Rabbi Haim Cassorla Views The Proper Homage to Ataturk
THE RABBI'S VIEW
The Proper Homage to Ataturk

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 of Turkey.
BUT
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.
AND
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.
SO
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

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