The Banality of Denial

Transaction Publishers
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Publisher
Transaction Publishers
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Published on
Dec 31, 2003
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Pages
338
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ISBN
9781412817844
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Language
English
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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An esteemed journalist travels to Turkey to investigate the legacy of the Armenian genocide and the quest for Kurdish statehood.

In 2001, Christopher de Bellaigue, then the Economist's correspondent in Istanbul, wrote a piece about the history of Turkey for The New York Review of Books. In it, he briefly discussed the killing and deportation of half a million Armenians in 1915. These massacres, he suggested, were best understood as part of the struggles that attended the end of the Ottoman empire.

After the story was published, the magazine was besieged with letters. This wasn't war, the correspondents said; it was genocide. And the death toll was not half a million but three times that many. De Bellaigue was mortified. How had he gotten it so wrong? He went back to Turkey, but found that the national archives had sealed all documents pertaining to those times. Undeterred and armed with a stack of contraband histories, he set out to the conflicted southeastern Turkish city of Varto to discover what had really happened.

There, de Bellaigue found a place in which the centuries-old conflict among Turks, Armenians, and Kurds was still very much alive. His government escort began their association by marching with him arm in arm through the town's shopping district to show his presence; the local police chief, sent by the central office in Ankara to keep an eye on the Kurds, was sure he was a spy. He found houses built from the ruins of old Armenian churches, young boys playing soccer with old skulls, and a cast of villagers who all seemed unwilling to talk.

What emerges is both an intellectual detective story and a reckoning with memory and identity that brings to life the basic conflicts of the Middle East: between statehood and religion, imperial borders and ethnic identity. Combining a deeply informed view of the area's history with the testimonials of the townspeople who slowly come to trust him, de Bellaigue unravels the enigma of the Turkish twentieth century, a time that contains the death of an empire, the founding of a nation, and the near extinction of a people. Rebel Land exposes the historical and emotional fault lines that lie behind many of today's headlines: about Turkey and its faltering bid for membership into the EU, about the Kurds and their bid for nationhood, and the Armenians' campaign for genocide recognition.
Demonstrates how American Jews used culture—art, dance, music, fashion, literature—to win the hearts and minds of postwar Americans to the cause of Israel.

Bringing Zion Home examines the role of culture in the establishment of the “special relationship” between the United States and Israel in the immediate postwar decades. Many American Jews first encountered Israel through their roles as tastemakers, consumers, and cultural impresarios—that is, by writing and reading about Israel; dancing Israeli folk dances; promoting and purchasing Israeli goods; and presenting Israeli art and music. It was precisely by means of these cultural practices, argues Emily Alice Katz, that American Jews insisted on Israel’s “natural” place in American culture, a phenomenon that continues to shape America’s relationship with Israel today.

Katz shows that American Jews’ promotion and consumption of Israel in the cultural realm was bound up with multiple agendas, including the quest for Jewish authenticity in a postimmigrant milieu and the desire of upwardly mobile Jews to polish their status in American society. And, crucially, as influential cultural and political elites positioned “culture” as both an engine of American dominance and as a purveyor of peace in the Cold War, many of Israel’s American Jewish impresarios proclaimed publicly that cultural patronage of and exchange with Israel advanced America’s interests in the Middle East and helped spread the “American way” in the postwar world. Bringing Zion Home is the first book to shine a light squarely upon the role and importance of Israel in the arts, popular culture, and material culture of postwar America.
The genocide of Armenians by Turks during the First World War was one of the most horrendous deeds of modern times and a precursor of the genocidal acts that have marked the rest of the twentieth century. Despite the worldwide attention the atrocities received at the time, the massacre has not remained a part of the world's historical consciousness. The parallels between the Jewish and Armenian situations and the reactions of the Jewish community in Palestine (the Yishuv) to the Armenian genocide, which was muted and largely self-interested, are explored by Yair Auron. In attempting to assess and interpret these disparate reactions, Auron maintains a fairminded balance in assessing claims of altruism and self-interest, expressed in universal, not merely Jewish, terms.

While not denying the uniqueness of the Holocaust, Auron carefully distinguishes it from the Armenian genocide reviewing existing theories and relating Armenian and Jewish experience to ongoing issues of politics and identity. As a groundbreaking work of comparative history, this volume will be read by Armenian area specialists, historians of Zionism and Israel, and students of genocide. Yair Auron is senior lecturer at The Open University of Israel and the Kibbutzim College of Education. He is the author, in Hebrew, of Jewish-Israeli Identity, Sensitivity to World Suffering: Genocide in the Twentieth Century, We Are All German Jews, and Jewish Radicals in France during the Sixties and Seventies (published in French as well)

Violation of the rights of a human being and indifference in the face of suffering jeopardize the very existence of human society. The Holocaust is the most extreme example of such violations, and the greatest moral failure mankind has experienced. Confronting the Holocaust, as well as genocide, may contribute to understanding the importance of humanistic and democratic values, and help construct tools for making moral judgments. That is why courses on the study of genocide and the Holocaust have become part of the curricula of educational institutions in the United States and elsewhere. This book asks how the moral messages of the Holocaust and genocide can best be transmitted. The Pain of Knowledge deals not with historical events, but with possible ways of learning about these events and their significance. It attempts to examine and deal critically with some of the profound dilemmas at the core of Holocaust and genocide issues in education. The underlying purpose of this book is to expose the reader to sometimes antithetical, and at other times complementary, views concerning the teaching of these subjects, both in Israel and elsewhere in the world. This book will contribute to the teaching of the Holocaust and genocide, and encourage readers to examine these issues from a broad perspective. Among the subjects dealt with in The Pain of Knowledge are: how societies crystallize their collective memories; historical processes and changes in the teaching of the Holocaust in Israel during different periods of time; commemoration of Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day; journeys of Israeli youth to sites connected with the Holocaust in Poland; attitudes of Israeli adolescents toward the Holocaust; attitudes of Israeli Arabs toward the Holocaust; general world attitudes toward the Holocaust; teaching of the Holocaust throughout the world; and teaching of genocide in Israel and elsewhere. Yair Auron is senior lecturer at The Open University of Israel and the Kibbutzim College of Education. He is the author of numerous articles and books on genocide and on contemporary Judaism, including Jewish-Israeli Identity and We Are All German Jews: Jewish Radicals in France During the Sixties and Seventies.
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