3609) Making Of Genocide Memory, On Road Of Denial You Only Find Darkness, Right To Refute, Abraham Foxman, Convenient Noise On Armenian Tragedy, Difference Between Genocide And Denationalization

  • The Making Of Genocide Memory , Tal Buenos
  • On The Road Of Denial You Only Find Darkness, Vartan Matiossian
  • The Right To Refute, Tal Buenos
  • Abraham Foxman’S Good Name, Tal Buenos
  • Convenient Noise On The Armenian Tragedy, By Tal Buenos
  • The Difference Between Genocide And Denationalization, Tal Buenos

As the common use of the word 'genocide' became a feature in the cultural environment of New York, it was natural for some Armenian-Americans to characterize the Armenian suffering in World War I as genocide

Genocide obsession might seem like an inherent part of Armenian national memory. Currently, most Armenians are convinced that it is disrespectful or even dishonest to remember what happened to their ancestors in the final period of the Ottoman Empire without placing genocide at the center of one's thoughts and expressions. In genocide discourse, sentences are being crafted as if genocide is . . .

the memory itself.

The commemoration has become an occasion for "genocidizing" history. Thus, the memory is not simply that the Ottoman police arrested over 200 members of the Armenian leadership who were suspected of disloyalty at a fatal time for the government on April 24, 1915, but rather that Armenians insist that it be seen as marking the beginning of genocide.

The past is washed with the rhetoric of genocide. One's morality is questioned if the word "genocide" is not used to describe what happened to Ottoman Armenians during World War I.

However, undeniable evidence shows that there was a time not too long ago when even leading scholars of modern Armenian studies did not characterize the event as genocide in their work on this particular point in history.

When, how and why did Armenian memory become filled with genocide?

Before the Armenian narrative became the crown jewel of genocide discourse, the term "genocide" served a political purpose against the Nazis. It was first defined during World War II in an effort to justify control over post-war Germany through international law by highlighting Germany's activities as an occupier. The term genocide was introduced in the 1944 book "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe" by Raphael Lemkin in direct and exclusive reference to the actions of the Axis powers in recently conquered territories. The book does not mention Armenians.

Following the Yalta Conference, as the post-war occupation of Germany became more of a reality, it was an American interest to argue that the term genocide was not just made up to criminalize Germany. Then, The New York Times (NY Times)and other agents of American soft power such as Lemkin, who had been employed by the U.S. government, began to list the Armenian case among other cases of massacres. When Lemkin in 1945 and The NY Times in 1946 each made their first published references to Armenians in this context, both texts referred to Armenians in one sentence along with Greeks and, suspiciously, in both texts the phrase "diplomatic action" was used, suggesting a master source.

During this time the communist threat became the new main focus of American power, and the pogroms in Russia's past began to appear on American lists of atrocities that transformed the term genocide from its specific anti-German origin to greater and more popular use. Correspondingly, the Soviet Union became the primary target of genocide accusations. Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s exiled representatives of national groups such as the Czechoslovakians, Estonians, Hungarians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Poles, Rumanians, and Ukrainians, all claimed – from New York in the pages of The NY Times – that their land was occupied by the Soviet Union and that their people subjected to genocide. Similarly, the American press publicized accusations that the Soviet Union was orchestrating genocide in Korea during the war there.


As the common use of the word genocide became a feature in the cultural environment of New York, it was natural for some Armenian-Americans to characterize the Armenian suffering in World War I as genocide. For instance, in 1955, Sarkis Atamian used genocide for a section title in his book, although without making any arguments about genocide or using the term in the body of the text, meaning that Armenian-Americans used the word genocide casually, as other people did, and there was no belief that those who do not use the word ought to be accused of denial.

Meanwhile, the study of Armenian history at American universities began to take shape. Two monographs in the 1960s – one by Louise Nalbandian and another by Richard G. Hovannisian – were published by the University of California Press. They were largely the product of an initiative that had been led by Harvard University Professor Richard N. Frye, whose various roles in the service of the U.S. government included intelligence work.

Significantly, neither of these works on Armenian history by the two Armenian-American scholars mentions the word genocide.

In "The Armenian Revolutionary Movement" from 1963, Nalbandian prepares the ground for an anti-Turkish memory, but without using the word genocide, as she claims that "in 1915, the Turks brutally massacred Armenian men, women, and children on an unparalleled scale and drove the remaining survivors from Turkish Armenia" (p. 185).

In "Armenia" from 1967, Hovannisian attempts to thicken the Armenian case against the Turks, but without any reference to the word genocide. This is mighty conspicuous in consideration of his current genocide-per-word average. Moreover, in the book he uses words other than genocide to describe what happened, in sentences that these days are typically dominated by characterizing the events as genocide. Hovannisian now derides those who use words such as deportations, massacres, cataclysm or tragedy instead of genocide to describe what happened, but such are the words that he chose to use in 1967. For example, in a note (51) he states: "April 24, 1915, is accepted as the inaugural date of the Armenian deportations…" (p. 274).

As late as 1978, the magazine Ararat published an article by Hovannisian titled "Rewriting History" in which he addresses the Armenian-Turkish polemic over World War I head-on, yet without mentioning the term genocide at all.

How can there be an Armenian demand that the event be characterized as genocide if scholars of Armenian history such as Nalbandian and Hovannisian elected not to use the term in their own writings?

This moral question has a soft-power answer. For the sake of credibility and the effective arrival at a worldwide acceptance of how the term genocide is now used to describe the Armenian suffering in World War I, it had to appear as if Armenians themselves insisted on using the term genocide before American-influenced historians and genocide scholars could present it as genocide in works on history. The use of genocide would not have been persuasive had it originated in publications by American university presses rather than from within the Armenian community.


The agitation of Armenian-American to absorb the word genocide as part of their own collective memory started during the escalation of American military involvement in Vietnam when The NY Times gave Vahakn N. Dadrian a platform to debut the contentious narrative, and at the heart of it the conviction that Armenians were "victims of the first modern example of genocide." The stated reason for the publication on May 30, 1964, of approximately 500 words – double the length of each of the six other letters that day – was a three-week-old article about the Nazi slaughter at Auschwitz. In effect, like a bulletin board for group mobilization, The NY Times, via Dadrian, informed the public almost a full year in advance that the upcoming commemoration of the 50th year of the "1915 events" was going to be a momentous event.

When The NY Times published another anti-Turkish tirade by Dadrian on August 10, 1964, it went as far as using the fiery word genocide to ignite passion for the idea of an Armenian land-grab once the Armenians were independent of the Soviet government, asking: "… can the Armenians be denied the right to reclaim their ancestral territories which Turkey absorbed after massacring their inhabitants?" It was The NY Times that facilitated the incorporation of stirring words such as "justice" and "retribution" into the Armenian collective vocabulary along with the genocide.

Readers were then informed about Armenians using the word genocide in commemorations. The commemorations introduced prominent banners, saying that Turkey is "Guilty of Genocide" and that it holds "Armenian Land." This was highlighted by The NY Times, which offered three days of coverage of Armenian commemorations in 1965 from April 24 to April 26. Interestingly, neither the date April 24, 1915, nor the word genocide were mentioned by the newspaper in this Armenian context in the previous years. The NY Times had not reported any such Armenian claims against Turks since the advent of the term genocide until then. There was no mention of a 40th or 30th year commemoration, let alone in the years that did not mark a round number, yet years 51 and 52 were advertised in the newspaper.

Within several years, the infusion of the term genocide into the Armenian language was sufficient for it to look like the genocide memory came from Armenians themselves in a bottom-up fashion. This entailed careful articulations in trusted sources of information as well as inspiring street activities. At this time the public was instructed that the Armenian suffering had been forgotten from memory, but this illusion was achieved by a false conflation of no genocide with no memory.

In 1979, the report by the U.S. President's Commission on the Holocaust indicated that the government intended to establish a genocide discourse under the wings of Holocaust studies, and signaled that Armenian victimhood would be taught as a primary example of genocide. Since then, hateful language against Turks has been sanctioned by educational literature on history.

As a result of this externally transmitted language, and emboldened by the self-righteousness that genocide indoctrination injected in their national spirit, Armenians began to self-perpetuate a consciousness of justified aggression against the entire Turkic family of people. The vengeful disposition was manifested in Armenian organizations' terrorist attacks against Turkish diplomats in the 1970s and 1980s, and it has continued to manifest itself in the bloody Armenian capture and occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.

Positioned by The NY Times, Dadrian did not merely prophesy, but preach, an Armenian ambition that was bound to clash with Turkic possessions and interests. He did this by inserting genocide into Armenian memory.

Certainly, many Armenians suffered greatly in World War I, and quite possibly the historical significance of what happened to Ottoman Armenians – not just in 1915 – would not have received much attention without the genocide debate, but the "genocidizing" of this history leads away from nuanced knowledge and neighborly demeanor. "Genocidizing" makes it impossible for Armenians and Turks to agree on what is being remembered and what is to be expected of their relations.

While Turks have been vilified by the intentional wording that associates them all with a crime of which no Ottoman leader has ever been charged in a competent court of law, Armenians have been sentenced to a constantly contested national memory whose continued mental reassembly relies on the systematic misuse of the term genocide.

* Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Utah

Source , April 25, 2016

On the Road of Denial You Only Find Darkness
Vartan Matiossian

The Australian Turkish Advocacy-Alliance (ATAA) is pretty busy these days doing what its American namesake, the Assembly of Turkish American Associations (ATAA), does: denying that Armenians were victims of genocide in the Ottoman Empire. To that end, in November 2014 it invited to Austrialia a rising star of the new generation of non-Turkish revisionists, a Ph.D. student called Tal Buenos, who addressed a group of parliamentarians at the New South Wales Parliament during lunch on November 24, 2014. (There is no such thing as a free lunch, they say, but the luncheon was hosted by the NSW Parliamentary Friends of Turkey, so they ate what they wanted: a warmed-up meal.)

Mr. Buenos is an Israeli Ph.D. student in Political Science whose signature has appeared here and there in the last couple of years, both in Israeli and Turkish newspapers, and who comes from the University of Utah, that hotbed of Turkish "academic" denial these days. His speech, a veritable tour de force in character assassination of many people from James Bryce to Raphael Lemkin to Samantha Power and her husband Cass Sunstein, is available at the ATAA website. The following passage is worthy of quote (emphasis added):

"Those who study the facts full-time, are the very opposite of deniers of facts. Justin McCarthy was here in Australia and he was accused of terrible things. This Dr. McCarthy, whom I have had the pleasure to meet once at a conference in Sarajevo, is not a denier of facts. He is dedicated, as a scholar, to knowing more about what happened. This impressive man, a walking encyclopedia of a man, has spent a lifetime of studying the facts of the events and surrounding the events. I sit and study facts all day. This is what I do. I am not a big-time barrister in London, I am not even a recording artist. This is not a gig for me. I am committed to studying facts. I am finding them. Give me time, and these facts will become known. Give me a platform, and these facts will become known."

Mr. Buenos is not a denier of facts, he says, the same as Justin McCarthy, whose work, according to genocide scholar Donald Bloxham, "[serves] to muddy the waters for external observers, conflating war and one-sided murder with various discrete episodes of ethnic conflict... [A] series of easy get-out clauses for Western politicians and non-specialist historians keen not to offend Turkish opinion." Here is a paragraph from a recent article of Buenos in the Turkish pro-governmental newspaper Daily Sabah (August 1, 2014):

"In the 1950s, during a time of personal desperation marked by an unpublished autobiography, Lemkin became isolated from the government in his efforts to apply "genocide" around the world - such as calling the potato famine in Ireland a genocide - and reportedly became obsessed with its promotion as it became attached to his own name and reputation. It was during this time that he received interest and support from Christian groups. In return, he began to condemn as genocide the past treatment of Christian Armenians by the Ottoman state and Christian Koreans by Japan in order to find favor with nongovernment Christian lobbies of missionary agendas and enhance his legacy in this manner. In this state of mind, he claimed that he always had the Armenians in mind."

Buenos, indeed, has an ax to grind in the best McCarthy style: he claims that Lemkin did not write his Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, but someone at the Carnegie Endowment Fund did, since he could not have known enough English by 1944 and there is no acknowledgement of anyone helping him with the language. By 1944 people barely made the kind of acknowledgement authors did in the 1960s, when they thanked their typists, or these days, when they may even say a thank-you word to their cat.

Lemkin had learned enough Swedish in 1940-41 as to lecture at the University of Stockholm and to put together a Swedish book, published in 1941.He had shifted from philology to law in his university years. He knew nine languages before coming to the United States. Was it impossible for him to learn a tenth and to write a book?

Of course, someone in the U.S. Government should have been idiotic enough as to translate German law decrees in 1942 and to graciously withhold his name to the benefit of Lemkin, so the latter could take the credit for the translation of the following work:

"Key laws, decrees and regulations issued by the Axis in occupied Europe. Washington: Board of Economic Warfare, Blockade and Supply Branch, Reoccupation Division, December 1942. 170pp." (*)
And someone else, therefore, wrote the introduction.

Buenos adds that Lemkin could not have the Armenian case in mind, because there is no mention of Armenians in Axis Rule. The book, indeed, does not contain any historical background to the concept of genocide, so there was no way that the word "Armenian" would have found room there.

Afterwards, Lemkin published an article in Free World (April 1945) that condensed the ideas of chapter IX of Axis Rule for non-specialized public. Again, it did not contain any historical backgrounds, since its original source did not either.
For the benefit of this full-time student of facts, here is a paragraph from Lemkin, taken from his article "Genocide," published in American Scholar exactly an year later, in April 1946, on the 31st anniversary of the extermination that inspired him (emphasis added):

"In this way a mass obliteration of nationhoods had been planned throughout occupied Europe. The Nazi leaders had stated very bluntly their intent to wipe out the Poles, the Russians; to destroy demographically and culturally the French element in Alsace-Lorraine, the Slavonians in Carniola and Carinthia. They almost achieved their goal in exterminating the Jews and Gypsies in Europe. Obviously, the German experience is the most striking and the most deliberate and thorough, but history has provided us with other examples of the destruction of entire nations, and ethnic and religious groups. There are, for example, the destruction of Carthage; that of religious groups in the wars of Islam and the Crusades; the massacres of the Albigenses and the Waldenses; and more recently, the massacre of the Armenians."

Therefore, not in the 1950s, but in 1946, in the first article where he pieced together cases of genocide, more than six months before the General Assembly of the U.N. recognized genocide as a crime, more than two years before the U.N. Convention was approved, Raphael Lemkin cited the Armenian case as an example of the "destruction of entire nations," a.k.a. genocide.

Mr. Buenos' whole argument becomes just... a hole in a house of cards.

He may consider himself the opposite of a denier, but the author of a piece presumptuously entitled "The Lemkin Hole in the Swiss Case" definitely seems to need 25 hours a day to study the most basic facts, because twenty-four are not enough for him to find even a dim light on the only path he knows: the cavernous road of denial.
(*) Some of the bibliographic data on Lemkin have been taken from the comprehensive bibliography compiled by Jim Fussell from Prevent Genocide International.


To accuse of denial is to assert that someone is refusing to acknowledge the truth. The accusation of denial assumes the accuser is the possessor of fact-based knowledge and the accused is devoid of empirical capacity.

The privilege to accuse others of genocide denial is usurped by presidents and directors of institutes and centers in the genocide industry who have created a web of factories worldwide that have big commanding names and dispense genocide labels. Serial genocide labelers, such as Gregory H. Stanton and Israel Charny, employ the accusation of denial to justify their main product: the genocide accusation against the Turks. Not only does it keep their factories in business, it also covers up the simple fact that neither of them have the lingual skill to read Ottoman texts or the methodological accountability to put the Armenian tragedy of World War I in context.

As the genocide industry is trying to piggyback on the overwhelming historical singularity of the Holocaust, so do its accusations of denial counterfeit the currency of the strong position against Holocaust denial. However, significantly, Holocaust denial pertains to claims against the actuality of known facts, and the scholarly discourse among experts in the field of Holocaust studies is open to legitimate debates over historical interpretations of events.

Far from denial, the right to refute is in the DNA of the academic being and it means the freedom to prove through evidence that a charge is false or that an opinion is erroneous.

If the accusation of denial involves the accuser’s false ownership of truth, then it is nothing but a scare tactic employed by bullies who wish to shut down historical inquiry. Thus, in twisted fashion, the very accusation of denial is presented by the genocide industry as “proof” of genocide.

There is a plethora of possible reasons why the genocide industry makes lists of denialists: to cement genocide studies as a legitimate academic field, to undermine American strategic ties with Turkey, to boost up international interventions and restrain the effect of libertarianism on American foreign policy, to cater to the wishes of Armenian lobby groups in the U.S., to perpetuate bigotry and racism through old notions of Islamophobia and Turcophobia; or, to sustain the common Western historiography that obsessively vilifies Turks, but lacks interest in defining the massacres perpetrated by Britain in India during the so-called Indian Mutiny in 1857.

Whatever the reasons for the accusations of denial, they certainly correspond with Turkey’s political and economic emergence as a regional power in a transcontinental location with several spheres of influence. Turkey’s upgrade into the category of a newly industrialized country means it has become subject to increasing disparaging narratives sponsored by powerful geopolitical foes, but also that the growth of investment in education has led to renegotiations of personal freedoms in the country and a resolve to rescue the nation’s history from the hands of flagrant Orientalists.

If viewed fairly, it may be observed that Turkey is going through a fascinating process: a nation of a storied history is now weighing in on its place in European historiography. It has suffered for too long from the dominant historical narration by past entities of foreign agenda in its land, and it has reserved the right to tell its own history. To say that the Turks are incapable of doing so is to degrade an entire people.

Instead of extending a hand to welcome Turkey’s uniqueness to the European family of nations, there is a vicious focus on old narratives that have exploited Turkey’s otherness. The restricting and outlawing of the Turks’ right to study their own history, read their own texts, and find their own voices, is akin to cultural genocide.

How are the Turks being stigmatized and denied their own history? Argumentum ad consequentiam. This means that, in order to thrive, the genocide industry is committed to promoting Turkish blame, and discarding those which do not. Also, it means changing the rules of play by defying the actual U.N. definition of genocide, and cherry-picking isolated events to detach the Armenian tragedy from historical reasoning. It even means enabling false experts, as in the case of Taner Akçam, a scholar who authenticated documents that were later proven to be fake. Sadly, such tactics have had an impact on many, including well-meaning Turks who, as part of their quest for European acceptance, have succumbed to the pressing ad hominem depictions of their own past.

Only evidence may illustrate the tremendous difference between denial and refutation, and expose the ills committed by genocide labelers against the Turkish people.

One realm of evidential questions is about broadening the context: How did centuries of peaceful Ottoman Armenian existence turn rambunctious? What impact did the Russian conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century have on the Armenian rebellion against Ottoman authorities?

How did James Bryce – the man who, decades before the Young Turks came into power, had argued publicly that Britain should use the Armenians to collapse Asiatic Turkey – become involved in Armenian nationalist efforts? How did his World War I propaganda reports on the treatment of Armenians – published to manipulate the American public opinion – become a foundational source on which certain scholars base an entire narrative?

Another realm of evidence relates to the actual events in World War I: What were the military constrains under which the Ottoman authorities were operating? Was the Ottoman policy intended to destroy any particular people or to clear important war zones of anti-government minorities? How did the Anatolian Armenian leadership carry itself throughout the war? Did their sense of opportunism outweigh precaution?

Yet another important realm of evidence involves the genocide narrative itself: How have politics affected the push to accuse Turks of genocide over the years? Is there a correlation between the sponsoring of genocide accusations and Turkey’s pivotal NATO membership, its central role in Middle Eastern and Eurasian affairs, and its momentous bid for EU membership?

To refute is to liberate truth, and here it specifically means that a nation is finally standing up to the biased historiography that has vilified it for many years. Scholars should be free from fear that they would be snubbed for their research findings, and the Turks should not be denied the right to participate in discussions on their own history.


The Jerusalem Post, 18.05.2014

Foxman is not a denier, on the contrary, he has expressed genuine interest in learning more facts about what had happened.

It is shocking that Abraham Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League and a Holocaust survivor, who will soon be capping 50 years of dedication to the cause of “never again” for Jews and for all, is subjected to such a blatant campaign of defamation by political opportunists.

While the Law School of Suffolk University in Boston intended to honor the soon-to-retire Foxman by naming him as the speaker for the commencement on May 17 and announcing that he will be bestowed with the honorary title of Juris Doctor, the Armenian Bar Association flipped the script by publicly urging the university to disinvite the “genocide denier.”

Certain Armenian websites have been circulating articles that are designed to injure the reputation of both Foxman and the ADL, and it is likely that the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts will stage a student protest on commencement day to go along with a spitefully worded online petition to remove him from the event.

Foxman is not a denier. He has never refused to recognize existing facts about the Armenian tragedy of World War I. On the contrary, he has expressed genuine interest in learning more facts about what had happened.

It is only through the study of authentic documents that one may formulate an informed opinion on whether the Ottoman government acted with the intention to destroy the Armenian people – as the genocide label would warrant – or in consideration of wartime necessities to clear vulnerable areas within its territory of a population whose leaders were colluding with the enemy.

Indeed, the Ottoman state removed Armenians from their homes during WWI, and did not protect them from hunger, diseases and raids. One’s heart cannot remain indifferent to the suffering experienced by the Armenians, and the emotion that is still felt by this generation of Armenians for whom the memory of the events is a pivotal aspect of their heritage.

This memory, however, is manipulated by political agenda. The facts concerning the intentions of both Turks and Armenians in their conflicting national aspirations are still being studied. The context is wider than WWI, and involves a long history of religious prejudice, the interests of great powers and the inflammation of ethnic conflicts at the expense of many Muslim and Jewish communities as well as Christian ones.

Essential sources on what the Ottoman government and the Armenian leadership were trying to accomplish are only now becoming available. Whoever is making rash and harsh judgments is doing so because of a hurry to meet political ends.

Unfortunately, many of the voices that are the loudest on the matter are of those who are either committed to national interests or to “genocide” as an academic discipline. Correspondingly, Armenian lobby groups and career genocide scholars who are not capable of reading a single Ottoman document are the ones who spread a culture of disregard to the details of Ottoman wartime intentions and push for a genocide label that is an anti-Turkish libel.

Interestingly, the bully tactics employed against Foxman and the ADL attest to this lack of historical integrity. The ratification of the genocide convention in the United States in 1988, without which genocide awareness would not have been what it is today, was mainly achieved thanks to incessant efforts by B’nai B’rith, the ADL’s parent organization, which finally convinced President Ronald Reagan to make it a priority.

Yet, ironically, Foxman’s attackers have turned against the very continuer of those who led the call for the US to ratify the genocide convention; these attackers have turned the genocide convention into a tool of political intimidation.

The United Nations Genocide Convention was a direct outcome of the Holocaust, and its ratification in the US four decades later was done on behalf of all national, ethnic, racial and religious groups, to ensure the outlawing of the kind of systematic mass murder that was executed by the Nazis. In a dramatic twist, the term genocide has become a burden on the memory of the Holocaust.

While William Korey, a former director of the ADL, led the debate against the American Bar Association for decades so that American law would stand against another genocide like the Holocaust, in today’s reality Foxman is targeted by the Armenian Bar Association for his courage to speak on the historical uniqueness of the Holocaust.

Undoubtedly, the accurate study of the Holocaust is undermined when references to it are not made for the sake of learning but as a means to promote political campaigns. This is a process through which the depiction of the Holocaust is compromised, and the memory of the Holocaust becomes shaped by foreign considerations. The presence of Adolf Hitler’s so-called Armenian quote in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is a case in point.

The quote, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians,” is on display in the American national Holocaust museum because of the wishes of pressure groups to make the Armenian case appear as Hitler’s inspiration for the Holocaust. The quote is there even though its origin is questionable, and despite the expressed wishes of Jewish survivors that the memory of the Holocaust would serve an educational purpose without political distortion.

It is a recognized fact that Ottoman Armenians engaged in rebellious activity since the 1880s, even before the massacres of the 1890s, and it would be absolutely distasteful to even imply that European Jews at any point prior to WWII sought the destruction of Germany.

In Hitler’s mind, however, the Jews did, and were posing a revolutionary threat on an international scale. Hitler’s anti-Semitic view that the Jewish presence in Europe was comparable to the Armenian rebellion in Anatolia should no longer be given a platform. Hitler should be remembered as a mass murderer of a particular kind, rather than be shown as a genocide expert; museums should educate on what Hitler did, and certainly not accept what he thought.

The politicization of history is so dominant in the Armenian quest for genocide recognition because of its political rather than honest aims. One political aim is to overshadow Armenia’s conquest of Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1990s by popularizing a narrative of victimhood; other political aim of a number of international actors involves using the threat of a genocide label as leverage by which Turkey’s policies may be affected.

While a great many innocent Armenian men, women and children were victims of the conflict between the Ottoman state and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation almost a century ago, their memory has been traded for ongoing political battles. Consequently, public figures such as Foxman are pulled into the fray even when expressing apolitical fairness.

By maintaining a guarded approach against the forcing of political narratives through legislation, in the face of a vicious branding, Foxman bravely confirms the traditional commitment that was made by the ADL long ago to defend democratic ideals. To deny political abuse of memory is no denial of historical facts, but rather their protection.


Convenient Noise on the Armenian Tragedy

by Tal Buenos

Geoffrey Robertson is not the first to write a book or a newspaper article in a manner that presents Turks as genocidal and deniers, without being a scholar of Ottoman history. He is not the first for whom the accusation of genocide is a hobby. The ease with which such writers can publish inaccuracies at the expense of Turks has become a regular feature of Western media. However, when it happens in Australia it is a matter of greater disappointment.

Australia, much like Canada, welcomes immigrants, and respects their cultural background. It is a place where multiculturalism can succeed. While Australia’s history is intertwined with British colonialism, the racial and religious prejudice of colonialism is not deeply embedded in its national identity.

In the UK, where political interests have not allowed for a truly reflective postcolonialist historiography to develop in recognition of the country’s changing social makeup, there is currently a major identity crisis experienced by the formerly colonized peoples who are now British citizens.

In the US, where affirmative action both in laws and in historiography has been helpful in the complicated healing process of African and Native American wounds, there is now a popular post-9/11 discourse that has supplanted the postcolonialist sensitivity. This has enabled a politicized history of the interaction between the West and the Muslim, showing the latter as an aggressive “other,” as if the lessons of colonialism were never learned.

Australia presents a whisper of hope that may rise above it all. If Australia wishes to remain a country that is fair to all of its citizens, then it must promote a diligent study of historical facts, and reject the dictation of prejudicial perspectives on the histories of its multinational and multiethnic citizenry.

Why has it become so easy for an article that degrades an entire people to be published in a major newspaper in Australia? Such is the case with Robertson’s article in The Australian on November 7, 2014. The inaccuracies cannot be ignored.

On April 24, 1915, there was a “rounding up,” but the Armenians who were rounded up were not simply “intellectuals and community leaders” as Robertson puts it, but rather they were leaders of an organized rebellion against their sovereign – the Ottoman state – that was in a total war against Britain, France and Russia. The Ottoman state faced destruction, which presented the Entente and the Armenian political leaders with an opportunity to make a final push for an Armenian independent state. When the Jewish leaders in Palestine were rounded up during the same war because of similar Ottoman concerns, they were released as soon as it became apparent that they were not planning to act as a fifth column while the Ottoman state was fighting for its life.

Armenian political aspirations on Ottoman land emerged long before WWI. Already in December of 1876, James Bryce made a name for himself as a rising politician in Britain’s Liberal Party and an expert in foreign affairs by raising the Armenian Question in the midst of the anti-Muslim campaign that was run by the Gladstonian circle of politicians, historians and journalists. It was in the heyday of Darwinism that claims about the inferiority of race and religion were made in Britain against the Muslim Turks, and the Ottoman sovereign as a Muslim political entity. These were utilized for imperialist interests, and the British political strategy in eastern Anatolia was articulated by Bryce in 1878 as he announced the death of Turkey. Bryce also called for plans to cultivate “the growth of a native Christian race” – the Armenians – to the point of establishing “the nucleus of an independent state” – Armenia – whose territories would comprise of Ottoman land in the size of “about three hundred and fifty miles in length by two hundred and fifty in breadth” (“The Future of Asiatic Turkey,” The Fortnightly Review 29, 1878). The fact that territorial claims are still being vocalized by people such as Robertson, who has suggested “that the majestic Mount Ararat… could be handed over by Turkey as an act of reconciliation,” shows the political nature of the conflict.

Therefore, the Armenians, though they had a distinct ethnic and religious group identity, were since the 1870s a political group in how they were handled by the British imperialist sponsor, and how they interacted with the Ottoman sovereign.

While Robertson talks of an Ottoman “wholesale attempt on a race” by citing the biased Entente for whom the Ottoman Empire was an enemy in WWI, it is evident that the Turks were the ones under an ideological attack on their race and religion, in justification of British imperialism. In 1902, Bryce gave the Romans Lecture at Oxford and said that there are “cases in which the exclusion of the Backward race seems justified, in the interests of humanity at large,” and he invited his audience to “Conceive what a difference it might make if Islam were within two centuries to disappear from the earth!”

The Armenians, whom he and many Britons regarded as racially superior to Turks, were his means to making Muslim rule disappear. Irresponsible Armenian representatives were enthusiastic to meet with Bryce and other British officials in London hotels to agree to a rebellion that compromised the safety of the Armenians in eastern Anatolia who were not the majority in any Ottoman province. Has Robertson consulted the papers of James Bryce at the Department of Special Collections, Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, especially MSS. Bryce 191-208, which reveal how the Armenians were mobilized into becoming a political entity within Ottoman territory?

Considering that it is documented that the Armenian leadership engaged in rebellion against the Ottoman sovereign over the course of decades leading up to WWI, how offensive is it to claim, as Robertson does, that Adolf Hitler was right when he equated – if he did – his victims to the rebellious, British sponsored, Armenians? Just because in Hitler’s mind the Jews or the Poles were as rebellious or politically dangerous as the Armenians were, does not mean that it was true. Is it really necessary to remind Robertson that the Jews in Germany, Poland and all of Europe, were not part of a plan to establish an independent state on German land?

It seems as though political actors and part-time scholars are not interested in historical facts, but rather they wish to make some politically convenient noise.

The Armenian tragedy became a much discussed issue only when it was politically convenient to make it into one. While Robertson writes that Raphael Lemkin “worked tirelessly between the wars to have the annihilation of the Armenians recognised as an international crime,” according to Lemkin’s own resume in the Raphael Lemkin papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division at the New York Public Library, Box 2, Folder 1, there is no mention of international criminal law until after his employment by the US government during WWII. Prior to that, his positions were titled Deputy Public Prosecutor, General Practice of Law, and Professor of Family Law at Tachkomi College, Warsaw, Poland. The book in which genocide was coined under Lemkin’s name in 1944, The Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, does not mention the Armenians at all.

These are only some of the truly convenient inaccuracies on the Armenian tragedy. They serve three main political purposes. They allow the West to maintain control of the conversation on genocide and colonialist history; they allow the West to maintain leverage against the Turkish government so as to influence Turkish policies; and they allow the West to maintain this image of Armenian victimhood to distract from the Armenian aggression in an ongoing real grievance, which is the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Australia does not have to participate in this political game; it has the capacity to protect its inclusive national identity through historiographical cleanliness.


February 17, 2016

The so-called opposition of Armenians today to the Turks, which is, in fact, quite contrary to the traditional brotherhood established in Anatolia in the Ottoman times, is an Anglo-American success

Before the advent of the word "genocide," Anglo-American literature on international law described the action of a government that revokes the official status of its subjects as denationalization. It meant that whoever betrayed the allegiance to the nation was rendered stateless.

After World War II, the term "denationalization" took on different meanings. It has been used in reference to the procedure in which a state ceases to own industries and properties or it might even express the idealistic vision of abandoning the in-group mentality of nationalism for the sake of world citizenry.

However, when the Ottoman Empire disenfranchised many of its Armenian subjects in particular areas of its territory as part of defensive wartime considerations in 1915, denationalization was the most fitting term one would use to denote the Armenian loss of state protection, as the Ottoman government was struggling to protect itself from the invasion of multiple foreign forces.

Denationalization was seen as a legitimate practice because it was anchored in state law and intended to promote the sovereign's safety and the national's loyalty. Article 6 of the Ottoman Law of Nationality from Jan. 19, 1869 states that the Ottoman Empire reserves the right to nullify the subjection of those who change their nationality or join the service of a foreign military.

Such laws toward a people's statelessness were issued in the Western world. For instance, a U.S. law enacted on March 3, 1865 declares that all persons who desert their military or naval service will be deemed as having lost their citizenship. Moreover, in the name of functional governing, the U.S. officially sought to keep Native Americans in a stateless condition. For example, this is articulated in Article 3 of the treaty in which Russia sold Alaska to the U.S. in 1876. It says that while the inhabitants of the territory have the option of returning to Russia or becoming citizens of the U.S., this does not apply to the "uncivilized tribes" who were not to be recognized as nationals until further notice. Similarly, according to a May 6, 1882 law, no American court was allowed to recognize the Chinese as citizens of the U.S. As late as the 1920s, Indian immigrants in the U.S. were denationalized, and even their American-born partners became stateless simply because their "blood" disallowed them from being considered "free white persons."

During World War I, both Britain and France enacted laws to denationalize naturalized citizens whom they suspected of possibly posing a threat to the safety of the state. Britain's Nationality and Status of Aliens Act from 1914 stipulated that certificates of naturalization may be revoked if people are found to have traded or communicated with the enemy at wartime. France had already enacted a law of denationalization in 1848 as punishment for slave trafficking, and there was no protest noted when a French law from April 7, 1915 looked to protect the state against anti-national activities by making it legal to denationalize any naturalized citizen who either bore arms against France, aided its enemy or left the country to avoid military service.


Domestic laws were put in place to protect belligerent states from treason. Britain and France were legally prepared to do the same as the Ottomans did, but they never needed to denationalize entire ethnic communities. The Ottoman state was defending itself against those who sought to conquer its land. The Battle of Gallipoli took place in the Dardanelles, not in the Strait of Dover.

While Britain and France enjoyed the ability to exploit Ottoman Armenians as a fifth column for results on the ground, and as Christian victims for results in public opinion, the Ottoman rulers were forced to de facto denationalize Armenian communities en masse. Nonetheless, it was not indiscriminate denationalization. Only Armenians in areas in Anatolia where cooperation with the enemy could have facilitated the foreign conquest of Ottoman land were denationalized and sent away unprotected. Ottoman officials were facing an extreme case of the exact situation for which laws of denationalization were made.

Following World War I, the winning side began to institute legal language that described denationalization also as the destruction of a national pattern. Accordingly, it would be considered a violation of international law if groups of a national affiliation were shown to have been culturally denationalized by a state as part of a policy to homogenize its population.


Significantly, in a 1919 report titled "Violation of the Laws and Customs of War," the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – in whose later publication the term genocide made its first appearance – announces that Ottoman Armenians were deported and massacred, but does not consider the Ottoman government to have imposed its national characteristics on the Armenian population. Instead, the Bulgarians are said to have attempted this form of denationalization on the Serbian inhabitants of an occupied territory. Thus, as the meaning of denationalization started to evolve toward the invention of genocide, those who produced selective yet influential information about war crimes did not even try to pretend that the Ottoman state had an agenda against the very "Armenian-ness" of its subjects.

In sharp contrast to the denationalizations of World War I, the Nazi laws of the 1930s exhibit a unique deprivation of legal rights against Jews and other non-Aryans under a racial ideology and during a time of peace. The nationality of German citizens was withdrawn by their government in keeping with the Nazi regime's beliefs about race. German nationals who did not even consider themselves to be Jewish were suddenly informed by German legislation that they were of this affiliation if they had two Jewish grandparents. Ultimately, the Nazi government went far beyond denationalization, and during World War II it carried out a policy to gather and exterminate European Jewry.

Genocide was designed to serve the U.S. government in its efforts to establish military, economic and moral control over Germany once World War II was over. In the famous book that was published under Raphael Lemkin's name – but not written by him – in 1944, the emphasis was not on Nazi Germany's treatment of its own nationals. Rather, as the full title of the book "Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress," suggests, there was such a preoccupation with the idea of occupation that both the noun "occupation" and the verb "occupied" are mentioned. In addition, each of the book's three parts has either "occupation" or "occupied" in the title. The term genocide is first explained in the context of a "synchronized attack" for the "extermination of nations and ethnic groups" by the "invaders." Meaning that in this book genocide relates to Nazi war crimes in occupied territories such as France, Luxembourg and Poland. It most certainly did not address circumstances in which a government denationalizes members of a group whose leaders had engaged in revolutionary activities for several years and colluded with invaders during a war.

Not only was the Armenian case irrelevant and non-existent in the original text on genocide, it presents a case of denationalization in which the people who lost their legal status and became stateless refugees during the war were of a group whose leadership had already undergone a process of denationalization by a foreign power. Since the major cultural revolution that was instituted by American missionaries in the 1840s – before World War I or even the first reported set of Armenian riots and massacres – some Haik people in the Ottoman Empire were essentially de-Haikized and de-Ottomanized as they were turned into Americanized Armenians. The Protestant doctrine under Anglo-American guidance had given them a new Armenian national purpose and prepared them for service of Anglo-American interests during World War I.

The case of an unfortunate denationalization by the Ottoman government is prominently featured as genocide, thereby pointing at Turkish criminality and denial, because the Anglo-American imperialist union that used the Armenians in World War I won the war and has since dominated the writing of the war's history according to its interests.

* Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Utah



Post a Comment

Would You Please Update/Correct Any Of The
3700+ Posts by Leaving Your Comments Here

- - - YOUR OPINION Matters To Us - - -

We Promise To Publish Them Even If We May Not Share The Same View

Mind You,
You Would Not Be Allowed Such Freedom In Most Of The Other Sites At All.

You understand that the site content express the author's views, not necessarily those of the site. You also agree that you will not post any material which is false, hateful, threatening, invasive of a person’s privacy, or in violation of any law.

Please READ the POST FIRST then enter YOUR comment in English by referring to the SPECIFIC POINTS in the post and DO preview your comment for proper grammar /spelling.

You need a Google Account (such as Gmail) to publish your comments.

How To Publish Your Comments:

-Please enter your comment in plain text only (NO Formatting) in an editor like notepad first,
-Then copy and paste the final/corrected version into the comment box here as Google/Blogger may not allow re-editing/correcting once entered in some cases.
-And click publish.
-If you need to correct the one you have already sent, please enter a
-New Comment-
as we keep the latest version and delete the older version as default

Your comment will never appear at this site.

More . . :

All the best