By Vanik Kechian
As part of Historian Rifat Bali’s tour organized by the Zoryan Institute, Montreal’s Bolsahay Community Centre hosted an event on Sunday October 20th.
Dr. Bali, an expert on Jews in Turkey, addressed topics found in his latest book as well as topics relating to discrimination of Turkish-Armenians to an audience of almost 100 people.
His book “Model Citizens of the State: The Jews of Turkey During the Multi-Party Period” is an in depth analysis of the jewish people’s struggle for rights and fight against anti-semitism in post-1950 Turkey.
Recognizing the significance of Bali’s work, the Zoryan Institute took on the expenses to edit and translate his latest book from Turkish to English.
“He’s been very articulate in explaining complex recent history of the last 50 or 60 years,” said Zoryan Institute Executive Director George Shirinian. “The Jews have tried very hard to be the model citizens that Kemal Ataturk demanded Turks to be, and for all of their efforts they still have not been accepted as equal citizens.”
Bali spoke of joint efforts by the Turkish and Jewish lobbies in the U.S. to block any Congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. He explained that although Jewish lobbies also know the calamity and hardship of genocide and discrimination, they continue to petition against recognition of the Armenian Genocide because of pressure from the Turkish government and their fear that Jews in Turkey will be subject to increased anti-semitic sentiments.
“Armenians don’t understand why their Jewish brothers have not been more supportive of Armenian Genocide recognition. Bali’s book explains the real politic behind why they have not been [supportive],” said Shirinian. “It helps us understand them better, and through understanding maybe the door to communication can be opened.”
Bali’s week-long tour of the East Coast concluded on Tuesday night in the AGBU Alex Manoogian Centre in Toronto.