Friday, August 24, 2007

Ok, I Want to Talk About Ireland

Ok, I want to talk about Ireland, specifically I want to talk about Armenia, and in particular I'd like to talk about Watertown, Massachusetts.

The best way to learn about the current drama going on around the issue of the Armenian genocide is to log on to Mimi Asnes's excellent blog "A Stranger in a Strange Land". Mimi is a native of Watertown as well as a professional peace activist, so she's been following the issue closely and intelligently.

While living in Boston I used to visit Watertown for Middle Eastern goods. That little suburb is home to large Lebanese and Greek populations, which translates into excellent delis with olives and knafe and what not. It is also Boston's Armenian quarter, which is a lovley thing, but inevitably a "memento mori". While walking down its streets I would often catch myself thinking about the historical wrong than nation has known, and I don't even mean the genocide, I mean the denial.

This week something happened. So far the Jewish Anti Defamation League's refused to call the murder of close to 1,500,000 Armenian's during WWI a "genocide". This caused its new educational initiative to be banned in Watertown. The bad publicity over the event forced The ADL to announce this week that there indeed was a genocide. Bravo, I'm proud of them, proud of Abe Foxman, proud even of Alan Dershowitz, who usually just makes me cringe, and this week came to the support of pro-acknowledgmentists in a Boston Globe op-ed .

But that's hardly the end of the story. Now Israel is being pressured by Turkey to reprimand the ADL. So far Israel, a nation itself traumatized by a genocide, has helped Turkey deny the Armenian Genocide, under threat that if it failed to do so, it would lose its only ally in the middle east. I love Turkey, Turkey is my beloved friend, but sometimes a friend needs an arm around the shoulder and a fearless advice. I advise the Turks to grow up, face history and start apologizing.

As long as they fail to do so, both Turks and Armenians will remain in flux, as well as certain Israelis, Bostonians and others who posses a sense of justice. Sinead O'connor has a song about the Irish potato famine of the 1840's, a disaster caused largely by British occupation policies and one that is still unacknowledged by Britian. She sings:

"I see the Irish As a race
Like a child That got itself bashed in the face,
And if there ever is gonna be healing
There has to be remembering
And then grieving
So that there then can be forgiving
There has to be knowledge and understanding."

Turkey, I want to be proud of you too. If the Germans can do it, you can do it. Israel, don't yield to the pressure. I will gladly give up the right to visit Istanbul's fair minarets, the beautiful nights by the Bosphorus with Efes Pilsen and music by Ibrahim, the support of a Muslim nation in the face of the Arab world, the good olives and knafe of Anatolia (better than Watertown's!), everything, only to see a small first step forward made towards processing and reconciling.

1 comment:

Miriam (Mimi) Asnes said...

Word, Yuval. I'm home at a less than happy occasion, or I'd let you know at more length how it is giddily exciting to be whirled through the geography of your mind/body and only makes me deathly jealous sometimes, like the falling stars did.