2005.09.15 -- Zaman: PM Demands Jewish Support Against Armenians

Zaman Online, Turkey
Sept 15 2005

PM Demands Jewish Support Against Armenians
By Cihan News Agency, Anadolu News Agency (aa)
Published: Thursday, September 15, 2005

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has received representatives of the American Jewish Committee (AJC), Anti-Defamation League, B'nai B'rith and American Jewish Organizations.

Turkish Prime Ministry Spokesperson Akif Beki announced that Erdogan ahead of the bill on the alleged Armenian genocide to be negotiated at the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Commission has called on Jewish associations to help Turkey on the issue.

Reportedly, Jewish representatives expressed they have been on Turkey's side so far and they will continue their support.

The Turkish Premier spoke of Turkey's initiatives about so-called Armenian genocide allegations reiterated they opened archives in Turkey, so that everyone can come and make research.

Dealing with the Alliance among Civilizations initiative Turkish Prime Minister emphasized his attribution for the project. The Pakistan-Israel meeting to be held in Istanbul under auspices of Erdogan came to the issue during the talks as well.

Beki uttering the conflict in Iraq was also brought to the issue added that Erdogan emphasized the adoption of a democratic system where all segments were represented by the protection of Iraq's territorial integrity and political unity.

Reminded about Turkey's sensitivities on Kerkuk (Kirkuk) during the meeting, Erdogan also warned that Kirkuk cannot be surrendered to any individual group.

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2004.08.12 -- Haaretz: Armenian Lobbyists Are Facing a Lost Cause

Haaretz International
Thu., August 12, 2004 Av 25, 5764

Armenian lobbyists are facing a lost cause

By Nathan Guttman

Activists again failed to obtain U.S. congressional recognition of the Armenian genocide. The obstacles they face include America's ties with Turkey and the Jewish lobby.

WASHINGTON - For a moment it seemed to Armenian activists in the U.S. that they had made progress toward obtaining U.S. congressional recognition of the massacre perpetrated by the Turks against the Armenian people 98 years ago. U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, succeeded on July 15 in getting approval from the House of Representatives for an amendment to the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill, which would bar Turkey from using the annual American aid it receives to hire political lobbyists in Washington to lobby against the decision recognizing the Armenian genocide. Ostensibly, a marginal amendment and not terribly important, but in the eyes of supporters of the Armenian cause in the U.S., even approval of a minor amendment is considered an achievement.

The battle to gain recognition of the Armenian genocide by the U.S. Congress is transformed annually into a fight between the small group of Armenian supporters in Congress and the rest of the world - the Turkish representatives and the lobbyists working on their behalf, the administration, the supports of the administration in Congress, and also several of the large Jewish organizations. When the U.S. tries to maintain good relations with Turkey, the price is paid by those who want to see the American Congress include the Armenian genocide in the decision denouncing such actions, Resolution 193, which also recognizes the Armenian genocide as such, approval of which has been delayed.

The minor achievement in Congress, which is now referred to as the Schiff Amendment, did not last long. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives - Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt - issued an especially sharply worded statement the day after the amendment was approved, in which they made it clear that the amendment was unacceptable to them and that they would seek to annul it when the Foreign Operations Appropriations bill came before the conference committee that attempts to bridge the gap between the Senate and House of Representatives positions, before a bill is sent to the president for his signature. When the House leadership mobilizes to kill a bill, chances are the effort will be successful and therefore it seems that despite the Schiff Amendment, no one will deduct from U.S. aid to Turkey the sums it uses to finance activities against the resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide.

`The resolution is dead'

Even the chances of House Resolution 193 now seem slimmer than ever, given that at the conclusion of their statement, the House majority leaders declared that "Furthermore, we have no intention of scheduling H.Res. 193, as reported out of the Judiciary Committee in April, during the remainder of this Congress." The practical significance of that is the resolution is a lost cause. Elizabeth Chouldjian, of the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), believes there is a still a chance for getting the amendment passed. The organization is currently urging its supporters to call and write to the House of Representatives in order to overturn the decision of the House leadership and nevertheless schedule a vote on the resolution. "We're getting good response in the House of Representatives and have 40 co-sponsors on a similar resolution in the Senate," she said, but history teaches that even interest groups that are stronger than the Armenian lobby have no chance when the administration and the Congressional leadership are working against them. Another Armenian activist openly admitted that "the resolution is dead" and this year again there is no chance of passing the resolution that recognizes the Armenian genocide.

Don't upset Turkey

The main obstacle facing supporters of the Armenian cause in the U.S. and their attempts to gain recognition for the Armenian genocide is the administration's basic position and that of many others, whereby friendship with Turkey is more important than anything else. The Turkish government, via its diplomatic representatives and lobbyists, has made it very clear to the Americans that any recognition of the Armenian genocide will be perceived in Ankara as a slap in the face and will adversely affect ties between the two countries.

So, for example, when France was considering a similar law, the Turks threatened a series of sanctions and in the end recalled their ambassador from Paris for six months. In the U.S., the situation is much more sensitive - the Americans need Turkey as a crucial ally in its region, as a base for U.S. forces and primarily, to maintain relative quiet in northern Iraq. "Our relationship with Turkey is too important to us to allow it to be in any way damaged by a poorly crafted and ultimately meaningless amendment," said senior House leaders in their reaction to the Schiff Amendment. The administration maintains a similar position. The debate does not revolve around the question of whether there was an Armenian genocide or its scope, but around contemporary politics and Turkey's possible reaction if someone upsets them with regard to this issue.

The Jewish community in the U.S. and the Israel issue are also entwined in the pressure campaign preventing approval of the resolution. "The community is certainly a player on this issue," said a key Jewish activist in Washington, who like many others involved in the issue, asked to remain off the record. Representatives of Jewish organizations reported "a sense of discomfort," as one described it, when coming to explain their position on the Armenian resolution; on one hand, the Jews as a community are sensitive to the tragedy experienced by the Armenian people, but on the other hand, there are Israel-Turkey relations to consider. "We have always had a level of uncertainty regarding the balance that should be kept between the moral factors and the strategic interests," one Jewish organization official cautiously explained.

Last year, Jewish organizations, primarily the American Jewish Committee (AJC), have been more active in thwarting the resolution acknowledging the Armenian genocide. This year the politicians managed of their own accord and the resolution will be postponed even without the involvement of Jewish organizations. But a central activists in a Jewish organization involved in this matter clarified that if necessary, he would not hesitate to again exert pressure to ensure the resolution is not passed and the Turks remain satisfied. The same activist said he had received numerous requests in the past to work against the Armenian cause in Congress. "The State Department asked us, other people in the administration did, even the Turkish Jewish community asked us to act on this issue," he said. The prevailing opinion among the large Jewish organizations is that "Turkey's relations with the United States and Israel are too important for us to deal with this subject," according to one community activist who was involved in blocking Resolution 193 last year. The more expansive explanation, offered in meetings and discussions, is that "the Armenian genocide is a matter for historians, not for legislators."

Even though ties between Israel and Turkey are the determining factor in decision-making in the Jewish community, there is also some weight to the matter of definition. The American term proposed in the resolution refers to "genocide" of the Armenians, while the Nazis' acts against the Jews during World War II are defined as "Holocaust." The distinction does indeed exist, but according to many Jewish activists, there are some who feel discomfort over the mention of the Armenian genocide alongside the Jewish Holocaust, for fear of cheapening the concept of a holocaust.

The Jewish community's involvement in the issue of the Armenian genocide is affected by the status of Israel-Turkey relations. One senior organizational official related that during the honeymoon years of Turkish-Israeli ties, the Jewish organizations were more enthusiastic about openly helping Turkey thwart previous Armenian-related resolutions in Congress. Now, he adds, since ties have cooled off somewhat, many Jewish activists are trying to lower their profile in this matter. The organized Jewish community in the U.S. has close ties with the Turkish government and one of Turkish Prime Minister Racep Tayep Erdogan's senior advisers even promised recently at a Washington meeting with a Jewish audience that Erdogan's criticism of Israel was misunderstood and that Turkey will do everything to restore ties to the way they were.

Armenians for Kerry

The insistence of the administration and Congressional Republicans to bar the resolution on Armenian genocide does not make President George Bush very popular among Armenians on the eve of elections. One of the large Armenian organizations in the U.S. has already publicly endorsed Kerry and the Democrats have two groups of Armenians for Kerry working for them. So far, no Armenian group has voiced support for Bush. But the Armenian community's electoral power is not significant. There an currently an estimate 1-1.5 million Americans of Armenian descent, but most are second, third or fourth-generation immigrants and therefore, not all of them vote based on the candidates' views on faraway Armenia. "There are those who base their decision on the Armenian issue, those who vote only based on their political views and those who vote based on different reasons altogether," explained Ross Vartian, the executive director of the Armenian Assembly of America.

However, the Armenian community has also kept track of President Bush's record. He promised in his 2000 election campaign to recognize the Armenian genocide and after his election worked to thwart such resolutions; he allocated a smaller amount of foreign aid to Armenia than he had recommended to Congress and favored issues relating to Azerbaijan over Armenian ones; and the Armenians in the U.S. were insulted when Bush's administration announced that Armenians residing in the U.S. would be required to register at the offices of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, as foreigners from Arab and Muslim countries were required to do after September 11. Following pressure from the community, the decision was retracted after 48 hours.

Next year, the world will mark the 90th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. Activists in the U.S. hope the international pressure and perhaps also the results of the U.S. election will enable them to obtain approval of the resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide in the next session of Congress. Past experience shows that the chances of that happening are slim.

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1998.03.26 -- Jewish Journal: ADL's Zakim Regrets Offense to Armenian Community

ADL's Zakim Regrets Offense to Armenian Community

Jewish Journal Staff
Thursday, March 26, 1998

"I regret if any Armenian - or anyone in the community - was offended or made uncomfortable," New England Anti-Defamation League Executive Director Leonard Zakim said this week in an interview with The Jewish Journal, referring to a November 8 ad in the New York Times. The ad, paid for by ADL, the American Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish Congress, congratulated Turkey on its 75th anniversary as a republic, and thanked the Turkish government for its long-held support of Jews and the State of Israel.

The ad drew criticism from many Armenians and Jews because it praised Turkey for its "democratic and secular ideals" (see Jewish Journal editorial and article in November 13 issue and letter to the editor and op-ed piece in this issue). Critics such as Harvard Professor James Russell, himself a Jew who teaches Armenian studies, were appalled by the ad's content since Turkey has never acknowledged the systematic genocide of Armenians living within its borders in the early part of the century. Unlike modern Germany, modern Turkey has made no reparations and still refuses to admit the historically documented events.

The ad notwithstanding, Zakim vowed the continued support for the inclusion of the Armenian Genocide in studies covered by ADL-sponsored Holocaust education. As he explained, Holocaust education in this country offers many students the only exposure they will ever have to the facts of the Armenian Genocide. He alsoemphasized the commitment of all three organizations to bringing human rights issues to the table in dealings with the nation of Turkey. "The ADL and the other Jewish organizations believe that through the continually improving relationship between Israel and Turkey, the opportunity for dialogue about important issues like human rights and the need for Turkey to further democratize will be more effectively raised.".

Zakim referred to Abraham Foxman, national ADL director, saying that since Foxman is a Holocaust survivor himself, he "is extremely sensitive to the issues of what happens when people stand by, when they don't acknowledge their past, and they don't deal with the issues that remain today." However, Foxman's own remarks to The Jewish Journal were that Turkey "has a magnificent history of tolerance" and the conflict is"between the Armenians and the Turks. They will hopefully someday resolve it." These statements were viewed as inflammatory and myopic by some in the Jewish and Armenian communities.

Both critics and supporters of the ad acknowledge the crucial support Turkey has given to Israel, the only democratic country in the Middle East, and understandthe strategic role Turkey has played in Israel's security. However, many agree with Harut Sassounian who, in the most recent edition of The Armenian Mirror-Spectator, published in Watertown, lambasts the three organizations for placing the ad, writing "these Jewish groups are distorting the facts about Turkey; supporting one of the worst violators of human rights in the world; encouraging the Turkish denials of the Armenian Genocide, thereby undermining their own credibility in countering the revisionists of the Holocaust; offending thousands of sensible Jews around the world who must be disgusted by the immoral public stand of these three Jewish groups; and unnecessarily antagonizing the Armenian-American community and Armenians everywhere against Jews."

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2005.04.22 -- The Jewish Week: "The Hidden Holocaust"

‘The Hidden Holocaust’
On anniversary of 90-year-old genocide that paved the way for the Final Solution, campaign for recognition draws limited attention in the Jewish community.
Steve Lipman - Staff Writer

“Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”

Adolf Hitler, to his generals,

before the invasion of Poland in 1939

In the coming days, a people nearly annihilated during the last century will pause to remember its losses.

In commemorations here, in Jerusalem and in other cities around the world, relatives of survivors will discuss painful memories, members of the clergy will offer prayers for the victims and leaders of the dispersed community will call for justice. Historians will reflect on a legacy of hatred that led to mass killings. Stories of brutality and statistics about the murder of a third of a people will be cited.

And hardly a Jew will be present.

The people who died in what has come to be called “The Hidden Holocaust” are the Armenians, Indo-Europeans with roots in the area between the Caspian and Mediterranean seas. They lived for two millennia, until their national tragedy, as citizens in the Ottoman Empire, which fell when Turkey was on the losing side in World War I.

The country of Armenia — the first Christian nation, formerly a republic in the Soviet Union, independent since 1990 — now occupies only 10 percent of the Armenians’ historic homeland, the rest of which is part of neighboring Turkey.

April 24, this year the first day of Passover, is alternately known as Martyrs’ Day or Genocide Commemoration Day. It marks the start of the planned destruction of the Armenian community in Turkey 90 years ago during WWI.

Of the 2 to 2.5 million Armenians there on the eve of the war, an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million were killed by Turkish soldiers and sympathetic Kurds in a campaign that peaked in 1915-16. The carnage lasted sporadically until 1923 and the ascension of Kamil Ataturk, who did not share an animus toward Armenians.

The Armenian losses in those years represented at least a third of their total population in the world — the same percentage as the Holocaust took from the Jewish people.

Front-page news in the 1920s, largely forgotten in the West within a decade, as Hitler’s documented 1939 statement testified — his words are inscribed on a wall of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, despite Turkish pressure — the Armenian experience was overshadowed by the Six Million victims of the Shoah. Holocaust survivors’ efforts to remember the Six Million and obtain reparations served as a model for the Armenians’ belated campaign for recognition.

Historians call the slaughter of Armenia “the forgotten genocide.” Israeli historian Israel Charny called it “a dress rehearsal for the Holocaust.” Raphael Lemkin, the Polish-born Jewish lawyer who coined the term genocide in the 1940s, did so in part on the basis of what happened to the Armenians.

Each year the Jewish and Armenian communities commemorate their 20th century tragedies within a few weeks of each other, but few members of one group attends the other’s events.

“We finally came to the conclusion that we were not going to get participation of the establishment Jewish organizations,” says Samuel Azadian, a longtime leader of the local Knights of Vartan fraternal group that has organized the April 24 Times Square memorial ceremony for 19 years.

This year that’s 11 days before Yom Ha-Shoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The parallels between the Armenian Genocide and the Nazis’ Final Solution are chilling, but the issue of the Armenian Genocide and Armenian efforts for international acknowledgement of their tragedy has received little support from the organized Jewish community.

The Armenian Genocide issue presents the Jewish community with a classic conflict: realpolitik (Turkey is a strategic ally of the United States and Israel) vs. ethics (sympathy for an oppressed minority).

Realpolitik has triumphed, and Armenians recognize this.

“Jews and Armenians are linked forever by Hitler,” Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said during the UN’s recent special assembly marking the 60th anniversary of the Auschwitz liberation. “After Auschwitz, one would expect that no one any longer has a right to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear. As an Armenian, I know that a blind eye, a deaf ear, a muted tongue perpetuate the wounds.”

While Jews traditionally participated in disproportionate numbers in such causes as civil rights and South Africa’s anti-apartheid movement, “I have not seen any major involvement of the Jewish community in this issue,” says Haik Gugarats, assistant to the Armenian ambassador in Washington. “It’s surprising.”

Doug Geogerian, director of the Eastern Region of the Armenian National Committee, adds: “We don’t really understand; we’re a little surprised.”

Veteran Israeli politician Yossi Sarid, who as education minister declared at a Genocide commemoration ceremony in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2000 that “for many years, too many, you were alone on this, your memorial day,” will attend an international conference in Yerevan, Armenia’s capital, on April 24 as a private citizen.

“As opposed to many other nations, Israel has never recognized the murder of the Armenian people, and in effect lent a hand to the deniers of that Genocide,” Sarid wrote in a recent essay in Haaretz. “The Israeli Foreign Ministry, and not only it, is always afraid of its own shadow and thus it casts a dark shadow over us all as accomplices to the ‘silence of the world.’ ”

The Genocide — 20 years after an estimated 200,000 Armenians were killed during the reign of Turkey’s Sultan Abdul Hamid II — was carried out by the Ittihad government that took power in 1913. The Ittihad claimed it feared the “infidel” Armenians, the only remaining major Christian group in the Muslim Ottoman Empire, taking up arms for Russia, Turkey’s enemy in WWI.

Already the Armenians “were lobbying for basic guarantees, for civil rights,” says Peter Balakian, an English professor at Colgate University and author of two books with an Armenian theme.

Like the Jews in Nazi Europe, the often prosperous Armenians, pilloried as a Fifth Column, earned the enmity of the majority population, often former neighbors and co-workers. Like survivors after World War II, Armenians tried to put their recent past behind them.

Like the Jewish community today, the Armenians face a problem of keeping the memory of their tragedy alive after the last survivors die.

In 1915, under the cover of war, Armenian soldiers in the Turkish army were disarmed and conscripted into labor battalions. On April 24, 1915, Armenian political and intellectual leaders were arrested and killed. The remaining Armenians — mostly women, children and elderly men — were rounded up by army units composed of violent criminals released from prison.

The Armenians were marched to what they were told would be new homes in the desert hundreds of miles away; most of the captives were killed along the way, or they starved to death, or they were fatally beaten upon arrival. Some were herded into caves and burned alive, or placed on barges that were sunk on the Black Sea, or thrown into gorges.

Reports of rape and theft were common.

James Russell, professor of Armenian studies at Harvard University, calls the Turks’ treatment of the Armenians during WWI “the model that Hitler used.” Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy, was among the German soldiers stationed in Turkey during the Genocide, Russell points out. “Germans assisted the Turks logistically,” he said.

Turkish denials of responsibility offer “a picture of what might have happened [after World War II] if Germany had not been held to account or if Germany had not been defeated,” Russell says.

Henry Morgenthau, the American ambassador in Constantinople during World War I, said in his memoirs that Turkish leaders made no attempt to deny reports of the violence against the Armenians.

“One day I was discussing these proceedings with a responsible Turkish official, who was describing the tortures inflicted,” Morgenthau wrote. “He made no secret of the fact that the government had instigated them, and like all Turks of the official classes, he enthusiastically approved this treatment of the detested race.”

“The great powers did little to prevent the mass murder of the Armenians,” Israeli historian Yair Auron writes in “The Banality of Indifference: Zionism and the Armenian Genocide.”

“Germany, an influential ally of Turkey, although able to do much to stop the murders, had no interest in doing so and was involved directly and indirectly in the Armenian Genocide,” Auron writes. “England and France remained on the sidelines. The United States, and Ambassador Morgenthau in particular, tried to help by diplomatic and monetary means, limited by the fact that the U.S. was neutral during most of the war.”

In Turkey, only Damad Ferit Pasha’s government immediately after the war was forthcoming about the massacres, holding war crimes trials that condemned to death the architects of the Genocide, who had fled the country.

While now-independent Armenia and activists in the Armenian community abroad seek Turkey’s recognition of the Genocide – Turkish governments since the 1920s have denied that genocide occurred, have claimed that the number of victims is exaggerated, have attributed the deaths to disease and famine, have claimed Turks were provoked by attacks by Armenians, have opposed artistic or political efforts to document the tragedy, and have refused to consider the type of reparation payments made by Germany after World War II to Israel and individual Holocaust survivors – the government of Israel and many prominent Jewish organizations in the United States have challenged Armenian claims about their early 20th-century history and have lobbied on behalf of Turkey.

“It’s a wrong-headed view,” says Dr. Robert Jay Lifton, visiting professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and author of “The Nazi Doctors.”

“Often in official Jewish groups there can be insensitivity to others’ suffering,” says Dr. Lifton, who has written his support of the Armenian cause.

The Turkish Embassy in Washington, the Israeli Consulate here, and major Jewish organizations contacted by The Jewish Week did not respond to requests for comment on this issue.

Few Jewish schools in Israel or abroad teach about the Genocide, few rabbis preach about it, few Holocaust institutions pay more than passing attention to the subject.

“Yad Vashem’s mandate is to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive,” a spokesman for the Holocaust memorial center in Jerusalem says. “As such we are dedicated to educating, researching, studying and memorializing the Shoah. However, in the course of our educational and research activities, other instances of genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass murder are raised, including the case of Armenia.”

“It is a Jewish issue and should be a Jewish issue,” says Yair Auron, the Israeli historian who has written two books about the Armenian Genocide. “The world committed genocide before the Holocaust.

“We have to be with the Armenians on their memorial day,” says Auron, who attends the annual commemoration in Jerusalem. “We have to be at the front of the struggle for recognition of the Genocide.” Otherwise, he says, “We’re doing exactly what the deniers of the Holocaust do.”

Israel’s small Armenian community, based in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, sponsors a commemoration ceremony there each year on April 24. Few Israelis attend.

In this country, while most major Jewish organizations have distanced themselves from the Armenian Genocide issue, a few groups, notably the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center, and individual Jewish politicians and intellectuals have lobbied for recognition of the Genocide, Armenian and Jewish spokesmen agree.

“You can’t be silent when you see injustice,” says Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center.

“Armenian community leaders ask me about this,” says Rep. Adam Schiff, a three-term congressman from California who represents a district with a large Armenian population and serves each year as a sponsor of a non-binding resolution that urges Turkey to admit its past.

“There is a sense that the Jewish organizations lobby actively against the resolution,” Schiff says.

The apolitical Joint Distribution Committee, which assists Armenia’s small Jewish community, provided humanitarian aid when a devastating earthquake struck the country in 1988.

Besides Schiff, and Morgenthau, who alerted the American government to the Genocide, individual Jews associated with the Armenian cause include Franz Werfel, a Czech-Jewish novelist whose “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh,” about Armenian resistance to the Genocide, was passed from hand to hand as inspiration among Jewish resistance fighters in World War II ghettos; New York filmmaker Andrew Goldberg, who has produced three documentaries about aspects of Armenian life and is working on a major project about the Genocide that will appear on PBS within a year; and Harvey Weinstein, who, as president of Mirimax, agreed in 2002, despite reported threats from Turkey, to distribute “Ararat,” a film centered around the Genocide.

“Some of the strongest defenders of the Armenians are the Jews” – individual Jews, not heads of Jewish organizations, says Holocaust historian Michael Berenbuam, who has written and spoken extensively on the subject.

“This was a sense of tzedakah for me … a sense of justice,” Goldberg says.

Weinstein, who had not heard about the Genocide until he read the Ararat script, said he agreed to back the project because “the denial of the Armenian Holocaust reminds me of the denial of our own Jewish Holocaust.”

Weinstein “felt it was time to tell the story,” The Los Angeles Times reported. “Having lost eight relatives at Auschwitz, Weinstein related well to the subject.”

The Jewish community has been cautious about embracing the Armenian Genocide issue, observers say, for several reasons. The two primary ones are:
• Pressure by Turkey. Turkey, a political, economic and military ally of Israel, was the first majority-Muslim nation in the Middle East to establish diplomatic relations with Israel. A refuge for endangered Jews from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, the country is hospitable to the 27,000 Jews who still live there.

Turkey consistently challenges any Armenian assertions of Turkish responsibility for a genocide. As far back as the 1930s, it pressured the State Department to block an MGM movie version of “The Forty Days of Musa Dagh.” In 1982 Turkey, according to many media reports, pressured Israel – with threats against the safety of Turkish Jews and indications that it might close its borders to Jews fleeing Iran—to cancel an academic conference on genocide that was to include references to the Armenian experience; a scaled-down gathering was eventually moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv.
• The uniqueness of the Holocaust. Many protectors of the Holocaust’s legacy resist attempts to compare the scope of the Shoah to any other mass extermination of a people, feeling that references to such examples as Rwanda, Cambodia or Sudan would diminish the Jewish suffering’s unique status.

The Turkish Daily News in 2001 quoted Shimon Peres, then Israeli foreign minister, as saying, “We reject attempts to create a similarity between the Holocaust and the Armenian allegations. Nothing similar to the Holocaust occurred. It is a tragedy what the Armenians went through but not a genocide.”

“We are teaching the Holocaust in too particularistic a way,” Auron says.

What do the Armenians want?

“We want Turkey to acknowledge the genocide,” Haik Gugarats of the Armenian Embassy says. “All we want from Turkey is the establishment of normal diplomatic relations and the opening of borders.”

Armenia has no territorial or monetary demands, Gugarats says.

“The Turks feel they are unjustly accused,” says Taner Akcam, a Turkish historian and sociologist who is a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota. He is among a handful of Turkish scholars to challenge his homeland’s denial of responsibility for the Genocide.

Though Turkey’s leadership since the 1920s had no direct ties to the slaughter of the Armenians, “some of the founders of the state were members of the party who organized the Genocide,” Akcam says. “The Turks glorified these people as founding heroes.”

Admission of Turkey’s role in the genocide would “question the very foundation of the state,” he says.

Armenian- Americans tell of being raised on stories of the Genocide, like American Jews who heard about the Holocaust while growing up. But the Armenian Genocide did not become a public issue in the Armenian community for a few generations because émigrés here and in other countries lacked the numbers or political clout of Jewish Holocaust survivors who raised public consciousness of the Shoah, starting in the late 1970s.

“After any genocide, the victims don’t like to talk about it – it happened after the Holocaust,” Gugarats says.

Thousands of people, including politicians, are expected to attend Sunday’s memorial ceremony in Times Square. As Turkey seeks membership in the European Union, demands by EU countries, especially France, that Turkey admit responsibility for the deaths of Armenians during the Genocide will focus increased attention on the subject. And the recent $20 million settlement by the New York Life Insurance Company to descendants of Armenians who held insurance policies at the turn of the last century adds to the historical record.

In recent decades the European Parliament, the UN Committee on Human Rights, the Vatican and several European governments and scholarly organizations have acknowledged the Armenian Genocide. In June 1998 the Association of Genocide Scholars defined the Armenian tragedy as the 20th century’s first genocide.

Israel took a neutral position until 1994, when Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin declared in the Knesset that “it was not war. It was most certainly massacre and genocide … We will always reject any attempt to erase its record, even for some political advantage.”

Apparent Jewish indifference to the issue has drawn Armenian criticism, and, three years ago, a protest rally outside the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles.

The Armenian National Committee in 2002 criticized “nine major Jewish organizations” – including the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League, and Hadassah – for signing a letter that urged President Bush to provide Turkey with economic and military aid.

The letter, the committee said, “appears to represent a retreat from the Jewish American community’s proud tradition of standing up for human rights, universal values, and the cause of international justice.”

Next year, the Jewish and Armenian communities will be closer, symbolically – Yom haShoah and Genocide Commemoration Day occur on consecutive days in 2006.

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Members of the MMA Board of Directors

Members of the MMA Board of Directors
(* denotes Executive Committee member)

MMA President
Bruce Tobey*

Councillor, Gloucester

MMA Vice President
Jeffrey Nutting*

Town Administrator, Franklin

MMA Executive Director
Geoff Beckwith*
One Winthrop Square
Boston, MA 02110
617-426-7272 ext. 101

Joseph Curtatone*
Mayor, Somerville
617-625-6600 ext. 2100

John Barrett III*
Mayor, North Adams

Claire Freda*
Councillor, Leominster

Jonathan Hecht*
Councillor, Watertown
159 Russell Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472

Maureen Valente*
Town Manager, Sudbury
978-443-8891 ext.385

Kate Fitzpatrick*
Town Manager, Needham
1471 Highland Avenue
Needham, MA 02492
Phone: (781) 455-7512

Gerald Wasserman*
Selectman, Needham
1471 Highland Avenue
Needham, MA 02492

Alan Sentkowski*
Selectman, Princeton
14 Goodnow Road
Princeton, MA 01541

Cinder McNerney*
Finance Committee, Swampscott
22 Monument Avenue
Swampscott, MA 01907

Pat Brusch*
Finance Committee, Belmont
455 Concord Ave.,
Belmont, MA 02478

David Kielson*
Select Board, Chesterfield
237 Ireland Street
West Chesterfield, MA 01084

Wayne Nickel
Councillor, Leominster
182 Fifth Street
Phone: (978) 537-4686

Joshua Ostroff
Selectman, Natick
Town Hall
13 East Central St.
Natick, MA 01760
508 655-8155

William Scanlon
Mayor, Beverly
191 Cabot Street
Beverly , MA 01915
978-921-6000 Ext 2333

Bernard Lynch
City manager, Lowell
(978) 970-4000, phone
(978) 970-4007, fax

Robin Wilkins
Selectman, Harwich
Town Hall
732 Main Street
Harwich, MA 02645
Phone: (508) 430-7513
Fax: (508) 432-5039

Scott Lang
Mayor, New Bedford
Phone: (508) 979-1410
Fax: (508) 991-6189

Colleen Corona
Selectman, Easton
Phone: (508) 230-0501

James Malloy
Town Adminitrator, Sturbridge
308 Main Street
Sturbridge, MA 01566
Phone: (508) 347-2500
Fax: (508) 347-5886

Robert Logan
Councillor, Waltham
109 Taylor Street
Waltham, MA 02453
Phone: 781 893 3572

Thomas Menino
Mayor, Boston
One City Hall Plaza
Boston, MA 02201
Phone: 617.635.4500
Fax: 617.635.2851

William Zaskey
Alderman, Chicopee
City Hall
17 Springfield Street
Chicopee, MA 01013

Michael Sullivan
Mayor, Holyoke
City Hall
Holyoke, MA 01040
Phone: 413 322 5510

David Nixon
Town administrator, Hadley
100 Middle Street
Hadley, MA 01035
Phone: (413) 586-0221
Fax: (413) 586-5661

David Cohen
Mayor, Newton
1000 Commonwealth Avenue
Newton, MA 02460
Phone: 617 796 1100

Douglas Gutro
Councillor, Quincy
230 Marlboro Street
Quincy, MA 02170
(617) 376-1355

Michael McGlynn
Mayor, Medford
85 George P. Hassett Drive, Room 202
Medford, MA 02155
Phone: (781) 393-2408
Alternate Phone: (781) 393-2409

Thomas Younger
Town administrator, Belmont
Belmont Town Offices
455 Concord Avenue
Belmont, MA 02478

Robert Penta
Councillor, Medford
Zero Summitt Road
Medford, MA 02155
Phone: (781)391-0809

Sheila Vanderhoef
Town administrator, Eastham
2500 State Highway
Eastham, MA 02642-2544
Phone: (508) 240-5900 x207
Fax: (508) 240-1291

Source: http://www.mma.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=592&Itemid=238
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