Saturday, December 31, 2005

One Sacred Genocide

Hamid Ansari bemoans the sanctity attached to the Holocaust in the Western political discourse. Mirroring George Monbiot's comments in the Guardian earlier this week, he incriminates Austria and France of vileness and Britain and America of inaction in the Hitler-directed massacre. But equally, if not more, appalling atrocities against peoples in other parts of the world have never garnered the kind of attention the Holocaust has. Shimon Peres's statement to a Turkish news agency would be funny, if it were not so outrageous.

Robert Fisk, in a seminal work recently published, writes of the First Holocaust — of the one and a half million Armenians killed in Turkey in 1915 by the Committee of Union and Progress in an effort "to destroy the Armenians." Despite much debate and factual evidence, the matter remains in a state of denial. Interestingly enough, even in Israel there is an effort to do so, as would appear from an interview given by Shimon Peres to a Turkish news agency. "We reject," he said, "attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through, but not a genocide."

The very fact that the term Holocaust (with a capital 'H', no less) has come to be associated with the Jewish carnage vouches for the validity of Ansari's argument.

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