What has compelled Jews in the Ottoman Empire, Turkey, and abroad to promote a positive image of Ottomans and Turks while they deny the Armenian genocide and the existence of antisemitism in Turkey? The dominant historical narrative is that Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 were embraced by the Ottoman Empire, and then later, protected from the Nazis during WWII. If we believe that Turks and Jews have lived in harmony for so long, then it is hard for us to accept that the Turks could have committed genocide against the Armenians. In this talk, adapted from his new book, Marc David Baer confronts these convictions and circumstances to reflect on what moral responsibility the descendants of the victims of one genocide have to the descendants of victims of another. Baer delves into the history of Muslim-Jewish relations in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey to tease out the origin of these many tangled truths. He aims to bring about reconciliation between Jews, Muslims, and Christians, not only to face inconvenient historical facts, but to confront it and come to terms with it. By looking at the complexities of interreligious relations, Holocaust denial, genocide and ethnic cleansing, and confronting some long-standing historical stereotypes, Baer sets out to tell a new history that goes against Turkish antisemitism and admits to the Armenian genocide.
Marc David Baer (PhD, History, University of Chicago) is Professor of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of Honored by the Glory of Islam: Conversion and Conquest in Ottoman Europe (Oxford, 2008); The Dönme: Jewish Converts, Muslim Revolutionaries, and Secular Turks (Stanford, 2010); At Meydanı'nda Ölüm: 17. Yüzyıl İstanbul'unda Toplumsal Cinsiyet, Hoşgörü ve İhtida (Death on the Hippodrome: Gender, Tolerance, and Conversion in 17th century Istanbul) (Koç, 2016); Sultanic Saviors and Tolerant Turks: Writing Ottoman Jewish History, Denying the Armenian Genocide (Indiana, 2020); and German, Jewish, Muslim, Gay: The Life and Times of Hugo Marcus (Columbia, 2020).
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