Now You Remembered?

I was filled with revulsion and my soul wanted to puke. The person who telephoned me was an example of the ugly Israeli who had disgracefully been at the forefront of those who denied the Armenian holocaust.

Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid
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Yossi Sarid
Yossi Sarid

The defense minister paid a visit to Turkey this week. They say it was a success. If so, it is possible to renew the conspiracy of silence and the silencing.

This is what happened a few months ago after Recep Tayyip Erdogan once again poured bitter words upon us. An important Israeli personality telephoned me and said the following: "Now you have to hit back at the Turks, to denounce them for the crimes they committed against the Armenians. You, Yossi, have the right to do so. Today you are a private citizen, but even when you were a public figure you did not hold yourself back. You expressed yourself often, in writing and orally, against the way they shirked responsibility for the genocide."

I was filled with revulsion and my soul wanted to puke. The person who telephoned me was an example of the ugly Israeli who had disgracefully been at the forefront of those who denied the Armenian holocaust. He was the one who had joined those who lashed out at the education minister at the time, who visited a church in Jerusalem ten years ago and told those gathered there: "The value of a human life, no matter who the human is - Jew, Arab, Armenian, Gypsy, Bosnian, Albanian, Rwandan - this is the value I want to inculcate all our pupils with. In the new history curriculum I want to include a central chapter on genocide, and as part of that, a broad reference to the Armenian genocide. This is our duty to you, this is our duty to ourselves."

The country was astir, and ministers began to sweat. Ehud Barak and Shimon Peres were the first to express reservations. This declaration, they quickly announced, was not made at the government's initiative; it was the initiative solely of the education minister and was his responsibility. I was ashamed.

New tunes have recently been heard in Jerusalem: "The Turks are the last ones who have the right to teach us ethics." It would be interesting to know who the first ones are. There obviously are not any when referring to the "most moral" state and army "in the world." If the Turks try to teach us, we shall slap them - and hard.

I never understood why young Turkey, which had no hand in that bloodshed, insists on defending the blood of its forefathers. Would too deep an exploration of the past reveal signs of the present? When someone tries forcibly to erase history, that history will usually insist on being rewritten, and in blood.

But it is not only the politicians. Experts in public and political affairs are also clamoring to take the skeletons out of the Turkish closet, more than one million skeletons, to be exact.

Those who never wasted a word on the first genocide of the 20th century have suddenly remembered it. This is the genocide that Henry Morgenthau, Sr. defined as "the greatest crime in modern history." He was the American ambassador to Ankara during those black years, and he was a Jew.

I shall reveal to you what my response was to the agitated caller. "Now you remembered? Only now, when they attribute crimes to you as if you were Turks? I do not believe in a firing squad, so deal with Erdogan yourselves; you deserve him. How sad it is that you conceded a moral position for other interests that are brought about by time and finished also by time."

And now I have an addendum to that response of mine: Let us assume that Turkey will renew its ties with Israel to what they were in the past. Then what? What then? Will we also renew our contribution to the denial of the Armenian holocaust?



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