Today, is Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. In recognition of that, StandWithUs, ever those Zio-rascals, prepared a “moving” commemoration of the Armenian genocide. If you watched the short video you’d be genuinely overcome by the suffering endured by Armenia’s Christians at the Ottomans’ hands. But naturally, SWU neglects a few salient facts that are critical to understand the Zionist historical context.
We have to go all the way back to the days of Herzl himself. When he first founded the Zionist movement at the end of the 19th century, he considered numerous options for the location of the Jewish homeland. At first, he thought it would be easier to colonize a place like Uganda or Argentina, which were relatively lightly inhabited (in his view). But religious Zionists vehemently rejected this proposal since it flew in the face of prayers prayed by Jews over thousands of year for a return to Zion.
One of the major obstacles to a Jewish homeland in Palestine was the Ottoman empire, which controlled this territory. The Ottomans had begun the attack on Armenian Christians already in the 1890s, when the first massacres happened. In response, European states turned off the financial spigot so the sultan could not gain any financing. Herzl proposed that wealthy European Zionists pay off the substantial Ottoman debt in return for recognition of a Jewish homeland. When the sultan rejected this proposal, Herzl suggested that he become the chief European defender of the Ottomans on the Armenian question. The sultan enthusiastically endorsed his proposal and Herzl barnstormed all over Europe on behalf of the Turks. This Haaretz op-ed conveys the historical narrative:
Herzl…tr[ied] any means possible to hasten the establishment of a Jewish state. And so he agreed to serve as a tool of the Sultan, by trying to convince the leaders of the Armenian revolt that if they surrendered to the Sultan, he would comply with some of their demands. Herzl also tried to show the West that Turkey was in fact more humane, that it had no choice but to deal with the Armenian revolt this way, and that it aspired to a ceasefire and a political arrangement.
The Sultan hoped that Herzl, a well-known journalist, would be able to alter the Ottoman Empire’s negative image. And so Herzl launched an intensive campaign to fulfill the Sultan’s wish, casting himself as a mediator for peace. He established ties with and held secret meetings with the Armenian rebels, in an attempt to get them to stop the violence, but they were not convinced of his sincerity, and did not trust the Sultan’s promises. Herzl also made energetic attempts to this effect in diplomatic channels in Europe, which he was very familiar with.
He did this in secret, because he knew other Zionist leaders would react with outrage at his betrayal of a suffering people. The few that he did take into his confidence rejected his activities. Despite all of his flacking for the Ottoman cause, the sultan never honored his commitment to Herzl and when the Empire disintegrated in the aftermath of World War I, Britain stepped in and assumed control of Palestine. It wasn’t till 1948, that Herzl’s vision would be realized.
So in return for all his efforts, Herzl’s betrayal netted the Zionist movement nothing. In the late 20th century, the Israel Lobby shilled on Turkey’s behalf for well over a decade when Israel’s relations with Turkey were congenial. For years, the ADL was infamous in its Armenian Holocaust denial. The State of Israel itself denied the Holocaust on Turkey’s behalf. It was only after the 2010 Mavi Marmara massacre that the Lobby (SWU included) turned against Turkey and affirmed Armenian genocide.
This shows that even at the dawning of the Zionist movement, its leaders had no absolute moral value except a Jewish homeland. They were willing to barter almost anything on its behalf, including the lives of Jewish and Armenian Holocaust victims. The question is: once you have achieved that homeland and betrayed or abandoned most human values in attaining it–what are you left with? What sacred value do you have beyond the existence of the nation? Should a people serve the nation as a sort of god? Or should the nation serve to realize a people’s moral values? Though Zionists may claim that Israel does that, the results appear less than persuasive unless the moral values of the Jewish people encompass ethnic cleansing and mass murder (which they do not).
No one should be fooled by this SWU pandering. When Israel resumes its formerly warm relations with Turkey because of the enormous oil and gas windfall both nations stand to reap (or for any other reason), SWU will return to denying genocide and further confirm its utter hypocrisy.
Firstly, HRD was 3 days ago here in the Holy Land. Your take on Herzel, true or not, seems to be a contradiction to you claim to be a ‘progressive’ Zionist.
If all your claims are true then the entire Zionist enterprise is a priori an invalid movement. So it seems you must be an anti-Zionist.
Can you clarify?
Richard Silverstein says
@ Shaul: As Hillel said: “Go & study.” The answer to your own question is in my blog. Search for the appropriate search terms & read my views. And do NOT ever presume to say what my views are. Ever.
Herzl is not the “entire Zionist enterprise” & I’ve never said the entire Zionist enterprise is invalid. There are some aspects of Zionism I value & have written as much. You can be a Zionist and support two homelands for two peoples in one state (or two states).
Does the US recognizes the Armenian Genocide? No!
Even Obama just made some statements but didn’t officially recognized it.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Daniel: So your argument is that if the U.S., which never suffered a genocide of its own (but rather caused one against Native Americans) doesn’t recognize genocide it’s OK for Israel, whose citizens and their ancestors have suffered genocide, not to recognize it??? Is that your argument? Really? That’s might powerful. I’ll have to give that one some thought…
Could you please contact me personally on a separate matter.
What I’m saying is – politics all over the world trump justice.
Email me to the address I used for the comment
This story should also include the debate that happened in Watertown MA in 2007. There is a large Armenian community there. They pressured the Watertown city council to acknowledge the Armenian holocaust. The ADL took on public opposition to the resolution. Utterly disgraceful position. Alan Dershokowitz was pressured to get involved (Watertown is right next door to Cambridge MA where Alan resides) and while first backing the Turks he finally ducked the question without taking any position. Again utterly disgraceful.
I moved to Watertown in 1980 and I am ashamed to say I was totally unaware of what had happened 60 years before. My neighbors educated me on the Armenian genocide.
Richard Silverstein says
@ Toivo: I wrote a post about this incident at the time. I believe I linked to it in this post. If I didn’t let me know & I’ll dig up the post & link to it.