Must read of the day: Eli Lake’s beast of a piece about how the establishment American Jewish organizations have abandoned their longstanding sub-rosa efforts lobbying on behalf of the former Israeli quasi-ally now that the Turkish government has broken with Israel over Gaza.
On the one hand, the Shtetl Elders are throwing “Islamist” at the AK Party sloppily — Erdogan is a billion light years away from bin Laden, another demonstration that the term “Islamist” conceals more than it illuminates — though I suppose no one should be surprised that the Shtetl leadership is not going to reflect on whether something might be wrong with Israeli policy if it’s alienating its decades-long friend in the Muslim world. So much more convenient to blame Erdogan. On the other, Turkey can’t reasonably expect the support of the Shtetl leadership if it’s not going to do what the Shtetl leadership wants. Now’s a great time for someone in Congress to propose a resolution commemorating the Armenian Genocide.
And speaking of. It’s time to settle a score.
Five or six years ago I was at a rager at Eli’s old place in Adams-Morgan. Eli’s parties attract a certain crowd: journalists, flacks, keepers of the eternal Bushian flame, the occasional Chalabi aide, Jews, people who enjoy soft rock and softer drugs, more Jews. I always have a good time. On this particular occasion, I found myself packed near the fridge in a conversation with a fellow Jew — a PR guy who seemed cool — while we sipped some beers. He mentioned that his firm did some work for the Turks. Ah, the Turks, I said, drunk, very cool, very cool. With typical tact, I allowed that there was that one shame, that whole Armenian Genocide.
“Well,” he said, “if you look at the historical record, it’s not entirely so clear-cut what happened.”
What? I had read Samantha Power’s first book. I knew about Henry Morgenthau and Robert (“…silence on the part of our Government is perilous and that for our Government to make no public protest against a crime of such magnitude by a Government on noncombatants, the great majority of them women and children, is to miss an unusual opportunity to serve humanity…”) Lansing. I knew that there’s drunk and there’s extremely-drunk, but there isn’t genocide-denying-drunk.
Seriously, man? I said. You’re a Jew. How can you say the Armenian Genocide never happened?
Apparently I had walked into the sort of rhetorical trap that a Jewish PR flack for the uglier side of Turkish interests will spring. “You can’t even compare what we went through to what happened with the Armenians!” he yelled — well, not yelled, since he kept his cool, with the kind of condescending demeanor possessed by a guy who knows he successfully baited an interlocutor, but, uh, stated forcefully.
So I wish I had the contact information for that guy. Since I don’t, this will have to do. Hey, fella: how’s it feel to deny a genocide on behalf of the dudes who let the Mavi Marmara sail forth?