“Erdogan deserves an Oscar for his ability to act like he’s a friend of the Palestinians.” So writes human rights activist Harut Sassounian, the publisher of the American newspaper “The California Courier,” and one of the central activists in America for Armenian rights.
Sassounian is not an Israel supporter, and many of the things he writes are definitely not music to blue-and-white ears. However, it is worth reading and seeing what this international mess looks like from the angle of an Armenian.
“In the past week the world witnessed an amazing performance by a government leader that even the most accomplished Hollywood actor could not match!” wrote Sassounian. “Turkey’s Prime Minister deserves an Oscar for presenting himself as a great humanitarian and protector of Palestinians. The people of Gaza are certainly oppressed and deprived, but Erdogan is not their knight in shining armor! One cannot champion human rights with unclean hands! This is the height of hypocrisy!”
Sassounian goes on to ask:* How can Turkey, which has imposed a blockade for 17 years on Armenia, be seriously allowed to demand Israel lift its blockade of Gaza? * How can Erdogan condemn the Israeli attacks on the Palestinians while Turkish fighter planes are constantly bombing Kurdistan in northern Iraq while killing and wounding women, children, and innocent men? * How can Turkey’s Prime Minister condemn Israel’s ill-treatment of the Palestinians while Turkey itself is denying basic human rights to Armenians, Greeks, Kurds, Jews, and other nationals under its rule? * How can Turkey appose the occupation of Palestine while it, itself, is occupying northern Cypress and western Armenia? * How can Turkish leaders accuse Israel and China of genocide, while they deny the reality that Turkey killed a million and a half Armenians? * How can Turkey claim to be a champion of the Palestinian cause and the Islamic world, while it continues to be Israel’s closest military partner for over 50 years; while allowing Israeli warplanes to train over its airspace in preparation for a possible attack in Iran? * How can Syria, Iraq, and Iran trust Turkey—a country that endangers their security and allows Israeli intelligence agencies to operate in its territory and collect information about them? * How can Erdogan be a guardian of human rights while journalists, lawyers, clergymen, and human rights activists are persecuted and even assassinated in his country?
According to Sassounian, “Israel and the United States share responsibility for Turkey’s hypocritical behavior — they joined in supporting, defending and covering up numerous Turkish violations of human rights, denial of the Armenian Genocide, and suppression and ethnic cleansing of the Kurdish minority.
“Turkey cleverly exploited Israel’s ill-advised attack on the Gaza aid flotilla, and sought to fill the vacuum created by the irresponsible inaction of Arab states. Erdogan is just as guilty as Israel’s leaders for causing the killing and wounding of the aid activists. He tacitly encouraged them to set sail to Gaza, knowing full well that there would be a bloody confrontation which would boost his own standing at home and abroad.
“Of course, over the years, the Israeli government has acted just as hypocritically as Turkey’s leaders. While countering any and all manifestations of Holocaust revisionism, Israeli officials have shown no reluctance in supporting Turkey’s denials of the Armenian Genocide. But now that Erdogan has raised his voice against Israel to a fever pitch, Israelis have jumped at the opportunity of using the possibility of recognizing the Armenian Genocide as a weapon against Turkey.
Armenians must reject such dishonesty. The Israeli government was not sincere when it denied the Armenian Genocide, and it is not sincere now in supporting its recognition! It is shameful to play cheap political games with an issue as horrendous and devastating as genocide. Israel and others should recognize the Armenian Genocide for only one reason: It is the absolute truth!”
And the bottom line, according to Sassounian? As mentioned, it doesn’t sound nice to Israeli eyes and ears:
“So far, Turkey has been all talk and no action on the Palestinian issue. Erdogan has not gone beyond giving fiery speeches against Israel. If he is honest about defending the Palestinians, he might consider:
1. Canceling all military contacts and contracts with Israel;
2. Abrogating all public and secret military and strategic agreements with Israel, including intelligence-sharing; and.
3. Closing down the Turkish Embassy in Tel Aviv and Israel’s Embassy in Ankara.”