It is a historic political Halloween!
This year a pumpkin was delivered early to us via Tel Aviv in the form of a smiley lantern showing its teeth. Some sixty years after its founding, Israel, pursuing its own interests, is “Trick-or-Treating” us by considering acknowledging the Armenian Genocide which claimed the lives of a million and a half Armenians slaughtered by the Turks, Ottoman and Republican, governments and civilians alike in 1915-1923.
For them it was and is a hard pill to swallow, since they have always been concerned that:
1) our Genocide might compete with their Holocaust,
2) it might anger the Turks, who then may retaliate by jeopardizing the safety of their own 25,000 Jews who live in Istanbul.
3) it might alienate their only Muslim ally in the neighborhood- Turkey, thereby increasing their vulnerability in a hostile territory,
4) it might be counter to American foreign policy which is based on NATO’s pseudo-partnership with Turkey, thus tilting the balance of influence in favor of Iran.
A variety of other reasons, each is being enough to justify their stance.
To be fair, some 120 Israeli Holocaust historians, but not the government, have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide.
It was disappointing, all right: How a nation that has suffered so much by the hands of Europe and the Nazis, that lost six million of its children to the Holocaust, could be so callous as to deny the Armenian Genocide in order to serve its disingenuous policies.
Not only did the state of Israel fail to recognize the Armenian Genocide, but it actively lobbied against its recognition by the U.S. Congress. It was clear that it was doing Turkey’s dirty work, a conduct unbecoming a nation which claims to be taking the high road in its political conduct.
It is a fact, unless my eyes and ears deceive me, that former Prime Minister of Israel Shimon Perez, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, stood on the steps of Chankaya Palace next to then-Turkish president Suleyman Demirel and declared, “There is no such thing as Armenian Genocide.” Ironically he was standing on the porch of a mansion built and owned by a wealthy Armenian jeweler, Ohannes Kasabian, who, with his family, was evicted from his home, deported and killed during the genocide, and the mansion converted to the presidential kiosk by Ataturk himself. Yes—He was standing on the steps of a genocide victim’s mansion when he made that statement.
Israel’s active blockades of the Genocide resolutions in Congress are exemplified by its concerted efforts, commissioned by Turkey and implemented by Israel’s AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) to defeat the bills which had passed Committee.
Israel’s surrogate the Anti Defamation League (ADL) headed by Abe Foxman fought tooth and nail to antagonize our efforts for passage of Genocide recognition bill in the United States. Some of the ADL chapters, answering to their conscience distanced themselves from this arrogant denialist.
Israel’s efforts continued until such time that being Turkey’s sub-contractor charged with cleaning Turkey’s political sewers, was no longer profitable for them. Suddenly they realized that Turkey was trick-or- treating them and the world. Turkey’s trick was the radical change of polity looking East, which victimized Israel. The eight year old AK Islamist party in power turned its back on Kemalism which was a garb two-sizes-too-big for the reactionary fanatic Islamist Turkish society. The move exposed the real color of Turkey.
Erdogan, the Turkish Prime Minister, had to prove his Islamic credentials and claim the mantle of the Ottoman Caliphate.
Muslims, globally, are mandated to liberate Jerusalem, the third, some say the second, holiest city of Islam, which is not under their control now. Turkey being a Muslim country heading towards fanaticism, and through it to hegemony, could not help but champion the cause. Furthermore, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire and was gingerly kept under the auspices of the holy Caliphate. Its return to their fold was and is a part of the AK agenda. Jerusalem was once liberated by Muslims under the command of Saladin, a historic event which still inspires the Muslim masses, today.
With the last election victory, AK and Recep Tayyib Erdogan managed to claim the Arab and Islamic mantle of leadership. He has selectively visited Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa to fortify his newfound political and strategic gains, through it all waving his Muslim ID. Recently he spoke to the Syrian government in support of the Shari’a guided Muslim Brotherhood group which, as it stands, are persecuted by the Assad dynasty.
Some Arab intellectuals considering his stance and actions as a prelude to spreading Turkey’s Sunni and ethnic hegemony over the region, especially in competition with Shiite Iran, resented Erdogan’s prominence in the Islamic Arab world.
Erdogan’s hostilities towards Israel surfaced at the Davos Economic Forum meeting in 2009. There, he had verbal skirmishes with Shimon Perez who appeared to be given the lion’s share of the allocated time shortchanging Erdogan, after which he left the meeting in protest.
As part of his strategy Erdogan launched a frontal assault on Israel. Under the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, his government managed to precipitate a showdown with Israel by planning and creating the Mavi Marmara ship incident where some nine Turks were killed in the clashes with the Israeli armed forces. It is ironic that he is demanding reparations from Israel for the death of nine Turks, while ignoring the slaughter of a million and a half innocent women children and men in the Armenian Genocide of 1915.
Pursuing his championship of the Islamic world, he highlighted the plight of Somali people in his United Nations speech, and blamed, by inference, the U.S. for food distribution problems resulting in famine, ignoring the fact that Somalis blocked our humanitarian aid in the past.
Throughout the speech he highlighted the humanitarian motivations of Turkey to help Somalia. Turkey had claimed the same while planning and executing the death by starvation of hundreds of thousands Armenians in the Syrian desert of Der Zor during the Genocide.
Distorting facts and telling lies characterizes Erdogan’s and his government’s policies vis a vis Europe, the United States, Armenia, Israel, Cyprus, and of course the Kurds.
The list is long. Turkey has tricked Israel and the West for so long, that the veneer is now wearing, and Israel has decided to stand up to the reality which it had consciously shelved for so long. It is trying to recruit and exploit Armenians and Kurds to fight Turkey in the public opinion arena. As a first step Israel is planning on meeting with Armenians of Diaspora.
Armenians should welcome what serves their interests best, regardless of the source. For us it is a historic “Trick or Treat” time.