What caught my attention the most was the news about a monument being stolen in France. The monument in question represents the Armenian alphabet. The Armenians naturally accuse the Turks of this act. Which isn’t unlikely especially that 2 days ago a law that incriminates the denial of the Armenian genocide was signed in France. The Turkish government certainly refuses this new law and I suppose the French-Turks are probably not pleased. So far officials are excluding anti-Armenian motives but it’s not impossible.
This incident comes at a time when the Armenian presence in Lebanon is also protesting. Armenians are refusing that Turkey would participate in the Neo-UNIFIL force, unless they admit and apologize for the genocide. According to Armenian activists “a country that perpetuated genocides and refused to admit them cannot help preserve peace in another country”… In other terms, aggressors can’t protect.
Considering the circumstances, their calls haven’t really been answered or even taken seriously. Most people around here consider the Armenian demands as natural but don’t consider the Lebanese people to be concerned with an “Armenian problem”. There are reasons for this indifference; of course Armenians integrate very naturally the Lebanese society, none can deny or even question the Lebanese identity of Armenians in Lebanon. The Armenians are the best example for a people that went through an ordeal asked refuge in a totally different country and then integrated the new society. And all through this preserving their identity and culture (they still speak and learn Armenian). BUT:
- Armenians are merchants and businessmen, they are famous, among other things, for there dominance in the textile sector. Rumor has it that they buy their material is imported from Turkey!
- Politically speaking, and of course the question of Turkish participation in the UNIFIL is a political one, Armenians never EVER integrated the Lebanese politics. They have their political parties (Ramgavar, Hunchakian and the Dashnak) that take no stand in the Political debates; they support whatever government in place, even though the Armenian public is pretty close to the Christian groups they make no political stand. That avoided them any losses during the Civil War (the ‘ouwet attacked many of their headquarters here and there when they refused to back them, but nothing that serious). On the other hand this political lack of interest caused a sense of political apathy toward the Armenians in Lebanon. No one would engage in their struggle
- Armenians are rather reclusive and closed. They are famous for being good businessmen, smart and nice. Their intelligence and solidarity earned them both the respect and the jealousy of others. The situation can be compared to the Jewish situation to a certain extent, but they are not accused of any illegal actions or any Divinity Genocide! So people don’t like them for that
- In spite of any feelings toward the Armenians and their cause in Lebanon, the Turkish participation is a NEED, the Lebanese need Turkey’s participation as the only Muslim country that is willing to participate without being terribly radical! And this I believe is the most important reason why the Lebanese people’s not willing to answer the Armenian demands.
If we see the Armenian cause as a whole, they deserve great sympathy. In my life I have met many Armenians and frankly they are a Lebanese group to be proud of! Regardless of the political situation that helped them, I doubt that any country managed to “reappear” on the world map as the Armenians did… Except for Israel maybe, but that’s a totally different situation, today’s Israel is definitely not the Israel that was destroyed 2 millenniums ago. The Palestinian presence and its effect on the Lebanese situation is the biggest proof of how special the Armenian presence was for us. The Armenians also introduced into the Lebanese community their own culture, in Lebanon not only you can learn: Arabic, Lebanese, French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Syriac/Aramaic, Hebrew, Russian, Greek… You can also learn Armenian. When the Armenians first came to Lebanon they were given a very small piece of land in which they still live here, no one really helped them, but still they flourished. The Armenians I have personally met were smart people. An old man that I once knew had actually survived the genocide he used to fill his time reading! He read in Arabic, French, English and Armenian of course, he had virtually read all the books from the Library of the American University in Beirut (his son worked there). He used to talk to my mom about his journey from Armenia to Lebanon, the family members he lost, he dreamt to go back and visit Armenia at least once before his death. He never did, he died a few years ago. Another Armenian I met while working last year had studied in Armenia, he worked two jobs to provide the best education for his only son (he put him in an Armenian school of course).