WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Obama avoided using the word "genocide" to describe the killing of 1.5 million Armenians by Turks in 1915.
In a statement released Friday to commemorate Armenian Remembrance Day, Obama said that "I have consistently stated my own view of what occurred in 1915, and my view of that history has not changed. My interest remains the achievement of a full, frank and just acknowledgment of the facts."
As a presidential candidate, Obama explicitly said he would "recognize" the Armenian genocide and that it was not a "personal opinion" but a "widely documented fact supported by an overwhelmingly body of historical evidence."
Recognition of the Armenian genocide became a controversial issue in the Jewish community two years ago when some Jewish organizations, notably the Anti-Defamation League, opposed an unsuccessful congressional resolution recognizing the atrocities against Armenians as genocide. Turkey opposed the resolution, and the ADL and others felt it might hurt relations among Turkey, Israel and the United States.
The ADL previously had refused to use the term "genocide" to describe the killings, but reversed itself in August 2007 and used the term "tantamount to genocide" after a wave of criticism.