AZG Armenian Daily #019, 04/02/2005

Turkey-EU

AMERICAN JEWISH GROUP TO LOBBY FOR TURKEY'S EU MEMBERSHIP

For several years now, the Israeli government and a few American-Jewish
groups have supported Turkey on various issues, some of which run
counter to Armenian interests.

In addition to denying the Armenian Genocide, lobbying the US Congress
against a commemorative resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide,
and backing Azerbaijan in the Karabakh conflict, these Jewish groups
have now added a new irritant to the existing disagreements with
Armenians.

In a report issued last December, David A. Harris, the Executive
Director of the American Jewish Committee, wrote that the European
Union's decision to start membership talks with Turkey was "truly
momentous." He stated that Turkey is counting on the AJC and American
Jews to lobby for its interests.

The enthusiastic and almost blind support by Israel and some American
Jewish groups for Turkey's EU membership runs against Armenians'
intent to force Turks to recognize the Armenian Genocide and open
the border with Armenia, as the price of admission to the EU.

In the following excepts from his lengthy report, Mr. Harris makes
abundantly clear the close partnership between Israel, the AJC
and Turkey:

"...In the Turkish Jewish community, with which the American Jewish
Committee has a very close affiliation, last week's news from Brussels
will be enthusiastically received. The 22,000-member community has long
taken the view that Turkey's future anchored in Western institutions
is the best guarantee of national security, stability, and prosperity.

"And, in Israel, the EU's announcement will also be welcomed. Israel
has publicly declared its support for Turkey's accession...

"In a recent American Jewish Committee visit to Turkey, the European
Union was issue number one (and two and three) on the agenda of
government officials, including the prime minister and foreign
minister. The October EU Commission report had just been released,
and the ensuing two months were seen as the last chance to persuade
European leaders to do the 'right thing' at their fateful meeting in
Brussels on December 16-17.

"Turkish leaders view the AJC as important to the political
equation. Not only have we been consistently regarded as a steady and
reliable voice for the Turkish-American relationship, but also, because
of AJC's wide-ranging contacts throughout Europe, the Turks have
counted on our support when we meet with French, German, Greek, and
other European leaders. Lacking a well-organized Diaspora community,
they've looked to American Jews to fulfill that role....

"In the 1990s, the [Turkish-Israeli] bilateral relationship took off
in dramatic fashion, including defense cooperation, joint military
exercises, counter-terrorism measures, intelligence-sharing, a free
trade agreement, and tourism~E

"Today, Israel regards its links with Turkey as vitally important
and mutually beneficial....

"And not least, Turkish Jewry, though diminished in size, largely
due to aliyah [exodus], continues to prosper and enjoy a full
communal life, including keeping alive the Judeo-Spanish language of
Ladino. Anti-Semitism exists, but is not regarded as a major threat,
according to communal leaders. What is a threat -- and not only to
Jews -- is terrorism."

By denying the Armenian Genocide, siding with Azerbaijan on the
Karabakh conflict, and lobbying the US Congress against recognition
of the Armenian Genocide, the Israeli government and some American
Jewish groups have deeply offended all Armenians. Nevertheless,
both Jews and Armenians must be mindful of the following key points.

Armenians must not forget that there are many prominent American
Jewish individuals and organizations as well as high-ranking Israeli
officials and scholars who fully support the Armenians on the
foregoing issues. In their frustration and anger, Armenians would be
wrong to lash out at all Jews. For example, when some ill-mannered
Yeshiva students insult Armenian clergymen in Jerusalem, Armenians
should not react by accusing all Jews or all Israelis of being
anti-Armenian. To be sure, several Israeli officials and Rabbis
as well as Jewish-American-organizations have condemned the crude
behavior of these Yeshiva students. Furthermore, many righteous Jews
have not shied away from severely criticizing the Israeli government
of its denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Similarly, Israelis and Jewish Americans should not blame Armenians
of being anti-Jewish, just because o prejudicial statements made by
few Armenian individuals. Armenians and Jews would be unnecessarily
antagonizing each other by indiscriminately condemning all members
of both groups for the sins of the few. Political differences should
not be pursued by exchanging insults, but through informed dialogue
among Armenians and Jews of good faith.

By Harut Sassounian; Publisher, The California Courier