Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Knesset Moves To Recognize Armenian Genocide

The Jerusalem Post reports that a Knesset bill officially recognizing Turkey's genocide of Armenians is moving forward. Historically, bills of this nature have stalled because of the importance of maintaining Israel's friendly relationship with Turkey. But now, with the two countries' ties at a historic nadir, that concern apparently has fallen off.

There was a similar reversal last year in the US Congress, where the House Foreign Relations Committee passed am Armenian genocide resolution, after years of seeing it narrowly fail. Jewish groups had historically been, at best, tepid with respect to the resolution, in part to assuage Turkey (which made it very clear that it would retaliate against Israel if Jewish groups didn't toe the line). As Turkey began to turn more aggressively against Israel that year, though, that leverage went away, and a major barrier to the resolution's passage disappeared with it.

Then and now, one can debate how much of this is "a diplomatic shot at Turkey draped in self-righteous clothing" versus "doing the right thing now that Turkey has already spent its leverage which had hitherto prevented it." Obviously, the latter is more noble than the former. But regardless, the important thing is that the victims be commemorated.

And as for Turkey, my message remains the same as its ever been: Grow up. Lot's of countries have horrible things in their history. It's true of the US, it's true of Israel, it's true of China -- it's probably true of every country -- and it's true of Turkey. Turkey has plenty of contemporary problems to deal with (e.g., it's Prime Minister threatening to expel its remaining Armenian population), but part of maturing as a nation is learning to deal with your past.*

* Which, incidentally, is part of why Israel's recent flurry of "anti-Naqba" legislation is so distressing.

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