Turkey: the ‘Pinocchio’ of Anatolia

(With apologies to the memory of Carlo Collodi)
By Michael G. Mensoian

The Armenian Weekly
Sept. 1, 2007

Turkey and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) seem to be relying on the same tactic from their respective playbooks. The play is called “parsing” the truth. Unfortunately, parsing the truth to accommodate spurious ends can never be a winning play. Turkey has been doing just that ever since the Ottoman Turkish government began what was to be the “Final Solution of the Armenian Question” on April 24, 1915.

During the past several weeks, the ADL has been caught in the crossfire between acknowledging the truth and parsing the truth. They have gone from not recognizing the Armenian genocide to almost, but not quite recognizing the Armenian genocide, to the here and now when they may have to come out “four-square” and fully recognize the Armenian genocide. Their vacillation has been a public relations fiasco. Their action is remindful of the Yiddish proverb that “a half truth is a whole lie.” Only under pressure from responsible leaders in the Jewish community did the national ADL change its position. But even with their qualified recognition of the Armenian genocide, the ADL immediately sought to placate Turkey by assuring Ankara that it viewed the proposed House and Senate Resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide as “counterproductive.”

The ADL’s almost, but not quite recognition of the Armenian genocide was more than sufficient to have the Turkish Foreign Ministry immediately condemn the ADL for attempting to rewrite history. The Ministry stated that “…there is no consensus among the historians on how to qualify the events…” Based on that contrived assumption, which has been refuted by eminent independent scholars throughout the world, the Turkish government maintains that the planned systematic killing of over 1,500,000 Armenian men, women and children by the Ottoman-Turkish government cannot be called genocide because it is “…historically and legally baseless.”

In light of Turkey’s position, which their Foreign Ministry maintains is a “…very clear” expression of Turkey’s position, how can the ADL actually believe that its “…efforts to bring together Turkey and Armenia to resolve differences over their shared history” is a realistic proposal? It is ridiculous on its face. How naive must the leadership of the ADL be to expect Turkey to reconcile the overwhelming evidence that the genocide occurred with the lies and obfuscatory statements that its government has propagated since that fateful day on April 24, 1915? How can Turkish leaders admit to their citizens and to the world that Turkey has lived a lie for all of these years? Turkey is in a catch 22 situation. Name a country that would want to acknowledge perpetrating such a horrendous crime against humanity.

To further illustrate the dilemma the ADL faces in trying to serve two masters, they acknowledge that while “…independent scholars may have reached a consensus about the genocide, in an effort to help accomplish the reconciliation, there is room for further dispassionate scholarly examination…” If independent scholars have reached consensus on the genocide, who are the historians that the Turkish Foreign Ministry maintains have not reached consensus?

Answer: those historians on the Turkish government’s payroll. The ineptitude of its leadership has seriously eroded the ADL’s relevance and credibility.

In a further indication of its desperation, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has taken up a new tack in hopes of influencing Israel and the Jewish diaspora. In an appeal to the human emotion, the Foreign Ministry suggests that recognition of the Armenian genocide by the ADL would do “…an injustice to the unique character of the Holocaust as well as to the memories of its victims [and] we expect it to be rectified.” Is Turkey implying that recognition of the Armenian genocide would overshadow the Holocaust? In any event, the ADL has only almost, but not quite recognized the Armenian genocide. One would hope that this Turkish appeal does not tap a valid concern for the ADL.

Then to allay any fears that the ADL or the Jewish nation worldwide might have for their compatriots in Turkey, the Foreign Ministry sought to preempt any such worries. According to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, “[t]he Jewish community in Turkey is part of our society and there is no reason for them to worry.” This seems to beg the question: Why should the Jewish minority have any reason to be concerned about their well-being? Could this concern be related to the dismal record Turkey has in the area of human rights? In remarks to the Jerusalem Post, the Turkish Ambassador to Israel, Namik Tan, said that Turkey’s relationship is not with Israel alone, but with the whole Jewish world. The Turkish people “…cannot make that differentiation.” How does that square with the Foreign Ministry’s assertion that there is no reason for the Jewish minority to worry?

For the ADL or Israel or any other organization or government to advance the simplistic notion that Armenia and Turkey should reconcile their differences surely misunderstands what these differences are. As long as Turkey maintains its intransigent stance, its government must expect that its credibility will be challenged and exposed in every venue available for as long as it may take. The passage of time has not diminished the Armenian demand for justice. Unfortunately for Turkey, the Armenian Cause lives and only strengthens in its intensity as it passes from generation to generation.

Reconciliation can only occur when Turkey realizes that the ever-increasing weight of global opinion will no longer tolerate its refusal to accept the evidence stored in government archives in London, Paris, Germany, Washington and Ankara itself that provides incontrovertible proof that the Armenian genocide was planned and carried out by the Ottoman-Turkish government from 1915 to 1918.

Numerous eye-witness accounts add further evidence to support the Armenian position as well as an ever increasing number of independent scholars who continue to shed more light on this dark and tragic period in modern history.

Every page, every hideous photograph, every first-hand account and every document supporting the Ottoman-Turkish government’s plan to effectively and efficiently carry out the “Final Solution to the Armenian Question” is well known to the Turkish government and its paid “revisionists.” It is unfortunate that this same information is as well known to those governments that are pliant accomplices to a Turkish government that has long been morally bankrupt.

Let us pray that the members of Congress who support House Resolution 106 and Senate Resolution 106 will continue to let truth to be their only guide as they work to pass these nonbinding resolutions recognizing the Armenian genocide. Their passage will represent a symbolic affirmation by the United States Congress in recognizing the Armenian genocide that will create seismic reverberations within the Turkish government. It is time for the United States to realize that Turkey is not the keystone to a world order as perceived in Washington. Passage of these resolutions would be one more step toward achieving the justice that will allow the martyrs of the Armenian genocide to finally rest in peace.