Samantha Power, the Pulitzer-prize winning author of "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide," resigned last week from her position as an unpaid foreign policy advisor to Presidential candidate Barack Obama. She was an influential member of Sen. Obama’s inner circle.
Power’s resignation is a major blow to Armenian-Americans who counted on her to remind Sen. Obama of his pledge to reaffirm the Armenian Genocide, should he become President.
Power had played an instrumental role in getting Sen. Obama to issue a strongly-worded statement on the Armenian Genocide and Armenian issues in general. She also made a video in which she recounted Sen. Obama’s outstanding record on issues of special concern to Armenian Americans, including his "very forthright statement on the Armenian Genocide; his support for the Senate Resolution acknowledging the Genocide; his willingness as President to commemorate it and call a ‘spade a spade’; and to speak the truth about it;."
Power, a Harvard professor and Time magazine columnist, was forced to resign after the publication of an interview she gave to the Scotsman newspaper while she was in Britain to promote her latest book. She was quoted as saying that Sen. Obama’s Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton, is "a monster." The Scotsman published her negative characterization of Sen. Clinton, despite the fact that Ms. Power had told the newspaper that this particular remark was "off the record."
The Los Angeles Times reported on March 8 that Power "had previously confided to friends that she had ambitions to one day be Secretary of State." Even though her comment about Sen. Clinton caused her to lose her key role with the Obama campaign, Armenian-Americans hope that she would regain her inner circle status, should Sen. Obama be the next President.
Coincidentally, the Turks also lost last week one of their own — a major financial supporter of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
The Clinton campaign said last week that it would no longer accept contributions raised by Mehmet Celebi, a prominent Turkish-American. He was listed on Sen. Clinton’s presidential campaign website as a "Hill-raiser," a designation for those who have raised more than $100,000 for her White House bid. In addition, Celebi was nominated as a Democratic Convention delegate from Illinois by the Clinton campaign.
Celebi is a partner in a firm, BMH Worldwide, that helped produce "Valley of the Wolves: Iraq," an anti-American and anti-Semitic Turkish film that depicts a Jewish American doctor who extracts organs from Iraqi prisoners and exports them to Israel, England and the United States.
Ann Lewis, senior advisor to the Clinton campaign, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: "We were unaware of Mr. Celebi’s involvement in this film and we obviously do not agree with it. He is no longer raising money for this campaign."
Celebi’s removal is a major blow to Turkish-Americans, since he is one of their important political leaders. He is a former Vice-President and Board Member of the American Turkish Associations of America (ATAA) and former President of the Turkish American Cultural Alliance (Chicago). Not surprisingly, Celebi has been a vocal denier of the Armenian Genocide. Just last September, he outlined his distorted views of the Armenian Genocide in an opinion column published in the Turkish Daily News.
Now that the Clinton campaign has decided to no longer receive contributions raised by Celebi, it must do the right thing by returning the funds raised by this controversial individual. It is not proper for the Clinton organization to keep the $100,000 Celebi had raised and then state that he is no longer associated with the campaign. If the Clinton campaign wants to truly disassociate itself from Celebi, then it should give back the money he collected for Sen. Clinton’s presidential bid. Furthermore, Sen. Clinton must cut all ties with Celebi by announcing that he is no longer a Democratic Convention delegate from the State of Illinois on behalf of the Clinton campaign.
While both Armenian-Americans and Turkish-Americans lost valuable supporters in the respective Obama and Clinton camps, the reasons for the departures of Samantha Power and Mehmet Celebi cannot be equated. Ms. Power misspoke, apologized and resigned from her important position with the Obama campaign. Celebi, on the other hand, has not apologized for his role in the scandalous Turkish movie on Iraq.
Furthermore, the Clinton campaign has not returned the funds raised by Celebi and has not removed him from its list of delegates to the Democratic Convention.