Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs holds the Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair of Judaic Studies and is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama-Tuscaloosa. An ordained rabbi, Professor Jacobs is a specialist on the Holocaust and Genocide, Biblical Studies, Jewish-Jewish Christian Relations, and is one of the foremost authorities on Raphael Lemkin (1900-1959), who coined the term “genocide” and devoted his life to the enactment of an international law on the punishment and prevention of genocide.
Among his numerous publications, Prof. Jacobs is the author of the chapter entitled, “Lemkin on Three Genocides: Comparing His Writings on the Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocides,” in the recently published book, Genocide in the Ottoman Empire: Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks 1913-1923, edited by George N. Shirinian (New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2017, published in association with The Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center and The Zoryan Institute).
George N. Shirinian: Your unique contribution to this new book is a comparative study of the writings of Raphael Lemkin on Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek Genocides. Who was Raphael Lemkin, and why is what he wrote important?
Dr. Steven Leonard Jacobs: Lemkin (1900-1959) was a Polish Jewish lawyer who immigrated to the United States after the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939. His initial concerns during his teenage years with the gross inhumanity of groups of people in power to groups having little or none led him to a concern with international criminal law. After arriving in the US, he taught law at both Duke University and Yale University before joining the US Board of Economic Advisors in Washington, DC, and would later serve as an advisor to Justice post-WWII International Military Tribunal at Nuremburg, Germany, dealing with Nazi war criminals. He would devote the remaining thirteen years of his life to seeking the ultimately-successful ratification of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide by the United Nations in December 1948. His coinage of the word “genocide” appeared in his magnum opus Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944), specifically Chapter 9 (pgs. 79-94). It is somewhat ironic that this small chapter in this massive volume of almost 650 pages became his life’s work.
His voluminous writings, and even a television appearance, on the subject of genocide brought the concept of mega-group murder to the attention of the world community of scholars, intellectuals, and the wider public, and began a debate about its various permutations and configurations which continues to this day. All this affirms him as the “Father of Genocide Studies,” an outgrowth and expansion of the field of Holocaust Studies.
GS: Lemkin wrote at a time when the study of the Ottoman destruction of the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks was in its infancy. What sources did he use? Did he say anything that historians today find useful?
SLJ: In addition to his 1944 text, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe, Lemkin also intended to publish a three-volume History of Genocide (Antiquity, Middle Ages, Modern Times), as well as a monograph, Introduction to the Study of Genocide. Neither was completed nor published. In 2012, it was my good fortune to edit, introduce, and bring to publication both sets of texts, even though incomplete, in one volume, titled Lemkin on Genocide (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books). As to his use of sources, it is important to keep in mind that Lemkin was a master of many languages—Polish, Russian, French, German, Hebrew, Yiddish (and others!)—and was thus able to draw upon numerous publications in those languages which addressed the thirteen genocides included. Most of the sixty-three genocides reflected in his Outline were never addressed. An in depth examination of more than 20,000 pages of his archives only barely hints at these other texts. Lemkin left a substantial, untitled, 120-page monograph on the Armenian Genocide, along with a six-page summary, and the monograph has been published (Raphael Lemkin’s Dossier on the Armenian Genocide, Glendale, CA: Center for Armenian Remembrance, 2008). I have written several articles about Lemkin and the Armenian Genocide. As regards the Assyrian Genocide, not one but two chapters—Chapter 2 (“Assyrian Invasions”) of Volume I, and Chapter 2 (“Assyrians in Iraq”) of Volume III—are included among his papers. The latter constitutes a forty-two-page chapter in Lemkin on Genocide. Most interesting of all, however, with regard to the Greek Genocide, five chapters are presented in the outline, more than any other case. These are titled, “Genocide in Ancient Greece”, “Genocide against the Greeks,” “Greeks under Franks, “Greeks in Exile from Turkish Occupation,” and “Genocide by the Greeks against the Turks.” Unfortunately, none of these is found among his papers. Instead, what we do have are a large text of so-called “Background” of fifty-seven pages and a later edited and slightly smaller version (fifty-five pages) entitled “Greeks in the Ottoman Empire,” the title of which is not listed in the outline. Three additional chapters in Volume III—“Bulgaria under the Turks,” “Genocide by the Janissaries,” and “Smyrna”—would have proven most helpful regarding his thinking about both the Ottoman Empire and the post-Ottoman Kemalist regime. But, alas, they, too, are not found among his papers, and, in all likelihood, were never written. One chapter that does exist is on the massacre of Greeks in Chios during the Greek War of Independence. It constitutes six pages in Lemkin on Genocide. I have also written separately on Lemkin and the Genocide of the Greeks.
To historians today, not only are his bibliographies of value in visiting the various genocides he examined, but his historical summaries, comments and critiques regarding victims, perpetrators, and bystanders enlarge the work beyond simply that of reporting the past. Moreover, Lemkin broadened his concerns to include the arenas of morality, ethics, and practical and political responsibilities, with which we continually wrestle today.
GS: Your new article deals with Lemkin’s writings on three cases of genocide. What benefits are there, generally, to taking a comparative approach?
SLJ: In principle, comparative work begins with an open mind: bringing together two or more seemingly disparate cases, events, or people and looking not only for similarities but differences as well, and then expanding the search to include other scenarios as well. What can, ideally, result is a broadened perspective and understanding regarding those items under examination, and, further, their possible applicability as additional case studies are brought into the conversation. It is important to keep in mind that comparison is not the only tool that scholars bring to the table. Vetting historical documents, knowledge of specific languages and how they were understood at the time of their use, interviewing witnesses to contemporary events (and vetting the accuracy of their memories) are also used to ascertain the most accurate and complete pictures of those things under investigation. All tools used by various disciplines in the “human sciences” (history, literature, psychology, sociology, religious & Judaic studies, etc.) have, over the generations, proven their value in examining the past, and even going so far as to proving their applicability to both the present and the future.
GS: In this specific case of Raphael Lemkin, what has a comparative approach revealed?
SLJ: Strictly speaking, Lemkin was not a comparativist. He was of that “first” generation of historians, writers, and thinkers who saw as his task to “get the word out,” that is to say, present the evidence of those cases of genocide that were of importance to him—together with his own commentaries—and then let others expand the cases and draw further conclusions. His “mission,” if you will, was to get the world—at least the Western world—to view group murder in a whole new way, based on the reality that genocide has, historically, always been part of the human journey. His objective was to make others realize that it was not only the present moment (World War II and the Nazi murder of the Jews and its initial aftermath) that were genocidal, but, throughout human history, human power groups have engaged in genocide against non-power groups for a whole host of reasons (political, social, religious, economic, etc.).In doing so, Lemkin opened the door to this “darker side” of human history, and for that he is to be applauded. Additionally, it must also be noted that Lemkin was not a classically-trained historian, but, rather, a lawyer who saw his stage as that of international law. Scholar that he was, he filtered his work through the lens of its practical applicability, understanding law and its prosecutorial opportunities as the appropriate arena where past crimes could be evaluated, current perpetrators could be punished, and, ideally, future cases of genocide could be prevented.
GS: Lemkin is famous for coining the word “genocide” and providing the first comprehensive definition of it. Did he doubt that the term applies equally to the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks?
SLJ: Most assuredly he understood these three cases as genocide. Today, there are three sources of denial that they are genocide. One originates with the inheritor of the perpetrator Ottoman state, which seeks to evade any responsibility for past crimes, and those who support it for political or economic reasons. The second originates from what sociologists call “the competition of victims.” This refers to the tendency of some victim groups to want to make their genocide seem more important by denying status to others. The third originates with some genocide scholars, who are so caught up in narrowly defining what genocide is, that they lose sight of the impact on the survivors and their descendants. It is part of the work of scholars to define and categorize the events they/we study, and to expand and/or contract these same definitions, further refining similarities and differences, as they/we apply them to specific case studies. In the process, however, we must never lose sight of our humanity.
GS: Is there any reason for anyone today to doubt that the term applies equally to the Armenians, Assyrians, and Greeks?
SLJ: Not at all. My contribution to Genocide in the Ottoman Empire was to examine in depth, perhaps for the first time, Lemkin’s writings on these three genocides—Armenian, Assyrian, and Greek—what he wrote, what he saw as their similarities and differences, and fault not only the Turks but the Germans and British, as well, as uneven partners in these crimes. Certainly, Lemkin saw parallels between genocide in the Ottoman Empire and that in Nazi Germany.
More information is available from the Asia Minor and Pontos Hellenic Research Center, Tel: 312-964-5120, Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
By George N. Shirinian
George N. Shirinian is Executive Director of the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies, a division of the Zoryan Institute. His publications include Studies in Comparative Genocide and The Asia Minor Catastrophe and the Ottoman Greek Genocide: Essays on Asia Minor, Pontos, and Eastern Thrace, 1913–1923.
Source: The National Herald
To date, 62 Palestinians have been shot dead in the Gaza Strip by the Israeli army and over 5,500 wounded by gunfire. Their crime: protesting the loss of their ancestral homes in the West Bank.
Here was an example of Gandhi-style passive resistance that failed. Israeli sniper teams just fired at will at the protesters, some of who were throwing rocks or firing sling shots. High concentration tear gas was dumped by drones on the demonstrators. Israel claimed it was killing ‘terrorists.’
The United States, Israel’s patron and financier, reveled in the move of its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a ...
One sharp and interesting analysis of situation in Serbian province of Kosovo Metohija came last week from Andrew Korybko, program host at Radio Sputnik.
Mr. Korybko speaks on how the whirlwind of geopolitics, military interests and global giants of business, as well as the change of US administration, could impact the fragile peace in Balkans and what’s behind the latest tensions:”Serbia’s NATO-occupied province of Kosovo has been up to its old tricks lately in trying to provoke Belgrade into another military confrontation conveniently timed to coincide with Trump’s inauguration.
The former so-called “Prime Minister” of Kosovo, Ramush Haradinaj, was detained in France ...
During the Albanian Muslim secessionist and separatist war in the Serbian province of Kosovo and Metohija, Kosovo Serb civilians were targeted for murder and expulsion. December 14, 2010 marked the 12th year anniversary of the mass murders of six Kosovo Serbs in 1998 by Kosovo Albanian secessionists and separatists. The cold-blooded murder of the six youths was a horrific and shocking mass murder. The killers were Albanian Muslim separatists, suspected members of the KLA, which U.S. special envoy to the Balkans Robert Gelbard described in 1998 as “without any question, a terrorist group”: “I know a terrorist when I see ...
Well, once again, Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu astounds. One would think that there must be some limit to the bizarre statements that issue from his mouth, but no, we learn again and again that he is willing to push the bizarreness envelope to places where, like the crew of Star Trek’s Enterprise, no one has ever before ventured.
His latest flight of fancy even seems to have astonished his worshipful U.S. government, which characterized his statements as ‘inappropriate and unhelpful’, harsh criticism indeed from that bastion of Israeli love. And what is it that Mr. Netanyahu has said? This writer ...
Donald Franciszek Tusk, (born 22 April 1957) is a Polish politician and historian. He has been President of the European Council since 1 December 2014. Previously he was Prime Minister of Poland (2007–2014) and a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) party.
Tusk began his public career as an activist in his home town of Gdańsk, supporting Solidarity and organizing his fellow university students. With the exception of one four-year stretch, Tusk has served in the Third Republic Sejm (parliament) continuously since its first elections in 1991. He was Vice Marshal (deputy speaker) of the Senate from 1997 ...
What is wrong with the American people? After several years of horrific policy toward the waking world, democracy’s standard bearers seem to be drowning in a lake of selfishness. Distracted, apathetic, or simply dumbed and numbed by unrelenting propaganda, the most admired society on Earth has turned to a wriggling mush of diverging ideals. I fear that American have become what we ultimately deplored, just another despicable cultural hegemony. Here’s a short brief on the matter.
A recent article by James Carden at The Nation prompted me to discuss this unsavory truth today. The title of the piece, “Trump’s Syria Policy: ...
While all eyes have been on the U.S. presidential campaign, such foreign-policy hot spots as Syria, Iran and Pakistan, and the increasingly frosty relations between the United States and China, a simmering problem in the Balkans threatens to come to a boil. The most serious clashes to date involving angry Serb inhabitants of the northern portion of Kosovo and international Kosovo Force (KFOR) peacekeeping personnel erupted on November 28. Thirty German and Austrian soldiers were injured, some by small-arms fire and Molotov cocktails, when KFOR troops tried to remove roadblocks that Serb residents had erected. Those barricades have been the most ...
The U.S. Has Only Been At Peace For 21 Years Total Since Its Birth
In 2011, Danios wrote:
Below, I have reproduced a year-by-year timeline of America’s wars, which reveals something quite interesting: since the United States was founded in 1776, she has been at war during 214 out of her 235 calendar years of existence. In other words, there were only 21 calendar years in which the U.S. did not wage any wars.
To put this in perspective:
* Pick any year since 1776 and there is about a 91% chance that America was involved in some war during that calendar year.
* No U.S. president truly qualifies as a ...
The historical and political precedents for the creation of a greater Sqiperia or Greater Albania was set during World War II when the Kosovo and Metohija regions along with territory Southwest of lake Skutari from Montenegro and the western region of Southern Serbia, or Juzna Srbija (now part of Macedonia), were annexed to Albania by the Axis powers led by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, under a plan devised by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler to dismember and to destroy the Serbian Nation and people, which the Germans and Italians perceived as the main threat to the Axiss powers and ...
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
In his latest interview for Serbia’s National Public Service Radio, Srdja Trifkovic discusses the geopolitical significance of the Balkan Peninsula, through the centuries, in the context of today’s complex strategic equation in Southeastern Europe.
Q: The Balkan Peninsula is an area where empires, cultures and religions have clashed for centuries. For starters, can we define the geostrategic significance of the Balkans, or at least to outline some of its permanent features?
ST: Those permanent features are primarily geographic. The peninsula is the land bridge between Central Europe and the Middle East. At the same time, it is the point of encounter and ...
Serbian girl Jovana was only 11 years old when Albanian terrorists captured, beaten and detained her together with rest of the family.
They were taken in a camp in the village of Klecka, Lipljan, along with her mother and grandmother. The camp was under direct rule and control of Fatmir Limaj (acquitted by the Hague cangaroo court) and Hashim Thaci.
Hasim Taci used to visit the camp. One day little Jovana was taken by the Albanian KLA bandits, Luan and Bekim Mazrreku, who, before the eyes of her mother and grandmother raped the eleven years old girl.
They tortured her, cutting her body ...
By now all international media resources; newspapers, magazines, TV channels, and internet social media, are busy reporting the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi; a Saudi reporter, who was loyal to the regime until he turned against Muhamad bin Salman (MBS) and his suppressive policies.
Once MBS was announced crowned prince in 2015 and started his war against Yemen, critic Khashoggi found it safer for himself to leave Saudi Arabia. He moved first to UK and later to USA. In his writings Khashoggi harshly criticized the policies of the young prince. Eventually he was lured to the Saudi consulate in Turkey, where ...
"The main part of the population of Baltic cities up to the 19th century consisted of ethnic Germans, and also Poles and Jews, but not at all Baltic people. In fact, the “old” (pre-revolutionary) Baltic region was completely built by Germans. Baltic cities were German cities – with German architecture, culture, and system of municipal management.
... in the cities of the Baltic region there were almost no Estonians and Latvians."
Now, the Baltic states consist of three countries – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which received sovereignty in the course of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Each of these states position themselves, respectively, ...
A few months ago I received a message from a professor at the Khomeini Institute for Education and Research in Tehran, Iran, informing me that my 2010 book “War and Empire: The American Way of Life” (London, Pluto Press) had been translated into Farsi. He requested that I write an Introduction for Iranian readers. What follows is that Introduction. Two years ago the Xinhua Peoples’ Press in Beijing, China also published a translation in Mandarin.
In the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s 1991 attempt to annex Kuwait, the U.S. deliberately destroyed much of Iraq’s water and sewer infrastructure. The Pentagon even admitted ...
The anti Serbian hysteria, ignorance, corrupted officials, media and public is something the British have to take consequences for. The consequences are: blooming criminal, narco business, robberies, theft, prostitution, kidnappings, radicalism, terrorism and other criminal officially supported (and) by Great Britain activities. But only while on Serbian soil. The Serbs were not allowed to defend their state form the criminals; there were NATO bombs to support Neonazi regime(s) in Croatia, radical Islamists in Bosnia and Islamofascists Albanian quasi state Kosovo, built on drug trade, prostitution and Serbian harvested organs.
Since Albanians were not happy with ‘Kosovo’ state anymore, and after they ...
In its entire history, there has been very little time when the United States has been at peace. As it wages its many wars and ‘interventions’, the stated goal is always something few people could argue with: fostering democracy when a struggling people are resisting tyranny, removing threats to U.S. security, or punishing a cruel dictator for unspeakable misdeeds.
Yet on closer scrutiny, these reasons are seldom valid. They simply hide the true purposes of U.S. military involvement, which are power and wealth. Starting with the barbarous destruction of Native American culture in order to gain farmlands, right through to the ...
For the tiny village of Sukioniai in western Lithuania, the exploits of General Storm, a local anti-Communist hero executed by the Soviet secret police in 1947, have long been a source of pride. The village school is named after him, and his struggles against the Soviet Union are also honored with a memorial carved from stone next to the farm where he was born.
All along, though, there have been persistent whispers that General Storm, whose real name was Jonas Noreika, also helped the Nazis kill Jews. But these were largely discounted as the work of ill-willed outsiders serving a well-orchestrated ...
War President of Bosnia-Herzegovina Alija Izetbegovic - author of jihadist "Islamic Declaration" in 1970
One of the most outrageous and heinous hoaxes and Hitlerian Big Lies perpetrated by the US and Western media during the Bosnian civil war of 1992-1995 was that Bosnian Serbs had used rape as an “instrument of war”. In order to discredit the Bosnian Serbs, they were accused of committing mass rapes against Bosnian Muslim women, in “rape camps” and “rape motels”. Even the United Nations commander in Bosnia, Canadian Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, a veteran of eight UN peacekeeping missions, was accused of committing rapes against Bosnian ...
Israel’s Maariv newspaper has revealed that the government of the Zionist state is planning to drop a political bombshell in the coming weeks by presenting a bill in the Knesset (parliament) calling for the annexation of land occupied since 1967. It is likely to have the support of the majority of Knesset members. The newspaper added that the right wing has chosen this time for the move ahead of the US presidential election; America, it is believed, will be too preoccupied to care about what is happening in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Preliminary talks about a first stage have been held, ...
Palestinians: 70 Years of Suffering
Why the Albanians Need Tensions in the Province of Kosovo-Metohija Now?
Mass Murders of Serbs in Kosovo Town of Pec in 1998
Netanyahu, Palestine and Ethnic Cleansing
Donald Franciszek Tusk: “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”?!
The Problem is America: The Malignant Cultural Hegemony
The USA has been at War 93% of the Time (222 out of 239 Years – since 1776 to 2015)
Kosovo Albanian “Skanderbeg SS Division”
The Thanksgiving Day and the Native Americans
Understanding Balkan Geopolitics
Kosovostan Albanian Monstrous Crimes
International Hypocrisy: Reprimanding the Saudi Kingdom
The Origins of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Nations
War and Empire: The American Way of Life
Albanian Organized Crime in UK and Mainstream Media
Book Review: Robert Fantina, “Empire, Racism and Genocide: A History of U.S. Foreign Policy”, 2013
Jonas Noreika: Nazi Collaborator or National Hero? A Test for Lithuania
Rape and War: Bosnian Muslim Rapes at the Celebici Camp
Reviving the Greater Israel Scheme