With appalling blatancy, Israel’s “amen chorus” on Capitol Hill is proposing use of the Armenian genocide—specifically, the threat of US recognition of it as genocide—as political ammo against Turkey in the wake of the deadly Israeli naval attack on a Turkish-organized “Free Gaza” aid flotilla. From the Jerusalem Post, June 17:
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Indiana) said he recently warned the Turkish ambassador that “With regard to Congress of the United States, there will be a cost if Turkey stays on its current path of growing closed to Iran and more antagonistic to the State of Israel.”
Among other issues, he said, he was now likely to switch his vote to support a resolution recognizing the mass killing of Armenians during the Ottoman empire as a genocide, a move he had voted against in the past because he thought relations with Turkey were more important.
Rep. Pence has sure raised the bar for cynicism pretty impressively. How heart-warming for the Armenians to know that their struggle for historical memory has been reduced to Israel’s political football. We noted before that, thanks to the Israel-Turkey strategic partnership, the Israel Lobby has embraced a position of genocide-denial where the Armenians are concerned—even while so notoriously exploiting the Nazi Holocaust to the hilt. Pence now proposes finally abandoning this unprincipled position—for utterly unprincipled reasons. Fortunately, some Jewish voices are dissenting from this abhorrent, conniving jive. James Besser writes on his Political Insider blog for New York’s Jewish Week June 17:
It was offensive when we defended Turkey because it was somehow “good for Israel,” and it’s doubly offensive when we use the threat of ending that protection as just another political bludgeon in the pro-Israel wars. You want to punish Turkey with scaled-back diplomatic ties? With an end to military cooperation? With economic sanctions? Fine. But threatening to change your position on an issue as fundamental as genocide—that’s crossing a line the Jewish community should never cross.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s Kurds have noted hypocrisy in Ankara’s position on the Gaza crisis. Commentator Mufid Abdulla wrote on Kurdish Media June 10:
Turkey claims to be a champion of human rights for the Palestinians but it cannot escape the fact that tens of thousands of Kurds have lost their lives due to Turkish violence and oppression. Ethnic Turks enjoy a privileged position compared to the Kurds who live in Turkey. The Kurds are still treated as second class citizens—in the eyes of the law and of Turkish public opinion—and held responsible for damaging Turkey’s international reputation.
It is ironic that, as Turkey’s ‘reform project’ towards the Kurds has crumbled, Turkish citizens have placed themselves on the front line aboard the ‘Mavi Marmarise’ [sic] as it tried to reach Gaza with aid for the deprived Palestinians. [W]hy aren’t Turks protesting against the persecution of Kurds who live closer to home, in the south of their own country?