Bernard Lewis

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Bernard Lewis is a Professor Emeritus at Princeton University in the department of Near Eastern Studies who was condemned in a June 21, 1995 French court decision for statements he made denying the Armenian genocide.

Contents

The Le Monde events

In a November 1993 Le Monde interview, Lewis said that the Ottoman Turks’ killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 was not "genocide", and then condemned by French courts for his statement. The following is a summary of these events.

Le Monde Interview

In a November 1993 Le Monde interview, Lewis said that the Ottoman Turks’ killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians in 1915 was not "genocide", but the "brutal byproduct of war".[1] He further suggested in the interview that "the reality of the Armenian genocide results from nothing more than the imagination of the Armenian people."[2]

Trial in France

A Parisian court interpreted his remarks as a denial of the Armenian Genocide and on June 21, 1995 fined him one franc, and the publication of this verdict at Lewis' cost in Le Monde[2]. The court ruled that while Lewis has the right to his views, they did damage to a third party and that "it is only by hiding elements which go against his thesis that the defendant was able to state that there was no 'serious proof' of the Armenian Genocide."

Verdict

A Parisian court interpreted his remarks as a denial of the Armenian Genocide and on June 21, 1995 fined him one franc, and the publication of this verdict at Lewis' cost in Le Monde[1]. The court ruled that while Lewis has the right to his views, they did damage to a third party and that "it is only by hiding elements which go against his thesis that the defendant was able to state that there was no 'serious proof' of the Armenian Genocide."[3]

Letter to the Princeton Alumni Magazine

Read Lewis letter to the Princeton Alumni Magazine

On June 15, 1996, a letter by Lewis appeared in the Princeton Alumni Magazine, in which he gave his account of the ruling[2]. His account however is not accurate, as the following excerpts show.

Excerpt from Lewis' letter[3]:

The court ruled that while it was "in no way established" that I had "pursued a purpose alien" to my "mission as a historian," I was at fault in not having cited, in the course of the interview, "elements contrary to my thesis" and had thus "revived the pain of the Armenian community." For this I was ordered to pay one franc in damages to each of the two plaintiff parties as well as a contribution to their costs.

Excerpts from actual ruling[4]:

Whereas, even if it is in no way established that he pursued a purpose alien to his mission as a historian, and even if it is not disputable that he may maintain an opinion on this question different from those of the petitioning associations, the fact remains that it was by concealing elements contrary to his thesis that the defendant was able to assert that there was no "serious proof" of the Armenian genocide; consequently, he failed in his duties of objectivity and prudence by expressing himself without qualification on such a sensitive subject; and his remarks, which could unfairly revive the pain of the Armenian community, are tortious and justify compensation under the terms set forth hereafter;
The historian is bound by his responsibility toward the persons concerned when, by distortion [dénaturation] or falsification, he credits the veracity of manifestly erroneous allegations or, through serious negligence, omits events or opinions subscribed to by persons qualified and enlightened enough so that the concern for accuracy prevents him from keeping silent about them.
The Court...orders the publication of excerpts of this judgment in the next issue of the newspaper Le Monde to appear after the date on which this judgment shall be made final, the cost of this insertion, to be borne by the defendant, not to exceed twenty thousand (20,000) francs.

Bernards statements on the Genocide

Before becoming a genocide denialist, in his 1962 book The Emergence of Modern Turkey, Lewis wrote that what happened in 1916 was "a terrible holocaust... when a million and a half Armenians perished".

Lewis argues that:

There is no evidence of a decision to massacre. On the contrary, there is considerable evidence of attempts to prevent it, which were not very successful. Yes there were tremendous massacres, the numbers are very uncertain but a million may well be likely,[4] ...[and] the issue is not whether the massacres happened or not, but rather if these massacres were as a result of a deliberate preconceived decision of the Turkish government... there is no evidence for such a decision.[5]

Lewis thus believes that "to make [Armenian Genocide], a parallel with the Holocaust in Germany" is "rather absurd."[4] In an interview with Haaretz he stated:

The deniers of Holocaust have a purpose: to prolong Nazism and to return to Nazi legislation. Nobody wants the 'Young Turks' back, and nobody wants to have back the Ottoman Law. What do the Armenians want? The Armenians want to benefit from both worlds. On the one hand, they speak with pride of their struggle against the Ottoman despotism, while on the other hand, they compare their tragedy to the Jewish Holocaust. I do not accept this. I do not say that the Armenians did not suffer terribly. But I find enough cause for me to contain their attempts to use the Armenian massacres to diminish the worth of the Jewish Holocaust and to relate to it instead as an ethnic dispute.[6]

Academic responses

Lewis' views on Armenian Genocide were largely criticized by well-known historians and genocide scolars including Alain Finkelkraut, Yves Ternon, Richard G. Hovannisian, Albert Memmi, Pierre Vidal-Haquet[7][8], he was considered as a "notorious genocide-denier".[9][10][11][12][13] According to historian Yair Auron, "Lewis’ stature provided a lofty cover for the Turkish national agenda of obfuscating academic research on the Armenian Genocide".[14]

National Humanities Medal

When Lewis received the prestigious National Humanities Medal from President Bush in November 2006, the Armenian National Committee of America took strong objection. Executive Director Aram Hamparian released a statement of pointed disapproval:

The President's decision to honor the work of a known genocide denier — an academic mercenary whose politically motivated efforts to cover up the truth run counter to the very principles this award was established to honor — represents a true betrayal of the public trust.[15]
The ANCA Press Release noticed that early in his career Lewis asserted the holocaust of Armenians in his 1961 book, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (p. 356): "A desperate struggle between [the Turks and Armenians] began, a struggle between two nations for the possession of a single homeland, that ended with the terrible holocaust of 1915, when a million and a half Armenians perished."[16]

References

  1. Dhimmitude and Bernard Lewis revisited by Robert Spencer, February 4, 2004
  2. "Bernard Lewis Condemned For Having Denied The Reality Of The Armenian Genocide" by Nathaniel Herzberg, Le Monde, p. 11, June 23, 1995
  3. "Bernard Lewis Condemned For Having Denied The Reality Of The Armenian Genocide" by Nathaniel Herzberg, Le Monde, p. 11, June 23, 1995
  4. 4.0 4.1 Statement of Professor Bernard Lewis, Princeton University, "Distinguishing Armenian Case from Holocaust", Assembly of Turkish American Associations, April 14, 2002 (PDF)
  5. Getler, Michael. "Documenting and Debating a 'Genocide'", The Ombudsman Column, PBS, April 21, 2006. Retrieved October 9, 2006.
  6. Karpel, Dalia."There Was No Genocide: Interview with Prof.Bernard Lewis ", Haaretz Weekly, January 23, 1998. Retrieved April 26, 2007.
  7. The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide, by Yair Auron, 2003, Transaction Publishers, ISBN 076580834X, p. 235
  8. La province de la mort, p. 9, by Leslie A. Davis, Yves Ternon, 1994
  9. U.S. Denial of the Armenian Genocide, by Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, October 22, 2007
  10. The Banality of Denial: Israel and the Armenian Genocide, by , p. 230]
  11. "The Armenian Genocide: A New Brand of Denial by the Turkish General Staff - by Proxy", Groong, September 21, 2004, By Prof. Vahakn Dadrian
  12. The Armenian Genocide: Cultural and Ethical Legacies, by Richard G. Hovannisian, 2007, p. 33
  13. The Key Distortions and Falsehoods in the Denial of the Armenian Genocide, Prepared by the Zoryan Institute, Revised August 1999
  14. The Islamization of Europe, By Andrew G. Bostom, FrontPageMagazine.com, Friday, December 31, 2004
  15. "ARMENIAN GENOCIDE DENIER BERNARD LEWIS AWARDED NATIONAL HUMANITIES MEDAL", ANCA, November 22, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2007.
  16. Bostom, Andrew. "Dhimmitude and The Doyen", New English Review, November 10, 2006. Retrieved April 26, 2007.

See also

Sources

External links

This article contains content from Wikipedia, used here under the GNU Free Documentation License.




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