportation of Armenians in Anatolia amounted to genocide. The official line is that ethnic Armenians represented a fifth column backed by Russia during World War I, and that the mass deportation and accompanying Armenian deaths were not premeditated or intentional — a key requirement in the legal definition of genocide.

Officials in Turkey put the number of Armenians who died at around 500,000, while Armenia puts the number at about 1.5 million out of a prewar population of some 2 million. Turkish officials also point out that hundreds of thousands of Muslims died from combat, starvation, cold and disease in eastern Anatolia during the war. Armenians have documented systematic mass murder, organized banditry, raping of women, pillaging of property and other atrocities.

France marks day of remembrance of the Armenian genocide

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 responsibility 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 finally 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 from 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.)


Katzman’s Publishing Company site: www.dontgoquietlypress.com

Katzman’s online non-fiction stories: www.DifferentSlants.com

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Comment by Don Larson

December 21, 2008 @ 9:44 am

“Second Coming”

As my friend, Mort Zelman, once told me in response to my use of the phrase, “Second Coming”…

“Well that really will be a long time considering HE hasn’t come for the first time yet!”


Comment by Bob

December 21, 2008 @ 10:06 am

Well, Don,
Since there’s about one billion Christians in the world (in 57 varieties) and about 17 Jews, I think I’ll just wish all of them a Merry Christmas.

My middle daughter, Rachel, marries today in about 5 hours. it is a happy day for my family in a troubled world. I believe we should notice the good times, since they are sometimes far and few between, my friend.

You are the first responder, by the way, as is usually the case. Talk about coming first…..


Comment by Dmitry

December 21, 2008 @ 5:45 pm

Hello Bob,

Thanks for the link. I hope that all went according to plan with Rachel’s wedding 🙂

That said, I wish that I could be as optimistic as you are in regards to the plight of the Armenians. These intellectuals seem to be very much a fringe group in a Turkey that is quickly abandoning secularism, which was the foundation of Kemal Ataturk’s vision, and instead embracing an ideology which sees the teaching of evolution as a western plot against Islam, as well as one which oppresses minority Christians.

It is quite noble, and very brave, of these individuals to go as far as to admit that there was indeed suffering on the behest of the Armenians, as opposed to the mainstream Turkish belief that NOTHING bad ever happened to them, but I won’t be impressed until humanity starts honestly examining why this atrocity happened, and why it keeps on happening again and again all over the Islamic world. One need not look further than Sudan’s Darfur region in order to draw parallels between what is happening there now, and the atrocity that befell Turkey’s Armenian population during WW1.

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