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      Jewish Defense League Demands Recognition of Armenian Genocide

Jewish Defense League Demands Recognition of Armenian Genocide   10/03/2005

Jewish Defense League Demands Recognition of Armenian Genocide
 
By Harut Sassounian,
Publisher, The California Courier

Last month, in a column criticizing the willingness of the American Jewish
Committee to serve the interests of Turkey, I emphasized that there were
countless other Jewish organizations and individuals who sided with the
Armenians.

In response to that column, I received a strong letter from the Jewish
Defense League (JDL) confirming my opinion that it is important for
Armenians to distinguish between Jewish groups serving Turkey’s interests
and those backing the Armenians.

The JDL is a well-known activist organization that champions various Jewish
causes and supports the interests of the State of Israel. The JDL also
defends the truth about the Armenian Genocide.

Here is the full text of the JDL letter, dated Feb. 22, 2005:

“I read with great interest your editorial ‘American Jewish Group to Lobby
for Turkey’s EU Membership.’ I believe you should have mentioned the Jewish
organizations that demand not only Turkey’s but also the world’s recognition
of the Armenian Genocide. Additionally, I respectfully ask that you include
the Jewish Defense League on that list.

“My late husband, Irv Rubin, who was the international chairman of the
Jewish Defense League, always observed April 24 in solidarity with the
Armenian people. During our marriage of 22 years that ended with his 2002
untimely death, I heard Irv say countless times, ‘If the world had taken
notice of what the Turks did to the Armenian people, the Holocaust would not
have happened.’

“If I can be so forward as to give advice, I would say to the American
Armenian community: People will not remember the Armenian Genocide unless
Armenians make them remember it. Just as the Jewish community raised great
amounts of money in order to erect buildings and monuments so the world
would never forget, the Armenian community has a responsibility to
commemorate their tragedy in the same way. As the philosopher George
Santayana so beautifully stated, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are
condemned to repeat it.’ ”

The above letter was signed by Shelley Rubin, the Administrative Director of
the Jewish Defense League (website www.jdl.org email : jdl@jdl.org).

In a subsequent e-mail exchange, Mrs. Rubin asked that JDL’s name be added
to the long list of organizations co-sponsoring the congressional resolution
on the Armenian Genocide.

Mrs. Rubin was outraged, however, when she found out that John Evans, the US
Ambassador to Armenia, was forced by his Turkophile superiors to issue a
clarification, thus withdrawing his use of the term Armenian Genocide. She
suggested that tens of thousands of Armenian-Americans and others converge
on Washington, D.C., on April 24 to hold a mass demonstration, demanding
that the Bush administration stop playing childish word games with the
Armenian Genocide and call this monstrous Turkish crime by its proper name -
genocide!

Reacting to this offensive clarification, Cong. Frank Pallone, Jr., the
co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, defended Amb. Evans
in his speech on the floor of the House of Representatives. Cong. Pallone
reminded the Bush administration that President Reagan himself used the term
Armenian Genocide in 1981. While the genocide was still in progress, another
ambassador, the U.S. envoy to Turkey, Henry Morgenthau, described the
barbaric Turkish actions as “a campaign of race extermination.”

Nine major Armenian-American organizations sent a joint letter to Pres. Bush
last week, calling on him to use the term Armenian Genocide as Pres. Reagan
and Amb. Evans had done. A similar letter, signed by a large number of House
members, is being sent to Pres. Bush.

Meanwhile, deepening the crisis between the Bush Administration and
Armenians worldwide, Amb. Evans was forced by his superiors “to correct” his
original statement for a second time. He amended his earlier clarification:
“although I told my audiences that the United States policy on the Armenian
Genocide has not changed…” to read “although I told my audiences that the
United States policy on the Armenian tragedy has not changed….” The Turkish
press quickly claimed a second victory by reporting that the State
Department had made the correction, complying with the request of Faruk
Logoglu, Turkey’s Ambassador to Washington.

It is appalling to see how callous Bush administration officials are in
undermining the credibility of one of their best diplomats, just to cater to
Turkish dictates.

Fortunately, the former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia, Harry Gilmore, rose to
the defense of his colleague, by telling Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
this week that he concurs with Amb. Evans. “The Armenian events were
genocide…. From my thorough study of the events of that period, I am
persuaded that they do indeed constitute a genocide,” Gilmore said.

Another positive development was a report in the Turkish press this week,
that Turkey’s then president Turgut Ozal, during his official visit to
Washington in 1991, entertained the thought of recognizing the Armenian
Genocide. Nuzhet Kandemir, the former Turkish Ambassador to the United
States, told the Hurriyet newspaper that President Ozal asked him: “This
Armenian Genocide issue is becoming a big headache for us. If, as Turkey, we
recognized this genocide, and ended this thing, wouldn’t that be better?”

It is noteworthy that Pres. Ozal used the words “Armenian Genocide,” without
any qualifiers. Even though Amb. Kandemir reported that he was able to
convince Pres. Ozal not to make any rash decisions on this issue, it is
clear that Turkish officials are realizing the inevitability of their
recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The sooner they do it, the better for
Turkey’s prospects for joining the European Union and its acceptance into
the ranks of civilized nations!


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