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Emet m'Tsiyon

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Activist Zionists & the Armenian Genocide in WW I -- Part One

During the recent controversy over a congressional resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide during WW I, certain Jews spoke against the resolution and/or against agreeing that there was such a genocide. Moreover, there are certain Jewish historians and Middle East specialists, in the US, Israel, and France, who argue that there was not an Armenian genocide. Some of these writers are rabid Islamophiles for whom Muslims, whether Turks or Arabs, can do no wrong. These cannot be considered friends of the Jewish people. Others may think that they are helping Israel or the Jews keep good relations with Turkey by rejecting the real history.

Be that as it may, while the genocide was going on Jews in Israel and elsewhere were witnesses to the events and sent this information to the world outside of the Ottoman Empire. These included Aaron and Sarah Aaronsohn, and Eitan Belkind. The genocidal events so terrified them and their friends that they set up the NILI group to spy on the Ottoman war effort and send info to the British. This reversed the policy of most Zionists in Israel who were content to be loyal Ottoman subjects, participating in its institutions, before WW I. Aaron Aaronsohn was so desirous to help the Armenians, that he sought out Armenian political leaders in France after the war during the Versailles Conference to give them advice. He advised them, correctly I believe, to declare independence at that time, even though they were in a weak military position.

Aaronsohn and Belkind left testimonies that have been published of the massacres and persecutions. First Eitan Belkind's accounts from a book in Hebrew, apparently translated under the auspices of the Armenian Museum in Jerusalem. Here are translated quotes from Eitan Belkind's book, That's How It Was, the Story of a Member of Nili (Tel Aviv: 1977),
[ כך זה היה : סיפורו של איש ניל''י [תל אביב: משרד הבטחון 1977

Belkind belonged to a locust eradication team appointed by the Ottoman government, which gave him the opportunity to travel about fighting the locusts.
. . . On the second day of our journey, we saw a corpse floating in the Euphrates. We were surprised but the soldier accompanying us reassured us that this was a body of an Armenian. We found out that there was a camp nearby, on the other side of the Euphrates where Armenians deported from Armenia were being held. Our friend Shirinyan turned white and asked to cross the Euphrates and go to the Armenian camp.

We found several hundred people in the camp living in small handmade huts. The territory was clean; the huts were built on one line . We passed by huts and looked inside. We say women and children. In one of the huts, Shirinyan found one of his aunts, who told him that all men had been killed; only women and children remained. Shirinyan had no idea what had happened to his nation. Shocked he began to cry on his aunt's shoulder. . . We went on the further we traveled the more more floating corpses of Armenians we saw. . .

Deir ez-Zor [Dayr az-Zur] was a military center, so it had a military hospital lead by a Jewish doctor Bekhor and Jewish pharmacist Arto. There we found out that Ahmad Bey was the commander of Circassian troops mobilized for exterminating. . . The doctor and the pharmacist invited us to their roomy house, told us that all Armenian men had been killed on the way from their homes in Anatolia, and the beautiful women and girls were left to the mercy of Bedouin. . .

At night before departure, we heard terrible, heart-rending female screams. The Armenian camp was one kilometer from our house. The screaming continued all night. We asked what was happening; they told us that children were being taken from their mothers to continue their education. However, in the morning when we set off and crossed the bridge across the Euphrates, I was shocked to see the river red with blood and beheaded corpses of children floating on the water. The scene was horrible, as there was nothing we could do.
[to be continued]
Now, is there anyone who can honestly claim that Belkind is not describing genocide? Note the massacre of children. Yet there are many throughout the world, not only Turks or other Muslims, who seek to deny the true character of these massacres. To be sure, some of the beautiful women were taken for sexual purposes. Nonetheless, that does not change the genocidal character of these events.

We should be proud to state that Zionist activists left accounts of the genocide and sought to help the Armenians at that time.

By the way, among those opposing the congressional resolution acknowledging the reality of the Armenian genocide was the US State Department, as well as its head, Condoleezza Rice, no friends of the Jews. The State Dept's hostility to the right of Jews to live in parts of the Land of Israel under Jordanian or Egyptian control before the Six Day War of 1967 is anti-Jewish racist in character and unsupported by international law, except as international law is deliberately misrepresented by the USA, UK, other governments, and the UN.
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see earlier post on related matters.
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Coming: Zionist Activists and the Armenian Genocide, Part Two; Jews in Israel, Jerusalem, Hebron; peace follies; the anti-Jewish racism of the "peace process" and the drive against Jewish settlements; propaganda; part of the British press descends into the Nazi cesspool [Johan Hari, et al.], etc.

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  • This is very interesting. When you think about it, Jewish leaders and intellectuals left a profound mark on the history and memory of the Armenian Genocide: Henry Morgenthau (U.S. Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire during WWI); Franz Werfel (author of 40 Days of Musa Dagh); and Raphael Lemkin (a Polish-American lawyer who invented the term Genocide to describe the Armenian persecutions during WWI and the Holocaust of the Jews during WWII). Those men are just three examples. There are many others.

    The Israeli people should embrace the moral fortitude of Jewish men and women like the ones you wrote about and the ones mentioned above, rather than cowering under the immoral threats of the Turkish government.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:41 PM  

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