News TURKEY SEEKS HELP OF ISRAEL AND U.S. JEWS TO FIGHT U.S.

SENATE RESOLUTION MARKING ARMENIAN GENOCIDE By WOLF BLITZER ; Jerusalem Post Correspondent and news agencies; Asher Wallfish; 939 words 24 October 1989 The Jerusalem Post (Copyright 1989) WASHINGTON - Turkey has asked Israel, its supporters in Congress and the American Jewish community to help kill a proposed Senate resolution commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Ottomon Empire's genocide of Armenians. Quietly, Israeli diplomats and some American Jewish political activists have agreed to help Turkey even as other American Jewish leaders have complained that they have no business intervening in such a sensitive matter. But sources at two Jewish groups, who asked that neither they nor their organizations be identified, said the request had placed them in a quandary since the natural inclination of American Jewry had been to support the resolution. "As a people which was itself a victim of genocide, we feel natural sympathy for the Armenians. But Israel wants to foster its relations with Turkey, which it views with great importance," said one source. One major Jewish-American organization prepared a press release supporting the resolution, but "it was killed at the last minute before being issued," one of the sources said. Turkey bitterly denies that any Armenian genocide ever took place. The politically explosive amendment, sponsored by Republican minority leader Robert Dole of Kansas, was narrowly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8-6. A last-minute compromise effort by Democratic Senator Howard Metzenbaum, who is Jewish, to soften the language of the bill in order to ease Turkey's concerns was defeated by a 7-7 vote. So far, Dole has not moved to get the legislation scheduled for a full Senate vote. The Bush administration opposes the legislation, fearing that it could upset U.S. relations with Turkey, an important Nato ally. An editorial last week in The Wall Street Journal adopted a similar position, also recalling that Turkey has recently been forced to accept hundreds of thousands of Turkish refugees from Bulgaria as well as Kurdish and other refugees from Iraq and Iran. An Israel Embassy source yesterday refused to comment on the matter, insisting only that Israeli diplomats were closely following the situation. Over the years, Turkey has often sought to enlist the support of Israel and its politically influential backers in the U.S. Usually, according to informed sources in Washington, the Turkish government has first put pressure on Turkey's small Jewish community to ask for such political assistance from Israel and the American Jewish community. Paul Berger, a well-known and influential Washington lawyer and Jewish activist, has been formally retained by the Turkish Jewish community.

The Turkish government, for its part, has hired International Advisers, Inc., a recently-created firm of political consultants to lobby on its behalf in Washington. Among those involved in the firm are Richard Perle, a former assistant secretary of defence in the Reagan administration; Douglas Feith, a former aide to Perle at the Pentagon; and Mark Epstein, a former Washington director of the Union of Councils for Soviet Jews. All of them are Jewish. Morris Amitay, another powerful Washington lawyer and former executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington, is now winding up a sixmonth association with International Advisers. Israeli officials, over the years, have feared that Turkey might reduce the level of its diplomatic relationship with Israel unless it quietly helped the Turks in Washington. Last week, Israel was delighted when Turkey, a Moslem country, voted against a Libyan-sponsored resolution at the UN General Assembly to reject Israel's credentials. Last year, Turkey abstained. Although the 1915-1923 massacres in which an estimated 1.5 million Armenians died took place before the emergence of the modern Turkish state from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, Turks view the genocide accusation as a blood libel. "It is not the job of the U.S. Congress to pass judgments on history. We believe the charge of genocide is a false charge and extremely offensive to Turks," said Daryal Batibay, deputy chief of mission at the Turkish Embassy. Turkish officials have said passage of the resolution would poison relations with Washington. A State Department spokeswoman said last week that "the administration ... hopes Congress can respond to the concerns of the Armenian people in a manner that does not offend our vital friend and ally, the Republic of Turkey." If the full Senate passes the resolution, April 24, 1990 will be declared a day commemorating the Armenian genocide. Batibay said the resolution was losing support and 15 senators had withdrawn their names from the list of co-sponsors. According to the Jewish sources, most American Jewish organizations had decided to stay out of the dispute. But if asked their opinions by legislators, many were expected to follow the administration line. (BOX) MKs back efforts to remember massacres Fifteen MKs from six factions in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee have signed a statement of support for "efforts to preserve the memory of the Armenian massacres during World War I." The signatories condemned "all efforts to consign mass murders of any kind to oblivion." The MKs declared that "we can comprehend the sufferings of the Armenians because we too are a persecuted ... people." The l5 are from the Alignment, the Likud, Mapam, the Citizens Rights Movement, the National Religious Party and Agudat Israel. Factions which are not represented on the committee were not asked to sign the statement. The 15 MKs did not mention the word "Turk" at any point.

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