Turkish Jews lobby against Armenian ‘genocide’ bill

The Turkish Jewish community last week took the unusual step of placing an ad in the Washington Times calling US support for a Congressional bill on the Armenian ‘genocide’ ‘anti-Turkish’. Were they acting under pressure from the Turkish government? Marc Perelman reports in The Forward.

“In its bare-knuckled lobbying to defeat a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, Turkey has gained a valuable ally: its own Jews.

“Last week an advertisement from the “Jewish community of Turkey” was published in the conservative Washington Times and was quickly passed around the capital by Turkey’s lobbyists. The ad warned that the overwhelming majority of Turks view Congress’s intervention as “inappropriate, unjust, and gratuitously anti-Turkish.”

“The Turkish Jewish community’s ad appeared just before an October 10 vote in which the House’s Committee on Foreign Affairs adopted Resolution 106, which characterizes the Ottoman massacre of Armenians during World War I as “genocide.” The Democratic leadership is planning to submit the bill to a full House vote by mid-November, and a similar resolution has been introduced in the Senate with 32 co-sponsors.

“We cannot help but note that the world recognizes the Holocaust because of the overwhelming evidence, not because of the declarations of parliaments,” read the ad. “However, we have a more immediate concern, which is the viability of U.S.-Turkish bilateral relations.”

“The ad, as well as previous statements from the Turkish Jewish community and a trip by its leaders to Washington this past spring, is part of a strategy by Ankara to stress that the Armenian issue is one that galvanizes Turkish society as a whole, and not just the government. The patriarch of the Armenian Church of Turkey recently came to the United States to convey a similar message, and several civil society organizations have supported the government’s view.

“Turkish Jewish officials, however, have insisted that the initiative to weigh in on the issue has been theirs. (..)

“Last week’s ad took a direct stab at the Anti-Defamation League, whose national director Abraham Foxman said in August that the massacre of Armenians was “tantamount to genocide” and then subsequently stated that a congressional resolution would be a “counterproductive diversion” that may “put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States.” In the ad, the Jewish community stressed that it is “deeply perturbed” by the claim that their safety and well-being in Turkey could be put at risk by the resolution.

“The ad was not the community’s first pointed criticism of an American Jewish group on the Armenian issue. In a private letter this summer, reported here for the first time, to American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris, Turkish Jewish leaders criticized him for writing in a blog posting that not recognizing the Armenian genocide could open the door to more Holocaust denial.”

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