08/23 TDN: Major US Jewish group recognizes 'Armenian genocide'

Major US Jewish group recognizes 'Armenian genocide'
Thursday, August 23, 2007
WASHINGTON - Turkish Daily News

In a setback for Turkish efforts to counter pro-Armenian propaganda, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a major U.S. Jewish group, Tuesday reversed its earlier position and recognized the World War I-era killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.
The group's move came only days after it fired a regional official for voicing the genocide recognition stance.

The ADL's National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement posted on his group's Web site that in the light of a number of developments the ADL decided to revisit the Armenian issue and that the Armenian killings "were indeed tantamount to genocide."

He said he had consulted with Holocaust survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and some historians.

"I hope that Turkey will understand that it is Turkey's friends who urge that nation to confront its past and work to reconcile with Armenians over this dark chapter in history," Foxman said.

But he said the ADL was still against the passage of an Armenian genocide resolution pending in the House of Representatives, Congress' lower chamber.

"We continue to firmly believe that a congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation betweenTurks and Armenians and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the UnitedStates," Foxman said.

Genocide resolution woes:

Top Turkish officials have warned that any Armenian genocide measure's passage in Congress will greatly damage U.S.-Turkish relations in a lasting way.

The genocide resolution now has the backing of 225 lawmakers in the 435-seat House, and analysts said the bill might be brought to a floor vote there any time after Congress returns from its summer recess in early September.

Turkish officials admitted that the ADL's shift in position was a setback for Ankara.

U.S. Jewish groups are presently divided over how to qualify the Armenian killings, and Turkey is counting on the support of those Jewish organizations, which do not back the Armenian position. It was not immediately clear if the ADL's move could have a spill over effect on other Jewish groups.

The Armenian Assembly of America, a prominent U.S. Armenian organization, said it welcomed the ADL's shift in position, but added that it regretted theJewish group's continued opposition to the genocide resolution's passage.

The ADL last week fired its New England regional director, Andrew Tarsy, after he said he agreed that the Armenian killings were genocide.

The move caused controversy within the group, and some chapters supported Tarsy's position.

Foxman admitted that worries over Jewish unity played a major role in the group's move to reverse its position. "Because of our concern for the unity of theJewish community at a time of increased threats against the Jewish people, ADL has decided to revisit the tragedy that befell the Armenians," he said.

Source: http://www.turkishdailynews.com.tr/article.php?enewsid=81551