04/26/07: Turkish Daily News: Four Jewish groups back Turkey on Armenian genocide

Bush declines to use g-word in annual Armenian remembrance day statement

Umit Enginsoy
Washington – Turkish Daily News

Four large U.S. Jewish groups have lent support to Turkey's position in opposing the passage of two resolutions pending in Congress that call for officialrecognition of World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

B'nai B'rith International, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) have recently conveyed a letter from Turkish Jews who oppose the resolution to U.S. congressional leaders, officials from the groups told the Turkish Daily News.

In their letter, leading Turkish Jews have urged congressional leaders to postpone considering the genocide measures. In conveying the letter to Congressofficials, the four U.S. Jewish groups tacitly agreed to its contents.

Going further, the ADL and JINSA have also added their own statements opposing the bill.

"I don't think congressional action will help reconcile the issue. The resolution takes a position; it comes to a judgment," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman.

"The Turks and Armenians need to revisit their past. The Jewish community shouldn't be the arbiter of that history, nor should the U.S. Congress," he told JTA, a Jewish press organization.

But the four groups' move does not mean that U.S. Jews are united in opposing the genocide measures.

A number of other large U.S. Jewish organizations have distanced themselves from the controversy, while some of the resolutions' top sponsors and backers are Jewish.

One genocide legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives in late January, and an identical resolution later followed in the Senate.

Turkey is fighting against the measures' passage in both chambers, and it is not clear if or when the bills could be brought to a vote.

No g-word from Bush:

In a related development, U.S. President George W. Bush on Tuesday issued a statement of remembrance for the Armenians killed at the end of the Ottoman Empire, but stopped short of using the word genocide.

The Bush administration also opposes the genocide resolutions' passage. In identical letters sent to congressional leaders, Secretary of State CondoleezzaRice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have warned that the measures' endorsement would hurt U.S. national interests in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Each year on this day, we pause to remember the victims of one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century, when as many as 1.5 million Armenians losttheir lives in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, many of them victims of mass killings and forced exile," Bush said in the statement.

"I join my fellow Americans and Armenian people around the world in commemorating this tragedy and honoring the memory of the innocent lives that were taken," he said. "The world must never forget this painful chapter of its history."

Also on Tuesday, former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, who reportedly had his tour of duty cut short because he had referred to the killings asgenocide in violation of the official U.S. position, said that Turks needed to confront the facts and to show contrition before there can be reconciliation.

He also said that he believed Turkey's efforts had a role in his firing.

Nearly 100 Armenians gathered in front of the Turkish embassy here on Tuesday to protest against Ankara, while a smaller group of Turks held a rival demonstration across the street.

Source: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=71599