May 5th 2021

Acknowledging Genocide 

by James J. Zogby

Dr. James J. Zogby is the President of the Arab American Institute

 

As expected, US President Joseph Biden’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide during the Ottoman Empire was greeted with relief by Armenian Americans and outrage by many Turks. By itself, however, recognition without reckoning means little. In the end, it is the Turkish government that must acknowledge what was done a century ago to eradicate the Armenian Christian presence in the region of Ottoman Empire that was to become Turkey.

During the period 1915-1917, over one million Armenians were killed and their physical presence in the region largely destroyed. While there was an initial effort to find those responsible and hold them accountable for their crimes, with the advent of the modern Turkish state, a systematic and brutal process of denial took hold. Turkey not only refuses to acknowledge the horrors their predecessors inflicted on Armenians, but they bully and threaten those who dare to defy them by recognizing that what occurred was genocide. To compound their denial, Turkish historians have concocted a fictive history which diminishes their crimes, shifts blame to the victims, and absolves them of responsibility. In doing this, the Turks are not alone.

Human history, ancient and contemporary, is replete with instances of genocide – that is, the effort to eradicate a people, erase their history, denigrate their culture, and destroy their physical presence. Many of these atrocities have been recognized by the victims and other nations who support them. But, with the notable exception of the German acknowledgment of the Holocaust, rarely have the perpetrators of these crimes accepted responsibility and offer recompense.

A few examples should be sufficient to make this clear.

The United States was founded on two genocides, its original sins – the massacres and forced removal of the country’s indigenous peoples and the enslavement of black Africans. Millions of Native Americans were killed, lands were “cleared of Indians” to make way for settlers, and those who were forcibly evicted were corralled into Bantustan-like “reservations.” Blacks were “freed” by the Emancipation Proclamation, but remained landless and impoverished and were soon subjected to cruel laws denying them full rights as citizens. Since then, some civil rights have been secured, but Black Americans are still victims of segregation and discriminatory laws and treatment. While some of the statues of segregationists and slave-holders are finally coming down, no US President has dared to apologize and offer reparations for slavery or the genocide against Native Americans.

British behavior in Ireland should also be classified as genocidal. During their colonization of the island, they confiscated land, imported settlers loyal to them, stole Irish resources, attempted to eradicate Irish culture, and did little to assist the victims of the Great Famine – during which almost one-third of the Irish population died from hunger and disease, while another third were forced to emigrate. While the Irish starved, the British continued to import food from Ireland – food which the Irish were not allowed to consume. Almost a century after Irish independence, the British retain control of the northern part of the Island, and while there is fragile peace between the British and Irish – with the exception of an apology from former Prime Minister Anthony Blair, Britain has never fully acknowledged its responsibility for its actions during and since its colonial rule.

Israel’s behavior toward the indigenous Arab population has been genocidal. During Israel’s war of independence – the Palestinian Nakbah (“disaster”) – the majority of Arabs were forced to flee a systematic Israeli military campaign to “cleanse” parts of the country from Arabs. After the war, almost 500 Palestinian villages were eradicated, and millions of acres of their land and thousands of their homes and businesses were confiscated and turned over to exclusive Jewish control. During the first two decades, Israel imposed harsh conditions on those Palestinians who remained, forcing Arab children to learn Hebrew and denying Arabs the right to join labor unions, live in Jewish areas, or form political organizations. Some of these conditions have since eased for the Arab citizens in Israel, but many of these same policies are now imposed as part of Israel’s repressive Apartheid rule in the post-67 Occupied Territories. Israel has invented its own fictional history and its supporters worldwide will brook no criticism of its policies or accept any responsibility for its behavior toward its Arab citizens, those under occupation, and, most especially, the Palestinian refugee population.

France’s behavior in Algeria was also genocidal. During the French conquest, almost one-quarter of the country’s Arab population were either killed or died from disease or hunger, with many more killed during the century of French colonial rule. They seized land and resources, imposed discriminatory Apartheid-like policies, confiscating property and resources, importing privileged colonists from France, denying educational opportunities to Arab children, and denigrating the country’s Arab and Islamic culture. While the French president did make a statement acknowledging that “crimes against humanity” were committed in Algeria, after seeing how poorly it was received by voters, he later recanted saying there would be “no repentance or apologies” for France’s behavior in their former colony. And, today, Arab immigrants in France live in ghettos as a permanent underclass where they suffer from high rates of poverty and discrimination.

The lesson is clear. It is good President Biden has acknowledged the Armenian Genocide, but unless the inheritors of the fruits of past genocidal policies reckon with the crimes committed in their name, justice will not be done.  

 

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Jun 19th 2021
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Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "China’s recently published census, showing that its population has almost stopped growing, brought warnings of severe problems for the country. “Such numbers make grim reading for the party,” reported The Economist. This “could have a disastrous impact on the country,” wrote Huang Wenzheng, a fellow at the Center for China and Globalization in Beijing, in the Financial Times. But a comment posted on China’s Weibo was more insightful. “The declining fertility rate actually reflects the progress in the thinking of Chinese people – women are no longer a fertility tool.” "
Jun 12th 2021
EXTRACT: " I remember recounting fellow leaders of the story of a Rwanda schoolboy caught up in the genocide of the 1990s and now immortalized in the Kigali Genocide Memorial museum, where, in a section devoted to children, one can find his photograph and a plaque that reads: ----- David, age 11 ...... Ambition: to be a doctor ...... Favorite sport: football ...... Favorite hobby: making people laugh ...... Death: by mutilation ...... Last words: the UN are coming to save us ----- In his idealism and innocence, David believed the international community would save him and his mother. We didn’t. "
Jun 8th 2021
EXTRACT: " While many conservative Republicans opposed Trump and saw that he posed a danger to their party and democracy itself, they were hesitant to buck the mass movement they had created, fearing that it would turn against them. Some of these same conservatives assumed that with Trump's defeat, the horror of January 6th, and the former president's banishment from social media, the time had come to restore sanity to their party. But the GOP leadership’s continued cowering in the face of what they now call "Trump's base" has caused them to circle the wagons and purge their ranks of those who call for sanity. "
May 26th 2021
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May 25th 2021
EXTRACT: "Netanyahu claims to be acting in the name of the Jewish people. He certainly is not. Many Jews around the world, including me, despise Netanyahu’s racist politics. As an American, I am also deeply troubled by the US government’s knee-jerk support of Israel. Fortunately, I am not alone in this view. A growing number of Democratic Congressmen, Jews and non-Jews alike, have called on the United States to stop supporting Israel’s lawlessness. The truth is that the US government’s uncritical support for Israel has come to depend more on evangelical Christians, such as former US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, than on American Jews, who are deeply divided by Netanyahu’s actions. And the evangelicals’ real interest in Zionism is not Jews’ security, but Armageddon, the end of the world, which they believe will come only when all Jews are in Israel."
May 18th 2021
EXTRACT: "This period in US history could go down as the moment when America’s democratic system for electing a president – the most consequential duty of US citizens – was broken, perhaps for good."
May 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "While reading Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) monumental report “A Threshold Crossed,” I felt a range of emotions. It also left me with one big question. I was deeply impressed by the report’s rigorous scholarship. At the same time, it brought to the surface feelings of anger and profound sadness. It’s an extraordinarily complete study detailing not only the many ways Israel has violated a broad range of Palestinian human rights, but the ideology of racial superiority and entitlement that Israel has used to justify its repression." ..... "My advice to both Israel’s defenders and weak-kneed liberals is​, “Read the damn report.” "
May 16th 2021
EXTRACTS: .... "He transformed a transitioning market economy into a stable statist project that rests on an alliance of his inner circle," ..... "He transformed Russia from a respected member of the international community into a rogue state" .... ". He energized NATO by providing it with the adversary it lacked after the end of the cold war," ..... "He befriended hopelessly corrupt, dysfunctional, and unstable dictatorships..." ..... "He forged a quasi-alliance with China, thereby enhancing Russia’s dependence on the one country that might have reason to appropriate those Russian territories inhabited by Chinese."
May 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "On the face of it, the latest escalation of violence is following the template of all inter-ethnic wars. Muslims observing Ramadan shouted nationalist slogans and clashed with Israeli right-wing groups chanting “Death to the Arabs.” The Israelis haughtily marched with their national flag on Jerusalem Day, marking Israel’s capture in 1967 of East Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical Second Temple, and of Al-Aqsa, completed in the year 705. Battles in and around the Al-Aqsa compound erupted, with worshipers inside throwing stones at the Israeli police, who responded by firing rubber-tipped bullets and other projectiles, wounding hundreds."
May 13th 2021
"Regardless of how the current and future violent conflicts between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem will end, there will be no Israeli-Palestinian peace unless East Jerusalem becomes the capital of a Palestinian state while the city remains united."
May 7th 2021
EXTRACT: " Would the United States be prepared to risk a catastrophic war with the People’s Republic of China to protect the Republic of China, better known as Taiwan? "
May 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human history, ancient and contemporary, is replete with instances of genocide – that is, the effort to eradicate a people, erase their history, denigrate their culture, and destroy their physical presence. Many of these atrocities have been recognized by the victims and other nations who support them. But, with the notable exception of the German acknowledgment of the Holocaust, rarely have the perpetrators of these crimes accepted responsibility and offer recompense "
May 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "The best way to defend liberal democracy is to practice it at home and abroad with the “courage and self-confidence” that Kennan touted at the dawn of the Cold War. This is also the best way to ensure the survival of our own conception of human freedom. And survive it will."
May 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Ann Arbor (Informed Comment) – Sammy Roth at the LA Times/ Boiling Point Newsletter reports that California’s main power grid was powered for several hours last Saturday by 90% renewables. For just four seconds that day, the grid, which covers 4/5s of the state, reached 94.5% generation by green energy. California is the world’s fifth largest economy. The main grid does not cover Los Angeles County. On the other hand, these figures do not include the electricity generated by the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, which is not counted as renewable but which is also very low-carbon."
Apr 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "It is no accident that there has been an economic divergence in Central and Eastern Europe. Those countries that have joined the European Union have improved their economic governance, and GDP has begun to converge with Western Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, Hungary, Poland, and Romania grew at an annual average rate of 3.9%, 4.1%, and 4.7%, respectively. Meanwhile, Belarus and Ukraine experienced minimal growth during this period, and Russia’s economy expanded at an average annual rate of just 0.7%. Though Russia had a higher per capita GDP (in terms of purchasing power parity) than Croatia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey as recently as 2009, all of these countries have since overtaken it. Russians today are shocked to learn that they are worse off than Romanians and Turks. Among EU member states, only Bulgaria is still poorer than Russia. With its close proximity to the EU single market, Russia could have had higher growth if it had pursued sound economic policies. Instead,..... "
Apr 22nd 2021
EXTRACT: "As far as anyone can tell, the US military is not on the verge of an internal breakdown, let alone primed to stage a coup d’état. But few predicted anything like the US Capitol riot before protesters equipped with body armor, stun guns, and zip-ties breached the building. Before the US is blindsided again, its leaders must act resolutely to root out extremism in the military."
Apr 17th 2021
EXTRACT: "The new report on 2020 by the International Renewable Energy Agency reveals that the world’s renewable energy generation capacity increased by an astonishing 10.3% in 2020 despite the global economic slowdown during the coronavirus pandemic." .... "In 2020, the global net increase in renewables was 261 gigawatts (GW). That is the nameplate capacity of some 300 nuclear power plants! There are actually only 440 nuclear power plants in the whole world, with a generation capacity of 390 gigwatts. So let’s just underline this point. The world put in 2/3s as much renewable energy in one year as is produced by all the existing nuclear plants!"
Apr 16th 2021
EXTRACT: "When we examined the development of nations worldwide since 1820, we found that among rich Western countries like the United States, the Netherlands and France, improvements in income, education, safety and health tracked or even outpaced rising gross domestic product for over a century. But in the 1950s, even as economic growth accelerated after World War II, well-being in these countries lagged.
Apr 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality."