On March 19, 2016, my article, “The Armenian Genocide: Shame on Israel” was published. A few readers responded favorably, agreeing with my concerns.
Since that time, Israel has done very little to amend its inaction in this crime against humanity.
Are our relations with Erdogan’s Turkey so important for us that we have lost all our moral and ethical values?
For years, as I had written, Israel and Turkey enjoyed friendly and harmonious relations. While very few Turks have made the short flight to visit Israel, some 250,000 Israeli Jewish tourists visit Turkey each year, adding to the coffers of the merchants in the bazaars. Israeli tourism has been good for Turkey.
But more important than tourism, than buying Turkish leather products and gold jewelry, we need to evaluate the moral side of an immoral history.
Millions of decent, innocent Armenian Christians were massacred simply because they were Christians living in a Muslim state. During the first World War, the Turks feared that the Armenians would side with Russia against them. At least, this was the pretext which the Sultan’s guards used to justify their genocide against a people who had been their neighbors for thousands of years.
Fleeing persecution and slaughter, many Armenians found shelter in other countries. Many immigrated to America. Many arrived in Jerusalem and settled adjacent to St. James Monastery in what became known as the Armenian Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem.
I cannot count how many times I have walked through the narrow cobblestone streets and alleys of this quarter. On all sides, Armenian craftsmen have established shops producing traditional Armenian ceramic work and some Armenians have specialized in photography.
They are a diligent, honest and hard-working community. No Armenian has ever lifted up a hand to harm us. They live in peace and cordiality among us and we must treasure them for the beauty they bring to our country.
Discussions and deliberations are taking place between Israel and Turkey to re-establish normal diplomatic relations. But the government of Israel, dedicated to the welfare of all its citizens, must declare that the massacre of the Armenians was genocide…… nothing less.
One way to show our displeasure with the Turkish regime’s refusal to admit and to acknowledge their crimes in 1915 is to boycott travel to Turkey. Why should we enrich the merchants who themselves deny the genocide of the Armenian people?
We are a people who live by God’s commandments to love our neighbor as ourselves and to defend their rights. It is time for the nation to lift up its voice and to demand justice for the Armenian people.
As modern Germany acknowledged its genocide against the Jewish people and paid restitution to survivors, it would be wise for modern Turkey to follow that example.
I don’t read or write nor speak the Armenian language, but for Armenian readers of this article I want to say:
“Astvats orhni Hayastani zhoghorvadin ovk’yer aprum yen mer mej”.
May God bless the Armenian people who dwell among us.