14 April 2007

1605) Revolutionaries, Commissars, Chic Bolsheviks & Turcocentric Pundits

At the turn of the last century we had revolutionaries who thought they could do no wrong because the civilized world was on their side. During the Soviet era we had commissars in the Homeland and chic Bolsheviks in the Diaspora who believed the Soviet Union was here to stay for a thousand years and the Russians could do no wrong because they were our Big Brothers (in the non-Orwellian sense of these words). And now we have Turcocentric pundits who believe they know all there is to know about Turks. How? On what grounds? By projection, of course!
*
After projecting the worst in themselves on Turks, these charlatans believe they know all there is to know about them and they thus qualify as experts on Armeno-Turkish relations.. . They seem to be unaware of the fact that understanding by projection is a notoriously unreliable method of perceiving not only others but also themselves, if only because by projecting the worst in themselves they may think they have also exorcised the Turk within.
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Understanding and exorcising by projection: If only life were that simple!
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There are good Armenians and there are good Turks, and if it were up to them, all our differences would have been resolved many years ago to the satisfaction of both sides. But to hope that from the confrontation of two sets of charlatans something good may emerge is to believe in miracles, and I for one am no longer big on miracles.
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A final note on our revolutionaries, commissars, chic Bolsheviks, and Jack S. Avanakians: Have you ever heard any one of them apologize for misleading the nation? Are they capable of admitting error? Last but far from least: In what way are they different from their counterparts?





On Turcocentrism
********************************
Turcocentrism is a pathological condition that should be analyzed and studied like any other psychological aberration, objectively and on a tabula rasa.

The central tenet of Turcocentrism is the proposition that Genocide recognition is the most important issue in our collective existence today. It follows, all our other problems, such as exodus from the Homeland, assimilation in the Diaspora (two ongoing “white massacres”), divisiveness, corruption, and incompetence within our tribal power structures, can be safely ignored or covered up on the grounds that if ignored they will go away.

Like most primitive societies, we tend to confer on an opinion the status of a belief system, and like all belief systems, Turcocentrism has become an orthodoxy with its own heresies (about which see below).

A Turcocentric newspaper is one in which every other headline has the word Turk in it.

Turcocentrics believe as long as Turks refuse to recognize the Genocide, we shall have no peace, no inner balance, no closure (whatever that may mean), no other concerns, and no other initiatives.

A Turcocentric Armenian is an “oreo” Armenian – that is, he is Armenian on the outside, Turkish on the inside. Which is why, the Armenianism of Turcocentrism is more akin to Ottomanism.

Turcocentric Armenians divide the community by asserting, “You are either with me or against me,” and “If you are against me, you are against the Cause,” and “If you are against the Cause you are a traitor.” On more than one occasion I have myself been accused of being a foreign agent who gets his marching orders from Ankara.

Turcocentric Armenians are more dependent on Turkish goodwill today than their forefathers in the Ottoman Empire were on the goodwill of the Sultan.

The Turcocentric Armenian has a counterpart among Turks – the Armenocentric Turk who believes there is an Armenian assassin lurking behind every bush, Kurds are Armenians in disguise, and Ocalan is an “Ermeni pij” (an Armenian bastard).

Like all primitive belief systems, Turcocentrism has its devils – two of them, as matter of fact: (one) denialist Turks, and (two) Armenians who dare to suggest that, very much like the kingdom of god, the kingdom of the devil is within us.




From My Diary
**********************
To those who want to know how many times I have been to Armenia, I say: “Why should I travel all the way there to starve when I can just as well starve here?”

When a charlatan calls me a charlatan, I conclude that (a) he is smart enough to know the meaning of the word, and (b) he is too dumb to know he is one.

We think of temptation as a negative word; but it can also be used in a positive context, as when one is tempted to be honest, to speak the truth, to do the right thing if one operates within a power structure where deception is the norm.

In the editorial of our local paper today I read: “A bush league is a minor, often second-rate sports organization that, like fungus, grows most successfully away from the biggest crowds and brightest light.” A good definition of our leadership.

On the same page, a letter to the editor suggests the only way to end wars is to let the politicians do the fighting. You may have noticed that the most ardent patriots among us happen to be speechifiers, sermonizers, and editorializers, that is to say, charlatans whose chances of going to war are nil.

Elsa Triolet: “Always and never – one is as long as the other.”

Pierre Reverdy: “Barriers are the best and surest bonds between people.”

Victor Hugo: “Half a friend is half a traitor.”




La Crème De La Scum
************************************
I am fully aware of the fact that I will never be able to convince anyone who thinks he knows better because he has more money or power. Power corrupts: only the powerful pretend to be unaware of this fact. Either that or they think corruption is one of the privileges of power.

To those whose favorite sport is the blame-game, I ask: If we deceive ourselves, whom do we blame?

Turks are not exactly a popular subject among us. If they have become so in our press it may be because they are safe to attack, and if we don’t blame all our problems on them, we may have to redirect our focus on other and more vulnerable players, such as the incompetence of our “betters,” who may well be our worst.




Law And Disorder
*************************************
Denis Diderot: “The more reasonable a man is, the more honest he is bound to be.”
*
The difference between serial killers and tyrants is that tyrants operate within the law. It follows, the law has produced more dangerous criminals than the underworld.
*
Only the naïve, the uninformed, and the inexperienced with a single-digit IQ are astonished when managers mismanage, leaders mislead, liberators oppress, and pundits are hired to convince the people that the nation is in good hands and there is nothing to worry about.
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All it takes for an Armenian to be an expert on Armenian history and culture is to have heard of Saroyan, to recognize the “Saber Dance,” and to know the number of Genocide victims.
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I have yet to meet the Armenian who underestimated his intelligence or patriotism. “I know better” is the subtext of all criticism and contradiction. Socrates never said “I know better.” What he said was, “The only thing I know is that I don’t know.” Philosophy is a Greek word that means love of wisdom, and love of wisdom does not mean possession of wisdom; rather, it means search for wisdom or perpetual rejection of ignorance. It follows, he who is infatuated with his own ignorance cannot be said to be a philosopher.
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I repeat myself? Only people who read me regularly would know that.
*
I repeat myself? If that’s a problem, it has a very easy solution.




Easter Sermon
***********************************
If Socrates, Jesus, and Gandhi had enemies who hated them unto death, who are we to say we should be immune?
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One way to explain hatred is to say that we all have our limitations, prejudices, and perspectives that are not results of free choice but conditions beyond our control, such as place of birth and education, which may narrow our vision of the world and our understanding of our fellow men. There will always be something in a devout Christian that will reject all other religions; and there will always be something in a good Armenian that will not like Turks (and vice versa). Our choice is between believing those who legitimize hatred and those who promote understanding.
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There are those who allow their words and actions to be driven by a political agenda, and there are also those who place their own humanity above such agendas. The trouble with nationalism, and all other ideologies and closed systems of thought, like organized religions that claim to have a monopoly on truth, is that ultimately they dehumanized man even if their original aim was the exact opposite. Jesus tried to humanize the rituals and doctrinal paraphernalia of the Old Testament; Marx exposed the sinister power of capital to dehumanize both capitalist and worker, and ultimately society as a whole; and Gandhi attempted to end the “satanic” aspects of colonialism. What happened next we know: Christianity brought forth the Inquisition, religious wars, and the Crusades; Marxism generated Lenin, Stalin, commissars, and the Gulag; and Gandhi’s non-violent campaign against the British was replaced by internecine religious massacres during which millions perished.
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I am not suggesting here that Armenians and Turks should love one another. What I am saying is, don’t believe everything you are told by sermonizers, speechifiers, and editorializers. The chances are, anyone who has assessed himself to be la crème de la crème is more likely to be la crème de la scum.
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Generally speaking, it is safe to assume that people who are themselves in need of understanding are in no position to understand others. On the other hand – there is always another hand when it comedy to understanding and explaining – on the other hand, manure and roses are not mutually exclusive concepts, and no one (in the words of the Mahatma) is beyond redemption. Amen.




On Optimism
*******************************
After contributing an optimistic commentary to one of our weeklies, a friend writes: “I wonder, was I deceiving myself and my readers?”
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On Intellectuals
**********************************
Our intellectuals (so-called), whose function is to expose the lies of propaganda, the double-talk of speechifiers and sermonizers, and the shenanigans of those in power, now allow themselves to be feted by bishops, awarded grants by benefactors, and hired by bosses, all the while shedding crocodile tears over our martyrs. “Danger, danger, danger!” (Zarian).
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Armenian Etiquette
***********************************
I have spent a lifetime trying to understand my fellow Armenians. After reading a line or two, a Jack S. Avanakian thinks he has me all figured out as an enemy agent. No one can combine loudmouth stupidity with ignorance and arrogance to the same degree than a phony patriot or a brainwashed dupe “whose tongue is sharper than a Turk’s yataghan.”(Zarian again.)
We have an expression: “We are all Armenians here!” meaning, “Why bother with conventional rules of etiquette when we can revert to our Ottoman ways?” Or, “Why stand on ceremony and say ‘I disagree’ when you can kick him in the groin?”
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On Revolutionaries
**********************************
Our revolutionaries (so-called) are now bourgeois reactionaries whose number one concern is keeping up with the Joneses. The only revolutionary thing about them is their fiery speeches. We have another expression, “chartel, peshrel!” -- literally, “slaughter and smash!” -- that describes the daring of a speechifying revolutionary.




On Optimism
*******************************
After contributing an optimistic commentary to one of our weeklies, a friend writes: “I wonder, was I deceiving myself and my readers?”
*
On Intellectuals
**********************************
Our intellectuals (so-called), whose function is to expose the lies of propaganda, the double-talk of speechifiers and sermonizers, and the shenanigans of those in power, now allow themselves to be feted by bishops, awarded grants by benefactors, and hired by bosses, all the while shedding crocodile tears over our martyrs. “Danger, danger, danger!” (Zarian).
*
Armenian Etiquette
***********************************
I have spent a lifetime trying to understand my fellow Armenians. After reading a line or two, a Jack S. Avanakian thinks he has me all figured out as an enemy agent. No one can combine loudmouth stupidity with ignorance and arrogance to the same degree than a phony patriot or a brainwashed dupe “whose tongue is sharper than a Turk’s yataghan.”(Zarian again.)
We have an expression: “We are all Armenians here!” meaning, “Why bother with conventional rules of etiquette when we can revert to our Ottoman ways?” Or, “Why stand on ceremony and say ‘I disagree’ when you can kick him in the groin?”
*
On Revolutionaries
**********************************
Our revolutionaries (so-called) are now bourgeois reactionaries whose number one concern is keeping up with the Joneses. The only revolutionary thing about them is their fiery speeches. We have another expression, “chartel, peshrel!” -- literally, “slaughter and smash!” -- that describes the daring of a speechifying revolutionary.




Victims As Victimizers
************************************
Armenians as victims: I will let more competent and qualified men than myself to deal with that aspect of our history and identity. Armenians as victimizers: that's what I propose to explore here.

If you are one of those brainwashed dupes who believe, since Armenians can do no wrong, they cannot victimize anyone, allow me to quote two well-known and highly respected sources who cannot be said to be dissidents or anti-establishment critics because, in addition to being members of a political party, they were on friendly terms with a good number of establishment figures in both the Homeland and the Diaspora, among them several bosses, bishops, and benefactors.

Antranik Zaroukian (1912-1989), poet, novelist, critic, editor: "They speak of the cross and nail us to it again as they speak."

Hagop Garabents (1925-1996), novelist, short story writer, essayist, and Voice of America broadcaster: "Once upon a time we fought and shed our blood for freedom. We are now afraid of free speech."

In our context, to be afraid of free speech means, anyone who dares to deal honestly and objectively with facts is ruthlessly silenced and alienated on grounds of anti-Armenianism. To those who say, at least we don't victimize others, only ourselves, I say, that's because the weak cannot victimize the mighty; the weak can victimize only those who are weaker; in the same way that capitalists do not exploit fellow capitalists, only workers.

Before I rest my case, allow me to quote Zaroukian again: "What kind of people are we? What kind of leadership is this? Instead of compassion, mutual contempt; instead of reason, blind instinct; instead of common sense, fanaticism."

Contempt, blind instinct, fanaticism: that sounds to me less like Armenianism and more like Ottomanism.

And now, listen to one of those silenced and alienated writers speaking:

Stepan Voskanian (1825-1901): "For thirty-five years I did not write a single line in Armenian. I was treated so shabbily by my fellow Armenians that I could not help hating everything that I held dear as a young man; and since I was starved by my own countrymen, I had to write in French in order to survive."

Next time you lament our victims, I suggest you remember all our victims, not just a fraction of them.




Then And Now
****************************************
Levon Pashalian (1868-1943): "A familiar figure in our collective existence is the prosperous and arrogant community leader who, by obstructing the path of all those who wish to reform and improve our conditions, perpetuates a status quo whose sole aim is his own personal profit and aggrandizement."

Shirvanzadeh (real name Alexander Movsessian: 1858-1935): "The narrow partisan line that is espoused by our press is the enemy of all literature."

Until very recently our writers analyzed us. We now have a generation of academics, pundits, and self-appointed defenders of the faith who do nothing but analyze Turks.

Anyone can be a victim, no merit in that. Getting over it, that's different.

There is a type of mediocrity who resents anyone who is not a lesser mediocrity.

Praise heard a thousand times is not enough. Criticism heard only once is already more than enough.




Who Is Minding The Store?
***********************************************
One of the nicest Armenians I know is half-Azeri.

Some of the most ardent Armenian nationalists, from Abovian to Zarian, married odars. One of our elder statesmen once told me there are men in key positions within our organizations who are not Armenians but Turks - they speak fluent Armenian, they deliver patriotic speeches, they write fiery anti-Turkish commentaries and editorials, but they are Turks.

In his memoirs, a former KGB agent now living in America writes, there are several KGB plants within the higher echelons of the ARF.

Fact or fiction? I don't know and I have no way of knowing. On several occasions I have myself been accused of being a member of several nefarious anti-Armenian outfits by readers who may only pretend to be Armenian because they bear such surnames as Mamikonian (of Chinese descent) or Bagratuni (Jewish).

After reading Khorenatsi, an odar friend expresses astonishment at the fact that most Armenian kings, queens, princes, princelings, and princesslings were not Armenians but Persians and Assyrians.

There is a well-known French writer of children's books whose name is Mamikonian, but as far as I know she doesn't write about Armenians and she is not involved in Armenian affairs.

Henri Troyat (real name Tarassov or Torossian), prolific French novelist and biographer, is identified as a Russian in all French reference works. I remember to have read an interview with him in which he denies his Armenian identity -- I am informed by a fellow Armenian that more recently he had denied his denial. But the fact remains that he had no interest in his Armenian identity or in Armenian history and culture, and throughout his life he did his utmost to stay away from Armenian affairs.

And then there are our bosses, bishops, and benefactors. Zarian on bosses: "They have been of no political use to us. Their greatest enemy is free speech." Baronian on bishops: "Do you want to dine and wine to your heart's content every day? Be a bishop."

Raffi on benefactors: "Our capitalists are the most corrupt and degenerate members of the community. Nothing good can come out of them. These people worship only money. They are men without a country. They belong to no nation on earth. Profit is their only homeland."

Were Raffi, Baronian, and Zarian Armenians? I don't know and I don't care. I only know they were honest men, and I am more than willing to embrace an honest man as my brother even if he happens to be a Turk.





In Defense Of God And Country
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Shortly before he died, one of our elder statesmen called from Los Angeles to inform me that Gostan Zarian had been his neighbor and that he had not bothered to make his acquaintance because he had been warned by fellow partisans that he (Zarian) "khentin megn eh" (he is a nutcase); and like all partisans who divide mankind into them and us - "them" being aliens, and "us" being trustworthy sources of knowledge -he had trusted the judgment of his fellow partisans more than his own. If I am not mistaken, it was Thoreau who once compared this type of mentality to that of swine in a barn on a cold day.

The Turks massacred unarmed civilians in defense of god and country; and our partisans today silence dissidents and massacre ideas for the same reason. What Armenians and Turks share in common with the rest of mankind is the certainty that they will never be exposed as brainwashed idiots, and if exposed they will not plead guilty as charged, because if they are guilty, so is the overwhelming majority of mankind; because at one time or another every nation on earth has slaughtered civilians and silenced critics in defense of god and country. Or, in the words of a Turkish political leader in the White House, as quoted in one of our weeklies: "Armenians are our Indians," meaning, you (Yanks) massacred Indians, we massacred Armenians. If we are guilty, so are you.

Every country is someone's homeland; every idol is someone's god; and everyone's god is the only true god. It follows, as long as idiots are in the majority, the world will have no peace.





Madame Bovary And Stalin, Or Imagination And Reality
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Krikor Zohrab: "My code of ethics: Between the real and the imaginary, choose the real; between truth and falsehood, choose truth - at all times, everywhere." And yet, (the two saddest words in the English language, it has been said) he imagined Talaat (his future assassin) to be his friend. So much so that, at one point he went as far endangering his own life to save him from the secret police of the Sultan.

Aristophanes ridiculed Socrates, Aristotle contradicted Plato, and Churchill insulted Gandhi. Only fascists believe themselves to be beyond criticism; and only the fascist in us sees no merit in any comment or observation that may be remotely critical of our limitations, prejudices, misconceptions, and fallacies.

We are products of oppression and victims of tyrannical regimes, and "oppression corrupts everything it touches, even the highest moral virtues" (Zohrab).

Some of the greatest blunders in the history of mankind were committed because tribes, nations, and empires, very much like Don Quixote and Madame Bovary, confused imagination with reality, or propaganda with truth.

Any piece of writing that demands our full agreement or assumes to be beyond criticism is fascist. A writer ought to know better than to demand subservience from his readers.

The emotionally involved cannot discriminate right from wrong. They can only think in terms of you are either with me or against me.

So far it's been our propaganda against theirs, and as long as propagandists are in charge, nothing will change. That's because propaganda and progress are mutually exclusive concepts.

The recently deceased Henri Troyat (real name Tarassov, some say Torossian) explaining why he never visited Moscow, where he was born: "In my dreams, the snow is always whiter."




Persistent Buggers
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A politician's most valuable possession in his image, and his central concern is his power. But he will never tell you that. That's why everything he says is as distant from reality as propaganda is from truth. This applies not only to their politicians but also to our own, and in general to all politicians regardless of race, color, creed, tribe, and ideology.

We shouldn't believe everything we read in the papers. Neither should we believe anything politicians tell us. As when their side expects us to believe they acted in self-defense even when they massacred unarmed civilians; and when our side tells us they did whatever they did in the interest of the people, even when they were too busy saving their own skins to defend a single victim. These musings occur to me while reading Antonia Arslan's SKYLARK FARM, translated from the Italian by Geoffrey Brock (New York, 2006).

The Voice Of Two Armenian Poets
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Narine Avedian:
"I have not yet written
A single poem
On the heroic past
Of my nation.
Neither do I feel like writing
On what's going on today."

Armen Shegoyan:
"The past: what is it to me?
Meaningless lines,
Infinite sorrow,
Not much faith.

A French Thinker Speaks
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Nicolas de Chamfort: "In France they leave alone those who set fires and persecute those who sound the alarm."




Notes And Comments
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It is the emotionally involved more than anyone else who are in need of impersonal and objective advice, and they are the least appreciative of it.

Idiotic arguments can be contradicted even by an idiot.

Mirna Douzjian: "PATRIOTISM. A justification for racism. 2. A sentiment that is inborn in all exemplary Armenians."

Socrates was silenced because he insulted the gods. Solzhenitsyn was silenced because he insulted Stalin. It's always the same story. Just because they are on top, they think they dwell on Olympus.

Henry de Montherlant: "Blessed are my enemies for they will not betray me."

Jean Daniel: "Even in the best of cases, power degrades those who exercise it."




Victor Hugo: "The smallest animals are the greatest vermin, and the smallest minds have the greatest number of prejudices."

Keith Duckworth: "It is better to be un-informed than ill-informed."

We like to forget that the Armenian elite at the turn of the last century in the Ottoman Empire was divided between the optimists and the realists. The optimists (i.e. the revolutionaries) prevailed and survived to write their version of the story. What happened to the realists? I suspect they became so disgusted with their adversaries and their campaign of deception that they went underground where they or their offspring continue to live, unlike the offspring of our "heroes" and "statesmen" who carry on their campaign of deception. In this connection it is worth mentioning that General Antranik shared the disgust of the realists and at one point he went as far as declaring the revolutionaries to be war criminals who deserved to be hanged.

For more on this subject see Pars Tuglaci, THE ROLE OF THE DADIAN FAMILY IN OTTOMAN, SOCIAL, ECONOMIC, AND POLITICAL LIFE (Istanbul, 1993); and the second volume of Gourgen Mahari's memoirs titled MANGOUTIUN (Childhood), (Yerevan, 1967, page 228).

For a more panoramic view of events under discussion see also Philip Mansel's CONSTANTINOPLE: CITY OF THE WORLD'S DESIRE, 1453-1924 (London, 1995).

A typical passage in Mansel's book reads: "In 1914 some Armenians helped Russian troops in Anatolia against Ottoman Forces. There was an Armenian rising in Van. In Constantinople itself some Armenians were seen gloating over the first Russian victories. The Committee [of the Young Turks] decided on a policy of extermination. In Anatolia, between sex and eight hundred thousand Armenian men, women and children died during deportations, epidemics and massacres (many thousands of Turks and Kurds also died in the same region during the war). From Constantinople itself 2,432 men, the elite of the Armenian community, were deported. Among them Krikor Zohrab, deputy for Constantinople, who had given shelter to Talaat during the counter-revolution in April 1909. Few were seen again." Elsewhere we read: "Some Armenians hoped for a massacre in the belief that it would provoke the intervention of the great powers."

And: "In 1895-6 both the Sultan and the Armenian revolutionaries treated the Armenians of Constantinople as pawns, without regard for human life."




Defining Literature By Mirna Douzjian
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"1. Miscellaneous writings whose central themes are Mount Ararat, the Homeland, and the Massacres. 2. Anything that is unreadable and remains unread. 3. Miscellaneous writings by idlers, daydreamers, deranged eccentrics, and individuals who have nothing better to do."

Offending The Gods
*******************************
When those in power want to silence someone, they invariably come up with an excellent reason. They permanently silenced Socrates because they accused him of offending the gods, when all he was doing was exposing their ignorance. One reason why some of our greatest masterpieces, like Yervant Odian's THE COUNCILMAN'S WIFE and FAMILY, HONOR, MORALITY, remain untranslated, unread, buried, and forgotten is that they offend our gods.

More On Our Gods
***************************
Our publishers have become so dependent on the goodwill of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors that there are no more safe subjects for discussion except Turks. Hence the proliferation of books on massacres by Turcocentric pundits in whose view Armenian history begins and ends in 1915.

Turcocentrism: A Definition
*******************************************
A mental condition that is more akin to an acute obsession that requires immediate psychological therapy.

Dialogue, Armenian Style
****************************************
A confrontation in which both sides spend more time slinging mud at each other than trying to make sense.

The Lessons Of History
**************************************
Since they were deceived by every nation they dealt with, the only thing our leaders appear to have learned is to deceive, and since they are not smart enough to deceive anyone else, they deceive their own people, after brainwashing them to believe they are just about the smartest people on earth, on the grounds that it takes seven Jews to deceive an Armenian.

Truth And Justice
***********************************
To speak of truth and justice is to deal in shadowy theological terms and moral/judicial concepts on which even theologians, moral philosophers, and legislators disagree. A lawyer will tell you that his primary concern is not justice but evidence and interpretation of the law. A judge will tell you that courthouses are not courts of justice but courts of law. A politician will tell you his primary concern is not and has never been truth but self-interest. Hence the slogan of the British Empire: "We have neither friends nor enemies, only interests."

I was brought up to believe the Turks did what they did to us because they are bloodthirsty Asiatic barbarians. Though I am no longer a child, deep inside somewhere I still feel and think so. But I also know that there is a barbarian in all of us. If only because, according to psychologists and biologists, part of our brain is crocodilian - i.e. it has the same shape as the brain of crocodiles. I also know that when a man thinks his existence is in peril, he will not stand on ceremony and behave like a civilized human being - which is why to kill in self-defense is not a crime.

In 1915 did the Turks believe their existence to be in peril? Or rather, was it reasonable of them to think so? What about us? Can we really plead not guilty on all counts? Were we right to believe in the verbal commitments or propaganda of the Young Turks, the Great Powers of the West, the Russians, and last but not least, in the reality or possibility of a recaptured Historic Armenia? If we were wrong on all these counts, can we really assert we played no part in digging our own graves and that our revolutionaries were not blundering fools but heroes and statesmen of vision? If smart, cosmopolitan, educated people like us were justified in being deceived by practically everyone we came into contact, is it conceivable that dumb and primitive savages fresh out from the depths of Asian steppes, were also justified in being deceived into thinking we were their mortal enemies and together with the rest of the infidel world, we threatened their very existence?

The aim of these questions is not to establish truth and justice but to ask: Where do we go from here? Do we advance towards mutual understanding or do we continue to hurl insults at one another? -- which is what we have been doing for nearly a century, in addition to wasting millions on lobbyists, academics, and propaganda.

By the way, I do not think we are smart, except perhaps when it comes to selling Oriental rugs. I also do not think Turks are dumb: those who planned and carried out the Genocide were born, raised, and educated in Europe, and some of them may even have been part-Armenian.





The Voice Of God
********************************
When an Armenian speechifies or editorializes he does so not only as the voice of the people but also as the voice of God, and that's the only time he comes close to believing in His existence.

Politics is not theology. One should never speak of black-and-white certainties. To do so is to expose oneself as a fanatic and a fascist. If so far Turks and Armenians have been unable to reach a consensus it may be because they have consistently ignored the gray areas that they share in common.

The aim of literature is to raise consciousness; the aim of propaganda is to lower it.

No one wants to be identified as a racist; and people will say anything to improve their image. Once I even cornered a notorious anti-Semite to say "I love Jews." But forever after he hated me. And whenever I corner an Armenian to say, "I don't hate Turks," I make another enemy for life.

It's the easiest thing on earth to make an Armenian enemy. Sometimes all it takes is to begin a sentence with the words "I think." That's because he will immediately assume you are muscling in his territory.

An Armenian will always prefer the company of yes-men and brownnosers. He has no use for thinkers. That's why to be an Armenian writer means to be the wrong man at the wrong time and place and in the wrong line of work; that is also why to read the biography of an Armenian writer is to read a tragedy.

Our writers may no longer die of tuberculosis in their late teens or early twenties; Talaat's and Stalin's henchmen may no longer be around, but philistines and commissars are very much alive. How else to explain the death of Armenian literature?

Voltaire: "The surest thing is to be sure of nothing."

Joseph Joubert: "The sound of drums dissipates thoughts; it is for this very reason that this instrument is eminently military.




Megalomania
***************************
On several occasions in the past I have identified myself as a former fascist. It would have been more accurate had I identified myself as a misguided fool. But then, are not all fascists misguided fools in so far as they live in a world of illusions to such a degree that reality becomes an absent factor in their own image of themselves and ultimately in the policies they adopt? Mussolini thought by reviving the Roman Empire he could be another Caesar. Hitler thought the real Chosen People were not the Jews but the Germans. Stalin thought the Messianic Trinity of Marx, Engels, and Lenin had solved all the problems of mankind and he held in his hand the Golden Key of a New and Universal Kingdom. When fascists promise heaven, you can be sure of one thing: they will deliver hell. Something similar happened to us. Our own Mickey Mouse Mussolinis promised Historic Armenia, perhaps even the Empire of Dikran the Great, and they delivered the Genocide. Misguided fools, us? Of course not! Things went wrong, yes, but it wasn't our fault. We were betrayed by the Soviets. We were betrayed by the Great Powers of the West. We were betrayed by the regime of the Young Turks. We were right. It was the rest of the world that was wrong. What is it about us that makes us consistently right and the rest of the world consistently wrong? What else but megalomania? And not just garden-variety megalomania but self-righteous, dogmatic, obstinate, collective, and terminal megalomania. And terminal because we'd rather see the nation go down the drain than admit error.




Once Upon A Time
*********************************
When I was young, naïve, and gullible, I divided mankind into two: the good guys and the bad guys.

When I was a dupe I had no doubt whatever in my mind that I was with the good guys. When I had the IQ of a Mongoloid, even when I behaved badly I thought of myself as good. When I had the outlook of a Neanderthal, I thought Turks could do nothing right and Armenian could do no wrong. I thought so even when I saw Armenians behaving badly.

To those who go on thinking like Neanderthals and try to convince me I am wrong and they are right, I say, You are wasting your time. I know where you are coming from and I know where you live, because deep inside somewhere part of me still lives in the same cave. Once a Neanderthal always a Neanderthal. Our reason, our understanding, our thinking may change, but our feelings stay the same.

On the day Mount Ararat is returned to us, there will be headlines in our papers saying, DORMANT VOLCANO ABOUT TO ERUPT. If a village near the border is returned to us, another headline will announce, WARNING: PROPERTIES BOOBY-TRAPPED, WELLS POISONED, BRIDGES FALLING DOWN.

"After shaking hands with an Armenian, count your fingers." Who started this rumor? Turks, who else?

I suppose to ask Armenians and Turks to treat one another as human beings is as difficult as asking two bordello madams to treat each other as virgins.



ARA HOME PAGE click on: http://baliozian.blogspot.com



Readers Comments

Dear Lara and Ara ,

Owing to too much activities and reading lately, the above had to wait until I could spare the time last night, because I do enjoy reading his observations, though my knowledge of philosophy and literature is incomparably shallow. My business is selling shop equipment, but I do some leisure reading to satisfy my curiosity, and for some curious coincidences many of my sincere friends were and are Armenians. This was and is the reason why I took an interest in the subject. Under separate mail, I release some news clips from New York Times, and hope (?) that they will post them on the new WEB page the Diaspora. These are totally what they wrote! They are accountable to tell the reader whether he/she should believe the present or the past! Can I be optimist and hope that Pan ARMENIAN will print the old headlines too ? Why, isn’t it a free press ?

If Ara has no objection and since his article went open, I would suggest that you post this commentary too for two reasons: 1- I think that Ara’s words are worth reading for all mature humans, 2- I think that I should sprinkle a little salt on the subject, to make it some sort of communication. As I told, I don’t have to agree with all he says, because as it will be noted below, we have our differences on certain subjects, not because our nationalistic instincts, but the source of information we have used. I do learn from him, and I think that he will welcome learning other comments through me. The truth may stay in the oblivion, until we get to it.

Revolutionaries, etc: One woman who had come to earn money for her grand children in Armenia and working illegally in Turkey, has said it to the newspaper reporter at Kumkapi. She had said. “there are no good or bad nations, there are good and bad man”. Regarding Jack S. Avanakian’s admitting errors, Hovannes Katchaznuni did admit “their mistakes” in his Bucharest manifest. This is available on the TAT and also Armenians-1915. If any asks for it, I can E-mail my summary which is some ten pages. A.A. Lalaian too, admitted and wrote the mistakes.

Turcocentrism: This is an epidemic, for the Diasphora Armenians, more spread out throughout Armenians out of Turkey (Russia, Lebanon) and has caught up the second, third generations of those who emigrated from Turkey to France or USA, thanks to continuing brain washing to youngsters, for which I will be releasing another letter very shortly, when I can spare the time for it. Money-choonies have to implant and secure continuation of hatred instead of love. This is a unique case in all the world, where individuals are taught to hate and revenge in order that they find satisfaction and happiness!

From My Diary: It sounds that Ara (like most others) have never been to Turkey. Unless you do not come and see how unified all those who live in Turkey are, you can judge your prejudices and mistakes. Mevlana called: “Come, Come, even if you are a thousand time sinner, come, for ours is a house of compassion and love”

(which does not mean that we are freed of some criminals in competition with others).

Easter Sermon: Most sermons be it in a church or mosque or synagogue, usually end up with cash paid tickets to deserve the paradise. Turks, usually do not know how to keep grudge, we are infuriated suddenly but it passes once that craze goes. Naturally, some sermonizer, always find devoted followers.

Optimism and Intellectuals: The best and fastest drivers end in the cemetery, politicians escape somehow.

Revolutionaries: Fiery speakers only ? Good drinkers and spenders only from “save the victim funds”…

Victims and Patriots: We are all like each others, the speakers and dupes make the hair thin difference.

Then and Now pundits: Thanks for excellent presentation.

Minding the Store: Bishops or mullahs are always in good health and comfortable, by giving orders who and how to fight and die for God or them… Money money, sweet honey… The only cause behind the Genocide fanfare and grudge ! No fanfare, no dance, no money… That simple… The feud or show must o on!

Defense of God and Country: My today open letter to NY Times is self explanatory. The dupes are not under the monopoly of any country or nation ? “Armenians are our Indians” shows how idiots can represent nations with all their idiocy and naivety !
Such guys do not know when to say “hop” and speak “bok”…

Antranik: Other than that is a hero of Armenians because he massacred too many Turks and later served Hitler’s Army and therefore was most welcome into USA, I have not much deeper information about him.

Philip Mansel: You gave only a few lines from him. I attach my resume of his book, and some portions are much comforting and interesting for happiness in togetherness. Number of arrested ring leaders is mentioned in many places as 2345, but the true figure is 235. If you want I can send a complete list of various population counts by different sources. If you refer to NYTimes, they say that there was only 1.2 millions Armenians and

In just a couple of months ONE million was killed or exiled ! Kirkor Zohrab may have saved Talat, Artin Dadayan had prepared the Constitution, Noradungian was Foreign Minister in 1913, but at last all of them took refuge out of Turkey because Dashnak penalties were too severe. Sorry Sam or Kirkor Read more about 1895 in NYTimes headlines or go and read the full articles. My Philip Mansel attached for those interested to learn more. Many things he wrote, I know to be true.

On Gods: Let them settle their differences themselves, we are too small to them…

Dialogue Armenian style: You said it not me plus there is an article of NY Times...

Truth and Justice: “Let the one who did not sin at all throw the first stone” ? Whose “Justice is the best” ?

Looks like “lynching or slandering works fine” if you shout loud enough and you start to believe in what you say!

After all, you believe in “what you want to believe”!

Megalomania: One sure thing that Armenian historians don’t mention and most Turks do not observe, is the fact that Enver had offered autonomy in six vilayets to Dashnaks, if they, in Turkey and Russia, would fight on the Ottoman side. First they said YES, but later the Czar increased the bid offering 2 more Russian Vilayets, and Britain supported Russia, and Dashnaks were all armed ready to fight and prove to be warriors and plunder… The blood could not stay still… Once out, it is bilateral butchery and eye for an eye. As you have given the example, fly and the rape of the elephant… A military force of 200.000 fighters is much more than a fly, I would say that it was the “rich cowboy riding the stupid horse, listened to devilish promises and raped the horse… and sorry, the revenge of the horse was much more dramatic…

Mount Ararat and Volcano: “Ide Fix” is for inflexible feeble minds and as a mirage, that all others can see..

Meanwhile poor Armenians in Armenia are fed with grudge and hope that one day they will receive big compensations, after deduction of the service charges and in the meantime told to be patient and do what the Dashnaks outside Armenia in comfort, tell them to do… Because if the mirage ends, and people face reality and normal relations to improve little by little than hoping for the lottery – compensation prize, many of the much active and efficient money-choonies will lose their milking cow. It is better that the cow moooees “Genocide, Revenge”, while it is milked from outside by the unknown. An example of “raising youth for that” will follow next week.

Attached- Philip Mansel commentary
Last Word: Persons like Ara and myself may not be liked by many… Because we hate to be a silent cow…

Best regards

Sukru S. Aya


(I)“CONSTANTINOPLE” Philip Mansel, St. Martin’s Press, NY, ISBN 0-312-141574-8

P.47: In the sixteenth century ‘heretics’ were burnt alive in London and Berlin, massacred in Paris, expelled from Vienna. In 1685 Louis XIV expelled all Huguenots from France; until 1700 appreciative crowds, led by kings and queens of Spain watched heretics burn alive in the Plaza Mayor of Madrid. The Ottoman Empire, however, gave religious freedom to Christians and Jews. George of Hungary wrote in the fifteenth century: “The Turks do not compel anyone to renounce his faith, do not try hard to persuade anyone and do not have a great opinion of renegades”. In the seventeenth, in the view of the traveler and writer Monsieur de La Motraye: “There is no country on earth where the exercise of all sorts of Religions is more free and less subject to being troubled, than in Turkey”. He knew what he was writing about, since he himself was a Huguenot forced to leave France after 1685.

P.50: In 1516 the Occumenical Patriarch Thelepus I hinted to the Tsar that a Russo-Byzantine empire might be created. Clearly, the Patriarch had no objection to the ‘Christian Emperor of all Christians’ expelling the ‘infidel Turks’. However, the stage had been set for one of the dramas of nineteenth –and early twentieth century European history: the Russian drive south to the Black Sea, the Balkans and the ultimate prize, ‘Russia’s baptismal font’ –Tsarigrad, the city of emperors. The Patriarch of Constantinople was one of the authors of the drama.

P.51: On 21 March 1657, on the orders of the Grand Vizier, Patriarch Parthenius III was hanged from a city gate for writing to the Prince of Wallachia saying that the era of Islam was approaching its end and that soon ‘the lords of the cross and the bells will be the lords of the empire’. The repeated transformation of churches (in all forty-two) into mosques asserted the supremacy of Islam.

P.52: As old churches were lost, new ones were built. Without towers or visible domes, they had to be discreet; even today those built before 1800 are hidden behind walls and invisible from the street.

P.53: The sight of the mosques and the sound of the muezzin made Islam visible and audible throughout Constantinople. Beneath the surface of triumphant Islam, however, was hidden, Christian world of water. The concept of holy water or holy springs stems from the primeval association of water with life and purification.

P.54: Constantinople is one of the few cities where Muslims as well as Christians have lived together, over several centuries, in nearly equal proportions. It is not surprising that the two religions influenced each other. Balikli for example’ was revered by Muslims as well as Christians. In 1638 Sultan Murad IV is said to have asked the monks to pray for his victory over Persians. The day they prayed, he took Baghdad. The crowd, drawn from rich and poor, Muslim and Christian, Bulgarian, Armenian and Catholic, was sometimes so great that the whole city seemed to be present.

P.55: However’ although hamams and imarets were built beside mosques for Muslim charitable purposes, Christaians and Jews were permitted to use them. Muslim go to Armenian churches, Surp Hireshdagaber or Surp Kevorg (St.George) at Balat and even spend the night there, to cure epileptic children or consult a medium.

P.56: The collective memory and state of mind of the city acquired an instinctive tolerance, or acceptance, of other religions. The Conqueror’s calculation, that it was possible to run a multiconfessional capital, proved correct. Hatred might be expressed in words; it rarely exploded in acts.

P.334: Artin Pasha Dadian was also a prominent figure in the Armenian community; he had helped draw up the constitution of 1860, and in 1871-5 was president of the Armenian National Council.

P.335: In 1896 the Sultan appointed Artin Pasha Dadian, president of a council to resolve the conflict between the empire and the Armenian revolutionaries. Having secured and amnesty and liberation of 1.200 political prisoners

he sent his son to Geneva to talk to the exiles. He himself claimed to work for reforms in the East ‘at once as an Ottoman civil servant and as an Armenian’. When an Armenian radical smiled at the phrase, he said: ‘I know that you young Armenians, you do not believe in my patriotism and believe me a Turkish zealot. … ‘it is our duty to work faithfully for the state and fear movements of revolt so as not to suffer terrible punishments. He ended with a cry from the heart: ‘Prudent patriotism, is it not also patriotism?’ In a letter of 1898, intended for the Dashnak party, he is lucid and prophetic: … Fourth, various organizations are fighting different causes, each in their own way, and in the middle of all this stands the pitiful Artin Pasha, who on one hand begs the Sultan for mercy by telling him that this would be the best thing for his empire and on the other hand fights base individuals who in order to attain their selfish aims are even willing to sell their nation.

P.337: While some Armenians and Bulgarians chose violence, most Greeks were too prosperous to fight for ‘the Great Idea’ They felt that while the Ottomans reigned, Greeks, through their banks and commerce, governed. In the words of one Greek businessman: ‘We lend them the vivacity of our intelligence and our business skills; they protect us with their strength, like kindly giants…’

P.339: During a visit to Balmoral in 1896, Tsar Nicholas II also revealed his ambition that Russia should take ‘the key to her backdoor’: Constantinople. Lord Salisbury expressed only limited opposition. Four years later the Tsar’s ministers agreed that seizure of the Bosphorus was Russia’s ‘most important task in the twentieth century – although, given the weakness of Russia’s finances and the Black Sea fleet, action was not possible.(Russia’s designs on Constantinople met widespread acceptance. In 1915 the British Prime Minister, Asquith wrote that Constantinople’s ‘proper destiny’ was to be Russian)

P.348: However, mullahs, Greek and Armenian priests and rabbis were photographed side by side, surrounded by Ottoman soldiers, in commemoration of their successful organization of the elections. Of the deputies elected in 1908, 142 were Turks, 60 Arabs, 25 Albanians, 23 Greeks, 12 Armenians (including four Dasnaks and two Henchaks) five Jews, four Bulgarians, three Serbs, one Vlach. The colloquial term appropriated by followers of the Committee, had about 60 deputies. Others included ulema opposed to secularization, conservatives, and liberals in favour of decentralization.

P.366: The last military expression of the concert of Europe which had regulated the Continent since the defeat of of Napoleon (except during his nephew’s reign) could be seen on the streets of Constantinople in 1912-13. On 12 November with Ottoman permission, fourteen foreign warships carrying 2.700 sailors anchored in the Bosphorus to reassure the Christian population. On 16 November a delegation from the Armenian Patriarchate asked the embassies for protection. On 18 November, the sailors landed with machine guns. The French took up position in Galata, the British in Pera, Austrians and Germans in Taksim, and Russians along the quays.

P.368: The empire’s weakness strengthened the great powers; anti-Ottoman bias, which had been growing since the 1890s. Before the war, in the expectation of Ottoman victory, they had issued a declaration against changes in the status quo in the Balkans. After Ottoman defeats, they helped Balkan states divide the spoils. Unofficial economic protectorates were marked out, for Britain in Mesopotamia, for France in Syria, for Russia in northern Anatolia, for Germany along the Berlin to Baghdad railway. The British ambassador wrote: ‘All powers including ourselves are trying hard to get what they can out of Turkey. They all profess to wish maintenance of Turkish integrity but no one ever thinks of this in practice’. A feeling that the Ottoman Empire was entering its death-agony permeates private letters as well as diplomatic letters. The ousted Grand Vizier Kamil Pasha’ rightly known as ‘Ingiliz Kemal’ called for ‘some adequate foreign control… in regard to the administration of Turkey.

P.370: In August 1914 the British government lost further popularity by confiscating for its own use two Ottoman battleships which had been paid for by public subscription in the Ottoman Empire and built in British yards (the confiscation was not early enough, however, to prevent Enver using the ships as bait to lure a reluctant Germany in the 2 August alliance).

P.375: The last Allied troops withdrew in January 1916. During the fighting at Gallipoli, a greater cataclysm was decided in Constantinople. The Committee had at first enjoyed relatively good relations with Armenians. Between 1909-1914 both the Armenian national assembly and congresses of the Hunchak party had met in the capital. An Armenian, Gabriel Noradoungian, a protégé of Ali Pasha had briefly been Minister of Foreign Affairs in 1912-13 (left for Paris soonafter)

In 1914 some Armenians helped Russian troops in Anatolia against Ottoman forces. There was an Armenian rising in Van. In Constantinople itself some Armenians were seen gloating over the first Russian victories.

P.377: The wartime alliance turned Constantinople into a magnet for Germans. A German naval base was established at Istinye on the left bank of the Bosphorus. Workers from Krupps served munitions factories; among the German officers stationed in Constantinople were Von Papen and Ribbentrop. Enver’s chief of staff in the War Ministry was the able General Hans von Seeckt, the future organizer of the German army after 1919.

P.382: In 1919, drunk with victory, the Allies were about to impose a vindictive peace on the Central Powers, and to remodel Europe on nationalistic lines. The defeat of the Ottoman Empire was so total that some Allied statesmen hoped to inflict worse terms on the Ottoman Empire than on Germany, including the loss of Constantinople. The British Prime Minister Lloyd George was a believer in Mazzinian nationalism, passionately pro-Greek and an intimate of Sir Basil Zaharoff. In 1918 he had promised that Constantinople would remain Ottoman; in 1919 he declared ‘Stamboul in the hands of the Turks has been not only the hot bed of every sort of Eastern vice but it has been the source from which the poison of corruption and intrigue has spread far and wide into Europe itself…Constantinople was not Turk and the majority of the population was not Turkish’. In the disruption that followed the war, statistics were particularly hard to compile. However, according to an estimate from British officers on the spot, the population in 1920 consisted of 560,000 Muslims, 206,000 Greeks and 83.000 Armenians. Of approximately 150,000 foreigners, a large number were Greeks with Hellenic, rather than Ottoman nationality. Nevertheless, the city had a Muslim, Turkish speaking majority. Above all, in 1919 more than ever, Turks, Greeks and Armenians each wanted a state of their own, not a shared city. Curzon’s fixation about this ‘plague spot’ led him into a militant Christianity which, when governing India, he had rejected. An essay on the Emperor Justinian had won him a prize at Oxford…

P.393: In order to give the nationalists a ‘knock-out blow’, the Allies authorized a large scale Greek advance in Anatolia and Thrace. On 8 July the Greek army took Bursa.On 26 July King Alexander made a triumphant entry into Edirne. For the next two years, while Greek and Turkish armies fought for Anatolia, with Allied permission Greece used Constan-tinople as a military and naval base, landing munitions on the quays of Galata and recruiting soldiers in the street.

P.397: While nationalists left Constantinople to join the army, waves of refugees and orphans, Turkish, Kurdish and Armenian, poured into the city. There were so many that they took over military schools, palaces and mosques. A special American-funded charity called Near East Relief, fed over 160,000 people a day in Constantinople. Some horrors, however, were spared the city. In 1919 many died in Cairo and Alexandria during anti-British risings; the Greek occupation of Izmir began with a massacre of Turks; French forces bombarded Damascus in 1920. Constantinople, however, was miraculously free of bloodshed, except in March 1920. Turkish memoirs reveal more injured pride than physical suffering: Turks complained of Greeks’ and Armenians’ ‘intolerable smiles’ and ‘generally obnoxious’ behaviour on ferries and trams. They were accused of such crimes as traveling first-class on second-class tickets, or being given seats on trams by Armenian conductors while Muslims were ejected.

P.398: The city , which had received so many refugees from different regions, from Spain, Poland and Central Asia, now witnessed the arrival of a procession of 126 boats containing 145,693 Russians (and Russian imperial stud). They came not, as many Russians had once hoped, to hang ‘Russia’s shield for ever on the gates of Tsarigrad’, but as refugees traveling in indescribable squalor. Some were so hungry and thirsty that they lowered their wedding rings on cords, down to boatloads of Greek and Armenian shopkeepers, in return from bread and water. They slept in the stables of Dolmabahce palace, or prostitutes’ vacated rooms in the port hotels of Galata.

P.414: The Caliph’s secretary Salih Keramet, son of the poet Nigar hanim, recorded in his diary that the cars frequently got stuck in mud on the road, and gendarmerie had to put downs stones to enable to drive free. At 11, tired, hungry and sad, the party arrived at Catalca railway station. The Caliph tried to smile when the police and gendarmerie gave him his last salute. The station manager tried to make them comfortable in his family’s private quarters. He was Jewish and Jews were the only minority to retain bond of loyalty to the dynasty. When the Caliph expressed his thanks, the station manager replied in words which brought tears in all eyes:

“The Ottoman dynasty is the saviour of Turkish Jews. When our ancestors were driven out of Spain, and looked for a country to take them in, it was the Ottomans who agreed to give us shelter and saved us from extinction. Through the generosity of their government, once again they received freedom of religion and language, protection for their women, their possessions and their lives. Therefore our conscience obliges to serve you as much as we can in your darkest hour”

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