October 14, 2019

Letters to the Editor: ‘The Promise,’ Sean Spicer and the Holocaust

‘The Promise’ Closely Adheres to History

I recently read Rob Eshman’s column “Morgenthau’s Children” (April 21) in the Jewish Journal, where, in describing the exchange between Ambassador Henry Morgenthau and Ottoman Empire Interior Minister Mehmet Talaat in the movie “The Promise,” he wrote, “I don’t know whether the incident happened exactly as it played on screen.”

As a matter of fact, and to the credit of the filmmakers, that entire scene is faithful to Morgenthau’s account in his 1918 memoir, “Ambassador Morgenthau’s Story.” The passages in question (from the 1918 edition) read:

“Why are you so interested in the Armenians, anyway?” he said, on another occasion. “You are a Jew; these people are Christians. The Mohammedans and the Jews always get on harmoniously. We are treating the Jews here all right. What have you to complain of? Why can’t you let us do with these Christians as we please?” …

“You don’t seem to realize,” I replied, “that I am not here as a Jew but as American Ambassador. My country contains something more than 97,000,000 Christians and something less than 3,000,000 Jews. So, at least in my ambassadorial capacity, I am 97 per cent Christian. But after all, that is not the point. I do not appeal to you in the name of any race or any religion, but merely as a human being. You have told me many times that you want to make Turkey a part of the modern progressive world. The way you are treating the Armenians will not help you to realize that ambition; it puts you in the class of backward, reactionary peoples.”

Thank you for your column.

Armen Manuk-Khaloyan, master’s candidate in history,Cal State Northridge

I agree with what Rob Eshman wrote in “Morgenthau’s Children.” The last paragraph especially resonated with me: “If we, of all people, do not take up the cause of the victims of genocide, in every country, in every generation, who will?”

It is with that truism in mind that I write this email. I don’t speak for all Armenians, but while Armenians are generally sympathetic toward Jews (common history marked by persecution and near extinction), and they admire Jews, some have expressed frustration with Jews, Jewish organizations and Israel for what they think is not only undermining the Armenian cause but even represents hostility toward Armenians.

If ever there was a country that should recognize the Armenian genocide, and if there ever was a people who should make sure that the lessons of genocide — not just the Holocaust, but all genocides — are never forgotten, it should be Israel and the Jews. Unfortunately, not only has Israel, and in many instances, Jewish organizations, been silent on this cause, but in some cases have gone out of their way to prevent the formal recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Additionally, after what has now been dubbed the Four-Day War between Armenia and Azerbaijan (April 1-4, 2016), it was discovered that Israel had sold Azerbaijan drones as well as more lethal weapons. While on the surface this may seem benign, that nations sell their weapons to other nations all the time, for Armenians this is akin to Armenia supplying nuclear-making material to Iran.

I hope Jews, especially American Jews and Jewish organizations would be more forceful in asking or demanding that Israel, of all nations, to properly recognize this crime against humanity.

 Arthur Bayramyan, Via email


Dennis Prager, Sean Spicer and the Holocaust

Dennis Prager’s defense of Sean Spicer’s ignorance misses the point (“More Left-Wing Abuse of the Holocaust,” April 21). I, too, do not believe that Sean Spicer is a Holocaust denier. I believe he never even thought about the Holocaust and those “Holocaust centers” until his boss told him to go out to the White House press corps and make a statement. He is a reflection of his boss’ ignorance — and that’s the point!

Gilbert H. Skopp, Calabasas

My lifelong experience convinces me that incompetence, ignorance and stupidity trump (no pun intended) conspiracies and hidden agendas most of the time. While I agree with Dennis Prager that Sean Spicer’s comments contrasting Bashar Assad to Hitler were not some conspiracy to deny the Holocaust, of which I am a survivor, they are another example of the Trump administration’s lack of competence to lead our nation.

Prager uses an overreaction to a mistake by Spicer to write an entire column condemning what he calls the “left,” while defending the administration that creates “alternative facts” and is attempting to trample every freedom and social benefit it finds too inconvenient or too costly. Dennis, where are the Jewish values that you profess to espouse?

 Michael Telerant,  Los Angeles