Turkey can no longer count on the backing of the powerful Jewish lobby in the United States in its efforts to block a congressional resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide, according to a Washington-based journalist.
Eli Lake, a national security correspondent for “The Washington Times,” believes that Ankara’s furious reaction to the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound international aid flotilla will help Armenian-American lobby groups trying to push such a resolution through the U.S. Congress.
“In 2008, the major Jewish organizations decided they would no longer quietly push Congress to block a resolution commemorating the Armenian genocide,” Lake told RFE/RL’s Armenian service on Monday. “This was a reflection in some way of deteriorating ties between Israel and Turkey.”
“One of the prizes of the Turks in their relationship with Israel was support from the American Jewish community in Washington. After the flotilla incident, I would say that that support for now has dried up,” he said.
Last March, a key committee of the U.S. House of Representatives narrowly endorsed a draft resolution describing the 1915 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide and urging President Barack Obama to do the same. Opposition from the White House prevented further progress of the bill.
The leading Armenian advocacy groups in Washington are expected to again try to bring it to the House floor for a vote ahead of the November mid-term elections in the United States.
“I would say that they will certainly not be an obstacle to the bill,” Lake said, referring to the more influential Jewish-American groups. “It’s possible that some groups may end up supporting it because there is a kinship, of course, between what happened to the Armenian people in 1915 and what happened to the Jewish people in the Holocaust in 1939-1945.”
Still, the journalist cautioned that this alone would not guarantee the resolution’s passage. “You still have plenty of other interests that are looking to make sure that such a resolution would never be passed by the House and that is mainly in the U.S. defense establishment, that still considers Turkey a major NATO ally,” he said. “You probably would end up having an executive branch that would say that this complicates our relationship with an important ally in the Mediterranean.”
Lake argued that despite its growing unease over Turkish policy towards the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iran, the United States still has “very deep ties” with Turkey. Washington could reconsider them only if Ankara “orients itself towards Iran,” he said.