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Archive for November, 2007

The Cookie Monster

November 27th, 2007 by

The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has issued a report naming Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) one of the most corrupt members of Congress.

You’ll recall that Murtha was one of the leading Democratic opponents of the Armenian Genocide resolution after it passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee in October. He even led a press conference against the resolution with fellow Democrats Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Robert Wexler (D-FL), both of whom are very close to Turkey and not without their own records of corruption.

In CREW’s 2006 report, Murtha was given a dishonorable mention for his multiple kickbacks to contributors. Now he has been moved up the list of corruption for continuing to have his hands too deep in the Congressional “cookie jar.” It seems that the main beneficiaries of Murtha’s pork-barreling are weapons contractors in his district and defense lobbyists who fund his campaigns.

Why is it that the most tainted officials and military industrialists always seem to be the leading backers of Turkey’s genocide denial? Hmmm.

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Turkey’s Blackmail Against Jews

November 21st, 2007 by

We all know how one of the first things Turkey did when the Armenian Genocide Resolution passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee was, in the words of the Jerusalam Post, “Blame the Jews.”

Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, explained how he had told American Jewish leaders that passage of the resolution would be interpreted as a conspiracy by Jews and Armenians against the Turks. “We have told them [Jewish leaders] that we cannot explain it to the public in Turkey if a road accident happens. We have told them that we cannot keep the Jewish people out of this.” The not so subtle threat underneath this statement is, “If the resolution passes, Turkey’s Jews are in trouble.”

Indeed, American Jewish groups regularly cite the fate of Turkey’s Jews as a reason to support Ankara’s genocide denial throughout the world. They shamefully allow Turkey to use the threat of harming its Jewish community as a card in their denialist campaign.

Imagine if Iran threatened the safety of its Jewish community over a resolution in the US House. What would the reaction here be? Would the Jewish lobby, or anybody else, accept that as a reason to block said resolution? I think not.

For more on Turkish policy toward the Jews, see the following article by Khatchig Mouradian in Jewcy. Also, see Joey Kurtzman’s, “Why Are American Jews Appeasing Turkish Antisemites?”

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Why Are We Apologizing?

November 16th, 2007 by

Department of Defense News Briefing
October 17, 2007 – 1:30 pm

Press Secretary Geoff Morrell: “[Under Secretary of State Eric Edelman and Assistant Secretary of State Dan Fried] met over the weekend at length with their Turkish counterparts with regards to the genocide resolution. They expressed regret on behalf of their respective secretaries for the House committee choosing to go ahead and pass the resolution.”

Unbelievably, this apology was made for a vote by the freely elected members of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on the Armenian Genocide Resolution.It is outrageous that U.S. officials were sent abroad to apologize to a foreign government for Congressional recognition of a brutal crime that the President himself has described as “the annihilation of as many as 1,500,000 Armenians through forced exile and murder.”

Are you upset by these shameful actions? If so, please politely share your views with the public servants who made this cowardly apology.


Points to consider making in your message to these officials

  • I’m ashamed that you apologized for a human rights vote in the U.S. Congress.

  • As Americans, we should never apologize for our nation’s devotion to human rights.

  • I would like a written explanation of why you expressed “regret” to Turkey.

America should never apologize for believing in human rights!

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Denny Says ‘Farewell’

November 16th, 2007 by

After serving in the US House for 20 years, Dennis “Denny” Hastert announced today that he was stepping down a little over a year before his current term ends in 2009.Hastert was the longest serving Republican Speaker of the House in history, holding the position from January 1999 to November 2006. Armenian-Americans remember him well as the man who refused to schedule a vote on the Armenian Genocide Resolution for the over 8 years he served as Speaker.

How can we forget the last-minute, behind the scenes phone call to Denny from President Clinton in 2000, urging him to kill the measure after it passed committee? We were told there were grave national security concerns in the Middle East and that having our country recognize the first genocide of the twentieth century would “risk the lives of Americans” and jeopardize the “fragile” Palestinian-Israeli “cease-fire.” Sound at all familiar?

More controversy around this episode was raised in 2005, when a Vanity Fair article about former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds alleged that Hastert may have received illegal payments from the Turkish government in return for his services against the Armenian Genocide Resolution.

That same year, the rock-group System of a Down undertook a campaign to meet with Hastert and ask him to schedule a vote on the resolution. They finally tracked him down in April of 2006, when, by chance, they crossed his path in the Capitol Hill Rotunda. A shocked and bumbling Hastert said he would “take a look” at the matter, and then proceeded to sit on the measure for the rest of his term.

Needless to say, his tenure will not be missed.

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Bashir and Erdogan: One and the Same Denial

November 16th, 2007 by

What do Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey (perpetrator of the first genocide of the 20th century), and Omar Al-Bashir, the President of Sudan (perpetrator of the first genocide of the 21st century), have in common? Well, it should be obvious, but we’ll let the transcripts do the talking:Deportation and War, not Genocide

Erdogan (Remarks at the National Press Club, Nov 5, 2007):

“I’ll tell you something now. There is no [Armenian] genocide here. What took place was called deportation. Because that was a very difficult time. It was the time of war, in 1915.”

Al-Bashir (MSNBC Interview with Ann Curry, March 19, 2007):

“The geographic displacement of people that took place in Darfur is due to the fight in Darfur. The citizen has to move out of the fighting areas to a place of security, seeking peace and security. . . yes, people were killed but not as much [as you say]- it’s a war! There is a tribal conflict inside that war.”

Our Culture Does Not Allow It

Erdogan (National Press Club, Nov. 5):

“In fact, our values do not allow our people to commit genocide. It does not allow it and there is no such thing as a genocide.”

Al-Bashir (MSNBC Interview, March 19):“Villages were burned, and people were killed, but it is not in the Sudanese culture or people of Darfur to rape. It doesn’t exist. We don’t have it.”

The Victims Rebelled

Erdogan (National Press Club, Nov. 5):

“This was about the time when there was rebellion in different parts of the empire. But given the context of the time and the events that took place at that time, there was provocation by some other countries and the Armenians became part of the rebellion in those years.”

Al-Bashir (Asharq Alawsat Interview, February 17, 2007):“There is a rebellion problem in Darfur, and it is the duty of a government in any state to fight the rebellion. When war takes place, civilian victims fall, and this has been exaggerated.”

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From ‘Never Again’ to ‘Maybe Sometimes’

November 14th, 2007 by

On Tuesday, November 13, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen held a news conference for their newly established Genocide Prevention Task Force. The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) issued a press release and transcript of the conference and AP was one of several outlets that covered the story.

Off the bat, it seems quite puzzling how two officials who failed to respond to the genocide in Rwanda and who continue to lend their name to the denial of the Armenian Genocide can claim any credibility in stopping future atrocities. Maybe the press conference would help allay such concerns? Unfortunately, no, it only reinforced them.

For example, in response to a question asking whether “for political expediency purposes” we should or should not “be taking action on future genocides because of what it could mean to U.S. interest,” Cohen confirmed, “there are no absolutes in this.” So, in the face of the destruction of an entire ethnic group, we may have to let human extermination slide. There are other factors to consider, after all. Perhaps we can even revise the vow “never again” to “not always” or “maybe sometimes”?

Cohen later went on to state, “I don’t know that the UN has declared that genocide occurred in the Armenian situation,” as if the fact that they haven’t declared what’s going on in Darfur genocide prevents anyone from realizing the veracity of the crimes taking place there. Besides, it is well known that the term genocide itself was coined by Raphael Lemkin precisely with the Armenian Genocide in mind. Perhaps the head of a new task force commissioned to prevent genocide should brush up on his history.

Albright got in the act too, stating that the new group will focus its efforts on what is “practical” (e.g. politically expedient) and that it is her hope they will not get themselves “into emotional appeals because that does not work.” I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise from a woman who famously responded to a 60 Minutes question regarding the death of half a million Iraqi children under US-sponsored sanctions by saying, “We think the price is worth it.” One wonders whether someone who can so coldly make such a statement (and act on it through her policies) has any emotion at all.

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Phillips Talks Turkey

November 14th, 2007 by

Last Thursday, November 8, David L. Phillips—the architect behind the State Department’s discredited Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC)—gave a talk on Turkey and the PKK at American University in Washington, DC. The title of his presentation was “Turkey in Crisis: Strategies for Disarming, Demobilizing, and Reintegrating the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)” and was based on a recent report he prepared for the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.

Although his presentation failed to highlight the heart of the problem between the Kurds and Turkey—namely the latter’s repression and refusal to recognize the rights of the former—it did urge Turkey to come to terms with (and embrace) the reality of an Iraqi Kurdistan being formed to its south. At the moment, such an outcome doesn’t seem so likely given the latest Turkish bombardments of Kurdish villages and the fact that Turkey has not only refused to recognize the Kurdish Region of Iraq, it has threatened to invade it if a referendum on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk takes place, as scheduled, later this year.

And all this time, the administration thought our “ally” Turkey would make trouble in Iraq over reaffirmation of the Armenian Genocide. As usual, Ankara has its own plans.

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Holocaust Denial in the White House

November 13th, 2007 by

The Turks say the Armenians died in a ‘civil war’, and Bush goes along with their lies

Robert Fisk, The Independent, November 13, 2007

“There was, briefly, a historic moment for Bush to walk tall after the US House Foreign Relations Committee voted last month to condemn the mass slaughter of Armenians as an act of genocide. Ancient Armenian-American survivors gathered at a House panel to listen to the debate. But as soon as Turkey’s fossilised generals started to threaten Bush, I knew he would give in.” [read more]

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Divide and Conquer

November 9th, 2007 by

The United States Should Be Squeezing Turkey, Not the Other Way Around

Christopher Hitchens, Slate, October 29, 2007

“In the past century, the principal victims of genocide or attempted genocide have been, or at least have prominently included, the Armenians, the Jews, and the Kurds. During most of the month of October, events and politicians both conspired to set these three peoples at one another’s throats. What is there to be learned from this fiasco for humanity?” [Read More]

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U.S. Denial of the Armenian Genocide

November 9th, 2007 by

Stephen Zunes, Foreign Policy in Focus, October 22, 2007

“Ironically, Congress earlier this year overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for refusing to acknowledge the German genocide of the Jews. That same Congress, however, appears quite willing to refuse to acknowledge the Turkish genocide of the Armenians.

While awareness of anti-Semitism is fortunately widespread enough to dismiss those who refuse to acknowledge the Holocaust to the political fringe, it appears that tolerance for anti-Armenian bigotry is strong enough that it is still apparently politically acceptable to refuse to acknowledge their genocide.” [Read More]

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