A combination of official diplomatic correspondence, and private memoirs -- most notably the diaries of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1913 to 1916, an extended report by American consul Leslie Davis in Harput, Turkey, from 1915 to 1917, and the recently published United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917 -- provides lucid, often repellently detailed historical accounting of what the U.S. government knew regarding the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian genocide. These materials are perhaps the most salient examples of the evidence, as per the language of HR:/ SR:106, "documented in the United States record," which support the formal U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide as proposed in the Congressional resolutions.
The wartime reports from German and Austro-Hungarian officials, Turkey's World War I allies, as well as earlier British diplomatic reports dating back to 1890, confirm the independent U.S. evidence that the origins and evolution of the genocide had little to do with World War I "Armenian provocations." Contemporary accounts by European diplomats written from 1890 through the World War I era, also demonstrate that these genocidal massacres were perpetrated in the context of a formal jihad waged against the Armenians because they sought the equal rights promised to them, but never granted, under various failed schemes to reform the discriminatory system of Ottoman Islamic Law ("Shari'a"). A widely disseminated 1915 Ottoman Fatwa entitled "Aljihad"(brought to the U.S. Consul's attention in Cairo), for example, clearly sanctioned religiously motivated jihad violence. Historian Johannes Lepsius' eyewitness accounts from Turkey documented the results of such invocations of jihad:
"559 villages whose surviving inhabitants were converted to Islam with fire and sword; 568 churches thoroughly pillaged, destroyed and razed to the ground; of 282 Christian churches transformed into mosques; of 21 Protestant preachers and 170 Armenian priests who were, after enduring unspeakable tortures, murdered on their refusal to accept Islam." Lepsius concluded with this rhetorical question: "Is this a religious persecution or is it not?"
And in his eloquent Wednesday 8/22/07 column "No Room to Deny Genocide" the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby emphasized the nexus between the jihad genocide of the Armenians, the contemporary depredations of jihad, and the dangers of denial:
"And at a time when jihadist violence from Darfur to Ground Zero has spilled so much innocent blood, dissimulation about the jihad of 1915 [emphasis added] can only aid our enemies."
Moreover the various "strategic rationales" and arguments put forth to oppose formal U.S. recognition (as in HR:/SR:106) of the Armenian genocide -- the U.S.-Turkish alliance, the Turkish-Israeli alliance, the vulnerability of Turkey's vestigial Jewish minority -- appear wanting and hackneyed in light of burgeoning evidence which undermines their basic credibility.
But most importantly, there is a compelling moral imperative to pass these resolutions which transcends the dubious geopolitical considerations used to rationalize and sustain Turkey's ongoing campaign of genocide denial. Professor Deborah Lipstadt, the renowned Holocaust scholar, and author of Denying the Holocaust, and History on Trial (which recounts her crushing defeat of Nazi-sympathizer David Irving's "libel' suit"), in conjunction with twelve other leading genocide scholars, elucidated the corrosive immorality of genocide denial in this 1996 statement:
Denial of genocide -- whether that of the Turks against the Armenians or the Nazis against the Jews -- is not an act of historical reinterpretation. Rather, it sows confusion by appearing to be engaged in a genuine scholarly effort. Those who deny genocide always dismiss the abundance of documents and testimony as contrived or coerced, or as forgeries and falsehoods. Free speech does not guarantee the deniers the right to be treated as the 'other' side of a legitimate debate when there is no credible other side"; nor does it guarantee the deniers space in the classroom or curriculum, or in any other forum. Genocide denial is an insidious form of intellectual and moral degradation...
...to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record [emphasis added] relating to the Armenian Genocide.
The diaries of Henry Morgenthau, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey from 1913 to 1916, in conjunction with the extended report by American consul Leslie Davis in Harput (remote eastern), Turkey, from 1915 to 1917, and the recently published United States Official Records on the Armenian Genocide, 1915-1917 -- the latter consisting of memos filed on a daily basis, informing the U.S. Secretary of State and President Woodrow Wilson of the efforts to rescue as many Armenians as possible (and including the obstacles confronting the rescuers' efforts) -- are perhaps the most salient examples of the evidence, as per the language of HR/SR 106, documented in the United States record." This combination of official diplomatic correspondence, and private memoirs, provides a lucid, often repellently detailed historical accounting of what the U.S. government knew regarding the Ottoman Empire and the Armenian genocide.
American Witnesses to the Armenian Genocide: Observations from U.S. Diplomats, 1915-1917
Ambassador Morgenthau, wrote a letter to his son on June 19, 1915, as the massacres of the Armenians reached a murderous crescendo,
The ruin and devastation that is being wrought here is heart-rending. The government is using its present opportunity while all other countries are at war, to obliterate the Armenian race...
His despair was intensified by feelings of impotence as a diplomat for a neutral nation, made all the more distressing by his sympathetic understanding of such mass persecution as a Jew:
...and the worst of it is that it is impossible to stop it. The United States as a neutral power has no right to interfere in their internal affairs, and as I receive report after report of the inhuman treatment that the Armenians are receiving, it makes me feel most sad. Their lot seems to be very much the same as that of the Jews in Russia, and belonging to a persecuted race myself, I have all the more sympathy with them.
Morgenthau reiterated his overall assessment that a frank genocide, in modern parlance, was taking place, both in his diary, and a plethora of memos submitted to the U.S. Secretary of State, Robert Lansing. He stated, for example, that the
...persecution of Armenians is assuming unprecedented proportions. Reports from widely scattered districts indicate a systematic attempt to uproot peaceful Armenian populations and through arbitrary efforts, terrible tortures, wholesale expulsions and deportations from one end of the Empire to the other, accompanied by frequent instances of rape, pillage and murder, turning into massacre, to bring destruction and destitution on them.
Aleppo (Syria) Consul, J.B. Jackson wrote to Ambassador Morgenthau on September 29, 1915 confirming the genocidal organization and scale of the unfolding tragedy:
The deportation of Armenians from their homes by the Turkish Government has continued with a persistence and perfection of plan...32,751...[arrived in Aleppo] by rail from interior stations...In addition thereto it is estimated that at least 100,000 others have arrived afoot. And such a condition as these unfortunates are in, especially those coming afoot, many having left their homes before Easter, deprived of all their worldly possessions without money and all sparsely clad and some naked from the treatment by their escorts and the despoiling depopulation en route. It is extremely rare to find a family intact that has come any considerable distance, invariably all having lost members from disease and fatigue, young girls and boys carried off by hostile tribesmen, and about all the men having been separated from the families and suffered fates that had best be left unmentioned, many being done away with in atrocious manners before the eyes of their relatives and friends. So severe has been the treatment that careful estimates place the number of survivors at only 15% of these originally deported. On this basis the number of those surviving even this far being less than 150,000 up to September 21, there seems to have been about 1,000,000 persons lost up to this date. [emphasis added]There have been persistent reports of the selection of great numbers of the most prominent men from nearly every city, town and village, of their removal to outside places and their final disappearance by means of which we are not positively informed but which the imagination can more or less accurately establish, as months have passed and no news has come of their existence. The heinous treatment of thoroughly exhausted women and children in the open streets of Aleppo by the armed escorts, who relentlessly beat and kicked their helpless charges along when illness and fatigue prevented further effort, is evidence of what must have happened along the roads of the interior further removed from civilization.The exhausted condition of the victims is further proven by the death of a hundred or more daily of those arriving in this city. Travelers report having seen the numberless corpses along the roadside in the adjacent territory, or bodies in all sorts of positions where the victims fell in the last gasps of typhoid, fever and other diseases, and of the dogs fighting over the bodies of children. Many are the harrowing tales related by the survivors, but time and space prevent the recital thereof.
And Harput Consul Davis contrasted the idyllic beauty of the Lake Goeljuk region, with the gruesome atrocities committed against the Armenians there, under the aegis of the Turks:
Few localities could be better suited to the fiendish purposes of the Turks in their plan to exterminate the Armenian population than this peaceful lake in the interior of Asiatic Turkey, with its precipitous banks and pocket-like valleys, surrounded by villages of savage Kurds and far removed from the sight of civilized man. This, perhaps, was the reason why so many exiles from distant vilayets [provinces] were brought in safety [from afar]...and then massacred in the "Slaughterhouse Vilayet" of Turkey. That which took place around beautiful Lake Goeljuk in the summer of 1915 is almost inconceivable. Thousands and thousands of Armenians, mostly innocent and helpless women and children, were butchered on its shores and barbarously mutilated.Some of the bodies had been burned...probably in the search for gold. We estimated that in the course of our ride around the lake, and actually within the space of 24-hours, we had seen the remains of not less than 10,000 Armenians who had been killed around Lake Goeljuk. This, of course, is approximate, as some of them were only the bones of those who had perished several months before, from which the flesh had entirely disappeared, while in other cases the corpses were so fresh that they were swollen up and the odor from them showed that they had been killed only a few days before. I am sure, however, that there are more, rather than less, than that number; and it is probable that the remains which we saw were only a small portion of the total number in that vicinity. In fact, on my subsequent rides in the direction of Lake Goeljuk I nearly always discovered skeletons and bones in great numbers in the new places that I visited...
A True Genocide
Was the horrific fate of the Ottoman Empire's Armenian minority, at the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in particular, during World War I, due to "civil war", or genocide ? A seminal analysis by Professor Vahakn Dadrian, the most accomplished historian of this tragedy, published in 2002, validates the conclusion that the Ottoman Turks committed a centrally organized mass murder, i.e., a genocide, against their Armenian population. Relying upon a vast array of quintessential, primary source documents from the World War I allies of the Ottoman Empire, Germany and Austria-Hungary, Dadrian obviated the intractable disputes surrounding the reliability and authenticity of both Ottoman Turkish, and Armenian documents. He elucidated the truly unique nature of this documentary German and Austro-Hungarian evidence:
During the war, Germany and Austria-Hungary disposed over a vast network of ambassadorial, consular, military, and commercial representatives throughout the Ottoman Empire. Not only did they have access to high-ranking Ottoman officials and power-wielding decision-makers who were in a position to report to their superiors as locus in quo observers on many aspects of the wartime treatment of Ottoman Armenians. They supplemented their reports with as much detail as they could garner from trusted informers and paid agents, many of whom were Muslims, both civilians and military...
Moreover, the documents analyzed possessed another critical attribute: they included confidential correspondence prepared and sent to Berlin and Vienna, which were meant for wartime use only. This confidentiality, Dadrian notes, enabled German or Austro-Hungarian officials to openly question the contentions of their wartime Ottoman allies, when ascertaining and conveying facts truthfully to their superiors in Europe. Dadrian cites the compelling example of the November 16, 1915 report to the German chancellor, by Aleppo Consul Rossler. Rossler states,
I do not intend to frame my reports in such a way that I may be favoring one or the other party. Rather, I consider it my duty to present to you the description of things which have occurred in my district and which I consider to be the truth.
Rossler was reacting specifically to the official Ottoman allegation that the Armenians had begun to massacre the Turkish population in the Turkish sections of Urfa, a city within his district, after reportedly capturing them. He dismissed the charge, unequivocally, with a single word: "invented'".
Amassed painstakingly by Dadrian, the primary source evidence from these German and Austro-Hungarian officials -- reluctant witnesses -- leads to this inescapable conclusion: the anti-Armenian measures, despite a multitude of attempts at cover-up and outright denial, were meticulously planned by the Ottoman authorities, and were designed to destroy wholesale, the victim population. Dadrian further validates this assessment with remarkable testimony before the Mazhar Inquiry Commission, a Nuremberg-like tribunal, which conducted a preliminary investigation in the post-war period to determine the criminal liability of the wartime Ottoman authorities regarding the Armenian deportations and massacres. The December 15, 1918 deposition by General Mehmed Vehip, commander-in-chief of the Ottoman Third Army, and ardent CUP (Committee of Union and Progress, i.e., the "Ittihadists", or "Young Turks") member, included this summary statement:
The murder and annihilation of the Armenians and the plunder and expropriation of their possessions were the result of the decisions made by the CUP...These atrocities occurred under a program that was determined upon and involved a definite case of willfulness. They occurred because they were ordered, approved, and pursued first by the CUP's [provincial] delegates and central boards, and second by governmental chiefs who had...pushed aside their conscience, and had become the tools of the wishes and desires of the Ittihadist society.
Dadrian's own compelling assessment of this primary source evidence is summarized as follows:
Through the episodic interventions of the European Powers, the historically evolving and intensifying Turko-Armenian conflict had become a source of anger and frustration for the Ottoman rulers and elites driven by a xenophobic nationalism. A monolithic political party that had managed to eliminate all opposition and had gained control of the Ottoman state apparatus efficiently took advantage of the opportunities provided by World War I. It purged by violent and lethal means the bulk of the Armenian population from the territories of the empire. By any standard definition, this was an act of genocide.
Jihad as a Major Determinant of the Armenian Genocide
The wartime reports from German and Austro-Hungarian officials, Turkey's World War I allies, as well as earlier British diplomatic reports dating back to 1890, confirm the independent U.S. evidence that the origins and evolution of the genocide had little to do with World War I "Armenian provocations." Emphasis is placed, instead, on the larger pre-war context dating from the failure of the mid-19th century Ottoman Tanzimat reform efforts. These reforms, initiated by the declining Ottoman Empire (i.e., in 1839 and 1856) under intense pressure from the European powers, were designed to abrogate the repressive laws of dhimmitude, to which non-Muslim (primarily Christian) minorities, including the Armenians, had been subjected for centuries, following the Turkish jihad conquests of their indigenous homelands.
Led by their patriarch, the Armenians felt encouraged by the Tanzimat reform scheme, and began to deluge the Porte (Ottoman seat of government) with pleas and requests, primarily seeking governmental protection against a host of mistreatments, particularly in the remote provinces. Between 1850 and 1870, alone, 537 notes were sent to the Porte by the Armenian patriarch characterizing numerous occurrences of theft, abduction, murder, confiscatory taxes, and fraud by government officials. These entreaties were largely ignored, and ominously, were even considered as signs of rebelliousness. For example, British Consul (to Erzurum) Clifford Lloyd reported in 1890, "Discontent, or any description of protest is regarded by the local Turkish Local Government as seditious."He went on to note that this Turkish reaction occurred irrespective of the fact that "..the idea of revolution.," was not being entertained by the Armenian peasants involved in these protests.
The renowned Ottomanist, Roderick Davison, has observed that under the Shari'a (Islamic Holy Law) the "..infidel gavours [dhimmis, rayas]" were permanently relegated to a status of "inferiority" and subjected to a "contemptuous half-toleration." Davison further maintained that this contempt emanated from "an innate attitude of superiority", and was driven by an "innate Muslim feeling", prone to paroxysms of "open fanaticism". Sustained, vehement reactions to the 1839 and 1856 Tanzimat reform acts by large segments of the Muslim population, led by Muslim spiritual leaders and the military, illustrate Davison's point. Perhaps the most candid and telling assessment of the doomed Tanzimat reforms, in particular the 1856 Act, was provided by Mustafa Resid, Ottoman Grand Vizier at six different times between 1846-58. In his denunciation of the reforms, Resid argued the proposed "complete emancipation" of the non-Muslim subjects, appropriately destined to be subjugated and ruled, was "entirely contradictory" to "the 600 year traditions of the Ottoman Empire." He openly proclaimed the "complete emancipation" segment of the initiative as disingenuous, enacted deliberately to mislead the Europeans, who had insisted upon this provision. Sadly prescient, Resid then made the ominous prediction of a "great massacre" if equality was in fact granted to non-Muslims.
Despite their "revolutionary" advent, and accompanying comparisons to the ideals of the French Revolution, the "Young Turk" regime eventually adopted a discriminatory, anti-reform attitude toward non-Muslims within the Ottoman Empire. During an August 6, 1910 speech in Saloniki, Mehmed Talat, pre-eminent leader of the Young Turks disdainfully rejected the notion of equality with "gavours'", arguing that it "...is an unrecognizable ideal since it is inimical with Sheriat [Shari'a] and the sentiments of hundreds of thousands of Muslims..." Roderick Davison notes that in fact "..no genuine equality was ever attained...", re-enacting the failure of the prior Tanzimat reform period. As a consequence, he observes, the Young Turk leadership "...soon turned from equality...to Turkification..."
During the reign of Sultan Abdul Hamid, the Ottoman Turks massacred over 200,000 Armenians between 1894-96. This was followed, under the Young Turk regime, by the Adana massacres of 25,000 Armenians in 1909, and the first formal genocide of the 20th century, when in 1915 alone, an additional 600,000 to 800,000, or even 1 million Armenians were slaughtered. The massacres of the 1890s had an "organic" connection to the Adana massacres of 1909, and more importantly, the events of 1915. As Vahakn Dadrian, the leading scholar of the Armenian genocide, argues, these earlier massacres facilitated the genocidal acts of 1915 by providing the Young Turks with "a predictable impunity." The absence of adverse consequences for the Abdul Hamid massacres in the 1890s allowed the Young Turks to move forward without constraint.
Contemporary accounts from European diplomats make clear that these brutal massacres were perpetrated in the context of a formal jihad against the Armenians who had attempted to throw off the yoke of dhimmitude by seeking equal rights and autonomy. For example, the Chief Dragoman (Turkish-speaking interpreter) of the British embassy reported regarding the 1894-96 massacres:
[The perpetrators] are guided in their general action by the prescriptions of the Sheri [Sharia] Law. That law prescribes that if the "rayah" [dhimmi] Christian attempts, by having recourse to foreign powers, to overstep the limits of privileges allowed them by their Mussulman [Muslim] masters, and free themselves from their bondage, their lives and property are to be forfeited, and are at the mercy of the Mussulmans. To the Turkish mind the Armenians had tried to overstep those limits by appealing to foreign powers, especially England. They therefore considered it their religious duty and a righteous thing to destroy and seize the lives and properties of the Armenians.
Bat Ye'or confirms this reasoning, noting that the Armenian quest for reforms invalidated their "legal status," which involved a "contract" (i.e., with their Muslim Turkish rulers). This
"...breach...restored to the umma [the Muslim community] its initial right to kill the subjugated minority [the dhimmis], [and] seize their property."
Lord Kinross has described the tactics of Abdul Hamid's agents, who deliberately fomented religious fanaticism among the local Muslim populations in Turkish Armenia, and the devastating results of this incitement:
It became their normal routine first to assemble the Moslem population in the largest mosque in a town, then to declare, in the name of the Sultan, that the Armenians were in general revolt with the aim of striking at Islam. Their Sultan enjoined them as good Moslems to defend their faith against these infidel rebels. He propounded the precept that under the holy law the property of rebels might be looted by believers, encouraging Moslems to enrich themselves in the name of their faith at the expense of their Christian neighbours, and in the event of resistance, to kill them. Hence, throughout Armenia, the attack of an ever increasing pack of wolves against sheep...Each operation, between the bugle calls, followed a similar pattern. First into a town there came the Turkish troops, for the purpose of massacre; then came the Kurdish irregulars and tribesmen for the purpose of plunder. Finally came the holocaust, by fire and destruction, which spread, with the pursuit of fugitives and mopping-up operations, throughout the lands and villages of the surrounding province. This murderous winter of 1895 thus saw the decimation of much of the Armenian population and the devastation of their property in some twenty districts of eastern Turkey. Often the massacres were timed for a Friday, when the Moslems were in their mosques and the myth was spread by the authorities that the Armenians conspired to slaughter them at prayer. Instead they were themselves slaughtered, when the Moslems emerged to forestall their design. The total number of victims was somewhere between fifty and a hundred thousand, allowing for those who died subsequently of wounds, disease, exposure, and starvation...In each of thirteen large towns the numbers of those dead ran well into four figures. In Erzurum, the bazaar of a thousand shops was looted and wrecked by the Moslems, while some three hundred Christians were buried the next day in a single massed grave...Cruelest and most ruinous of all were the massacres at Urfa, where the Armenian Christians numbered a third of the total population. Here in December 1895, after a two-months siege of their quarter, the leading Armenians assembled in their cathedral, where they drew up a statement requesting Turkish official protection. Promising this, the Turkish officer in charge surrounded the cathedral with troops. Then a large body of them, with a mob in their wake, rushed through the Armenian quarter, where they plundered all houses and slaughtered all adult males above a certain age. When a large group of young Armenians were brought before a sheikh, he had them thrown down on their backs and held by their hands and feet. Then, in the words of an observer, he recited verses of the Koran and "cut their throats after the Mecca rite of sacrificing sheep."...When the bugle blast ended the day's operations some three thousand refugees poured into the cathedral, hoping for sanctuary. But the next morning - a Sunday - a fanatical mob swarmed into the church in an orgy of slaughter, rifling its shrines will cries of 'Call upon Christ to prove Himself a greater prophet than Mohammed.' Then they amassed a large pile of straw matting, which they spread over the litter of the corpses and set alight with thirty cans of petroleum. The woodwork of the gallery where a crowd of women and children crouched, wailing in terror, caught fire, and all perished in the flames. Punctiliously, at three-thirty in the afternoon the bugle blew once more, and the Moslem officials proceeded around the Armenian quarter to proclaim that the massacres were over. They had wiped out 126 complete families, without a woman or a baby surviving, and the total casualties in the town, including those slaughtered in the cathedral, amounted to eight thousand dead.
A 1915 Ottoman Fatwa believed to have been written by Sheikh Shawish (entitled, Aljihad, and translated into English, March 10, 1915) included a statement attached to its official United States consulate translation indicating, "It was undoubtedly this and similar pamphlets which inspired the Jewish community of Alexandria" to contact the United States Consul General's office in Cairo. The calls to religiously motivated violence against non-Muslims, as sanctioned by Islam-jihad war-are unmistakably clear.
If you believe in God, in his faith and apostle, hear the words of our sages as recorded by his holy prophet. 'You believers take not the Jews and Christians as friends unto you, He who loves then shall be called one of them'. 'God shall not foster the tyrants'. You believers accept not unto you friends of these who abuse your faith and mock thereof. They are called unbelievers, and you hearken unto the words of God of you believe. Therefore if after you will put to heart to these sacred words, perhaps they have been spoken to you by God not to acquire unto us Jewish or Christian friends. From these holy words you will realize that it is forbidden us to approach those who mock our faith - Jews and Christians, for then God forbid, God forbid we shall be deemed by the almighty as one of them God forbid.... After all this how can we believe in the sincerity of your faith when you befriend and love unbelievers, and accept their Government without any rising without attempting to expel them from your country. Therefore arise and purify yourselves of such deeds. Arise to the Holy War no matter what it costs so as to carry into execution this sacred deed. It is furthermore said in the Koran 'If your fathers if children taken unto them friends of the unbelievers, estrange yourselves even from them.'... The Mohammedan religion enjoins us to set aside some money for Government expenses and for preparations of a holy war. The rest of your tithes and contributions you are duty bound to send to the capital of the Caliphate to help them to glorify the name of God, through the medium of the Caliph. Let all Mussulmans know that the Holy War is created only for this purpose. We trust in God that the Mohammedan lands will rise from humiliation and become faithfully tied to the capital of the Caliphate until, so as to be called 'the lands of Islam'. This is our hope and God help us to carry through our holy aims to a successful issue for the sake of our holy Prophet... A holy war is a sacred duty and for your information let it be known that the armies of the Caliph is ready and in three divisions, as follows: War in secret, war by word of mouth, and physical war. War in secret. This is the easiest and simplest. In this case it is to suppose that every unbeliever is an enemy, to persecute and exterminate him from the face of the earth. There is not a Mussulman in the world who is not inspired by this idea. However in the Koran it is said: 'That such a war is not enough for a Mohammedan whether young or old, and must also participate in the other parts of the Holy War. War by word of mouth. That is to say fighting by writing and speaking. This kind of war for example should pertain to the Mahomedans of the Caucasus. They should have commenced this war three or four months ago, because their actual position does not permit them to but the carrying on of such warfare. Every Mahomedan is in duty bound to write and speak against the unbelievers when actual circumstances do not permit him to assume more stringent measures, as for instance in the Caucasus. Therefore every writer must use his pen in favor of such a war. Physical war. This means actual fighting in the fullest sense of the word... Now let us mention here the means to be adopted in carrying on this holy war, as follows: Every private individual can fight with deadly weapons, as for example. Here is the following illustration of the late Egyptian Verdani who shot the unbelieving Butros Gal Pacha the friend of the English with a revolver. The murder of the English police Commissioner Bavaro in India by one of our Indian brethren. The killing of one of the officials of Kansch on his coming from Mecca by the Prophet's friend 'Abu Bazir El Pzachbi', peace be unto him! Abdallah ibn Aatick and four colleagues killed 'Abu Raafah Ibn El Hakiki'. The leader of the Jews of Khaybar so famous for his enmity to Islamism. This was executed by our Prophet's command, so did Avrala Ibn Ravacha and his friends when they killed Oscher Ibn Dawas one of the Jewish dignitaries. There are many instances of similar cases. Lord of the Universal What fails us now, and why should not some of us go forth to fight this sacred war for exalting thy glorious name?
An intrepid Protestant historian and missionary Johannes Lepsius, who earlier had undertaken a two-month trip to examine the sites of the Abul Hamid era massacres, returned to Turkey during World War I. He again documented the results of such invocations of jihad against non-Muslims, as espoused by Sheikh Shawish, during the period between 1914-1918. Lepsius wrote:
Are we then simply forbidden to speak of the Armenians as persecuted on account of their religious belief'? If so, there have never been any religious persecutions in the world...We have lists before us of 559 villages whose surviving inhabitants were converted to Islam with fire and sword; of 568 churches thoroughly pillaged, destroyed and razed to the ground; of 282 Christian churches transformed into mosques; of 21 Protestant preachers and 170 Gregorian (Armenian) priests who were, after enduring unspeakable tortures, murdered on their refusal to accept Islam. We repeat, however, that those figures express only the extent of our information, and do not by a long way reach to the extent of the reality. Is this a religious persecution or is it not?
Finally, Bat Ye'or places the continuum of massacres from the 1890s through the end of World War I, in the overall theological and juridical context of jihad, as follows:
The genocide of the Armenians was the natural outcome of a policy inherent in the politico-religious structure of dhimmitude. This process of physically eliminating a rebel nation had already been used against the rebel Slav and Greek Christians, rescued from collective extermination by European intervention, although sometimes reluctantly. The genocide of the Armenians was a jihad. No rayas took part in it. Despite the disapproval of many Muslim Turks and Arabs, and their refusal to collaborate in the crime, these masssacres were perpetrated solely by Muslims and they alone profited from the booty: the victims' property, houses, and lands granted to the muhajirun, and the allocation to them of women and child slaves. The elimination of male children over the age of twelve was in accordance with the commandments of the jihad and conformed to the age fixed for the payment of the jizya. The four stages of the liquidation -- deportation, enslavement, forced conversion, and massacre -- reproduced the historic conditions of the jihad carried out in the dar-al-harb from the seventh century on. Chronicles from a variety of sources, by Muslim authors in particular, give detailed descriptions of the organized massacres or deportation of captives, whose sufferings in forced marches behind the armies paralleled the Armenian experience in the twentieth century.
"Double Killing"- Ongoing Turkish Denial of the Armenian Genocide (See article)
Elie Wiesel has noted, appositely, that the final stage of genocide, its denial, is "double killing". Ignoring absurd and scurrilous allegations contained in Turkish propaganda documents (for example, the May 27, 1999 eleven page document entitled, "An Objective Look at House Resolution [HR] 155", submitted by the Turkish ambassador in Washington, D.C., to all United States Congressmen, which contained the mendacious claims that Armenians had murdered 100,000 Ottoman Jews, and 1.1 million Ottoman Muslims), several persistent denialist rationales at least merit exploration and sound rebuttal, before being dismissed. Dadrian has reduced these particular attempts to characterize the Armenian genocide as 'debatable' into the following three lines of argument (which he aptly terms "disjointed"): (i) the Ottoman governments intent was merely to relocate, not destroy, the deportee population; (ii) in the context of the larger global conflagration, i.e., World War I, the Armenians and Turks were engaged in a civil war, which was itself directly responsible for heavy Turkish losses; (iii) Turkish losses during the overall conflict far exceeded Armenian losses.
Dadrian poses the following logical question as a preface to his analysis of the spurious claim that the Turks engaged in a 'benevolent relocation' of Armenian deportees:
...how did the Young Turk authorities expect to resettle in the deserts of Mesopotamia hundreds of thousands of dislocated people without securing the slightest accommodation or other amenities affording the barest conditions of subsistence for human beings?
The sham of 'relocation' was made plain by the Chief of Staff of the Ottoman Fourth Army who oversaw the areas designated to receive these forcibly transferred Armenian populations. He rejected the relocation pretense categorically in his memoirs stating "...there was neither preparation, nor organization to shelter the hundreds of thousands of deportees." This critical assessment from a key Ottoman official confirms the observations of multiple consuls representing Turkeys allies Austria and Germany (in addition to the US Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Morgenthau). These diplomats maintained repeatedly that dispatching the victimized Armenian populations to such desert hinterlands sealed their fate -- death and ruination.. Moreover, the hundreds of thousands of deportees were not merely transferred from war zones, as claimed, but from all parts of the Ottoman Empire. Dadrian further observes,
As official documents unmistakably reveal (and American Ambassador Morgenthau confirms) only the rapid deterioration of Turkey's military situation and the resulting time constraints prevented the authorities from carrying out the projected comprehensive deportation and liquidation of the rest of the Armenian population. In the case of Istanbul, for example, then the capital of the Empire, by November 1915 already 30,000 Armenians had been surreptitiously, and by a system of quotas, removed, according to a confidential report to Berlin by German Ambassador Metternich. As to Smyrna, only forceful intervention of German General Liman Von Sanders, the regional military commander, stopped the completion of the deportation of that major mercantile harbor city's Armenian population. That intervention was triggered by the dispatch of Smyrna's first Armenian deportee convoy as ordered by the province's Turkish governor-general Rahmi. This intervention proved a mere respite, however, as in 1922 the insurgent Kemalists destroyed Smyrna in a holocaust that consumed large segments of the surviving Armenian population, as well.
Were the mass killings of the Armenians merely an unintended epiphenomenon of a "civil war", characterized by one apologist as "...a struggle between two nations for a single homeland"? Dadrian ridicules this argument by first highlighting the essential attributes of a bona fide civil war: the collapse of central government authority, creating a power vacuum filled by armed, antagonistic factions engaged in violent and sustained clashes.This basic paradigm simply did not apply to wartime Turkey, whose Ottoman state organization,
...was not only fully functional but on account of its armed forces were able to wage for four years a multi-front gigantic war against such formidable enemies as England, France and Tsarist Russia. The wartime emergency measures, martial law and the temporary suspension of parliament were conditions which helped invest the executive branch of the Ottoman government with enormous and concentrated power, power that was more than enough to exercise dictatorship. Moreover, most able-bodied Armenian males were conscripted into the Ottoman Army long before Turkey intervened in the war. What was left of the Armenian population consisted by and large of terror stricken women, children and old me desperately trying to stay alive in an environment filled with the memories of past massacres, a consuming apprehension regarding new and impending disasters and burdened with all sorts of war-related hardships.
The 'civil war argument' also hinges on the assertion that four specific Armenian uprisings-Shabin Karahisar (June 6-July 4, 1915), Musa Dagh (July 30-September 1915), Urfa (September 29-October 23, 1915) and in particular Van (April 20-May 17, 1915)-comprise a major, organized "Armenian rebellion." Reports by consuls of Turkey's wartime allies Austria and Germany, debunk this argument. The Austrian Military Plenipotentiary to Turkey during World War I, in his memoirs, characterized the Van uprising as "...an act of desperation" by Armenians who "...recognized that [a] general butchery had begun in the environs of Van and that they would be the next [victims]." Germany's consul in Aleppo, Walter Rossler, described the Urfa uprising in similar terms. Imbued with the recent memory of the brutal 1895 massacre, and the unfolding spectacle of mas murder in their vicinity during the summer of 1915, the Urfa Armenians made a hasty, last ditch effort to defend themselves. German Ambassador Paul Count von Wolff-Metternich filed a 72-page report to his government in Berlin addressing all four of these uprisings. Metternich maintained that each of these uprisings was a defensive act attempting merely to ward off imminent deportation, and he stated bluntly "...there was neither a concerted general uprising, nor was there a fully valid proof that such a synchronized uprising was organized or planned." As Dadrian observes,
How could desperate groupings of people trying to stay alive by defending themselves be described as 'rebels'supposedly bent on undermining a mighty state system intent on destroying them?...without exception these uprisings were improvised last-ditch attempts to ward off imminent deportation and destruction. Without exception they were all local, very limited, and above all, highly defensive initiatives; as such they were ultimately doomed to failure. The temporary success of the Van uprising was entirely due to a very fortuitous circumstance: the timely arrival of the advance units of the Russian Caucasus army. A delay of one or two days in this movement might well sealed the fate of the defenders.
Dadrian concedes that regardless of their justification -- underscored in wartime German, Austrian, and US consular reports of the sustained historical record of Armenian oppression and episodic massacre by the Turks,
Individual Armenians and even some small groups of Armenians in very isolated cases resorted to espionage, sabotage, and other anti-Turkish hostile acts...[and]...several thousands of Armenians from all over the world, including several hundred former Ottoman subjects, rushed to the Caucasus to enroll in the ranks of the Russian Caucasus army to fight against the Turks; the majority of them were, however, Russian subjects.
In his concluding remarks on the civil war apologetic, Dadrian poses, and then addresses this "ultimate question":
...does the ensemble of these facts warrant a decision to deport and wantonly destroy an entire population? The answer should be no for a variety of reasons but in one particular respect that answer is cast into special relief. The reference is to a host of other ethnic and nationality groups and individuals who likewise indulged in such anti-Turkish hostile acts during the war, including sabotage, espionage and volunteering for service in the armed forces of Turkey's enemies. Foremost among these were the Kurds, who like the Armenians, were engaged in pro- as well as anti-Turkish activities. On the eastern front several of the spies caught by the Turks were themselves Turks; so were a number of Greeks operating in the west of Turkey. Nor can one exempt the Jews who provided two distinct volunteer corps fighting the Turks at two different fronts, the Dardanelles (in 1915) and Palestine (in 1918). Moreover, one of the largest wartime espionage networks, the NILI in Yaffa, Palestine, which was caught by the Turks, was run by a small Jewish group. And yet...[T]hese [Turkish] authorities at that time did not think it prudent to extend their operations of ethnic cleansing to these nationalities and minority groups and thereby compound the already existing problems arising from the ongoing mass murder of the Armenians.
Dadrian dismisses as "blatant sophistry" the non-sequitur Turkish claim of 2.5 million victims in the 1914-1922 period because it includes (and conflates),
... disparate categories of events such as losses in World War I, losses in the post-Turkish campaign for independence, as well as losses due to epidemics, malnutrition and succumbing to the rigors of the elements... What is fundamental in all these losses is that overwhelmingly they are the byproducts and the results of warfare with Turkey's external enemies. These warfare losses are cryptically blended, juxtaposed and composed with the number of victims of an organized mass murder. Indeed, the two categories are collapsed whereby victim and victimizer groups are subsumed under a single, undifferentiated category, having been leveled almost beyond differentiation, and no longer discernible as separate, if not antithetical, categories.
The Commemoration Date
Within 24-hours of agreeing to a secret military and political pact with Imperial Germany on August 2, 1914, the Ittihadist ('Young Turk') government ordered a general mobilization, which resulted in the military conscription of nearly all able-bodied Armenian males aged 20-45. Additional calls were soon extended to the 18-20, and 45-60 year old age groups. The preponderance of these Armenian recruits were executed by Turkish officers and fellow soldiers after having been employed as labor battalion soldiers. German and Austrian military and political officials, as well as the American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, Henry Morgenthau, all rejected the subsequent Turkish arguments during the commission of the genocide that massive deportations of the Armenians were justified due to concerns for military security.
Aleppo's veteran German Consul, Walter Rossler, in a report of 27 July 1915 to Berlin declared, "In the absence of menfolk, nearly all of whom have been conscripted, how can women and children pose a threat?"...German Colonel Stange, in charge of a detachment of Special Organization Forces in eastern Turkey, questioned the veracity of the argument of Ottoman military authorities. These authorities were maintaining that the deportations were a military necessity because they feared an uprising. In his report to his German military superiors, Stange retorted, "Save for a small fraction of them, all able-bodied Armenian men were recruited. There could, therefore, be no particular reason to fear a real uprising (emphasis in the original)"...Austrian Vice Marshall Pomiankowski, Military Plenipotentiary at Ottoman General Headquarters, provided his answer to these questions. The Turks, "began to massacre the able-bodied Armenian men...in order to render the rest of the population defenseless." After graphically describing the scenes of these serial massacres of conscripted Armenian men which were "in summary fashion," and "in almost all cases the procedure was the same,",...Morgenthau noted with emphasis the same rationale: "Before Armenians could be slaughtered, Armenia must be made defenseless." In this connection, the Ambassador notified Washington on 10 July 1915 that "All the men from 20 to 45 are in the Turkish army."
Dadrian has argued that perhaps this initial isolation of the 18-60 year old Armenian male population in the first week of August 1914 heralds the onset of the subsequent genocide. However, the Armenian genocide is formally commemorated on April 24, this year marking the 92nd year since the events of April 24, 1915. On that date, the Turkish Interior Ministry issued an order authorizing the arrest of all Armenian political and community leaders suspected of anti-Ittihadist or Armenian nationalist sentiments. In Istanbul alone, 2345 such leaders were seized and incarcerated, and most of them were subsequently executed. The majority were neither nationalists, nor were they involved in politics. None were charged with sabotage, espionage, or any other crime, and appropriately tried. As the intrepid Turkish scholar Taner Akcam recently acknowledged,
...Under the pretext of searching for arms, of collecting war levies, or tracking down deserters, there had already been established a practice of systematically carried-out plunders, raids, and murders [against the Armenians] which had become daily occurrences...
Within a month, the final, definitive stage of the process which reduced the Armenian population to utter helplessness, i.e., mass deportation, would begin.
Today's Status Quo of Immoral Denial and Diplomatic Confusion
But ninety-two years after the events of April 24, 1915, the Turkish government persists in its denials of the Armenian genocide, abetted by a well-endowed network of unsavory political and pseudo-academic lobbyists operating with the imprimatur of morphing geo-strategic rationales. Until the Soviet Union imploded, "Turkey as a bulwark against Communism," was the justifying mantra; now, "Turkey as a bulwark against radical Islam," is constantly invoked
This leeway afforded Turkey is both morally indefensible, and increasingly, devoid of any geo-strategic value. West Germany was arguably a much more direct and important ally against the Soviet Communist bloc, while each successive post-World War II West German administration, from Konrad Adenauer through Helmut Kohl, made Holocaust denial a punishable crime. Moreover, there is burgeoning evidence, available almost daily, that Turkey's government under the Muslim ideologue Erdogan, and large swaths of the Turkish media, intelligentsia, and general public, are stridently anti-American, and hardly qualify as "bulwarks against radical Islam." Indeed, Turkey's contemporary Islamic "revival" is of particular relevance to the tragic events that transpired between 1894 and the end of World War I, precisely because the Armenian genocide was in large measure a jihad genocide.
Another source of lobbying pressure in opposition to the Congressional resolutions formally recognizing the Armenian genocide are major Jewish organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), B'nai B'rith, and the American Jewish Committee (AJC). All have opposed the Armenian genocide recognition legislation in the Congress, including the presentation of letters from the Jewish community of Turkey, complemented, in the cases of ADL and JINSA, by their own statements opposing these Congressional resolutions. Even the most recent statements by ADL and AJC -- which recognized the Armenian Genocide under duress -- actively oppose (ADL), or fail to support (AJC), the resolutions. These groups maintain that passage of HR/SR 106 jeopardizes both the safety on Turkey's small Jewish minority (which is glaringly inconsistent with their simultaneous hagiography of Turkey's treatment of Jews, past and present), and what they profess to be the ongoing congenial and strategic relationship between Turkey and Israel.
While Germany openly recognizes the Holocaust, and prosecutes Holocaust deniers, Turkey refuses to recognize the Armenian genocide and in fact has prosecuted its own citizens if they dare to affirm this established genocide. Nobel Prize winning Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, for example, was prosecuted under penal code Article 301, which states: "A person who, being a Turk, explicitly insults the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be punishable by imprisonment of between six months to three years." A complaint was also filed against the Turkish scholar Taner Akcam who forthrightly acknowledges the Armenian genocide, and the late Armenian editor Hrant Dink -- ultimately assassinated by a Turkish nationalist -- was earlier prosecuted and punished, under this same statute.
After a three weeks delay which kept important U.S. military troops at sea, on March 1, 2003, the Turkish parliament rejected a resolution that would have allowed these forces to open a northern front against Iraq from Turkish soil. This serious rupture, and other evidence adduced by the founder and chairman of a leading Turkish think tank prompted his candid observation in May, 2005 that, "Turkish-American relations have been in a process of erosion for a long time. The strategic partnership is long over. [emphasis added] And after it ended, unfortunately no effort was made to redefine our relations." Public attitudes in Turkey towards the U.S. are overtly negative. During early March 2005, an announcement poster inviting the public to attend a large scale anti-US demonstration, on March 19, 2005 was displayed extensively throughout the streets of Istanbul, and in the lobbies and hallways of public buildings as well. The poster depicted the US as a giant octopus with long tentacles strangling the globe, and proclaimed, "America Get Your Hands Off the Middle East." Signatories of the poster represented millions of members from the most prominent national organizations, trade and labor unions, and professional associations of Turkey. Valley of the Wolves (released February, 2006), the wildly popular, most expensive film ever made in Turkey, is a stridently anti-American propaganda piece, which appears to mirror the widespread hateful Turkish attitudes towards the U.S. expressed in polling data from the spring of 2006.
There is also no evidence that the diaspora dhimmitude of ADL and like-minded U.S. Jewish community advocacy groups has done anything to ameliorate the chronic plight of Turkish Jews (whose numbers have steadily declined from a post World War II census of 77,000 to less than 17,000 at present), or bolstered the so-called "alliance" between Turkey and Israel. Such servile efforts have failed to alter a virulently Antisemitic Turkish religious (i.e., Islamic), and secular culture which continues to target Turkey's vestigial Jewish population -- only 16% of Turks view Jews favorably according to a Spring 2006 Pew Global Attitudes survey -- and the Turkish populace is virulently anti-Zionist, and anti-Israeli.
Interviewed for a November 19, 2003 story in The Christian Science Monitor, following the bombing of Istanbul's two main synagogues by indigenous Turkish jihadist groups, Rifat Bali, a scholar, and Turkish Jew, acknowledged the chronic plight of Turkey's small, dwindling Jewish community, whose social condition remains little removed from the formal "dhimmi" status of their ancestors. "The Turkish Jews have not been fully integrated or Turkified, and they have had to limit their expectations. A kid grows up knowing he is never going to become a government minister, so no one tries, and the same goes for positions in the military."
These acts of jihad terrorism targeting Jews occurred against a backdrop of relentless Antisemitic propaganda conflating Jews, Zionism, and Israel -- spearheaded by groups emphasizing traditional Islamic motifs of Jew hatred -- a campaign that continues unabated. For example, Milli Gazete, the daily produced by former Prime Minister Erbakan's National Salvation Party since January, 1973, and a major organ of fundamentalist Islam in Turkey, published articles in February and April of 2005 which were toxic amalgams of ahistorical drivel, and rabidly Antisemitic and anti-dhimmi Koranic motifs. "Secular" Turkish antisemitism was perhaps best exemplified by a "cinematic motif" in Valley of the Wolves (mentioned earlier for its anti-Americanism) which featured an American Jewish doctor dismembering Iraqis supposedly murdered by American soldiers in order to harvest their organs for Jewish markets. Prime Minister Erdogan not only failed to condemn the film, he justified its production and popularity. This is the same Mr. Erdogan who in 1974, then serving as president of the Istanbul Youth Group of the Islamic fundamentalist National Salvation Party wrote, directed, and played the leading role in a theatrical play entitled Maskomya, staged throughout Turkey during the 1970s. Mas-Kom-Ya was a compound acronym for "Masons-Communists-Yahudi [Jews]", and the play focused on the evil, conspiratorial nature of these three entities whose common denominator was Judaism.
During the Hizbollah-initiated war of July-August 2006, Prime Minister Erdogan also repeatedly blamed Israel for the conflict, emphasizing that "nobody should expect us [Turkey] to be neutral and impartial." Concurrently, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish secretary-general of the 57-Muslim nation Organization of the Islamic Conference denounced Israel's self-defensive actions as "state terror."
The Ottoman Turkish destruction of the Armenian people, beginning in the late 19th and intensifying in the early 20th century, was a genocide, and jihad ideology contributed significantly to this decades long human liquidation process. These facts are now beyond dispute. Milan Kundera, the Czech author, has written that man's struggle against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting. In The Banality of Indifference, Yair Auron reminds us of the importance of this struggle:
Recognition of the Armenian genocide on the part of the entire international community, including Turkey (or perhaps first and foremost Turkey), is therefore a demand of the first order. Understanding and remembering the tragic past is an essential condition, even if not sufficient in and of itself, to preventing the repetition of such acts in the future....
And in his eloquent Wednesday 8/22/07 column "No Room to Deny Genocide" the Boston Globe's Jeff Jacoby emphasized the nexus between the jihad genocide of the Armenians, the contemporary depredations of jihad, and the dangers of denial: "And at a time when jihadist violence from Darfur to Ground Zero has spilled so much innocent blood, dissimulation about the jihad of 1915 can only aid our enemies." Moreover the various "strategic rationales" and arguments put forth to oppose formal U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide-the U.S.-Turkish alliance, the Turkish-Israeli alliance, the vulnerability of Turkey's vestigial Jewish minority-appear wanting and hackneyed in light of burgeoning evidence which undermines their basic credibility.
But most importantly, there is a compelling moral imperative to pass these resolutions which transcends the dubious geopolitical considerations used to rationalize and sustain Turkey's ongoing campaign of genocide denial. Professor Deborah Lipstadt , the renowned Holocaust scholar, and author of Denying the Holocaust, and History on Trial (which recounts her crushing defeat of Nazi-sympathizer David Irving's "libel' suit"), in conjunction with twelve other leading genocide scholars, elucidated the corrosive immorality of genocide denial in this 1996 statement:
Denial of genocide -- whether that of the Turks against the Armenians or the Nazis against the Jews -- is not an act of historical reinterpretation. Rather, it sows confusion by appearing to be engaged in a genuine scholarly effort. Those who deny genocide always dismiss the abundance of documents and testimony as contrived or coerced, or as forgeries and falsehoods. Free speech does not guarantee the deniers the right to be treated as the 'other' side of a legitimate debate when there is no credible other side"; nor does it guarantee the deniers space in the classroom or curriculum, or in any other forum. Genocide denial is an insidious form of intellectual and moral degradation....
Andrew G. Bostom, MD, MS is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Brown University Medical School, and regular contributor to Frontpage Magazine. He is the author of "The Legacy of Jihad."
Read the entire article on the Frontpage Magazine website (new window will open). Reprinted with permission of Frontpage Magazine.