Let’s Not Don Hair Shirts

Keghart.com Editorial Board, 27 January 2012

The campaign to commemorate the centenary of the Genocide of Armenians has begun in earnest. In the next three years, leading to 2015, Armenians around the world are expected to launch focused, intense and well-orchestrated projects to raise awareness around the world of Turkey’s monstrous crime, to persuade, or to shame Turkey into admitting its deliberate attempt to exterminate a whole race. Meanwhile, Turkey has announced its counteroffensive. In the last week of December, Turkish diplomats held a closed-door and extraordinary meeting in Istanbul to draft their anti-Armenian Genocide strategy. The meeting was chaired by Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu.

Keghart.com Editorial Board, 27 January 2012

The campaign to commemorate the centenary of the Genocide of Armenians has begun in earnest. In the next three years, leading to 2015, Armenians around the world are expected to launch focused, intense and well-orchestrated projects to raise awareness around the world of Turkey’s monstrous crime, to persuade, or to shame Turkey into admitting its deliberate attempt to exterminate a whole race. Meanwhile, Turkey has announced its counteroffensive. In the last week of December, Turkish diplomats held a closed-door and extraordinary meeting in Istanbul to draft their anti-Armenian Genocide strategy. The meeting was chaired by Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu.

As Armenians get together in their homes, churches, clubs, party headquarters, community centres and conference halls in the next three years, inevitably someone will criticize Armenians—individually and collectively—for not imitating successful Jewish efforts to influence public discourse. The wail—“why can’t we be as well organized as the Jews?” will ring from Los Angeles to Lausanne, from Montreal to Moscow. The call, supposedly made to be constructive, is like a pail of icy water in the face on a freezing day. The overly-ambitious advice sabotages our efforts rather than advances them. A mole hill will not become Mount Everest because someone wishes it so. History tells us that the impractical strategy or tactic—a commonplace interjection—will be offered with greater frequency leading up to the Genocide’s Centenary.
Once and for all, Armenians should forget the above trope. Armenians are not Jews. Armenians don’t have the clout or wealth Jews have: no ethnic group has. We are not interested here in analyzing the reasons for Jewish puissance . Whether it’s based on genetics or culture (the nature or nurture argument), whether it’s because of their holy books, the weight they give to study and education, their defensive reaction to the hatred and persecution they have suffered… these are not the issues on the table. We aim to underline why it’s futile for Armenians to beat their chests, to don hair shirts as they deplore lack of Armenian power when compared to Jewish power.

Forget the Jews. Jews are in a different league. We could compete with them successfully in the Ottoman Empire, but today’s world is not (thank God) that bad excuse for a country. That was another time, another place and different circumstance.

It’s no “Breaking News” that wherever they live, Jews are among the elite of that country. They are in the elite economically, culturally and practically in every other field. Because this is also a fact in Western Europe, North America and Australia, it doesn’t make much difference when we rely on United States statistics to make our point.

Mark Twain is one of many people who have addressed the issue of Jewish success. He wrote in "Harpers" magazine (1899): “…If statistics are right, then Jews constitute but one percent of the human race. It suggests a nebulous dim puff of stardust lost in the blaze of the Milky Way. Properly, the Jews ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his commercial importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the shallowness of its bulk. His contribution to the world’s list of great names in literature, science, art, music, finance, medicine and abstruse learning are also away out of proportion to the weakness of his numbers. He has made a marvelous fight in this world, in all the ages; and had done it with his hands tied behind him. He could be vain of himself, and be excused for it.” Similar accounts have been written or uttered by philo-Semites, anti-Semites and unbiased observers.

Although American Jews make up 2% of the country’s population, 21% of US Ivy League students are Jews, 26% of Kennedy Centre honorees are Jews, 37% of Academy Award-winning directors are Jews, 38% of the people on a recent “Business Week” magazine major philanthropist list were Jews. Fifty-one percent of the Pulitzer Prize-winners for non-fiction were Jewish. Jews are also prominent on a long list of US literary and scientific prizes.

Between 1901 and 2007 there were 750 Nobel Prizes awarded. Although Jews make up 0.25% of the world’s population, 162 of the winners were Jews. Jews represented 13% of winners in literature, 19% in chemistry, 26% in physics, 41% in economics and 28% in medicine.

Those professions that require the greatest intelligence in which to perform well (US Supreme Court law clerks and elite college faculty) the proportion of Jews approaches 30%. Wherever you turn in the United States—economics, politics, law, Fortune 500, literature, arts, entertainment, media, high-tech entrepreneurs, investing, manufacturing, real estate, science, social activism, opinion making, consulting, marketing…you will bump into Jews as a dominant presence. As well, 60% of all employed Jews are in one of the three highest status job categories (professional, technical, management, executive, business and finance.) Jewish Americas comprise 33% of American millionaires, 40% of billionaires and 45% of “Forbes” 40 richest Americans.

Some 54% of all world chess champions have been Jews.

Tel Aviv is one of the world’s foremost entrepreneurial hot spots. Israel ranks second, behind the US and ahead of Canada, in the number of companies listed on the NASDAQ. It attracts as much venture capital as France and Germany combined.

The omnipresent cell phone was developed in Israel by inventors working for Motorola Israel. Most of Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft Israel. The Pentium MMX chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. The Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were designed, developed and produced in Israel. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel. Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only research and development facilities outside the US in Israel. The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed by four young Israelis.

Israel’s $100-billion economy is larger than the combined economies of its immediate neighbours. Between 1980 and 2000 Egyptians registered 77 patents in the US. Israel registered 7,652. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin. After the US and Holland, Israel has the highest (24%) percentage of university graduates in its workforce. In proportion to its population, Israel has the highest number of start-up companies in the world. In absolute terms, it has (3,500) the second-largest number of start-up companies in the world. Most of the companies are in technology.

Before chiding why Armenians can’t be as effective as the Jews, let’s study the histories of both people. Let’s remember that Jews invented Judaism and Christianity. These two religions also inspired and influenced Islam. Despite persecution almost everywhere, they have thrived and contributed in countless ways to humanity. They even helped invent capitalism. They also helped invent capitalism’s arch-enemy—communism. The three top influencers of the modern world—Karl Marx, Dr. Sigmund Freud, Dr. Albert Einstein—were Jews. Jews were the engine of the US labour movement, Civil Rights, liberalism and of feminism. Now they are leading pilots of globalism. Some believe we are living in the Nuclear Age… in the Computer Age… in the Age of Anxiety… Some would say we are living in the world Jews have invented. The latter is an exaggeration but there’s no doubt that this is the Golden Age of Jews.

As Armenians, let’s do the best we can, and forget what Jews could/would do. We are not them; they are not us. Give or take a couple hundred, there are about 5,000 big and small nations in the world. Why pick the most successful as the people we should outdo? Let’s not be masochists. Let’s not be distracted.

We are Armenians. We love our nation–an old, honorable and high-achieving people. We have many, many strengths, redundant to list here. Despite our small number and tortured history, we have achieved greatness with enviable frequency. We have made ourselves be heard–witness our recent victory in France re the law about Armenian Genocide denial. Like Jews, we have made a name wherever we have lived away from our motherland. Persians, Byzantium, the Arab empires of the Middle Ages, the Memlukes, even the corrupt Ottomans, Shah Abbas, the Mughals of India, and the Soviets have valued the Armenian genius, the enterprising and creative spirit.

Arriving in the Arab Middle East as penniless orphan survivors of the Genocide, fragile strangers in strange lands, Armenians soon built not only churches, schools and clubs, but also founded numerous newspapers, drama groups, sports leagues, Boy Scouts movements…they published books and numerous newspapers and even established a feminist journal in Lebanon in the ‘50s. They contributed to their new countries, becoming professionals, business entrepreneurs and artists. They represented their new homelands at international gatherings. Away from Ararat, they acted as modem between the West and the East—a nation of individual bridges. Diaspora Armenians alone have contributed a far greater number of geniuses to the modern age–since the Genocide of Armenians– than 75-million strong Turkey has done.

We have more than 1,100 days to April 24, 2015. Let’s make every day count.


  1. I Disagree
    Dear Keghart Editorial Board,

    Allow me disagree with the main idea of your article. I find it racist. The article does not explain why we, Armenians, could outperform the Jews in the Ottoman Empire but not in the current Western world. With due respect to all of their achievements, I do not believe that the Jews are a special or a chosen race.

    Yes, currently Jews enjoy a “golden age” and that has its explanation. For thousands of years Jews lived under oppression and discrimination. These circumstances helped them not to assimilate. On the other hand, while living under certain circumstances of economic restrictions they ended up having large concentrations practically in every major European city in the last 200 years. And since Europe was at the top of the world at the time in economic, scientific, financial and artistic advancement while the world moved from feudalism to capitalism, Jews with their vibrant ethnic network found themselves in an advantageous environment over other ethnic groups.

    Two million highly-educated Jews living in New York–the financial capital of the world–should have more influence in the world than 200 million of poor people in India. Despite the concentration of Jews in the Western world, China outgrows the West without a sizeable population of Jews. North Korea invents nuclear weapons and Iran is very close to getting them.

    Jews have been around since ancient times, yet all the major scientific discoveries until recent centuries were made by non-Jews. As far as I know, Pythagoras, Galilee, Newton… were not Jews.

    Yes, Jews are a great people but we should not forget that the whole human civilization has contributed in building this bright ethnic group. Jews will be an outstanding ethnic group as long as the world feels guilt toward them. Once this attitude is over, and it will be in a few decades since (fortunately) they are no longer persecuted, the "golden age" of Jews will come to its end. At some point the Christian world will be prepared to ask itself "Why should God decide for His Son to have a Jewish mother if He loved all people equally and there were so many other people to chose from?"

    We, Armenians, to succeed have to feel ourselves responsible for the world we live in rather than expect the world to be responsible for us. This attitude requires certain level of literacy, including political literacy. The next generation of Armenians will be better educated. Provided that we successfully transfer them their national identity, we as a nation will again see us stronger and feel inspired rather than inferior when discussing the success of the Jews.

    1. Armenian vs. Jewish Success

      Dear Aram,

      I reread the the Keghart editorial ("Let’s Not Don Hair Shirt") because of your comments.

      I don’t agree with you that the editorial is racist. At the outset, the writer (s) stated that the focus of the editorial was the success of Jews, specially in recent history. To underline that point, the editorial restated that the aim was not to determine the reasons (genetic/cultural or nature/nurture or other factors) for that success but to compare Jewish success with that of Armenians.

      Stating that the Jews are at the "top of the class," without malice, rancor, jealousy or their reverse, is not racist.

      Your account of the reasons for the Jewish success was obviously beyond the aims of the editorial. It’s not fair to call names just because information you apparently wished to see in the editorial was not included. And after all, an editor or writer has the right to his focus.


      1. Հարգելի Մուշեղ

        Հարգելի Մուշեղ,

        Ես այս հոդվածը ռասիստական եմ անվանել, որովհետև այն հրեաներին օժտում է ինչ-ինչ գերբնական հատկություններով և կարդացողներին ներշնչում ընդունել նրանց առավելությունը մեր նկատմամբ որպես անշրջելի իրականություն: Մինչդեռ, հրեաների անժխտելի ձեռքբերումները թվարկելու հետ մեկտեղ անհրաժեշտ է բացատրել այդ ձեռքբերումների պատճառները: Անբացատրելի են միայն գերբնական հատկությունները, և հրեաների աննախադեպ ձեռքբերումների բացատրության բացակայությունն անուղղակիորեն հենց այդ միտքն է ներշնչում ընթերցողին, ինչին ես փորձել եմ առարկել:

        Մյուս անհանգստությունը, որ ունեցա այս հոդվածից, նրա վերջաբանից էր: Այնպիսի տպավորություն է ստացվում, որ հայերիս ամեն ինչը սկսվում և ավարտվում է Ցեղասպանությամբ և եթե Ցեղասպանության հարյուրամյակի տարելիցին մենք չհասնենք աշխարհի կողմից այդ արհավիրքի լայն ճանաչման, ապա հայկական իրականությունը դադարում է աշխարհում գոյություն ունենալ:

        Ասվածս ավելի ցավագին է դառնում այն փաստով, որ չնայած մի քանի անգամ հոդվածը հիշատակում է Իսրաելը, ոչ մի անգամ չի հիշատակվում Հայաստանի մասին: Իսկ մի գուցե հրեաների հաջողությունները գալիս են հենց նրանից, որ իրենց գաղափարախոսության հիմքում հենց իրենց պատասխանատվությու՞նն է իրենց հայրենիքի նկատմամբ: Մի հանգամանք, որտեղ մենք իսկապես նրանցից սովորելու կարիք ունենք:


        1. Dear Aram, I am sorry I can’t read your reply

          Dear Aram,

          I am sorry, I can’t read your reply because (unfortunately) I can’t read Armenian. I don’t trust Google translation. Perhaps a Keghart reader or you would translate your letter and publish it.

          1. Requested English Translation

            Dear Mushegh,

            I called the article racist since it ascribes Jews some supernatural qualities and suggests readers accept their advantages over us as an irreversible reality. Along with listing the undeniable achievements of the Jews, it is necessary to explain the reasons for these achievements. Only supernatural qualities are unexplainable and the absence of any explanation of the unprecedented achievements of the Jews indirectly suggests such qualities for them to the readers that I tried to argue against.

            Another concern that I had about the article is its summary conclusion. It makes one feel that everything Armenian starts and ends with the Genocide and that if we fail to reach a widespread world recognition of this disaster by its centennial date then the Armenian reality will cease to exist in this world.

            The above becomes even more painful with the fact that although the article mentions Israel several times there is no word about Armenia (as if there is no such a country and Armenian reality is just the Armenian Diaspora). Perhaps the success of the Jews is explained by their feeling of responsibility toward their homeland (Israel) and is deeply rooted in their national propaganda. In this matter we really need to learn a lot from the Jews. 

          2. Comparisons

            Thank you for the translation.

            We disagree on our interpretation of the editorial. I don’t think the editorial ascribed supernatural qualities to Jews. It merely cited their obvious success. The list of their success could have been much, much longer. I believe the editorial said that Jewish dominance will continue because there doesn’t seem to be an apparent contender in the horizon.

            You insist that the editorial should have explained the reason for Jewish success, although right at the beginning of the piece the writer (s) said that it was not the intention of the editorial to go into that topic. I agree with the author (s) because, for one thing, it’s a vast subject and I doubt Keghart editors are historians/sociologists/anthropologists/geneticists/historians of finance, religion, ethnology, multiculturalism, Jewish history or the history of mankind, etc. The editors wanted to make a certain point. I believe they made it. The piece advised Armenians to do the best they can with their resources and forget about how green the grass might be on the other side of the fence.

            I see why you would think that the piece suggested that everything begins and ends with the Genocide. Keghart editors might have used the success of Armenian Diaspora because that succes was so dramatic and achieved in such a short time, especially when diasporans started with almost nothing. Although this segment of the editorial celebrated Armenian success, you criticized it, despite your call that the editorial should have recognized the Armenian genius.

            Then, in your last paragraph, you veer to a completely different direction and hint that perhaps Diaspora Armenians don’t feel as responsible about Armenia as Jews do toward Israel. Where did that come from? I don’t want to start an Armenia vs Diaspora debate. What would you like Diaspora Armenians do for Armenia? Diaspora Armenians have established two political parties in Armenia, have assisted Armenia since its independence, have criticized bad governance there, done excellent public relations work for Armenia, worked toward reducing its isolation, etc. They have also assisted Artsakh. Despite the soul-crunching corruption there, Diaspora Armenians haven’t given up on their motherland. Then again, perhaps you overestimate the impact the Diaspora can have on the politics of Armenia. In my opinion, Armenian politics is decided mostly in the Kremlin and by Moscow-residing Armenians.

            I realize that in this letter I have repeated some of the points I made in my earlier letter. I had to because you repeated yourself. To prevent turning round and round and repeating ourselves, this will be my last letter on this issue if your letter makes the same points you made in your previous letters. Harkanok.


  2. The only reason why the

    [One of the reasons]  why the Armenians are not as known for their intelligence was because of the censure by the Soviet Union. We have given a lot to the world starting with Music and ending with Military technology; but in Soviet times [ethnicity, nationality] was not mentioned, just "developed by Soviet Scientists". If USSR were a capitalist country like the rest of the world, and when the Jews  excelled, we would have been right up there with them. …

  3. Excellent Analysis

    Excellent analysis; nice editorial. Thank you. The subject is long overdue; also I did not find any racial tone in your article. But what I was waiting for is the punch line, which was never delivered: after all that beautiful analysis. What is the plan? How does one get there at about the same level as the Big Players?

  4. Outwit Armenian

    Armenia is the homeland of the Ashkenazim, the smartest people in the world. As the old saying goes… it takes four Greeks to outwit a Jew and two Jews to outwit an Armenian in business.

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