The Turkish - Israeli Alliance and Genocide Denial

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AZG Armenian Daily
Yerevan, Armenia
March 26, 2003

By David Boyajian

It is a sad and painful truth that, as a consequence of the expanding alliance between Turkey and Israel, the Jewish American lobby is now also a Turkish lobby, and has declared war on Armenians.

The story begins in 1949. Turkey became the first Muslim state to recognize Israel, though relations in the years following were not always warm. The two states established full diplomatic relations in 1991, however, and by 1996 were in open embrace after signing a Military & Training Cooperation Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement. Actually, the romance had budded even a bit earlier, but behind closed doors.

For example, after a stint at the Pentagon under Pres. Reagan, prominent Jewish American Richard Perle became a paid ($231,000) lobbyist for Turkey and, working alongside Israel, reportedly quashed a Senate resolution in 1989 on the Armenian Genocide. Perle now chairs the Pentagon's influential Defense Policy Board.

Just last year, the director of the American Jewish Committee, Barry Jacobs, bragged, "We will champion to the best of our ability Turkish interests in the US Congress."

But why would Turkey and Israel, a nation hated by many Muslims, including Turks, become allies?

Common Enemies

What Turkey and Israel (along with the US) have most in common is a trio of enemies: Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Though they share the Muslim faith, Turks look down upon Arabs and still resent their revolt against the Turkish Empire in World War I. In turn, Syria and Iraq, like most Arab countries, detest Turkey's superiority complex and its partnerships, such as NATO, with the generally pro-Israeli West.

Turkey has angered Syria and Iraq by limiting the flow of water from the Euphrates and Tigris rivers. Likewise, Syria had infuriated Turkey by hosting the anti-Turkish fighters of the Kurdish PKK up until 1998. Additionally, Syrians have long regarded Turkey's Hatay province (Alexandretta) as being rightfully theirs, while Turks have never fully relinquished claims on the oil-rich Mosul region of northern Iraq.

Iran - Persia - has clashed with Turks for nearly a thousand years, and the two compete for influence among Muslims in the ex-Soviet states of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Tehran and Ankara also suspect the other is encouraging separatist movements: Azeris in Iran, and Kurds in Turkey.

But the reasons for the alliance don't stop there.

More Reasons

Israel earns billions when it upgrades Turkish weapons, such as F-4 jets, and when Turkey purchases Israeli weapons, such as Popeye air-to-surface missiles and, possibly, the partly American-funded Homa/Arrow anti-ballistic missile system. Whereas Western countries sometimes hesitate to sell Turkey weapons due to human rights concerns, Israeli analyst Efrain Inbar says his country "is not as scrupulous as most nations in the world in this area [selling weapons]".

The two countries trade intelligence data on common adversaries and, almost certainly, on Cyprus, Greece, and even Armenians. Israel reportedly flies spy planes and has electronic listening posts along Turkey's southern border.

Israeli Air Force pilots drill Turkish counterparts in combat techniques, and, in return, get to hone their own skills in Turkey's expansive airspace. Together with the US, Turkey and Israel conduct naval maneuvers each January dubbed "Reliant Mermaid". Some experts even speculate that Israel could provide Turkey with a "nuclear umbrella"

Water-poor Israel has also been negotiating with water-rich Turkey to have that vital commodity shipped to Israel by tankers.

Periphery Strategy

The present strategy of Ankara (and the US State Department) to penetrate the Muslim/Turkic nations of the former USSR such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan - all of which are sitting on oil and gas reserves - fits Tel Aviv's own ambitions.

As part of its long-standing "Periphery" strategy, Israel seeks friends among distant non-Arab Muslim nations in order to counter nearby Arab Muslim hostility. In the last decade, Israel has established relationships, especially in the field of agriculture, with all six ex-Soviet Muslim countries.

Israel also hopes to see oil and gas exported from the Caspian Basin, not just for itself but also to lessen the West's dependence on Arab oil and thus reduce Arab leverage against the West. Hence, Israel supports the proposed oil pipeline from Azerbaijan to Turkey.

Jewish Lobby

The Turkish-Israeli deal included an extra provision: the powerful Jewish American lobby - the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee and several other organizations - would toil on Turkey's behalf, particularly in countering the Armenian and Greek lobbies.

Though the average American - Jewish or otherwise - is unaware of that provision, experts openly acknowledge it. Even five years ago, for instance, Joseph Leitmann-Santa Cruz and Cagri Erdem - respectively Jewish and Turkish analysts - were trumpeting that "the influential Jewish lobby" could help Ankara "improve its image, diminish the accusations of Armenian and Greek lobbying groups, and improve its economic and defense cooperation with the US."

Indeed, in October of 2000, Jewish organizations and former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres helped the State Department kill an Armenian Genocide resolution in the House of Representatives. "The Jewish lobby," reported Turkey's Sabah newspaper, "threw all its weight into the job ... and very openly at that."

In 2001, a major Jewish organization in Maryland tried to stop the state from passing an Armenian Genocide resolution. Legislator Cheryl Kagan, who also happens to sit on the board of the American Jewish Committee, termed the Genocide "an alleged massacre" and compared the bill to one designating "the official state cat". Fortunately, the resolution passed anyway.

Partly as an outgrowth of the Israel-Turkey relationship, the Jewish lobby labored for years against Armenian Americans to repeal Congressional sanctions, known as "Section 907", on Azerbaijan. Finally, in the wake of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration, helped along by the Jewish lobby, succeeded in repealing the sanctions.

Around that same time, nine leading Jewish American organizations formally asked Pres. Bush to provide Turkey "debt forgiveness, trade concessions, and/or further [loan] relief".

In Los Angeles, the taxpayer-funded Jewish "Museum of Tolerance", apparently bowing to Turkish and Israeli desires, has broken its pledge to include an Armenian Genocide exhibit.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv, like Washington, keeps Turkey happy by employing euphemisms such as Armenian "tragedy" rather than "genocide".

Though it is hypocritical of Jewish leaders to conspire with Turkey in covering up the Genocide, it cannot be said that Israel or Jews are somehow uniquely pro-Turkish. After all, the governments and power structures of the "Christian" West and elsewhere have long supported Turkey and been largely indifferent to Armenian interests. Nevertheless, American Jewish clout in government, media, academia, and commerce provides Turkey with new and powerful allies.

For example, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, Pres. Bush's chief foreign policy strategist, is fervently pro-Turkish. Noted Jewish political analyst Dr. Daniel Pipes acknowledges that "to make its case," Turkey "counts on American Jews such as" Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith, Defense Policy Board chairman Richard Perle, and Prof. Bernard Lewis (a Genocide denier and Bush advisor), as well as on Jewish "institutions".

In an intriguing press release issued by his office in January, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ), co-chair of the Congressional Armenian Caucus and a good friend of Armenians, stated that improved "Armenian/Israeli relations" are important to the Bush administration. He suggested that Armenia follow Turkey's example of establishing close links to Israel. That far-away Tel Aviv plays a central role in Washington's policy toward Armenia speaks volumes.

Jewish Friends

It would be wrong and counterproductive, however, to blame Jews for the misguided actions of some of their leaders. The average Jewish American is unaware of the extent of the lobby's Genocide denial. Moreover, Jewish leaders have been intentionally brainwashing their rank-and-file into believing that Turks have historically adored Jews. An honest Jewish American scholar, Jonathan Eric Lewis of Emory University, has eloquently punctured that myth.

In Israel, historians Israel Charny and Yair Auron, as well as former Cabinet ministers Yossi Beilin and Yossi Sarid, have bravely confronted Israel's Genocide denial.

In the US, scores of Jewish academicians have supported Armenian Genocide Studies (eg. Dr. Deborah Dwork of Clark University) and written about and signed petitions (eg. Dr. Robert Melson of Purdue) on the subject [].

Many Jewish members of Congress - Adam Schiff, Steven Rothman, and Barney Frank, to name just a few - have strongly supported Armenian American issues.

Next Steps

Armenia has no diplomatic relations with Israel and hesitates to criticize that nation, perhaps out of concern that Israel and the US will retaliate.

That leaves the matter to Armenian Americans. Though meetings with Jewish lobbying groups have proven unproductive, Armenians rightfully continue to work with other, fair-minded Jewish Americans. Can we do more?

Jewish claims to sympathetic treatment from Christians are based largely on the Holocaust and the consequent need for a secure homeland. When the Jewish lobby is caught covering up a Christian Genocide, however, Americans may conclude that the emphasis on the Holocaust has been no more than a political ploy.

Our only recourse now, sadly, is to ensure that all Americans learn about the Jewish lobby's dazzling hypocrisy on genocide and unprincipled collusion with Turkey. With Americans already raising questions about Israel's interests in a US invasion of Iraq, the time is right for Armenians to make their case, even if that means using full-page media ads.

Additionally, it is imperative that Armenian Americans and their churches begin serious discussions with American Christian groups, particularly those "fundamentalist" organizations that provide massive support to Israel supposedly based on Biblical verse.

It is incomprehensible that American Christians provide vastly more political support for Israel and the Holocaust than for the first Christian nation on earth and its Genocide. Armenian Apostolics, Catholics, and most importantly, Evangelicals/Protestants, as well as our cultural and political organizations, must act quickly before events in the world overtake us.

Finally, as we Armenian Americans explain our views, let us be as charitable and honorable to others as we hope they would be towards us. Let us also understand the concerns of all people who look back with fondness to the land of their forebears.

Article used with authors permission.