Knesset caucus to talk alleged Chinese organ theft

Announcement follows debate on recognizing Armenian genocide.

Moshe Feiglin 311  (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Moshe Feiglin 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Knesset’s new liberal caucus will hold its inaugural meeting Wednesday on the subject of the alleged forced removal of organs from Chinese prisoners of conscience.
The caucus’s chairman, Deputy Knesset Speaker Moshe Feiglin (Likud Beytenu), told the Knesset plenum that he was under Chinese pressure to cancel the meeting. He said MKs had been pressured not to attend, because it could lead to an unnecessary fight with China.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has called improving relations with China one of the top priorities of his current term. His office announced this week that he intends to make a historic visit to China next month.
Feiglin spoke in the plenum at the end of a debate about the government’s failure to officially recognize the Turkish genocide of Armenians nearly a century ago. He said that Israel needed to do what was right despite its diplomatic interests with China, just as it needed to do so regarding Turkey.
“With the Mavi Marmara ship, we went from being the good guys to being the bad guys who have to apologize,” Feiglin said.
“That proves that when you put your interests ahead of your ethics, you end up getting hit in the face.”
The debate on the Armenian genocide was initiated by Meretz leader MK Zehava Gal-On, just as past debates on the matter were initiated by her predecessors at the helm of the party.
“It is time for the government to officially recognize the Armenian genocide,” Gal-On said.
“We have an ethical obligation as Jewish people not to forget any genocide. It is wrong to tie this issue to the state of relations with Turkey.”
The meeting took place at a sensitive time, because Jerusalem is currently in negotiations with Ankara on compensation to the families of Turkish terrorists who were killed after attacking Israeli soldiers on the Mavi Marmara.
Additionally, there was a visit to Israel this week by the foreign minister of Azerbaijan, a country that has fought with Armenia.
Nevertheless, almost every MK who spoke at the debate said Israel should formally recognize the Armenian genocide.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein (Likud Beytenu) noted that as a minister, he went to Armenia at the invitation of the Armenian government and visited the Armenian Genocide Museum.
Edelstein’s predecessor, MK Reuven Rivlin (Likud Beytenu), recalled historical accounts of Nazi leaders saying that they could get away with the Final Solution against the Jews because no one stopped the Armenian genocide. Kadima MK Yisrael Hasson said he started an Israeli-Armenian Friendship League this week.
“There have been many genocides,” Bayit Yehudi faction chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said.
“We have endured the worst of them. Why do we accept the government in Ankara not taking responsibility for the slaughtering? We should insist on this, even if it is uncomfortable and does not serve our diplomatic interests.”
The lone voice against recognizing the Armenian genocide came from Yesh Atid MK Ruth Calderon, who warned that such a step could endanger Jews in Turkey.
“We need to be sensitive and not only right but also smart,” Calderon said.
The plenum referred the matter to the Knesset House Committee for further debate.