By Edmond Y. Azadian
An announcement was sent to the media about a lecture to be delivered on August 18 at the Congregation B’nai Israel in Tustin, Calif. A prominent scholar in the person of Richard Hovannisian has been invited as the lecturer. The context and the format are both interesting to the academic community as well as the general public. The lecture will follow a “Kosher Armenian dinner” and will deal with the similarities and differences between the Jewish and Armenian genocides.
When the historiography of the Armenian Genocide was still in its infancy, Hovannisian became one of the early pioneers on the topic driving the issue not only to the Armenian audience, but to an international audience. This latest undertaking is also directed at an audience whose sensitivity to the issue cannot be overestimated. Hovannisian is taking the Genocide discussion to the Jewish community, which is also traumatized and tormented with a catastrophic experience that befell Armenians early last century.
Ever since the Jewish Holocaust, it has almost become a cliché to state that had the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide been punished, perhaps the Holocaust would have been avoided. But the cruel logic of history and politics is that human nature will not change and given the opportunity any dictator would become a Talaat, Hitler or Pol Pot.
But by comparing the Armenian experience to the Jewish experience, some lessons could be learned by politicians, scholars and even by the nations affected and shaped by those historic events.
There are similarities and differences between the two cases. The similarities are within the realm of cause and effect. The Ittihadist leadership blamed Armenians as traitors to the Ottoman Empire, just like Hitler blamed the Jews for all the ills of German society and determined to bring the Final Solution to Jewish existence in Europe.