Seven of eight Jewish members on a U.S. congressional committee voted to recognize the Armenian genocide.
The non-binding resolution, which recognizes the World War I massacre of Armenians by Turkey as genocide, passed the House of Representatives’ Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday by a closer than expected vote, 27-21. The resolution is likely to go to the full House.
The only Jewish member to vote against was Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.), who cited among other reasons Turkey’s close relationship with Israel.
The measure was expected to pass by a much wider margin but faced a last-minute lobbying blitz by the Turkish government and the Bush administration, which marshaled all eight living former secretaries of state to oppose it.
Turkey has threatened to downgrade military ties with the United States if the measure passed, and intimated it would do so with Israel, too.
The closeness of the committee vote suggests it will be more difficult to pass the resolution when it comes to the House floor. Turkey’s Jews have pressed U.S. Jewish groups to oppose the measure. U.S. Jewish organizations have held back from lobbying but some groups, including the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, have said a congressional resolution recognizing the genocide would be a strategic blunder.
Jewish congressmen who supported the resolution included the committee chairman, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), the only Holocaust survivor in Congress. Others, including Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.) and Ron Klein (D-Fla.), cited Holocaust remembrance as a reason for their votes.