Turkey to Israel: Reverse recognition of genocide

By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent

The Turkish government is pressuring Israel in an effort to reverse an American Jewish organization’s decision to recognize Turkey’s massacre of Armenians during World War I as genocide.

Zuroff: ‘We have an obligation to tell the truth’

The World War I-era massacre of Armenians by the Turks should be recognized as genocide despite the political ramifications such a move would have with Turkey, the chief Nazi hunter of the Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center said Thursday.

“With all the sensitivities we have regarding Israeli-Turkish relations and the well-being of the Turkish Jewish community, we have an obligation to tell the truth about historical events – even if they sometimes create certain problems for us,” Zuroff said.

A meeting between Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul and Israel’s ambassador to Ankara, Pinhas Avivi, became “shrill,” according to Foreign Ministry sources in Jerusalem. Gul expressed Ankara’s “anger and disappointment” over the matter.

On Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League announced that it recognizes the events in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians were massacred as “genocide.” ADL’s national director Abraham Foxman, said he made the decision after discussing the matter with historians and with Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel.

According to an Israeli ministry source, Gul told the Israeli ambassador that “Turkey knows Israel was not responsible for the Anti-Defamation League’s announcement, but is disappointed because Israel could have done something to prevent it.”

Avivi replied that Jerusalem was not involved in the ADL’s decision and that “there is no change in Israel’s position. We are not taking sides, and believe that the parties must hold a dialogue to clarify and investigate the matter and determine what really happened.”

A senior Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz Thursday that the main focus now is on calming the situation.

“This is a highly sensitive issue for Turkey, and we have signaled to them that there is no change in our position and that we do not wish to harm the friendly ties between our countries. We believe that they have understood our message,” the official said.

The question of the Armenian genocide is being handled at the highest levels of the Turkish leadership, and Foreign Ministry sources noted that President Ahmet Necdet Sezer and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan are planning to discuss the matter with their Israeli counterparts, Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert.

Israel is concerned that the matter may lead to a genuine diplomatic crisis between the two countries, and it has sent quiet signals to American Jewish organizations in an effort to lower the tone. The Foreign Ministry is concerned that the strategic relationship between the two countries could be harmed and that the Jewish community in Turkey could be affected.

August 24, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. The ADl has been on the wrong side of this issue for decades and it has been a crucial partner in Turley’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. This is not just about Mr. Foxman’s leadership; it is about where the organization stands. the ADl has lost its moral ground by choosing to put temporary political gains above its ultimate purpose which is “to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens”. The ADl can no longer be regarded as a human rights organization, since they act merely as a lobbying organization for Israel.

    Arguments such as the safety of the Jews in Turkey and the endangerment of the alliance of Turkey and Israel are pointless. Would it be acceptable if The ADL did not condemn the denial of the Holocaust by the government of Iran because of the safety of the Iranian Jews? Human rights violations in Saudi Arabia do not stop the US from officially recognizing them and inviting that country to the right path.

    I am glad to see that many American Jews, especially the youth, have stood up for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide and do not wish to be associated with the ADl until this organization is whole heartedly determined to take appropriate actions to support the congressional resolution on this matter.

  2. Uh, Foxman is reported to have switched again, with ADL “stepping back” whatever that means–according to Turkey Foxman’s faxed “a letter of apology” to Erdogan. That’s just the report from MEMRI, whether true or not I don’t know.

    I am so frickin tired of appeasement and so-called pragmatics at the expense of morality, and which is counterproductive anyway. Israel’s not taking sides on the facts is as unconscionable as someone not taking side on the facts of 1948, 1967, etc, meanwhile allowing the “new historians” and Jimmy Carter to make it all up and pass it on as history. That’s what happens when you don’t take sides on facts.

  3. The blame for this diplomatic crisis can be laid squarely at Mr. Foxman’s doorstep. The ADL has, on Foxman’s watch, become a liability to Israel and even to American Jews, noting that white supremacists are accusing ADL of exactly what they themselves like to do: Holocaust denial, or the equivalent. The Stormfront types are eating this up, and Foxman served it to them on a silver platter.

    What are you talking about? Foxman DID finally recognize the massacre of Armenian Turks as genocide. First you condemned Foxman for not taking this step, now that he has, you still condemn him. Foxman is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t as far as you’re concerned. And who the hell cares what the lowlifes of stormfront and their ilk do.

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