Of all the displays in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC, the one I found most chilling the last time I was there was a quote from Hitler, mounted on the wall, in which he sets forth his plan to exterminate my people and his confidence that he’ll get away with it because, after all, “who remembers the Armenians?” Now Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) has introduced legislation to bar Turkey from using American money to lobby against recognition of the Armenian genocide, and the Republican leadership wants it scuttled:
A day after getting the House of Representatives to recognize the Armenian Genocide for the first time, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Glendale) was already feeling pressure Friday from the House’s Republican leadership to drop the issue. The House of Representatives accepted an amendment to the foreign operations appropriation bill Thursday sponsored by Schiff that would prohibit Turkey from using U.S. foreign aid funds to lobby against recognition of the genocide. “It puts the House on record as saying that the genocide took place, we know it took place, and we won’t allow our money to be used to deny it,” Schiff said. From 1915 to 1923, 1.5 million Armenians were killed by the Ottoman Turks, but the United States has never acknowledged it as genocide. Schiff’s amendment is the first time the House voted on a measure related to the genocide.
But a joint House-Senate committee must approve the amendment, and Republican leaders in the House are already starting to fight it. In a joint statement, Speaker of the House J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) insisted the committee drop the amendment and said the House would not consider officially recognizing the Armenian Genocide this year. Republicans fear that recognizing the genocide will hurt the United States’ relationship with Turkey, a strategic military ally. The United States and Turkey jointly operate an air force base in Incirlik, on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. “Turkey has been a reliable ally of the United States for decades, and the deep foundation upon which our mutual economic and security relationship rests should not be disrupted by this amendment,” Hastert, DeLay and Blunt said in a written statement.