Posted on April 26, 2017
Dr. Israel Charny, renowned scholar of genocide studies, Director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem speaks about the Armenian Genocide in the video interview to ScholArm.com.
Telling the story of how he started researching this topic, he recalls reading first time about it in an article titled “The unremembered Genocide” in Commentary magazine published by the American-Jewish committee.
“I was amazed that I didn’t know anything about it and kept that in my head and my heart”, - he says. Some time after that he recalls meeting a Turkish couple (psychologists) at a professional meeting of doctors. When he asked them in a casual conversation about what the Turks had done to the Armenians, referring to the article in the magazine, they both suddenly turned their backs to him and walked away without saying a word and never spoke to him again.
“From that day I was a student of the denial of the Armenian Genocide”, – he says.
He believes it is important to speak about the Armenian Genocide as well as other genocides today because this is as much a contemporary issue.
“The Armenian Genocide is of enormous importance first of all for the dignity and honour of the Armenian people... and secondly, the Armenian Genocide, like all genocides, is a voice into what is happening now in the world and what is going to happen in the future of our world, because genocide has not ended”, – he says.
“It is not an event of the past alone; it is an event that human beings do now and will be doing until we develop the tools for stopping it. There are murderers in this world – they are called governments, political parties, revolutionary movements... every group that takes on itself killing civilians who are not armed is committing genocide”, – he notes, adding “Armenian Genocide is of the people whom I have gotten to love, and many people do; you have a culture that has a beauty to it; it has a message to it, a music to it... So there is a special personal interest as well in the history of the Armenian Genocide”.
As for the reasons why the Jewish people have been the only victim group who have received compensations for the genocide perpetrated against them (which is not the case with the Armenians given the Turkish denial and other factors), professor Charny says that this fact shows the difference between the Germans and the Turks in terms of acknowledging and paying compensation for a similar crime they committed.
“I totally support the increasing pressure in every possible and legal way towards getting reparations... We together have the power, and we should be using it in every international law and diplomatic situation demanding reparations”, – he says.
Dr. Charny speaks also very critically about the phenomenon of xenophobia and the spread of hatred against any group. This is today a recurrent issue globally and in relation to Armenians in particular given that Azerbaijan, another genocide denier state, actively propagates anti-Armenianism on the state level.
“Any time there is a message of hate and of derogation (insulting) of a given ethnic [religious], [political] people... any time there is a message of concentrated hate that becomes official [and] widespread, that is promoted by radio and television, the government officials and by culture, it is an invitation to the virus of genocide – there is a direct link here”, – he notes, deploring the fact that there has been no real attempt to combat this peril.
Having researched and written about genocide denial as such, Dr. Charny is well familiar with the ways and means employed by the denialists – for instance claiming that historical documents (such as court-martials of 1919–20 where the Turkish military convicted the key perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide) are forgeries, or justifying those events saying that they took place in the course of the war and that Armenians should simply forgive the Turks.
“Denial is quite amazing. No matter how much evidence you accumulate, the deniers will come and say it doesn’t exist”, – says the scholar, noting that the denial has moved from being sloppy and stupid in an open way to being smart and sophisticated, despite the overwhelming consensus on the fact of the Armenian Genocide in scholarly community.
“There is a strong consensus in the scholarly community on [that the events of 1915 were genocide]. Idiots and deniers are still there and always will be because there are people whose minds work in twisted fashion just like the [minds] of genociders, but the consensus is there and it is overwhelming”, – he stresses.
Having participated in the ceremony of the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide and in the Global Forum Against the Crime of Genocide held in Yerevan in 2015, professor Charny highlights the value of the fact that the Armenians acknowledge and remember also the genocides of all other peoples such as Greeks, Assyrians, thereby “reaching that position in a way that few if any other victim peoples have yet reached”.
Dr. Charny proposes a creation of a world-wide organization of the survivors of all genocides together. He calls for all the people in the world who have suffered genocide, as well as those who care about this issue, to come together and create a new culture through music, art, education, the media, where they will put across the message that life is holy, and that all human beings have the right to live.
Dr. Israel Charny is an Israeli-American psychologist and genocide scholar. He is the editor of two-volume Encyclopedia of Genocide, and executive director of the Institute on the Holocaust and Genocide in Jerusalem.
Interview by Nvard Chalikyan