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An Israeli Historian Questions the Armenian Genocide 01/22/2003
JERUSALEM, January 22--The "Historia", Journal of the Historical Society of Israel, published in its August 2002 issue a lengthy article of 55 pages by Prof. Mina Rosen, from the Department of Jewish History, Haifa University, entitled "Armenia, Armenia", which reviews the books of Prof. Vahakn Dadrian "History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus, and "The Banality of Indifference" by Yair Auron. It is surprising that both books are being reviewed after the passage of seven years. 

In this tendentious article Prof. Mina Rosen accuses Dr. Yair Auron of having an ethical approach throughout and not being specialized in race relations between the dominant and the subject people in the Ottoman Empire. According to her the Armenians provoked their final fate, and their leadership knew that they were manipulating their own people. Prof. Rosen who has spent all her life researching the history of the Jews in the Ottoman Empire , is a newcomer to the Armenian subject, and in Israel she is known only in the framework of her narrow area of study. Recently she published a book entitled, "Jews in the Ottoman Empire and the Balkans". 

In her article, Prof. Rosen admits that Prof. Dadrian is a great expert but  accuses him of being selective in the use of his sources. Prof. Rosen is using the pretext of the review of both books as a cover to present the Turkish point of view in quite a transparent way. Anybody who is familiar with the Turkish apologetic literature, finds that the article is a synthesis of many of the Turkish revisionist publications. She reproduces some almost verbatim. She simply has rendered them into Hebrew. The general thrust and the conclusion of the article is that the Armenian leadership brought the massacres and the genocide upon the head of their own people. 

In the wake of the publication of the article, there was a lot of criticism  of the article from different quarters. The "Historia" Journal which is published by the Israeli Ministry of Science, Culture and Sport decided to organize an academic symposium on the subject of genocide. The symposium took place on January 14, in the Zalman Chazan Center, with 150 people attending including the representatives of the Armenians Case Committee of Jerusalem. The symposium consisted of two sessions, and lasted from 4:00pm to 8:30pm. 

The first session, from 4:00pm to 6:00pm, were the presentation of Dr. Yair  Auron and Prof. Mina Rosen chaired by Prof. Shulamit Shahar from the Editorial Board of the Journal. Dr. Auron made a survey of the Armenian Genocide and stressed its premeditated nature. He brought several testimonies, one of consul Jackson of Allepo demonstrating how a caravan of deportees had dwindled from 18,000 to 300 on arrival to their destination. Then brought forth Consul Leslie Davis' quotations and two Jewish testimonies, one of Eitan Belkind an Ottoman Jewish soldier in Der Zor, who was witness to the burning of 5,000 people. Then Auron talked about the "Pro-Armenia" report of Aharon Aharonson, who used the term "pre-meditated plan". Dr. Auron said that at that time the term genocide was not yet devised. Dr. Auron criticized the Israeli Foreign Ministry position and called it passive denial. He added that every  possible term like "massacres", "deportation" and "tragedy" is being used in order not to use the term genocide in the Armenian case. Later he added that with the statement of Mr. Shimon Peres, it became an active denial.  Coming to the Israeli academia, Dr. Auron said that with few exceptions like Prof. Yehuda Baur and Prof. Israel Charny, they are indifferent and do not address the issue, even cases of denial. He brought the example of Dr. Eliezer Tauber, from Tel Aviv University, who in a footnote of his book said that Armenians massacred hundreds of thousands of Turks and that there is no such thing as Armenian Genocide. In  his remarks directed to Prof. Rosen, Dr. Auron said that Prof. Rosen writes in her article that the diaries of Ambassador Henry Morgenthau are forged. Dr. Auron questioned this statement saying how could the diaries of an American Ambassador, which are found in the American National  Archives could be forged specially that they have never been published? 
Prof. Rosen in her presentation almost read the same article, and mainly dwelt on the provocative acts of the Armenians. She said, it happened to the Armenians because they wanted a state and in wartime they were engaged in mass insurrection. She talked about the book of Prof. Dadrian and called him a forger. She avoided  discussing the book of Dr. Auron. Her concluding sentence was that the Armenian leadership manipulated the masses into the massacres. 

One of the representatives of the Armenian Case Committee of Jerusalem (Hai  Tad) asked the Chair to come to the podium. He was given permission. Among other things he said: "We wonder why now, suddenly Prof. Rosen came to the Armenian issue after spending twenty years in Ottoman History." The representative challenged Prof. Rosen to produce evidences about her claim that the Armenians were demanding a state and that they rose in mass during the First World War. He questioned saying "should one be ashamed for the Warsaw Ghetto or the Musa Dagh, when they rose against their oppressors after seeing everybody around them being massacred?" 

The Hai Tad representative furiously reacted to the labeling of Prof. Dadrian as a forger. He said: "Luckily, we have many people in the public who know Prof. Dadrian who is an international authority in the Field. He continued asking Prof. Rosen and saying: "I wonder why did you avoid mentioning Dr. Auron as you did in your article. Was it embarrassing to do so in front of an Israeli Public? Then he turned to Mrs. Rosen and said: "Could you do us a favor, please leave our dead alone". Prof. Rosen said : "I can see that the Armenian representative is speaking out of  his pain." Meanwhile, the chair, Prof. Shachar said, that the Armenian representative has misunderstood Prof. Rosen's article. 

During the second session, there was a presentation by Prof. Yehuda Baur the leading expert on the Holocaust. Discussing the concept of genocide, he said: "I read the article of Prof. Rosen, I am not sure whether she looks at the Armenian case as a genocide? Then he said: "Let us suppose that the Armenians wanted autonomy or a state, does that justify the deportation and the destruction of a whole population including women and children. Prof. Baur said: " any scholar of genocide has the obligation to compare with genocides, otherwise I do not consider him a scholar of a genocide." He said that some people consider the Holocaust unique arguing that it was industrial. "In my opinion" he said: "every regime who committed genocide, used the best available industrial and organizational techniques at its disposal which it could mobilize, so in this respect there is no question of uniqueness". 

Prof. Baur in his impressive and innovative presentation, frequently discussed and referred to the Armenian genocide, and said that it is vital to compare. After him, Prof. Shlomo Avineri, the former director of the Foreign Ministry (Labour government), said: "before I begin my presentation, I would like to state that I consider the Armenian case as genocide".  This symposium has brought together prominent Israeli thinkers on the topic  of holocaust. The speakers in their overwhelming majority highlighted the Armenian genocide and emphasized its unique and special status.

The Journal "Historia" has decided to devote its summer edition of 2003, to  the subject of genocide.
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