#Lethistorydecide

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Recent from the blog

Prof. BERNARD LEWIS

Princeton University

“That the massacre of the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire was the same as what happened to Jews in Nazi Germany is a downright falsehood.

What happened to the Armenians was the result of a massive Armenian armed rebellion against the Turks, which began even before war broke out, and continued on a larger scale.

To make a parallel with the Holocaust in Germany, you would have to assume the Jews of Germany had been engaged in an armed rebellion against the German state, collaborating with the allies against Germany. That in the deportation order, the cities of Hamburg and Berlin were exempted, persons in the employment of the state were exempted, and the deportation only applied to the Jews of Germany proper, so that when they got to Poland they were welcomed and sheltered by the Polish Jews. This seems to me a rather absurd parallel.”

April 14, 2002, National Press Club and C-Span 2

PHD. EDWARD J.ERICKSON

International Research Associates

Many historians find military chronicles dry and difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, when it comes to the controversy over the fate of Armenians in 1915, they are crucial. Many contemporary historians accuse the Special Organization and Major Stange of complicity in genocide. The records, though, do not lend such accusations credence. From the record of unit assignments and locations on the front, it appears that the Special Organization units associated with Stange were not redeployed from the Caucasian front to deport and massacre Armenians … “Obama has been the president since 2009. He has not called it genocide. Why now? The event that happened in 1915 is not genocide in 2014. Why would it be in 2015? Are you aware of the comedy? The whole matter has been politicized top to bottom”

Prof. GUENTER LEWY

Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

The key issue in this controversy is not the extent of Armenian suffering … Historians do not dispute these events although they may squabble over the numbers and circumstances. Rather the key question in the debate concerns premeditation. Did the Young Turk regime organize the massacres that took place in 1916? Most of those who maintain that Armenian deaths were premeditated and so constitute genocide base their argument on three pillars: actions of Turkish military courts of 1919-20, which convicted officials of the Young Turk government of organizing massacres of Armenians, the role of the so-called “Special Organization” accused of carrying out the massacres, and the Memoirs of Naim Bey which contain alleged telegrams of Interior Minister Talat Pasha conveying orders for the destruction of the Armenians. “Revisiting the Armenian Genocide”

Prof. JUSTIN A. MCCARTHY

Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst

All-inclusive definitions that include all acts of war as genocide, there are only two main points that define genocide—one-sided killing and the intent to destroy all members of a group. The conflict between Muslims and Armenians was never one-sided. The troubles began with Armenian attacks on Turks and Kurds, and the Ottomans reacted. More Muslims died than did Armenians. No one has ever found honest evidence that the Ottoman government intended to kill the Armenians. Indeed, there is voluminous documentation showing government concern for the relocated Armenians. But it does not take examination of Ottoman documents to show that extermination was never intended: Except for a small number of rebels, the Armenians of Istanbul, İzmir, and Ottoman Europe were not relocated. They lived out the war in their homes. These would have been the first to be killed if the Ottomans had wished to commit genocide. Most of those relocated reached their destinations unharmed. Only approximately one-third of the Armenians were relocated by the government. And the Ottomans allowed, and even encouraged the American missionary organizations to feed and care for the relocated Armenians, even though the missionaries had mounted a vicious propaganda campaign against the Turks. Compare all this to a real genocide that of the Nazis. Did the Jews of Berlin survive? Did Hitler ask religious organizations to feed and house the Jews? None of this means that all Turks were completely innocent. In war, evil men always commit crimes. Armenians were undoubtedly massacred, especially in the Dersim region. The Ottomans recognized this, and tried thousands for crimes against Armenians. Ten percent of those were executed, the rest imprisoned, most at hard labor. The Russians and Armenians never tried anyone for their crimes against Turks. The Ottoman Archives have now been open for decades, and all researchers, including Armenian scholars are welcome to use it. This is not true of the archives of the Armenian Republic. The more important archives of the Dashnak Party (in Boston) are only available to carefully chosen researchers. The answer is obvious: Armenia says the Turks committed genocide; Turkey says they did not. Turkey, however, is willing to convene a historical commission to investigate the history. Armenia treats the question as a political matter, and is not willing to debate. One wonders what they are afraid of. I have never seen an opinion poll on the subject. Armenians who disagreed with the nationalist organizations would risk being ostracized by their communities, so they cannot speak out. However, there does seem to be a great deal of support in the Armenian diaspora for the nationalist agenda. There is overwhelming evidence against the genocide thesis. The question is, will anyone listen to it? A long tradition of prejudice against Turks stops many from objectively evaluating the facts. There are also political realities. The politicians in many countries who have passed “genocide bills” have never bothered to study the history. To them, the history is of little importance. Also, those who deny the genocide thesis will always have political problems, and this keeps many from taking a stand on the issue. I have a feeling that the Congress will not do so, but it is just my feeling.

Prof. MICHAEL M. GUNTER

The Ottoman archives are open but difficult to use. Nevertheless, pro-Armenian scholars like Taner Akcam have used them for their research and publications. The Armenian archives in Armenia and in the Armenian Patriarchate in Jerusalem are closed as well as the Dashnak archives in Massachusetts in the USA. Neither side is objective. One scholar put it this way: Turkish liars and Armenian deceivers. However, Turkey recently has been willing to accept that things were terrible for the Armenians and offered condolences, while Armenian diaspora leaders have become even more hostile and adamant in their opinions. Most Armenians agree that there was genocide, but only a minority is so vehemently active and espousing active hatred for Turkey. The Armenian diaspora is more hostile than the actual state of Armenia. This is largely because the genocide accusations are the only glue that holds the heterogeneous diaspora together while as a landlocked country Armenia itself desperate needs Turkish trade and support.

 

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