GLENDALE–Princeton University’s Daily Princetonian–in an article published recently revisited an incident from last fall–when Near Eastern Studies professor Norman Itzkowitz speaking at a conference–made inappropriate and what many have called anti-Armenian remarks–referring to the Armenian Genocide. Princeton University–in recent years–has had to deal with a number of controversial issues concerning Armenia’s–most prominently the hiring of Heath Lowry as the holder of its Ottoman history chair. Lowry–a former lobbyist for the Turkish government–was exposed as an active participant in Genocide denial activities–in concert with former Turkish Ambassador to the United States Nuzhet Kandemir.
Below is the full text of the Daily Princetonian article.
Professor discusses past genocide–offends Armenian-American group
By Owen Alterman
Three years after a faculty appointment to the Near Eastern Studies department brought criticism from Armenian-Americans–the University is under fire again over commen’s made last fall by one of the department’s professors– Norman Itzkowitz.
Itzkowitz made the controversial remarks while telling a story at a conference about the Nanking massacre–according to a transcript of this gathering provided by Greg Arzoomanian ’79–an Armenian-American. Speaking on the psychology of ethnic conflict–Itzkowitz recalled telling an Armenian-American student that his "granny’s got nothing better to do but sit at home and fill you full of this stuff."
Arzoomanian said many in his community find the commen’s inappropriate. Arzoomanian said the context of the story suggests the grandmother is a survivor of the Armenian genocide telling her gran’son about the experience. Such commen’s–he added–would imply that Itkowitz believes the genocide did not occur.
Andras Hamori–the Near Eastern Studies department head–stressed that Itzkowitz intended his commen’s as proof of an intellectual theory about the way ethnic hatred is passed from old to young and not as ethnic insult.
"My impression," Hamori said–"is that people who are shocked by the style or the way these remarks were put didn’t really ask about the substance of what he was saying.
"He was by no means denying that huge amount of human’suffering by the Armenia’s," Hamori added.
Vice President and Secretary Tom Wright ’62 said the University has received letters both protesting and supporting Itzkowitz. Wright said he thinks many of the letters defending the University’s decisions have been written by Turkish-Americans while critical letters have come from two separate campaigns organized by Armenian-American groups. National effort
The alumni effort against Itzkowitz has been joined by the Armenian National Committee–one of the nation’s largest Armenian-American organizations. ANC official Dikran Kaligian sent a letter to the University administration about the incident and enlisted Gov. Christine Todd Whitman to write President Shapiro as part of her role as ex-officio member of the Board of Trustees.
Itzkowitz has refused to comment on the matter–but Wright said the professor told him directly or unequivocally that he has nothing to say against Armenia’s and the Armenian massacre. In a letter responding to the issue–Wright added the University does not embrace–endorse or condone anti-Armenian remarks or behavior.
Still–Arzoomanian said he would like to see an investigation. He said the ANC has already called for a direct apology from Itzkowitz as well as a conference on Armenian affairs at the University. Arzoomanian added that he hopes for a letter from President Shapiro saying this was bad.
The summer before Lowry arrived on campus–Bernard Lewis–now a professor-emeritus in the Near Eastern Studies department–was convicted by a French court for making statemen’s denying the Armenian genocide–according to a Website run by the Princeton Alumni for Credibility.