‘The Promise,’ the Armenian Genocide and Israel

In April, I will be going to see a film concerning a subject that is very important to me.

The movie is called The Promise, and it deals with the Armenian genocide that took place a century ago during the Ottoman regime. It is one of the few major films in recent memory to tackle such a topic, and that is of great significance. One of the picture’s aims to is to raise further awareness of this horrific event in the oft-villainous history of humanity.

It’s not surprising that few people know about this incident, given the fact that many seek to downplay it as an extermination of an entire people. Yet that’s what it was, and what remains surprising is Israel’s refusal to officially recognize the murders of 1.5 million Armenians as a genocide.

This is wrong. I’ve written before about the need to address this issue, and I’m writing about it again because it seems ludicrous to me that we, a people who have experienced our own Holocaust, have a government in the Jewish state that does not see the light in this regard. What is going on? Why can’t officials take action on this front?

There are other factors here that are making such efforts difficult. The biggest one is Israel’s stronger relationship with Turkey, which has improved somewhat. It is clear that the government of the former country does not want to offend the latter. This, then, is the time for Israel to take a stand and be brave enough to counter its colleague nation by acknowledging the historical occurrence as a genocide and demanding that Turkey own up to the Ottoman regime’s crimes. People who have big hearts do such things. Does Israel have a big heart?

I think it does, and many of its people do. The question is, do members of the Knesset have the chutzpah to do what’s right in this case? With the anniversary of the genocide coming up on April 24, shouldn’t they do just that?

My friend lost relatives during this period in history. I will be seeing the film The Promise because of my love for him and my understanding that just as we, as Jews, must counter hatred and anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial from bigots who ignore the facts, so must we fight against injustice imposed upon other populations who have also suffered, who have also witnessed and experienced atrocities, who have also been persecuted. The Armenians are one of those populations. They deserve to have their story told.

The Promise is slated to debut in the United States on April 21. More information on it may be found  by clicking here.

About the Author
Simon Hardy Butler is a writer and editor living in New York City. He has written for publications ranging from Zagat to Adweek and has interviewed innumerable people—including two Auschwitz survivors whose story may be heard at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website. His views and opinions are his own.
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