Charny says the first aim of the book is intended as a powerful statement of respect and caring for the Armenian people and never-to-be-compromised integrity in memory of the tragic Armenian Genocide. The second is a delicate issue, certainly for Jewish readers. The author says that for some years now there has been a huge tension between those who believe that Israel should be honored and supported unconditionally and that any serious criticism of Israel is in truth a throwback to antisemitism from non-Jews and self-hatred from Jews. Charny adds: "I feel very strongly that the true answer is that our support and love for Israel -- just as is the case for the United States or any other country in our world -- needs to include authentic and genuine critical responses and expressions of protest against the (in truth inescapable) errors and wrongdoings of a country. In this respect, this book is a challenge to what I believe is ethical and intellectual maturity."
The work begins with the story - in effect a 'political whodunit' - of what became a very famous First International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide in Tel Aviv in 1982. Israel made a titanic effort to close the conference after beginning with demands on us to remove the subject of the Armenian Genocide from the deliberations, then proceeded unbelievably to demand of us to cancel the participation of all Armenian scholars and then progressed to demands to cancel the entire conference. The government explained its serious efforts at blatant academic suppression on the basis of threats it claimed were made by Turkey, the original perpetrator of the Armenian Genocide and to this day the continuing denier of the very event of the genocide. At first, Israel said that Turkey was threatening to harm (kill?) Jews in Turkey if Israel proceeded with the subject, and then went on to emphasize Turkey was threatening to cut off the escape routes of Jews from Iran and Syria.
Why is the story a 'whodunit?' The story Charny tells is based on previously SECRET classified documents of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (these documents have now been released after many years, but this book is probably the first public consideration of them). Charny says: "Strangely, the more than surprising developments that are seen even make this a fun read of an adventure story, but of course the issue it raises is enormously serious, and I found that I had no choice but to go on in later chapters to the question of how Israel to this day shamefully engages in denials not only of the Armenian Genocide but of virtually all other genocides as they take place in our world. Our people who should be leaders in empathy, caring and a battle to rid human society of genocide are failing seriously. Indeed, we go on to meet up with some of the facts of how Israel's enormous arms trade to this moment very much includes even selling arms to countries that are committing genocide at the time or who are seen as threats for committing genocide. Thus, Armenians who should be our dear brothers as two peoples who suffered major genocides in the 20th century have seen us selling disastrous arms to Azerbaijan."
Many readers will also be fascinated at the penetrating reports of how Elie Wiesel and Shimon Peres, two beloved greats in Israeli and indeed world history, were active leaders of the efforts to destroy the conference.
There are also three other memorable chapters by 'a Turk, an Armenian, and a Jew' who consider various aspects of the 1982 conference and of denials of genocides. The Turk is a fearless publisher who spent many years in Turkish jails because of the truths that he published (Ragip Zarakolu). The Armenian is a distinguished Armenian American professor and leader of the Armenian people who played a significant role in the conference and was one of the early writers on the Armenian Genocide (Richard Hovannisian). The Jew is an outstanding professional who today is responsible for building new Holocaust museums in many places around the world, and who for a good number of years was the Research Director who was responsible for selecting all the artifacts that are displayed in the pathbreaking U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. (Michael Berenbaum).
implications for mankind.
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