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August 30, 2004

Shimon Peres, Holocaust Denier

Clearly I'm pissed off today for some reason. First Bill Clinton, now Shimon Peres.

Anyway, on April 11, 2001, Peres was quoted in the Turkish Daily News as saying:

"We reject 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."

Peres' motives were, of course, transparently political. Turkey is probably Israel's most important ally after the US. It's certainly its only Muslim ally. And Turkey lets Israel station part of its airforce there and probably serves as a base for Israel to infiltrate northern Iraq. So Peres believes that Israel's significant interests (see the post about Bill Clinton below) make it necessary for him to behave in the most vile way possible.

However, there is a hero in this story -- Israel Charny, a professor at Jerusalem University and perhaps the world's foremost scholar of the psychology of genocide. When Peres said this, Charny wrote a letter to him saying: have gone beyond a moral boundary that no Jew should allow himself to a Jew and an Israeli I am ashamed of the extent to which you have now entered into the range of actual denial of the Armenian Genocide, comparable to denials of the Holocaust.

And this wasn't Charny's first run-in with the Israeli government. As this Jerusalem Post profile of Charny explains:

Charny's advocacy of the Armenian cause led him into a more serious confrontation with the Israeli government in 1982. He had invited several researchers to deliver papers on the Armenian genocide at the first international conference on the Holocaust and Genocide which he organized, together with Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel. Under pressure from Turkey, the Israeli government urged the organizers to cancel the conference or hold it outside Israel, but Charny refused. The incident led to a brief falling out with Wiesel, who ultimately withdrew from the conference, which was held in Israel and attracted some 300 participants. Charny also believes the affair may have cost him his job at Tel Aviv University, where he lost his bid for tenure shortly after the controversy.

The whole article's worth reading. I'm sort of jealous of Charny, because I myself hope to someday be described as "something of a maverick, oddball, pioneer and pain-in-the-ass."

Posted at August 30, 2004 02:44 AM | TrackBack

OK, I read this and he sounds like an amazing guy. But one thing really intrigued me: Do tell me why Bernard Lewis was tried in france for denying the Armenian holocaust. Is this against the law in France? The Armenian site you directed us to in a lower down article says that France is one of the powers that keeps the UN from classifying the Armenian "tragedy" as a genocide. France itself denies it but it tries people who are not its citizens for doing the same thing? My head hurts. Of course I agree that Bernard Lewis is a very biased academic who no one should listen to and who has been thoroughly discredited, but I did not know that being biased was against FRench law.

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at August 30, 2004 05:22 AM

Well, I was so intrigued I went and looked it up. It is really interesting. Bernard Lewis claimed to Le Monde that the Armenian Massacres (that is what he called them) did not constitute a genocide because there was no evidence of it being a deliberate planned government policy. He continues to state this, incidentally, as shown in an interview with Haaretz after the lawsuit. Israel, which was going to grant him a medal or something, changed their minds momentarily due to the case, then changed them back. The armenian groups stated that he had caused them something on the level of emotional damage and the judge, while not saying they were right or that it was or was not a genocide, awarded them 1 franc damage as a symbol and also ordered the Monde to publish the decision so it seems everyone was satisfied, including Bernard Lewis, who still is a denier.

Posted by: Anna in Cairo at August 30, 2004 05:51 AM

Jon, let me be the first to describe you as a maverick, oddball, pioneer, and pain-in-the-ass. And I mean that in the best possible sense.

Really, I just want to be the first on the record to describe you this way so that I can shamelessly take advantage of your future fame and fortune. I can get Barbara Walters to interview me about you!

If you need anyone to describe you as "populist gadfly" I'm also happy to oblige.

Posted by: Ted at August 30, 2004 12:51 PM


Thank you. That is greatly appreciated.

However, I will say I'm somewhat alarmed by the speed with which Google acted. Is there nowhere we can hide from its overwhelming might?

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at August 31, 2004 04:56 PM

You could put a meta tag in your blog template that would hide you from most searches, but it kind of defeats the purpose of having a public weblog -- at least for people who really do have something to say.

The alternative, feeding false information, only becomes appealing if you have people out to get you. Your enemies amongst the Rotarians were wiped out in a golfing tragedy and the rest of us like you.

If Google turns evil, I'll revise this; though it will probably be too late and of small comfort.

Posted by: Harry at August 31, 2004 08:07 PM