This weekend President George W. Bush plans to lay a wreath at
the grave of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. I suggest to the President,
with all due respect, that he read some history first. If that is
not possible, perhaps one of my readers will send him this column.
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk was the father of modern Turkey. There is
no doubt about his role as the father of his country. There is also
little or no disagreement as to Turkey's current role as our (sometimes
reluctant) partner in NATO. Turkey is arguably the most Western
Islamic State in the world. Turkey is a democracy, and should be
lauded for that. In general, Turkey respects the rights of its ethnic,
cultural, and religious minorities. All of this stands to the credit
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk fought against the Allied Powers in World
War I. He was the father of modern genocide and ethnic cleansing.
Ataturk was the perpetrator of the Armenian Genocide. The Armenian
Genocide stands as a black mark on World History. Beside the human
cost of the bloody massacre, and removal of Armenians from Anatolia,
The Armenian Genocide served as a blueprint for Hitler's "Final
Solution." It is reported that when Hitler was asked if he
thought he could "get away" with killing the Jews. Hitler
is said to have responded, "nobody said anything when Ataturk
killed the Armenians."
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk is not what I would call a "hero"
of a stature requiring that the President of the United States should
pay homage by laying a wreath.
Turkey itself, the child of Kemal Pasha, has not strayed too far
from the genocidal tendencies, and anti-Western leanings of Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk. At the start of the current war, I am sure you all
remember, the Turkish government wrought havoc with our plans to
open up a northern front against Saddam Hussein. Remember please
how the Turkish government vacillated between allowing Coalition
Forces to enter Turkey for the purpose of opening a northern front
offensive against Iraq. Remember also that one of the reasons for
all of this was that the Turks feared that the liberation of Iraq
would lead to further unrest among the oppressed Kurdish population
in southern Turkey.
While I am sure that there is no way that the President of the United
States will abstain from laying a wreath at the grave of Mustafa
Kemal Ataturk, I would ask him to think about who the man really
was, as he is doing it.
Even more so, I would like to ask all people of conscience who are
present at the time of the President's wreath laying, and all who
are aware of the wreath laying at the time it happens to stand and
observe a moment of silence; not in honor of Mustafa Kemal, but
in honor of all of those whom he killed either personally or by
edict. Let the moment of the wreath laying become a moment of remembrance
for the Armenian people. Let the moment of the wreath laying become
a moment of contemplation of all the modern genocides, which followed
the example of Mustafa Kemal's genocide of the Armenian people.
(c) 2004 Rabbi Haim Cassorla
To contact Rabbi Haim Cassorla, please send emails to: Rabbi