Hurriyet .php?n=shoah-is-all-right-holocaust-isn8217t-2010- 04-27
April 27 2010

Once again, the usual we-must-look-it-up-in-the-Thesaurus season in
Washington is over and we all can sigh with relief. The thesaurus
must have depleted its alternative entries for the word "genocide,"
as evidenced by President Barack Obama's repeat of the words "Meds
Yeghern" in reference to the 1915 killings of Ottoman Armenians. So,
"Great Calamity" is all right. "Genocide" is not.

The U.S. president's selection for this year's April 24 menu has
confused hearts and minds. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was
not offended, but his Foreign Ministry was.

Some Turks were jubilant that President Obama avoided the term pushed
by diaspora Armenians and their congressional allies. Some took to
the streets and shouted, in protest, "Allah is the greatest!" as if
they were marching for jihad.

Apparently there is something sick in the Turkish psyche. Turks are too
prickly about being called genocide committers, but wear bitter smiles
when they are called "the committers of one of the greatest atrocities
of the 20th century," or when their ancestors are accused of causing a
"devastating chapter." Bizarre? Just "Turkishly" confusing...

Another bullet dodged, and many Turks breathed easily in all corners of
America. Some may have told their Turkish-American sons and daughters
that they can now take a deep breathe and relax... See, it's just
"one of the greatest atrocities of the past century," or merely
"Meds Yeghern," but not "genocide."

The Armenians, on the other hand, must have thought of Mr. Obama as a
leader who ended up just like any other human being - for the second
time now, making promises he could not keep. It should not come as a
surprise though because presidents George H. Bush and George W. Bush
broke similar pledges, and President Bill Clinton leaned on Congress
not to pass genocide commemoration measures. Hearts and minds tend
to break.

Hence the Armenian National Committee of America's statement,
describing Mr. Obama's declaration as "yet another disgraceful
capitulation to Turkey's threats, offering euphemisms and evasive
terminology to characterize this crime against humanity."

Mr. Obama was probably cute enough when he also mentioned how
encouraged he was about the Armenian-Turkish dialogue, and the Turkish
domestic debate about the issue. He was fair and unfair, depending
on which side of the Alican border one lives, when he mentioned the
Turks who helped the victims of other Turks' atrocities. All in all,
his abstention from the dangerous word was sufficient for many to
be content on the western side of the border, if not all together
jubilant; and sad and disappointed on the other side, if not angered.

As always, the Turks look divided. Serious faces in the corridors
of grey buildings; prickly, less prickly and too prickly statements
in reaction to the word "atrocities;" increased security around the
Turkish embassy and consulates in the United States; but for the time
being the Turkish ambassador to Washington seems not to be packing
up once again for another lengthy stay in Ankara.

President Obama's speech was grey. Armenians were heart-broken and
felt cheated yet again. They believed the Turkish powers on the U.S.

were deep. Turks were not happy that the issue did not disappear from
the face of the earth, along with the victims' bones, and that Mr.

Obama's speech was ambiguous and not supportive enough of their cause.

But there was some good coming out of this sad day. More and more
Turks are making attempts to understand the issue and the scientific
proof of atrocities, or genocide, depending on which part you belong.

Three outdoor commemorations of the "Armenian Genocide" on April 24,
a lecture by a diaspora Armenian journalist in Istanbul and a two-day
conference on the "Armenian Genocide" in Ankara took place, while
obstacles, counter-protests and fascist rhetoric tried to disrupt the
events and reminded the few hundred participants of the long way ahead.

Is it genocide? Will the much-spoken archives help? Will there be a
film soon, an adapted version of "Schindler's List," which not only
shows the torment but also those on the other side who helped the
victims? If the person who had coined the term genocide, Raphael
Lemkin, declares the Armenian tragedy as "genocide," will that suffice?

One thing is clear though. Whether or not we like the Obama speech, it
indicates that the president still opposes the "genocide" resolution,
and its likelihood to pass is now slimmer than before.

Could human nature not help us here to provide a convincing argument?

Could we not say: "Dear Armenians; we know you expect an apology but
apologies come from nations - in majority at least - who can accept
their faults, attempt to change and take lessons from their wrongs...

Sorry, that's not yet us. See, just a day before your 'commemoration,'
which was our Children's Day, our beloved prime minister told the
'child prime minister of the day:' 'You can do whatever you please,
you can hang them or use your sword, the choice is yours...' So do not
take it personally, dear Armenians, it is not personal, this is us,
your neighbors. Hello!"

But let's try to derive some crisis resolution methodology from the
"Obama jurisprudence" on the "genocide" dispute. Because for two
years in a row, Mr. Obama's preferred term for the tragedies of
1915-1920 is "Meds Yeghern," will the president agree to a Turkish
apology for "Meds Yeghern," instead of "genocide?" Why should he not
propose to Congress a resolution recognizing "Meds Yeghern" instead of
"genocide?" Not many Turks would care if they are accused of having
ancestors who had caused "Meds Yeghern."

"Shoah" is all right; "genocide" is not.