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Jewish Coalition In U.S. Urges Armenian Genocide Recognition


An influential coalition of Jewish community organizations in the United States has called on President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress to officially recognize the 1915 Armenian genocide in Ottoman Turkey.

In a resolution adopted at its recent annual conference, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) also urged Jewish advocacy groups to join the Armenian-American community in campaigning for such recognition.

“We suffer greatly from efforts to minimize our own suffering and experience of genocide and we have a moral responsibility, as Jews, to name it in others’ experience,” read the resolution. “We must not let the politics of the moment, or the U.S. government’s relationship with Turkey, sway our moral obligation to recognize the suffering of the Armenian people.”

“We call upon our the Congress and the President to officially recognize what started in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks, and resulted in the killing and deportation of approximately 1.5 million Armenians, as the Armenian Genocide,” added the JCPA.

Jewish-American lobby groups had for decades opposed U.S. recognition of the genocide in view of Turkey’s geopolitical significance to Israel. Some of them even helped Turkey block pro-Armenian resolutions in Congress.

At least two such groups, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee (AJC) -- both of them affiliated with the JCPA -- reversed their positions several years ago. Earlier this year, the AJC criticized Obama for failing to use the word “genocide” in reference to the Armenian massacres.

The JCPA statement said Jewish organizations should “consult and work with the national Armenian organizations to further the goal of U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.” It also urged “our congressional representatives” to back corresponding resolutions which Armenian-American groups have been trying to push through Congress.

One of those groups, the Armenian Assembly of America, thanked the JCPA for the “historic resolution.” “The unity of millions of Jewish and Armenian Americans in standing up for the truth is an important step along the path of justice,” Anthony Barsamian, the Assembly co-chairman, said in a statement released this week.

U.S. Jewish Umbrella Group Recognizes Armenian Genocide

Ha'aretz, Israel Oct 22 2015

After decades of Jewish groups opposing recognition, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs passes a resolution that says 'politics' must not 'sway our moral obligation to recognize' the Armenians' suffering.

JTA Oct 22, 2015 12:13 PM

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs called on Jewish community organizations last week to lobby Congress and the White House to formally recognize the World War I-era Turkish massacres of Armenians as a genocide.

A JCPA spokesman on Wednesday confirmed that the resolution, passed at the umbrella group's annual meeting last week, was its first recognition of the Armenian genocide. While the Reform movement has called the massacres a genocide, many other Jewish organizations have treaded delicately around the issue.

The resolution calls for the Jewish community to work with Armenian-American groups to advance recognition of the genocide.

"We must not let the politics of the moment, or the U.S. government's relationship with Turkey, sway our moral obligation to recognize the suffering of the Armenian people," it says.

Approximately 1.5 million Armenians were killed or deported during what the vast majority of historians agree was a genocide.

The JCPA decision, arrived at through consensus, reverses decades of Jewish groups opposing any such recognition, largely to placate Turkey, Israel's closest ally in the region until the last decade. Key pro-Israel groups, including the Anti-Defamation League and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, had lobbied against such recognition.

The deterioration in Turkey-Armenia relations since Israel's war against Hamas in the 2009 Gaza War -- Turkey backed Hamas -- has all but ended lobbying by pro-Israel groups on behalf of Turkey. But because calling the massacres a genocide has precipitated crises between Turkey and other nations, until now there has been little appetite for actively supporting such a recognition.

The JCPA conference also called on U.S. and foreign governments to agree on a definition of anti-Semitism that would distinguish between legitimate criticism of Israel and unfair attacks.

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