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March 03, 1989 - Image 2

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-03-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

I PURELY COMMENTARY I

Armenia-Ararat: The Biblical Connection

PHILIP SLOMOVITZ

Editor Emeritus

A

great tragedy caused by the
earthquake in Soviet Armenia
and the concern continually caus-
ed by reminders of the mass murder of
Armenians in Turkey forces the
limelight upon this interesting people.
The record contains many important
Armenian-Jewish relationships. There is
a voluminous account of American sup-
port for the Armenians in the years of
the fearful massacres. Interesting
chapters in Detroit Jewry's friendly
associations with Armenians from Israel
and in this community emphasize
mutual interests.

Therefore the subdivision of
historical recollections about Armenia
and Armenians in the Purely Commen-
tary analysis: Taking into account under
three allied headlines of that people's
genesis that have a scriptual connection,
the American compassion dating back
to the tragic years 1915-1916 when
Henry Morgenthau Sr. was U.S. am-
bassador to Turkey in the administra-
tion of Thomas Woodrow Wilson, and the
several experiences of cooperation with
the Armenians in support received from
their dignitaries for Israel Bonds and in
an enthusiasm here over an Armenian
museum in Israel.
In Vallentine's Jewish Encyclopedia,
edited by Albert M. Hyamson and A.M.
Silberman, the historic record of the peo-
ple of Armenia is provided as follows:

The greater part of the coun-
try has, since 1921, formed an
autonomous Soviet republic
within the U.S.S.R., which, at the
time of its foundation, included
about 2,000 Jews.
According to legend,
Nebuchadnezzar, after the
destruction of the first Temple,
settled a number of his captives
in Armenia. In the first half of
the first century B.C.E. King
Tigranes the Great who ruled
Northern Palestine, transferred
many Jews from Palestine to
Armenia.
The Jewish population,
which lived in prosperity under
its own administration (exilar-
chate), exercised a strong in-
fluence on the oldest Armenian
culture and literature. As a result
of the civil war in the 4th century
the Armenian towns were
destroyed, and the Persian King
Shapor II exiled the urban in-
habitants (including a large
Jewish population to southern
Persia).
Two centuries later Jews
were again influential in
Armenia. They took their place
in the history of the country and
one of them, Guram, is said to
have been appointed king of the
neighboring Grusia by the
Emperor Heraclius. In the ninth
century the Jewish community
of Armenia was sufficiently

large and important to split into
sects. Benjamin of Tudela and
Petachiah of Ratisbon found
Jewish communities there at the
end of the 12th century but not
in large numbers.

ceeded in size only by the collec-
tion in Soviet Armenia. Though
always available to scholars in
the past, these treasures were ex-
hibited to the general public for
the first time in 1969.

An extensive historical record about
Armenians in the Encyclopedia Judaica
concludes with references to their ac-
tivities in Israel, including the current:

The Universal Jewish Encyclopedia
has additional data worth utilizing in
the study now conducted. Its historical
record retains this accumulated addition
to Armenian historiography:

Mosaics with Armenian in-
scriptions point to an Armenian
population in Jerusalem as early
as the fifth century C.E., and
scribal notes on manuscripts in-
dicate a school of Armenian
scribes of the same period. In
Armenian history 21 bishops of
Jerusalem are mentioned in the
Arab period .. .
In the 20th century the com-
munity has been centered
around the patriarchate and the
Monastery of St. James, and the
Church of the Archangels, all in
the Armenian quarter of the old
city of Jerusalem, and "
Church of St. Savior
These institutions h... _
the centuries inherited a large
collection of manuscripts
donated by bishops and
pilgrims, firmans granted by
sultans and caliphs, and special-
ly commissioned religious ar-
ticles for the services of the
cathedral. The library of
manuscripts in Jerusalem is ex-

Armenia is in the Near East,
in the western part of Asia
Minor, east of the Caspian Sea
and bounded on the south by
Lake Van, and on the north by
the valley of the river Araxes and
Ararat. It is supposed to have
been the haven of refuge for
some of the descendants of the
Jews who were carried away
from Jerusalem by Nebuchad-
nezzar.
According to the reports of
the Armenian historian Moses of
Chorene (7th century), the noble
imy of tn-02ragratuni, indepen-
princes during the Middle
.;1 who had th , ! privilege of
trie crown on the
monarch's head, are said to have
been descended from these
Jews.
This tradition is certainly
good evidence for the impor-
tance of Jews in ancient
Armenia. The Jews were engag-

Continued on Page 40

Armenian Pogrom, Morganthau Indictment

T

urkey's archives, access to which
has been denied for perhaps a
century or more, will be made
available soon for a study of the extent
of the massacres in 1915-1916 in which
a million and a half Armenians are said
to have perished.
The United States shared in many
of the investigations in the studies that
were conducted involving the charges
against the cruelties of the Ottoman
regime. A voluminous American record
has accumulated on the subject of
Armenia.
Major in this record is the impor-
tance of the concerned involvement in
the study of the accusations by the then

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
(US PS 275-520) is published every
Friday with additional supplements the
fourth week of March, the fourth week
of August and the second week of
November at 20300 Civic Center Drive,
Southfield, Michigan.

Second class postage paid at
Southfield, Michigan and additional
mailing offices.

Postmaster: Send changes to:
DETROIT JEWISH NEWS, 20300 Civic
Center Drive, Suite 240, Southfield,
Michigan 48076

$26 per year
$33 per year out of state
60' single copy

Vol. XCV No. 1

2

March 3, 1989

FRIDAY, MARCH 3, 1989

U.S. Ambassador to Turkey, Henry
Morgenthau Sr., president Woodrow
Wilson's appointee. A summation of the
horrors which have recently been
described as one of the resorts to
genocide, since their occurrences refer-
red to as "pogroms," accumulated into
a massive chronology of events in an
American encyclopedic recording. For
the recapitulation of events, with the
deep Jewish interest in them, I am in-
debted to the help given me by
Michigan Congressman William
Broomfield, who provided his staff,
under the direction of Robert Jenkins,
for my needs. I am frequently indebted
to Rep. Broomfield for assistance in
opening valuable files in American and
world Jewish relations.
The indictment perpetuated in the
Morgenthau judgments of the Arme-
nian events is very significant. In his
memoirs, Ambassador Morgenthau
compiled these charges against the
guilty:

On August 2, 1914, general
mobilization of the Ottoman
Turkish army was declared.
Like their fellow Turkish
citizens, all able-bodied Arme-
nian men, with few exceptions,
were called up for military ser-
vice. Beginning in February,
1915, the Armenians in the arm-
ed forces were segregated into

labor battalions, disarmed and
ultimately worked to death or
massacred.
Also in August, 1914, the
Young Turk government began
to release murderers and other
confirmed criminals from
prisons throughout Asia Minor
and placed them in the Special
Organization (Teshkileti
Mahsusa) for the express pur-
pose of ending the "Armenian
Question" by annihilating the
Armenians. Whole villages were
massacred outright in the fall
and winter of 1914 in the eastern
provinces.

In February, 1915, the Ot-
toman Turkish government
disarmed the Armenian moun-
taineers of Zeitun, near Marash,
and deported the population to
the Salt Desert near Konia, or to
the Syrian desert. Packed into
boxcars, or forced to walk, often
without food or water for days,
they quickly perished. Deporta-
tions and massacres soon
became the plight of Armenians
in other areas .. .
". . . When the Turkish
authorities gave the orders for
these deportations, they were
merely giving the death warrant
to a whole race; they

Henry Morgenthau Sr.

understood this well, and, in
their conversations with me,
they made no particular attempt
to conceal the fact.
"I am confident that the
whole history of the human race
contains no such horrible
episode as this. The great
massacres and persecutions of
the past seem almost insiginifi-
cant when compared to the suf-
ferings of the Armenian race in
1915."

The basic charges contained in the
Continued on Page 40

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