Jews check Armenian genocide stance

Turkey might not get US Jews' support, official says following deterioration in Israel-Turkey ties.

February 3, 2009 04:15
2 minute read.
Jews check Armenian genocide stance

armenian genocide 224 88. (photo credit: AP [file])


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An official with a leading American Jewish organization told the The Jerusalem Post on Monday that a deterioration in Israel-Turkey relations might prompt his group and others to reconsider Armenian efforts to win recognition of the century-old Turkish massacres as genocide. A bill that would ensure such recognition by the US, which was backed by Rep. Adam Schiff - a Jewish Democrat who represents a heavily Armenian area of Los Angeles - failed to make it to a Congressional vote in 2007. However, it sparked a row in the American Jewish community between those who sided with Turkey in an effort to protect Israel's political interests, and those who argued that Jews were particularly responsible for helping other groups block the public denial of genocide. "No Jew or Israeli in his right mind will insult Turkey," the official told the Post. "But next time... they might not come to Turkey's aid or equivocate quite so much on the issue." The Bush administration opposed the bill out of concern for what it would do to US-Turkey relations. The current blowup between Israel and Turkey comes amid expectations that the Obama administration will name academic and writer Samantha Power, an expert on genocide, to a key National Security Council post dealing with multilateral institutions. Power has been outspoken in labeling the Turkish massacre of Armenians genocide, albeit from outside the government. One Washington-based Jewish community leader said Jewish organizations were unlikely to reorient their views and begin backing legislation to recognize the Armenian genocide, arguing that this would only make a delicate situation far worse. "If organizations aren't backing Armenian genocide resolutions because of the Turkish-Israeli relationship and their concern about the Turkish Jewish community, I don't think they would change now," he said. "Those same concerns remain, and those same pressures remain." Anti-Defamation League head Abraham Foxman - whose opposition to the Armenian genocide legislation in 2007 provoked widespread criticism - told the Post that as long as Israel maintained its diplomatic ties with Turkey, he saw no immediate reason to change his position on any future genocide resolutions. "This is not a punishment or a reward issue - we don't change our position on what's right or wrong based on what people say," Foxman said. "The interests between Israel and Turkey continue." Foxman also noted that he knew of Jewish friends who had cancelled trips to Turkey over Erdogan's comments, but described the Erdogan flap as a disagreement between "friends." "There have been some very inappropriate harsh statements by the leadership, especially by the prime minister, which we think are inappropriate," he said, "but they have not changed the basic relationship [with Israel]." Hilary Leila Krieger and Haviv Gur Rettig contributed to this report.

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