April 24th marks the date of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. One and a half Christian Armenians were massacred by the troops of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. Christian girls were nailed alive to crosses and left to bleed to death.
The Armenians, the first nation to accept Christianity, had lived in eastern Turkey (Anatolia) for three thousand years. In 1915 there were two and a half million Armenians living in Turkey. Fifty percent of them were slaughtered.
Hitler once said “the world does not remember the genocide of the Armenians” when he made reference to the proposed genocide of Europe’s Jews.
Most nations of the world agree that the Ottoman Turks had committed genocide. But Turkey, the “sick man of Europe” has constantly denied it.
Most nations of the world have recognized Armenian claims to loss of property which was confiscated or destroyed by the Turkish troops.
Shamefully, Israel, a nation which knows the meaning of slaughter, massacre and genocide, has never formally recognized the Armenian Genocide.
To our shame, the reason has been political. Once modern Turkey was an ally of Israel, a Muslim nation which recognized the Jews’ right to the land of Israel. There were diplomatic relations, immense tourism (one way only…Tel-Aviv to Istanbul), trade agreements and friendly inter-action.
As a result, Israel did not want to offend the Turks by recognizing Armenian claims and the historic facts about the Armenian Genocide. Israel, instead of doing the right thing, chose to maintain good relations with modern Turkey at the expense of morality and humanity.
In Jerusalem’s Old City we have a community of beautiful Armenians, craftsmen, artisans, photographers, and theologians of the St. James monastery. These are the remnants and children of those who fled from the Turkish massacre and arrived in our Holy Land. They are a wonderful, peace-loving people who ask the world for nothing more than an official recognition of their tragic history and their claims against Turkey.
We Jews despise those who deny the Holocaust, who state that six million Jews were not murdered, and who keep the “myth” of the Holocaust alive in order to get reparations and compensation from Germany.
Why then do we deny the Armenian Genocide? They lost 2 ½ million people; we lost 6 million people. Do numbers really matter?
Genocide is genocide and needs to be recognized as such.
Israel should do the right thing by publicly acknowledging the 1915 massacre by Ottoman Turks, predecessors of the current Turkish regime which is innocent of the genocide. This is not to condemn modern Turkey but rather to acknowledge an historic tragedy which occurred in the Ottoman Turkish Empire.
But just as modern Germany, innocent of the crimes of the Nazis, did the right thing to recognize German guilt and to provide restitution to survivors, so too should modern Turkey recognize the crimes of its former government and return to the Armenian people that which was stolen from them.
Israel, in the name of decency and humanity, in the name of Jewish morality, should once and for all recognize the Armenian tragedy.
If we do not, we should all hang our heads in shame.