Bay Area ANC Co Hosts Israel Charny Discussion

*"Genocide As A Process: Common Threads In The Armenian Genocide And The Holocaust; Linking Patterns Of Denial"

SAN FRANCISCO–Professor Israel Charny–director of the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Israel spoke to a combined Bay Area audience of 175 largely Armenian-American and Jewish-American community members.

The event was sponsored jointly by the San Francisco – Bay Area Armenian National Committee–the Armenian Genocide Resource Center–the Holocaust Center–and Facing History and Ourselves and was held at the Armenian Community Center’s Saroyan Hall.

Professor Charny has taken a leadership role for the past 30 years in developing the academic discipline of Genocide Studies–and is soon publishing the world’s first encyclopedia of genocide.

In her introduction–SF – Bay Area ANC spokesperson Roxanne Makasdjian said–"As Armenian-Americans–it can become so tiring to hear ourselves decry the injustice and the dangers of denial–when our voices are mostly drowned out by political expediency in this country–which has such strong military–industrial ties to Turkey. So it is so gratifying to hear someone else looking at the disastrous effect of denial; to hear someone else say loudly and clearly how dangerous it is and how destructive it is. That acknowledgment is a great gift to us–a great relief–and it’s something we gain great strength from."

Makasdjian enumerated the various methods of Turkey’s campaign of denial and also spoke about the disturbing political alliance between Turkey and the Jewish lobby in the US.

Professor Charny characterized genocide as a phenomena of the past–present–and future and then spoke against the efforts to impose hierarchies on the levels of genocide–comparing which nation’s tragedy is worse. He commented on the regrettable decision of the Holocaust Museum in Washington to reject inclusion of the Armenian Genocide. He was critical of Turkey’s denial–and while he praised Israel’s blossoming relationship with Turkey–he said Israel has a responsibility to press Turkey to recognize the Armenian Genocide and that Jewish-American lobby groups should not help Turkey in attempts to cover up the Genocide.

Charny–who is also a psychologist–focused on two phenomena that precede genocide: the element of dehumanization and the attribution of danger to the "other." He said–"We operate according to idea structures that are part of our psychological programming–and when the human’status of others is removed–that allows people to conduct themselves violently towards others." Coupling the attribution of danger with dehumanization fosters the defensive attitude that "we must kill them before they kill us."

Among his major contributions to genocide study stands the historic first International Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide in Tel Aviv in 1982–during which he resisted enormous political pressures to shut the conference down. He has published many works on the subject–notably "How Can We Commit the Unthinkable?: Genocide–the Human Cancer," which includes a proposal for a Genocide Early Warning System–and has been commended by the United Nations.

Prof. Charny founded and edited the resource series–Genocide: A Critical Bibliographic Review–and Internet on the Holocaust and Genocide–which are critical resources for genocide researchers. His most current work–the first-ever encyclopedia in the field–called The Encyclopedia of Genocide: A Re-Dedication to Human Life contains numerous references to the Armenian Genocide and its denial. Israel Charny is also Professor of Psychology and Family Therapy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem–where he was Founder and first Director of the Program for Advanced Studies in Integrative Psychotherapy.

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