13th CD GOP congressional candidate Michael Allegretti believes incumbent Democratic Congressman Michael McMahon needs to get his priorities straight regarding Turkey and Israel, meaning he ought to stop favoring Turkey.
“McMahon as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee has made a judgment that receiving campaign cash from the Turkish lobby is more important than doing what is right,” Allegretti’s Campaign Manager Ray Riley stated in a press release issued earlier this week.
That press release was headlined:
ALLEGRETTI CALLS ON MCMAHON TO SUPPORT ISRAEL AND AMERICA’S INTERESTS
With a kicker:
McMahon Focuses On Re-election Cash And Not America’s Interests
“McMahon’s statement on the ‘Vigil for Gaza Convoy’ is an example of how McMahon has lost his objectivity on this issue,” Mr. Riley said.
Michael Allegretti’s Campaign Manager was referring to a statement issued by Rep. McMahon after opponents of the Israeli blockade staged a vigil for the Gaza convoy outside his Staten Island office.
That statement read in part:
“Just as America protects its borders, Israel–and any other country–has the right to maintain and defend its own borders.
“Despite what Hamas supporters may be claiming now, Monday’s incident wasn’t about bringing in supplies. It was about provoking Israel, a country whose people have been subject to countless terrorist attacks from Hamas supporters in the Gaza Strip.
“Since Israel instituted its Gaza blockade, these attacks have dramatically decreased,” Rep. McMahon added, “and it is not hard to see how the Israeli government would perceive the flotilla’s actions as a direct confrontation.
“I fully support a transparent investigation by the Israeli government as to why these deaths occurred,” Rep. McMahon concluded, evidently ruling out support for a United Nations inquiry.”
Mr. Riley was unimpressed by what others might see as as a fairly unequivocal statement.
“It is a statement written to say nothing, as McMahon tries to keep the campaign cash flowing,” he stated
“McMahon’s Washington office has been an open door to lobbyists representing Turkey. They even held a high dollar fundraiser for him on March 27th, twenty-three days after he voted against HR 252, the Armenian Genocide resolution in the House Foreign Relations Committee.”
Mr. Riley was referring to House Foreign Affairs Committee approval of a resolution earlier this year which labeled Turkey’s early 20th-century atrocities against the Armenian people as ‘genocide.’
Eighteen NY and NJ legislators co-sponsored the U.S. House resolution, including NY Reps Charles Rangel and Anthony Weiner.
A similar resolution is pending in the Senate, where NY Senator Charles Schumer is a co-sponsor.
The measure passed by a 23-22 vote in committee.
Minutes after the vote, Turkey withdrew its ambassador to the U.S.
Congressman McMahon, a member of the House committee, opposed the resolution.
“If HR 252 is passed and Turkey decides to close its border to our troops in Iraq or remove its $100 million investment in Afghanistan, our armed forces will be forced to take longer, more dangerous routes to and from Iraq, exposing them to a greater possibility of attack and longer deployments,” Rep. McMahon stated at the time.
Turkey is the critical passageway for our troops to Iraq, he explained, shortening travel time and reducing the risk of an IED attack.
“Furthermore, as a critical Muslim NATO ally and partner in Afghanistan, we rely on Turkey to protect our troops as part of the broader Afghan reconstruction effort.”
Former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George Bush I, Bill Clinton and George Bush II have all opposed a similar resolution based on similar arguments, Rep.McMahon pointed out, while Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, under both the Bush and Obama Administrations, has warned against the passage of the resolution.
“If Turkey decides to withdraw its support for the US mission in Iraq and Afghanistan, I know that my visits to Walter Reed and Arlington will only increase,” Rep. McMahon stated. “Even with my profound sympathy for the families of those who perished during the Ottoman Empire, I cannot responsibly risk such a possibility.”
Michael Allegretti favored the resolution.
“I urge the members of the House Foreign Relations to stand-up and recognize the genocide which took place between 1915-1923,” Mr. Allegretti stated. “It is unspeakable that one and a half million Armenians lost their lives in an effort to erase them from their homeland. Passage of this resolution would be a positive step for the region.”
Rep. McMahon called Allegretti’s position “reckless, irresponsible and a serious threat to U.S. national security and the safety of our Armed Forces.”
Israel is America’s strongest ally in the Middle East and the rhetoric coming from the leaders in Turkey is increasingly antagonistic and unconstructive, Mr. Riley said, in his recent press release.
The current Turkish government led by Prime Minister Erodogan was one of the first to recognize Hamas as the legitimate government in Gaza, Mr. Riley noted, and Mr. Erodogan’s Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has proposed that Turkey loosen its ties with Western countries such as the U.S., and organizations like NATO and the European Union.
For decades during the Cold War, Turkey was a strong ally of the U.S. as an important member of NATO, Mr. Riley stated; however, in recent years, driven by internal self-interest and politics, Turkey has started to support terrorist organizations such as Hamas, and the Assad regime in Syria.
“Turkey recently cut a deal with Iran to help enrich uranium,” Mr. Riley stated, “and Turkey’s embrace of Hamas has put the U.S. and its other regional allies, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in a very difficult position.
“Rep. McMahon’s no vote on the resolution, which would have condemned Ottoman Turkey for massacring 1.5 million Armenian’s during World War I, was called ‘morally-blind’ by the chairman of McMahon’s committee, who is a fellow Democrat,” Mr. Riley noted.
Jennifer Nelson, Rep. McMahon’s campaign spokesperson, was quick to defend the congressman’s record regarding Israel during his first full term in Congress:
“Congressman McMahon has a 100% voting record in support of the State of Israel and firmly believes in Israel’s right to defend herself. He has called Turkey’s support for the flotilla wrong and provocative,” she said, adding:
“Turkey, though, remains a member of NATO, and is the frontline country in our re-deployment of troops from Iraq allowing soldiers and equipment to cross a land border.”
Ms Nelson made the following points:
• Turkey is a critical part of our mission in Afghanistan and has committed troops on the ground.
• Turkey is one of only three Muslim majority countries to recognize Israel
“The Congressman has encouraged the Secretary of State to travel to both Turkey and Israel to calm tensions and to reiterate that for Turkey to receive the support of the United States, we need the Turkish Government to support our strategic interests,” Ms Nelson said.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Allegretti wants to play politics with such a grave issue, but what he is really doing is putting US troops at risk with his careless rhetoric,” she added.
Photos: Left–Rep. McMahon at hearing. Right–Michael Allegretti.
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John Signoriello can be contacted by email at [email protected]