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Around Town: The Gaza flotilla hits home

June 10, 2010

Between 1915 and 1923, the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) massacred nearly 2 million Armenians. There were death marches and extermination camps. For the survivors, there were mass exiles.

To this day, Turkey has refused to acknowledge this event, and only 26 nations have officially recognized the genocide of the Armenian people. The United States has not recognized the Armenian Genocide, but 42 states have passed resolutions to that effect.

Unlike Germany, a nation whose self-reflection has led to a dominant culture of pacifism, Turkey takes the position that these deaths were merely the result of an act of war.

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As far as Turkey is concerned, there was no Armenian Genocide.

If a nation wants to be an ally of Turkey, recognition of this historical truth is forbidden. Even within the Jewish community, there has been a reluctance to recognize the Armenian Genocide for fear of worsening relations between Turkey and Israel.

An unintended consequence of the recent Gaza flotilla crisis might be this — honesty.

La Cañada Flintridge resident Edward D. Vaisbort explains "the U.S. should have led the free world many years ago in recognizing the Armenian Genocide, but failed to do so in order to cultivate Turkey as an ally. In light of the resurgence of anti-Western Islamism in Turkey, it's time for the U.S. to do the right thing and recognize the Armenian Genocide and give voice to its victims."

La Cañadan Mark Bernhard agrees, "The U.S. should recognize the Armenian Genocide, and Israel should as well."

His neighbor, Avi Zirler, has a different view. "For the moment Turkey is a NATO ally of the U.S., and such a recognition should be given only if it is in the best interest of the U.S. I am not sure that it is [in the best interest of the U.S.] at this point in time. The U.S. government should leave the recognition to Human Rights NGOs."

With respect to Israel, Zirler says, "Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries that have strong ties to Israel, despite the rhetoric that is coming from the Turkish government. The current government might be voted out, but the Turkish people will still be around. Meanwhile, the recognition can come from NGOs."

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