August 30, 2007
Truth and Consequences
(Page 2 - Previous Page)From my experience in tackling difficult relationships, I believe that engagement, not avoidance, is the best strategy. In a perfect world, Armenian and Turkish historians would sit together and review the archival material, debate differences and seek a common understanding of the past.
To date, that hasn't happened in any meaningful way. I continue to hope that it will. It should. We at the American Jewish Committee have offered our services, if needed, to help facilitate such an encounter. Ninety years of distance ought to allow for the creation of a safe space to consider contested issues.
Meanwhile, as the issue once again heats up in the United States, it's important to be clear. In a book titled, "Holocaust Denial," published by the American Jewish Committee in 1993, the author, Kenneth Stern, an AJC staff expert on the subject, noted: "That the Armenian genocide is now considered a topic for debate or as something to be discounted as old history does not bode well for those who would oppose Holocaust denial."
He was right. Picture a day when a muscle-flexing Iran or Saudi Arabia seeks to make denial of the Holocaust a condition of doing business with other countries. Sound far-fetched? It shouldn't.
We have many interests as a Jewish people. Protecting historical truth ought to be right up there near the top of the list.
David A. Harris is executive director of the American Jewish Committee.
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