Step Into My Parlor, Said the Spider to the Fly

By Lucine Kasbarian, 23 March 2013

In April 2013, the winners of the 4th Annual International Turkish Tourism Cartoon Competition will be announced.

Lucine’s symbolic entry into the 4th annual Turkish Tourism Cartoon Competition

By Lucine Kasbarian, 23 March 2013

In April 2013, the winners of the 4th Annual International Turkish Tourism Cartoon Competition will be announced.

Lucine’s symbolic entry into the 4th annual Turkish Tourism Cartoon Competition

The purpose of the competition is to “examine tourism” in Turkey by highlighting travelers’ experiences from cartoonist’s point of view. The theme of this year’s competition is “the resident and tourist relationship.” Tourism is one of the biggest income-generating sectors of the Turkish economy.

Open to professional and amateur cartoonists around the world, the contest will award the winners a one-week vacation for two at a five-star hotel in Turkey.

The competition is co-sponsored by the Turkish Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Turkish Association of Tourism Writers and Journalists, the Research Center for Caricature Art at Anadolu University, and the “Anatolia” Journal of Tourism Research. A representative of the Turkish Ministry of Tourism, Turkish cartoonists, two Turkish tourism journalists, and the editor of “Anatolia” Journal serve as judges.

As a writer and cartoonist of Armenian descent, I am aware of the overtures made by Turkey to encourage tourism by Diasporan Armenians who may be interested in embarking on “nostalgia pilgrimages” to the regions from which their indigenous ancestors were driven during the Turkish government-perpetrated genocide of 1915-1923. Turkish officials and businessmen alike are clearly eager to derive tourism revenues from what they see as a natural target demographic, namely, the descendants of the forcibly exiled Armenians. After all, the Armenian Highland, now referred to as “Eastern Anatolia” or “Eastern Turkey” and virtually emptied of its Armenian population, is now one of Turkey’s most impoverished regions.

While Turkey desperately wishes to avoid the issue of reparations and restitution for the Armenian Genocide, one wonders whether the Turkish government is nevertheless experiencing cognitive dissonance as it invites Armenians to territory inhabited by their ancestors for more than 4,000 years. It must take a uniquely wired mind to self-justify the commission of mass murder, property theft and abduction while coaxing the descendants of the victims to cough up money for the “privilege” of touring the lands stolen from their parents, grandparents and forebears.

Turkey’s tourism outreach to Armenians reached unprecedented levels in 2010, after it purportedly “renovated” the 10th century Armenian Holy Cross Cathedral on Aghtamar Island on Lake Van.

Turkey announced that it expected thousands of tourists from Armenia and its Diaspora to spill into the Van region for the ostensibly auspicious opening of a monument that holds great historical, spiritual, and cultural significance for Armenians. A condition in Turkey’s gesture of “great tolerance” and “largesse” was that Holy Cross would be a house of worship no more, as the structure was to be only a state museum. Downplayed was the fact that ongoing Christian worship inside the structure would be forbidden.

We could, of course, discuss how unsafe Turkey is, not only to tourists but also to those indigenous groups who have been made to feel like outsiders. The murder of Armenians — from journalist Hrant Dink and defenseless old women in Istanbul to visitors in the resort town of Antalya — are but a few recent examples.

Armenians commemorate April 24 every year because on that day in 1915  the Turkish government rounded up and murdered hundreds of Armenian intellectuals and community leaders. The purpose was to eliminate the top echelon of the Armenian people and, thereby, to more easily dispose of the masses.

In recent decades, the Turkish government has reserved the month of April to publicly rehabilitate its genocidal reputation. Each year, Turkish Children’s Day and Turkish Cultural Month strategically commence on April 23rd. Significantly, the Tourism Cartoon Competition’s exhibition of finalists’ cartoons and its award ceremony are also to be held in April.

As Turkey’s genocide whitewashing campaigns continue unabated, it  should come as no surprise that, “coincidentally” this April, the Eurasia Partnership Foundation, its co-sponsor, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other organizations are bringing about direct passenger flights between Yerevan and Van even as Turkey continues to close its border with Armenia.

The title of this article – derived from the opening line of Mary Howitt’s famous poem – is intended to apply to Turkey’s overtures to tourists. The line is often used in popular culture to indicate an offer of friendship that is, in fact, a trap.

“Will you walk into my parlor?” said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlor that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlor is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to show when you are there.”
“Oh no, no,” said the little Fly, “to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair —
Can ne’er come down again.”

Mary Howitt, 1829

Lucine Kasbarian is a journalist, book publicist, children's book author and political cartoonist. She will speak on April 2 about the book publishing industry on International Children's Book Day at the  Armenian Library and Museum of America in Watertown, MA.

Other entries of Lucine Kasbarian in

An Inspiring Friend Remembered

Armenia: Yesterday, Today, and Maybe No Tomorrow

Top Twenty Tall Turkish Tales

Is “Reconciliation” Compatible with Justice?

The Servant Who Knows His Master

Asking for Your Blessing

Killing Fields of The Armenian Genocide

Armenian, Assyrian & Greek Genocides: An Inconvenient Truth

Elixir in Exile

John Balian's “Novel Approach” to Armenian Saga

"The Greedy Sparrow"

Pari (Ch)desank, Yovanovitch

Ճեփ Ճերմակը Եղաւ Սեփ Սեւ

When Vice Is Virtue

The Shibboleth

  1. The Spider’s Web

    Had Vanetsis still been around in Van and Vasbouragan, I would have visited Lake Van and had an Armenian boatman row me to the shores of Lake Akhtamar. I would have stepped on the island and walked on its shores to have a feel of that stormy and fateful night when the legendary girl Tamar waited for her lover to brave the stormy waters of the lake only to find him utter the last words of his life “Akh Tamar”.

    I would have also naturally visited the Sourp Kach Church, but I would have sought to find out the rock that should not be that far from the church, next to which Vahan Papazian took a snapshot of the legendary freedom fighter Kevork Chavoush. Antranig and his companions were on the island that day. He was fortunate to have a picture of him taken for posterity. His battle-hardened legendary companion, Sbaghanants Magar was not. We can only imagine how he looked. There is no picture of him.

    I sure would have visited also that small village called Araleez. I would have climbed up the small hill in or around the village. Not to visit only the small church – Մատուր – on its hilltop but to get a view of the surrounding when Queen Shamiram had the lifeless body Ara the Beautiful, placed there for the gods to lick his wounds and bring to life the infatuation of her life.

    Had keghetsis, Erzroumtsis, Sassountsis, Zeitounsis, Hajentsis……Unfortunately, they and their descendants are not there anymore. I have been tempted many a time to fall into the tentacles of the spider’s web, but thus far I have not.

  2. Aghtamar

    What a stupid cartoon. It was because of the deceitful lobbying and lie-filled propaganda by Armenians like that "Hye Son of Van" that the church on Aghtamar underwent its recent horrific "restoration", a "restoration" that destroyed it value as an historic monument and scrubbed it clean of any history. People who understand how ancient monuments should be CONSERVED, people who know that Aghtamar before its "restoration" functioned as sophisticated testimony to the past and was not, as it is now, a Disneyland-type tourist attraction for morons, look on what has befallen Aghtamar with horror and sadness. Try capturing that in a cartoon.

    BTW, Vahe, since 2011 Aralez/Aralik/kalechik is no longer a small village, it is a suburb of Van with a population of several tens of thousands crammed into a vast new housing estate of apartment blocks.

    1. The Aralez

      I read about the Aralez decades ago in a memoir. I can't remember whose memoir it was.

      Like many of my generation, I also, although not in my teens, was taught about Ara the Beautiful and Queen Shamiram. The story fired our youthful imagination. What has fascinated me, as an adult, is that the myth has not only lasted but that there was an Armenian village named after the myth. Not only that, the villagers knew the location of the mythical event. It was on a hill in or on the outskirts of the village where they had erected a chapel. There was even a picture of the hill with the chapel on top.
      Steve, how is it that you seem to know about the Aralez in such detail? Could you please share your knowledge of that village now turned into a town? I bet very few Armenians have heard of the village. I had no clue that the place is known as Aralik / Kalechik and that it is no more a village.
      Incidentally, I hail from Keurkune, Kessab. In the outskirts of our ancestral village there is a small hill we call "kalachek". It may be that kalachek means hill in Turkish.  


  3. Great Cartoon

    Thank you, Kasbarian, for expressing what many of us know and feel. Great illustration.

Comments are closed.

You May Also Like