Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Armenien resolution controversy and more

Several Jewish groups are not a fan of dividing Jerusalem as Olmert wants to do.
Ministers of the current Israeli government publicly have floated their intention to divide and surrender the Jewish People’s capital city and discard our holiest site -- the Temple Mount," reads a letter to groups invited to join a conference call Thursday on the issue of Jerusalem. "We are forming umbrella organizations in the United States and in Israel as well as an international coordinating committee. We have a mandate, an agenda and clear principles."

The letter was signed by Jeffrey Ballabon, an Orthodox Jewish activist in Republican Party politics and Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the chief executive of the National Council of Young Israel. Among the organizations participating or likely to participate are Young Israel, the Orthodox Union, and the Zionist Organization of America, as well as some pro-settler groups.
The congressional resolution to label what the Turkish people did to the Armeniens is drawing a lot of conflicted feelings.
And, despite the overwhelming support of Jewish committee members for the resolution, nowhere was the anguish more palpable than in the comments of some of these lawmakers, as they struggled to balance their Holocaust-related sensitivity to the issue of recognizing genocide and concern for maintaining strong ties with Turkey, a friendly pro-American pro-Israeli Muslim beacon in a hostile neighborhood.

Weighing additionally in the considerations of the Jewish members was an 11th hour plea from Turkey's Jewish community, which fears a rise of anti-Semitism should the resolution pass. Plus, in recent weeks, Turkish spokesmen have noted the outspoken role of some Jews and Jewish organizations in the campaign to pass the resolution and have suggested that relations with Israel could be affected, although Israel has been supportive of Turkish calls to resolve the issue through an international commission.

"This has been tough for me," said U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the committee's Middle East subcommittee, when announcing his vote in favor of the resolution. "I'm a big fan and supporter of Turkey."

Ackerman looked across at four nonagerian and centenarian survivors of the genocide who had flown in for the hearing -- two from his district. His New York Democratic colleague, Eliot Engel, also contemplated the women as he announced his position: "With a heavy heart, I will vote for this resolution."
The measure is losing support in Congress though and yet even more support.

In lighter news, Evan Bayh will campaign in Iowa for Sen. Clinton. Could Bayh perhaps be named as the next VP candidate?

The French supporting Israel? Wow, there's a shock there. It's a positive change.
Israeli officials quoted Sarkozy as telling Olmert that he considers Israel's creation a "miracle" of the 20th century. Though the French president had a Jewish grandfather, he described his pro-Israel sentiments as less a matter of ancestry and more an acknowledgment of the country's role in introducing democracy to the Middle East.

During his meeting with Olmert, Sarkozy reiterated his strenuous opposition to Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and said Israel's security is a "red line" that must not be crossed. But France has yet to support the idea of preventive military action as a last resort for blocking Tehran's atomic ambitions.

In a further departure from France's traditional equivocation on Middle East affairs, Sarkozy came out against the Palestinians' demand that their refugees get a "right of return" to land now in Israel. According to Israeli officials, Sarkozy said it is unreasonable for Palestinians to expect statehood in the West Bank and Gaza Strip while wanting their compatriots resettled in the neighboring Jewish state.

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