If Armenian-American college students felt betrayed in the past day, I would not blame them. So many of them came out to support student resolutions at several universities across the country demanding divestment from the Israeli occupation. And yet, one of the largest American Palestine solidarity organizations in this country just told these students that their grandparents’ stories still need to be verified. If you do not know what I am referring to please read this statement put out by the United States Council of Muslim Organizations.
In this statement, member organizations of the USCMO, including American Muslims for Palestine, make the case that President Obama should not refer to the “events of 1915” as a genocide without further investigation. They call for a more “balanced” approach through academic consensus based on Turkish archives that Turkey refuses to open to establish a “just memory.” The statement also refers to the importance of Turkey as an ally in the fight against ISIS. What is even worst is that it was released on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the genocide.
The fact that this statement came from every major Muslim organization in America is outrageous in itself. The fact that American Muslims for Palestine signed on to this statement is doubly heinous.
How American Muslims for Palestine does not recognize the moral hypocrisy of such a denial is beyond me. Palestinians as a people have spent decades demanding the world recognize our ethnic cleansing from our homeland. For years, it was the stories of our parents and grandparents against the denial of the entirety of Israeli society. Even after the opening of Israeli state archives (that only Israeli academics had access to) confirmed what we have always known to be true, we still fight to have the Nakba and our right to return recognized. On top of all this, AMP must have forgotten that there are Armenian-Palestinians who survived this genocide.
What kind of logical acrobatics did AMP have to undertake to avoid seeing the moral hypocrisy of this statement?
To fully appreciate the self-deceit required for AMP to be a co-signor to this denial of history, one only need replace ‘Turkey’ with ‘Israel,’ ‘Armenians’ with ‘Palestinians’, ‘genocide’ with ‘ethnic-cleansing,’ and ‘ISIS’ with ‘Islamic terrorism.’ These are some of the sentences you would be reading:
‘…characterizing the events of 19(48) as (ethnic cleansing) without proper investigation of these events by independent historians will not only jeopardize the establishment of a just memory pertaining to these events, but will also damage the efforts aimed at achieving reconciliation between (Israelis) and (Palestinians).’
‘As Americans, we are concerned about alienating a key ally, (Israel)’
‘Our government has been closely cooperating with the (Israeli) government on defeating (Islamic terrorism)…’
The writers of this statement could work for the US State Department.
Thankfully, progressive Muslims, Palestinians, and solidarity activists across the country are expressing their outrage:
— Ramah Kudaimi (@ramahkudaimi) April 19, 2015
.@AMPalestine Armenian student orgs publicly supported divestment resolution on US college campuses. You repay that with genocide denial?
— broad transcription (@lughawiyat) April 20, 2015
— Izzaddine عز الدين (@Zaytawy) April 20, 2015
— Nadoosh (@UmAlMa7rama) April 20, 2015
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) April 19, 2015
AMP responded to this backlash and released a terribly unsatisfying statement stating that it takes “into serious consideration — without denial or alteration — charges of genocide.” Oddly enough, the statement was only released on the private Facebook account of an AMP employee and is not viewable on the AMP website:
AMP has dug itself into too deep a hole to respond to the righteous anger of its constituents with the denial of a denial. It needs to formally recognize without qualification or hesitation the genocide of the Armenian people because it has no right to narrate another people’s history. It is the only chance for this organization to recover from this ethical failure, from which no amount of Turkish money will save them. And frankly, it may already be too late.