Politics 12:11 05/04/2011

Cemal Pasha’s Grandson Says Genocide, Morgenthau’s Great Granddaughter doesn’t

Hundreds of Armenians turned out at UCLA last Thursday night to hear with great apprehension Hasan Cemal, the grandson of Cemal Pasha -- one of the top three Turkish butchers of the Armenian nation. This unique and controversial event, titled "From Der Zor to Dzidzernagapert: A Conversation with Hasan Cemal," was organized by AGBU Asbeds.

Understandably, there was great tension in the air. The large hall was filled to capacity and many were turned away due to lack of room. The presence of armed policemen and security guards inside the hall was both reassuring and disturbing. Cemal confirmed that he was cautioned against coming to Los Angeles, but fortunately everything proceeded calmly. The most shocking thing that evening was not what Cemal said, but what another speaker, Dr. Pamela Steiner, the great granddaughter of Amb. Henry Morgenthau, did not say!

Kurken Berksanlar, Chairman of ABGU Asbeds, welcomed everyone to "an open-minded conversation." While admitting that some Armenians view with great suspicion Turks who acknowledge the Genocide, he believed that "progressive” Turks, who are speaking openly about the evens of 1915…, appear to be above and beyond the reach and control of today’s Turkish government." Berksanlar then introduced the keynote speaker Hasan Cemal and the two discussants, Dr. Pamela Steiner, and Prof. Richard Hovannisian.

A columnist at Milliyet newspaper, Cemal immediately won over his skeptical audience by greeting them in Armenian -- "parev harkeli paregamner" -- and telling them: "I came here to open my heart and open my mind to you…. I know your pain, your grief of Genocide, your grief of Meds Yeghern." Ignoring Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code which bans the use of the term Armenian Genocide, he courageously repeated those words several more times during his talk. He also condemned the Turkish government’s denial of the Armenian Genocide, calling it "colluding in the crime!"

Cemal described his deeply moving 2008 visit to the Armenian Genocide Monument in Yerevan, where he laid three carnations in memory of his close friend, Hrant Dink, the Armenian journalist who was assassinated in Istanbul by Turkish extremists. While visiting Yerevan, he had a startling encounter with Armen Gevorkyan, grandson of the man who in 1922 assassinated his grandfather, Cemal Pasha.

Cemal described the progress made in Turkey during the past three decades on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide, going from total denialism to an apology campaign, restoration of Armenian churches, and holding academic conferences on this topic. He asked Armenians to come to Turkey to participate in the "recovery of memory." He urged them never to forget the past, without becoming its captives.

While Cemal’s candid remarks left a good impression on the audience, Dr. Steiner turned off the attendees with her adamant and intentional refusal to use the word genocide. Instead, she used such typical Turkish denialist terminology as "tragedy,” “suffering,” and “events of 1915." As director of the Inter-Communal Trust-Building Project, she spoke about "possible steps towards building trust between Armenians and Turks." She stunned the audience by asking Armenians to acknowledge that "the Turkish people [who] suffered horrendously during World War I … need and deserve acknowledgment for that!" As if that request was not outrageous enough, she went on to urge Armenians to "consider acknowledging Turkish suffering before they receive an acknowledgment for theirs!"

During the question and answer period, when I pointed out the irony of Cemal Pasha’s grandson freely using the term Armenian Genocide, while the great granddaughter of Amb. Morgenthau would not, Dr. Steiner’s response was inadequate. Her justification was that she was playing the role of a “facilitator,” seeking "conciliation" between Armenians and Turks.

The final discussant, Prof. Hovannisian, in a stern voice, gave a polite, yet powerful response to the previous speakers. He told Hasan Cemal that the large Armenian audience had come not to listen to him as a Turkish journalist, but as the grandson of Cemal Pasha. He explained that understanding the Turkish perpetrators’ mindset cannot in any way justify their actions. He cautioned everyone not to equate Armenian suffering resulting from intentional destruction with the suffering of Turks as a result of war. He emphasized that Armenians were seeking not only recognition, but, more importantly, restitution of their confiscated properties. He urged the Turkish government to return the hundreds of Armenian churches in Turkey to the Armenian Patriarchate of Istanbul. Finally, in a direct allusion to Dr. Steiner, Prof. Hovannisian emphasized that "conciliation" required "acts of contrition." His remarks were greeted with a standing ovation.

I found Cemal to be both candid and brave. He could have easily avoided the use of the term Armenian Genocide, maintaining that doing so could land him in jail. However, he made no excuses and used the genocide term several times. Considering his grandfather responsible for "the Great Catastrophe," he described today’s Turkey as "a manic-depressive country!"

Although it is not easy to forget that Hasan Cemal is the grandson of one of the three masterminds of the Armenian Genocide, it would be wrong to hold children responsible for the sins of their parents. His position has dramatically evolved since his Boston appearance two years ago, when he avoided the term Armenian Genocide. I asked him privately at the end of his UCLA talk if he was not concerned that he could be taken to court for using the word genocide. Even though he said he did not think so, he found it important enough to mention my concern in a column he wrote in Milliyet upon his return to Istanbul.

The only sour note in Cemal’s words that evening was his rejection of demands for the return of Armenian territories from Turkey. Nevertheless, it is not surprising to hear a Turk, no matter how tolerant, defend his country’s territorial integrity. He did state, however, that the Turkish government should apologize to Armenians and pay compensation to them.

On the other hand, Dr. Steiner, as a Jewish-American and direct descendant of Amb. Morgenthau, cannot be excused for her persistent refusal to use the term genocide, despite her self-avowed good intentions. Anyone who does not acknowledge the truth of the Armenian Genocide loses the moral authority to play a constructive role in Armenian-Turkish relations. One cannot remain neutral between a victim and victimizer. She should heed the wise words of Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel who stated: "Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim!"

As facilitator between the two communities, Dr. Steiner probably believes that she should not take sides. But telling the truth is not taking sides between Armenians and Turks, anymore than acknowledging the Holocaust is siding with Jews. Furthermore, it is not clear what exactly her role is as facilitator. Genocide is not a dispute that requires the services of a mediator. How can she reconcile two nations without the victimizer first making amends for what her own great grandfather called "The Murder of a Nation!"

Two days after her talk at UCLA, Dr. Steiner sent me a lengthy e-mail explaining further her role as facilitator and insisting that Amb. Morgenthau would have supported her work. I cannot pretend to know her great grandfather better than her, but being familiar with the Ambassador’s humanitarian efforts during and after the Genocide, I have no doubt that he would have done everything possible to bring justice to Armenians, rather than remaining neutral between the perpetrators and their victims.

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

Source Panorama.am
Share |
Տեքստում սխալ կամ վրիպակ նկատելու դեպքում, ուղարկեք խմբագրին հաղորդագրություն` նշելով տվյալ սխալը, այնուհետև սեղմելով Ctrl-Enter:


Syrian army establishes control over more areas in Aleppo
The Syrian army units, in cooperation with allies, continued military operations against terrorist organizations in the southwestern countryside...
Relics of Armenian kings unearthed in Aghdzk archaeological site
Exclusive excavations works have been done in historical-cultural archaeological site in Aghdzk village, which revealed some relics of Armenian...
The visit of the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta to Armenia is a very important event, President Sargsyan says
At the invitation of President Serzh Sargsyan, at Saturday night the Prince and Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of...
Iranian Foreign Ministry announces President Rouhani’s visit to Armenia soon
Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi announced on Monday about the upcoming visit of President of the Islamic Republic Hassan...
Identity of Armenians killed in their Moscow apartment revealed
The RA Ministry of Foreign Affairs informs that the Russian authorities have provided information on the identities of the RA citizens who were...
Plane crashes after take-off in Malta, killing all five on board
A light aircraft crashed after taking off from Malta's main airport early on Monday, killing all five people on board. Reuters news agency...
FIMA became winner of RA Volleyball Championship
The men's Volleyball Championship of 2016 came to its end. FIMA became the championship winner. The team of Stepanakert ranked the second...
Hungary's Orban rejects 'Sovietization' by Brussels, defends nation state
At a commemoration of a 1956 anti-Communist uprising, Hungary's right-wing leader Viktor Orban said his country must stand up to...
Migrants rob 2 German journalists in Calais refugee camp
Two journalists from Germany have been robbed in Calais refugee camp, a representative of a volunteer organization told RIA Novosti on Sunday....
Gevog Gevorgyan: Today Armenian movies are not commercial
“Today fewer people go to cinema especially to watch Armenian films,” Director of the National Cinema Center of Armenia Gevorg...
Message on United Nations Day
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has issued a message on United Nations Day. The message reads the following: “This year’s...
Reporter Armen Martirosyan says that Belavia’s incident is linked with his political views
Famous blogger and reporter Armen Martirosyan, who was forced out of the airplane en route Kiev-Minsk after it was forced to land, claims that...
Situation on the Frontline
On the night of October 23-24 the adversary have violated the ceasefire regime along the Line of Contact between Armenian-Azerbaijani opposing...
Prime Minister vows to open up the business sphere to all investors
Through the Ministry of Economic Development and Investments we will have a kind of a business ombudsman, Armenian Prime Minister Karen...
Armenian, Artsakh foreign ministers discuss Karabakh conflict settlement
Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian received today Artsakh Republic Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan. As the press statement issued...
The forced return of Belavia plane causes diplomatic unease between Belarus, Ukraine
The Ukrainian authorities forced a Belavia passenger jet en route from Kyiv to Minsk to return to the Zhuliany airport in Kyiv under the threat...
OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen visit Baku to get Azerbaijan back on negotiation track
OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs will visit Azerbaijan today in a new set-up, US co-chairman James Warlick announced yesterday. According to...
Prime Minister suggests establishing a company to look for markets for Armenian agricultural products
Prime Minister of Armenia Karen Karapetyan visited today the traditional Armprodexpo specialized exhibition opened at the Yerevan Expo hall of...
Iran not directly engaged in Mosul liberation
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Ali Akbar Velayati who also serves as the Secretary-General of the Global Assembly of Islamic Awakening said:...
Member of the Swedish Academy on Dylan: ”Rude and arrogant”
Per Wästberg, author and member of the Swedish Academy, critisized Bob Dylan's refusal of acknowledging the Nobel Prize in Literature....
Donald Trump collaborates with Azerbaijan – worst country for representatives of LGBT communities
The US Republican Party nominee for president of the USA, billionaire Donald Trump, collaborates with countries notorious for their unfriendly...
James Warlick on next Sargsyan-Aliyev Meeting
Azerbaijani’s President Illham Aliyev has expressed willingness to meet Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan within the framework of...
European leagues suspended an accord with UEFA
European football leagues on Friday suspended an accord with UEFA in protest at reforms to the Champions League which gives greater power to...
Huge train crash in Cameron; at least 55 dead, hundreds injured
Fourteen people remained trapped on Friday under the wreckage of a packed passenger train that derailed in route between Cameroon's two...
“Readings of Narekatsi”: Second International Conference in tribute of Hrachya Tamrazyan
On October 28-29 the “Readings of Narekatsi” Second International Conference dedicated to the memory of Hrachya Tamrazyan will be...
Around 450 Shots fired towards Armenian Frontier Troops
On the night of October 21-22 the adversary have violated the ceasefire regime along the Line of Contact between Armenian-Azerbaijani opposing...
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s final presidential debate. Putin’s name used the most
The two US presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump used the names “Putin” and “Russia” the most in the...
Mourinho explains what Henrikh Mkhitaryan needs to get back into Manchester United team
Jose Mourinho says that Henrikh Mkhitaryan is edging close to a Manchester United comeback. It was expected that the £26m Armenian...
Herbert Salber: Ceasefire preservation is a key factor for peace talks
“I have heard about it from different sources and I still need to acquire more information. Currently I am not in a position to make any...
German Historian on studying Documents about the Armenian Genocide
German historian and author of a number of works Michael Hesemann has studied the documents linked with the Armenian Genocide that are kept in...

Follow us and get updates!

Most popular articles

{"core.blocks.header.spell_message1":"Selected mistake: ","core.blocks.header.spell_message2":"Send a message about the mistake?"}