Israel is Governed by Holocaust Deniers!
Today, I learned that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not alone in denying holocaust facts.
Today, voting 15 to 12, the Israeli Knesset rejected a call by Member Haim Oron of the dovish opposition Meretz Party to discuss the massacre that next month will mark its 80th anniversary.
Between 1915 and 1923, Ottoman Turks killed almost 1.5 million Armenians and deported more than 500,000 others. Oron has been under heavy pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office as well as the Foreign Ministry to withdraw his motion. Oron said:
That pressure is something any MP must face. Turkey has been exerting its pressure everywhere. This is their right. But they can not set the agenda of the Israeli parliament.Oron stated that before the vote, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni called him twice to ask him to withdraw the proposal from the agenda of the Knesset Education, Culture, and Sports Committee. Members of the Armenian community in Jerusalem attended the Knesset meeting and expressed anger over the decision to suppress debate on the issue.
It is the duty of the Israeli parliament, as the representative of the Jewish people, to express its opinion on the need to recognize the Armenian genocide.
. . . It is a debt we owe to the Armenian people and one we owe to ourselves. . . . This inquiry is something we owe the Armenians, primarily at a time when we are struggling to preserve the memory of our own people.
But I learned something else today, too.
Our own dear leaders are also holocaust deniers. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and US Defense Secretary Robert Gates have sent a letter to senior members of Congress trying to squelch a similar debate. Their letter warned of the damage that Turkish-US ties could suffer if a pending resolution affirming Armenian claims of genocide is passed.
The letter has been sent to Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives, House Republican leader John Boehner and Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi has pledged to bring before the House next month a congressional resolution formally recognizing as organized genocide the mass killings of Armenians from 1915 to 1923 in Turkey's predecessor state of the Ottoman Empire. Ms. Pelosi strongly supports the resolution, and it now appears likely to be approved.
In the Senate, Republican John Ensign and Democrat Richard Durbin presented a draft resolution that, similar to the one in the House, calling for official recognition of the alleged Armenian genocide. The draft had been signed by 21 senators when it was presented to the Senate on Wednesday. Durbin was quoted as saying by the Armenian media on Thursday:
The Armenian genocide was the 20th century's first genocide, a vicious, organized crime against humanity that included murder, deportation, torture and slave labor. US clarity on this historical fact is of utmost importance and long past due.Of course, what is at stake is Turkish support of the American occupation of Iraq. It is not a veiled threat that if Congress should pass a resolution supporting Armenian claims of genocide, Turkey would close the use of their Incirlik air base by the US military.
So, what are we to conclude from today's lesson?
Are the realities of holocausts visible through the eyes of beholders, or only through the politically expedient lenses of their governments?