Israel and American Jewish organizations are up in arms about Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s outburst last week at the Davos Global Economic Summit, where he walked out of a session angry at Israel’s actions against Hamas and attack on Gaza.
The notorious genocide denier and the national chairman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Abraham Foxman, was quoted in Thursday’s New York Times as saying that Erdogan’s criticism was “like a shock wave to the system.” Meanwhile, some American Jewish organizations decided to call Erdogan’s bluff by saying they would stop lobbying for Turkey’s interests in the U.S., especially against any congressional resolutions recognizing the Armenian Genocide. Some political circles in Israel also hinted that Erdogan’s outburst and criticism paved the way for the Israeli Knesset to pass a pending resolution recognizing the genocide.
This brings to the forefront a more important issue—or question—that should boggle the minds of all human rights advocates and supporters of genocide recognition: Does it take an outburst by an imbalanced head of state for Jewish organizations and the state of Israel to re-posture on something as fundamental as recognizing the Armenian Genocide?
We have often wondered, in amazement, why Israel, which was borne as a direct result of the Holocaust, has not yet officially recognized the genocide. Furthermore, we learned last year as we covered the debates in the Knesset that the major opponent to a resolution recognizing the genocide is an Azeri-Jew, who claimed that such a recognition—which should be organic at best for Israel—would greatly hinder Turkish-Israeli relations.
And, what of the great American Jewish organizations? Most with a pro-Israel agenda, and all staunch adherents to the fact that the Holocaust—or genocide—is the most vicious form of a human rights violation, were actually waiting for a political blunder by the Turkish prime minister in order to change course on the genocide recognition issue.
Two years ago, a great battle between Armenian American organizations and the ADL started in Watertown, Mass. and had its domino effect across New England, with city after city breaking ties with the ADL for its adamant dismissal of the genocide and its unwillingness to recognize it.
The ADL issue found its way to Ankara, which made plea after plea to its ally Israel to intervene in the “unjust” campaign by the Armenians. Support and assurances came from none other than Israeli President Simon Peres, who just last week became the recipient of Erdogan’s wrath. Ironically enough, the person who told Erdogan to shut up was none other than David Ingnatius, an Armenian American journalist and the associate editor of the Washington Post, who was moderating the panel discussion at Davos.
The aforementioned New York Times article also points out in its lead paragraph that “The four daily flights to Tel Aviv are still running. The defense contract signed in December has not been scrapped.” It is safe to say that the flights won’t be cancelled, nor will the defense contracts be scrapped, with Turkey and Israel finding their way back to their inexplicable and bizarre orgy.
It remains to be seen if Israel and the American Jewish organizations will recognize the Armenian Genocide based on historic fact or for political expediency. In other words, will moral and historical precedents prevail or will dirty political dealings dictate their action?