08/25 The Independent: Top US Jewish group recognises genocide

Top US Jewish group recognises genocide of 1.5 million Armenians
By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem
Published: 25 August 2007

The Anti-Defamation League, a leading US-based Jewish organisation, has for the first time - and with some reluctance - recognised the slaughter of an estimated 1.5 million Armenians by the Turks between 1915 and 1917 as genocide.

It did so under pressure from some American Jewish communities, including those in areas where there are Armenian populations, and against a background of attempts to push a new bill through Congress to force the United States to recognise the genocide. Like Israel, the US does not officially acknowledge it.

Abe Foxman, the director of ADL, which had previously been reluctant to inflame Turkey by recognising the genocide, said that he had taken the decision after consulting the Jewish Nobel Prize-winning author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

As a result, Israel has come under increasingly heavy diplomatic pressure from the Turkish government to help reverse the decision. The Turkish Foreign minister and the presidential candidate Abdullah Gul registered his "anger and disappointment" at a meeting in Ankara with Israel's ambassador, Pinhas Avivi. Foreign ministry sources described this meeting to the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz as "shrill".

Despite pressure from some Israeli intellectuals and scholars of the Jewish Holocaust as well from the small Armenian community here, Israel has refrained from officially recognising the massacres to avoid rupturing its strong diplomatic relations with Turkey. Mr Gul reportedly told the Israeli ambassador that Turkey knew Israel was not responsible for the ADL decision but believed Israel could have done something to prevent it.

Mr Avivi is said to have replied that Israel's position had not changed, that it was not taking sides and was urging a "dialogue" between the parties "to clarify and investigate the matter".

The original reluctance of the Anti-Defamation League's director to recognise the genocide - which drew criticism from at least one regional ADL official - was said to have been based partly on a desire to protect the estimated 26,000 Jews currently living in Turkey from any possible repercussions.

Source: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2893892.ece