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Armenia and Turkish Genocide Dispute: Full-Page WSJ Ad Denying Armenian Genocide Spurs Anger - by Stav Ziv

A full-page ad denying the Armenian genocide spurred anger Wednesday, appearing in The Wall Street Journal just days before the 101st anniversary of the event’s start on April 24, 1915.

“Truth = Peace,” the ad declared in large font at the center of the page. At the top, in smaller letters, it said,

“Stop the allegations,” and directed readers to a website called Fact Check Armenia, which declares as false the idea that “the events of 1915 constitute a clear-cut genocide against the Armenian people” and calls efforts of the Armenian diaspora to gain recognition of the genocide “propaganda.”

The ad shows three hands—a hand making a peace sign in the middle is tinged with red and features the star and crescent of the Turkish flag, and is flanked by a hand on each side with fingers crossed in the hues of the Armenian and Russian flags.

Gary Bass, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, tweeted a photo of the ad Wednesday morning, garnering hundreds of retweets and a slew of reactions, many of which chided The Wall Street Journal for printing it and questioned whether the paper would have printed a similar ad related to the Holocaust.

According to a post on the Chicago Armenian Genocide Centennial committee’s Facebook page, the same ad also appeared Wednesday in the pages of the Chicago Tribune. The newspaper ads come soon after billboards with similar designs appeared near Boston’s Armenian Heritage Park and in the Chicago area
“It should be taken down,” Lori Yogurtian, founder of the Armenian Students Association at Suffolk University, told the Boston Globe when the billboard appeared in Boston’s North End in early April. “It’s completely one-sided, completely perpetuating denial of something that has time and time again been proven as a fact.”

The billboard was indeed taken down, the Globe reported, with a spokesman for its owner, Clear Channel Outdoor, saying “the ad was placed there in error.” The Chicago centennial group said in a post on Facebook that the billboards in that area had also been removed.

In response to the criticism, a Wall Street Journal spokesperson said in a comment provided to Gawker that “we accept a wide range of advertisements, including those with provocative viewpoints. While we review ad copy for issues of taste, the varied and divergent views expressed belong to the advertisers.”

Ab Kaan, a coordinator for The Turkic Platform and Fact Check Armenia, said in an email to Newsweek that “all data in Fact Check Armenia is produced by The Turkic Platform,” which is supported by Turkish companies in Turkey, Europe and primarily in the U.S.

Several countries, including the United States, have failed to formally recognize the Armenian genocide as genocide, or to use the “G-word” in commemoration ceremonies, despite efforts by lobbyists that intensified leading up to last year’s centennial. However, historians and genocide scholars agree that the events beginning in 1915 constituted genocide.

“There is a near consensus that the Armenian genocide was a genocide, or that genocide is the right word,” David Simon, a professor of political science at Yale University and co-director of its Genocide Studies Program, told Newsweek ahead of the 100th anniversary last year. “The deportations and massacres amounted to a crime we now know is genocide. In 1915, there was no such word.”

The controversy is generated by Turkey, says Armen Marsoobian, a professor of philosophy at Southern Connecticut State University who teaches courses in comparative genocide. Turkey vehemently opposes the use of the term “genocide” to describe the events, and recalled ambassadors to the Vatican and Austria after Pope Francis and Austrian lawmakers did so ahead of the centennial.

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