Over at The Daily Dish, Jamie Kirchick follows Mark and makes the sensible point that the Anti-Defamation League, which claims to be a humanitarian organization, should not be censoring its own officials for pointing out that the Armenian genocide was, in fact,a genocide. The origin of this is the Turkish government’s pressuring Israel to pressure American Jewish groups not to take a stand on the issue.
All this much is straightforward. But the underlying issue seems murkier: why, in fact, do the Turks care about this issue so much?
You might think that the answer is obvious: the Turks care because no one likes to be accused of genocide. But the regime that committed it is not that of the current Turkish Republic: it was the Ottoman Empire, which was overthrown by Kemal Ataturk because of, among other reasons, its moral corruption. Moreover, it was nearly 100 years ago; no one alive today can be considered a perpetrator of the original crime.
Michael Crowley, in a good article about the issue in TNR, suggests that acknowledgement of the genocide would force huge financial and perhaps territorial reparations on the Turks–or at least that’s what Ankara fears. But his evidence for this is pretty thin: one nationalist Armenian blogger. And for precisely the reasons that I just mentioned, massive financial and territorial reparations would be less likely in this case.
Something else is going on here, probably with a Kurdish connection. I’ll see what I can find out, and if readers have ideas or evidence, please send them along.