Jewish-Americans Criticize Denial of the Armenian Genocide by the ADL

Jewish Voice For Peace

September 27, 2007

Dear Massachusetts Human Rights and Relations Commissions,

We at the Boston chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace are writing to the Massachusetts human rights organizations to applaud those communities that have severed ties with the Anti-Defamation League in the face of their failure to support US recognition of the Armenian genocide. We encourage all the cities and towns to join the debate. We ally with those in the Jewish community who have acted to hold the ADL accountable--asking whether they are primarily a civil rights/human rights organization or as a columnist characterized them in the Jerusalem Post, a “player on Israel's diplomatic field.” ADL leadership has chosen to prioritize Israel’s strategic alliance with Turkey and demean the lifelong Armenian effort to gain US and world recognition by calling it a “counterproductive diversion.” As the controversy over the Armenian genocide has shown, the ADL cannot both sponsor “No Place for Hate” (NPFH) and represent the Israeli government.

We pose this question to all the cities and towns: Given the national ADL’s cavalier attitude toward the suffering of others, does the ADL have the moral authority to represent the meaning of NPFH, that is, can we trust their commitment to the safety and dignity of all of us? Residents in Watertown (and then in Arlington, Newton and Belmont) have answered that question in the negative, severing their ties with NPFH until the national ADL agrees to support the US resolution recognizing the genocide. We hope other communities will do the same.

This controversy has not only put a spotlight on the Armenian genocide and the ADL, but on the diverse Jewish population, where many have voiced their outrage at the ADL’s position. Jewish Voice for Peace is part of that healthy and vibrant debate which has made clear the ADL has neither the moral authority nor the ability to speak for US Jews.

As human rights groups, you understand the need to build alliances and to recognize the humanity of all the residents in your cities and towns. We ask that the Massachusetts Association of Human Rights and Relations Commissions plays an important role in raising these issues in all the communities your members represent.


Dr. Alice Rothchild, Martin R. Federman
Co-chair, Boston Chapter, Co-chair, Boston Chapter,
Jewish Voice for Peace Jewish Voice for Peace

The New York Sun
by Hillel Halkin
August 28, 2007

The latest flap, involving the Anti-Defamation League and its director Abraham Foxman, over Jewish recognition of Turkey's genocidal killing of Armenians during World War I is more pathetic than anything else.

It is sad and shameful that, under pressure from Israeli governments fearful of antagonizing the Turks, Jewish organizations in both Israel and the Diaspora have been so reluctant to acknowledge a historical truth that is well-documented and beyond serious challenge.

As understandable as may be Israel's desire to preserve good relations with Turkey, the only Muslim country with which it has close economic and military ties, its behavior in regard to the Armenian genocide has been craven. For a Jewish state to abet the denial of genocide because it deems this necessary for the defense of Jewish interests is to make a mockery of the campaign against Holocaust denial. Worse yet, it is to make a mockery of Jewish accusations against the world for standing by and doing nothing while 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis.

The Los Angeles Times
May 1, 2007

'Never again' for Armenians too
Several American Jewish groups abandon their anti-genocide zeal when it comes to Turkey's massacre of Armenians.

By Daniel Sokatch and David N. Myers

DANIEL SOKATCH is executive director of the Progressive Jewish Alliance.
DAVID N. MYERS teaches Jewish history at UCLA.

…it is troubling that some major Jewish organizations have lined up in support of Turkey's efforts to keep the U.S. Congress from recognizing the Armenian massacres as an act of genocide. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee (AJC), the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) and B'nai B'rith International recently conveyed a letter from the Turkish Jewish community opposing a resolution recognizing the genocide.

The ADL and the JINSA also added their own statements of opposition, suggesting that the massacre of Armenians was a matter for historians, not legislators, to decide.

The American Jewish community has insisted, and rightly so, that the U.S. Congress, the United Nations and other governmental bodies formally commemorate the Holocaust. Why should Jews not insist on the same in this case, especially given the widespread scholarly consensus that what happened to the Armenians from 1915 to 1923 was genocide? After all, the man who coined the term "genocide" to refer to the Holocaust — the Polish-Jewish lawyer Raphael Lemkin — cited the Armenian massacres as a precedent.

Huffington Post
July 10, 2007

Abraham Foxman Should Be Fired
By Mark Oppenheimer

There are so many reasons to hate Abraham Foxman, the executive director of the once-proud Anti-Defamation League, but surely the best reason has to be his collusion with the Turkish government to perpetuate denial of its genocide against Armenians nearly 100 years ago.

The Israeli government has long been part of this historical fudge, but at least it has the excuse -- however meager -- of Realpolitik: Bush goes boating with Putin, Israel dallies with genocide-denying Turks, China and Somalia do their petro-dance...and so it goes.

But for a non-profit like the ADL, which in fact has done important work to combat not just anti-Semitism but other forms of ethnocentrism and racism, to shill for Holocaust-deniers (yes, the Armenian genocide can fairly be called a Holocaust) is inexcusable. He should be fired.

The Jewish Advocate
August 16, 2007

ADL’s Faustian bargain tactics?
By Andrew G. Bostom

[Abraham Foxman’s] contention of neutrality on the Armenian genocide is both morally-challenged and patently false: The ADL is actively lobbying against the Armenian genocide recognition legislation in the both Houses of Congress (HR and SR 106). Foxman submitted letters against the resolutions to Congress from Turkey’s vestigial Jewish community, adding ADL’s own letter opposing the bill.

Since 1950, the Turkish press and Islamic literature have steadily increased their output of theological Islamic anti-Semitism – based on anti-Jewish motifs in the core Islamic texts. As elsewhere in the Islamic world, this melded into anti-Zionist invective against Israel.

Today, the most expensive film ever made in Turkey, “Valley of the Wolves,” features a Jewish doctor dismembering Iraqi war dead and harvesting their organs for Jewish markets. Prime Minister Erdogan justified its production and wild popularity. While president of an Islamic fundamentalist youth organization in 1974, Erdogan wrote, directed, and starred in a play focused on the evil nature of Judaism.

Yet ADL ignores the plight of Turkish Jews, defends Erdogan, and apparently believes his “moderate Islamic” regime remains an ally of Israel. Is this silence on Turkish anti-Semitism and immoral denial of the Armenian genocide a Faustian bargain for Turkey’s dubious “support” of Israel?

As a Jew, I find ADL’s efforts to deny recognition of the Armenian genocide morally repugnant, ignorant and particularly inappropriate for an organization geared to reducing – as opposed to abetting and fomenting – anti-Semitism and other forms of irrational hatred.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of “The Legacy of Jihad” and the forthcoming “The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism” (2007).

The Jewish Advocate
August 31, 2007

Jewish Witness to Genocide
By Charles Jacobs

There is legislation in Congress to declare the truth about this genocide. I’ve heard the argument that an American declaration would be counterproductive because the point is to quietly encourage Turkey to come to terms with her past – on her own.

That would be good, but it is surely not the point. The point is – for the victims, for their families and for history – to say the truth.

Jews cannot be therapists here. But we can be Jews. And the Jews of America, especially now, need to do what Henry Morgenthau and Absolom Feinberg knew to do.

We need to reverse our missteps, to lobby Congress, and to strike a blow against Armenian genocide denial. The bill is HR/SR 106.

Charles Jacobs is president of The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership.

The Jewish Journal
August 31, 2007

ADL's decision doesn't go far enough
By David N. Myers

Unfortunately, [the ADL’s August 21 statement] does not go far enough in rectifying the ADL's mystifying policy on this question. For while acknowledging that the massacres were a genocide, the ADL and its national director, Abraham Foxman, continue to refuse to support the congressional resolution (HR 106) that officially recognizes the Armenian genocide.

Yes, Turkey is Israel's best friend in the Muslim world. But apart from the improbability of that country severing its relations with either Israel or the United States, we must ask whether supporting those who falsify and distort the historical record is ever in our or their interests.

Moreover, do not Jews, of all people, have a special responsibility to raise their voices at the sight or prospect of genocide? The answer, as groups such as Jewish World Watch make patently clear, is that we can never abdicate our responsibility to act against ethnic cleansing or genocide, whether committed by friend or foe.

Foxman should follow the logic of his own statement and take the essential next step of supporting HR 106. ……In parallel, our local Anti-Defamation League board should either announce its support for HR 106 --if not here in the heart of the Armenian diaspora, then where? -- or renounce the organization's declared mission "to secure justice and fair treatment to all."

David N. Myers teaches Jewish history at UCLA.

Statements by Dr. Jack Nusan Porter
Treasurer, International Association of Genocide Scholars,
Director, the Spencer Institute for Social Research,
Author The Genocidal Mind (2006).

The Armenian Weekly
September 1, 2007

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) cites the security of the Jewish community in Turkey and Israel's alliance with Turkey for why it has failed to unambiguously recognize the Armenian genocide and support its recognition by the U.S. Congress. Treasurer of the International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS) Prof. Jack Nusan Porter believes the well being of the Jews in Turkey is not at stake.

”This is really just blackmail,” said Porter, author of `The Genocidal Mind' and `Facing History and Holocaust' in an interview with the Armenian Weekly. “Turkey would never touch the Jewish community. It would never be accepted in the European Union if it touched any Jew in Turkey.
The real question is: Why does this blackmail work? Why do people believe it? In February of this year, Turkish officials met with Jewish groups here in America and put out the word. Most of the Jewish leaders disagreed, but some of them ‘like the ADL leader [Abraham Foxman]' didn't,” he added.

Porter underscored the importance of `educating' Israel in these issues. “We, American Jews, have to educate Israel. It's just the opposite of what it was historically. The Israelis had to teach us how
to be Jewish. Now, we are going to have to teach them how to be a good Jew: Take care of all people, not only yourself.”

Letter to Abraham Foxman
September 11, 2007

Dear Abe: I am sure you have been inundated by email. You face the biggest challenge of your career, one, I fear that you will not survive. Either you move quickly too support HR/SR 106 or the ADL will be rent apart. I enclose an article that shows that Israel and the Turkish Jewish Community will not suffer because then Turkey will never be able to enter the EU. They have used these arguments for years and neither has suffered. The Turkish government has used these arguments as political blackmail for years and they simply are just that –red herrings.

You should hear the eloquent statements at local human rights commission hearings here in Boston area from Armenians. --- The ADL will not win this! Furthermore, what angers many of us as Jews is that you have publicly over the decades not supported HR or SR 106 type resolutions yet gave the impression at the local level that the ADL did. Thus, it came as a complete surprise, that the ADL, one of the great civil and ethnic/racial rights organizations in the country, has opposed the Armenians for years and never told anyone.
This will surely rend the ADL apart if you do not resign and the ADL (and the AJC) do not change course and support HR/SR 106.

I am sending a copy of this to Elie so that he too will change course and support publicly and unequivocally SR/HR 106.


Jack Nusan Porter,

Treasurer, International Association of Genocide Scholars
Director, the Spencer Institute for Social Research
79 Walnut Street Unit 4
Newtonville, MA. 02460-1330
(617) 965-8388

August 25, 2007

The Politics of Hypocrisy
By Evan R. Goldstein

Foxman has particularly distinguished himself by indulging in spineless acts of rhetorical ambiguity, declaring that "this is not an issue where we take a position one way or the other. This is an issue that needs to be resolved by the parties, not by us. We are neither historians nor arbiters." This from a man who rightfully claims that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial amounts to an attempt to destroy Jewish identity! This from the leader of an organization that has rightfully called on the world not to avert its eyes from the genocide underway in Sudan's Darfur region! (One wonders what Foxman would do if Khartoum were on friendly terms with Jerusalem.)

But the outrage only grew, and Foxman ultimately decided out of "concern for the unity of the Jewish community at a time of increased threats against the Jewish people, to revisit the tragedy that befell the Armenians." And upon "reflection, we have come to share the view of Henry Morgenthau Sr. that the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide." This statement, which the ADL released on Tuesday, is stunning on account of its total lack of integrity.

First, note the disingenuous way Foxman lays the groundwork for his disgracefully belated admission of the obvious, by attributing his reversal to the risk of disunity within the Jewish community. What does the unity or disunity of the Jewish people have to do with distinguishing between historical fact and malicious fabrication?

Second, note how Foxman completely fails to grasp the fundamental significance of Morgenthau's legacy (which he was nonetheless clearly intent on co-opting). Serving as America's ambassador in Istanbul at the time of the genocide, Morgenthau alerted his superiors in Washington that the ongoing persecution of Armenians was "assuming unprecedented proportions," ultimately characterizing Turkish aggression as an "effort to exterminate a whole race." (The word "genocide" was not coined until 1944.) And although the American response to Morgenthau's cables was dreadfully feeble, his actions testify to the ethical imperative of bearing witness and acknowledging inconvenient truths. In contrast, Foxman's statement of contrition diminishes the importance of the truth.

Third, note the weasel words "consequences" and "tantamount" - why not just say it was genocide? Long notorious for running the ADL like a personal fiefdom, Foxman has always resisted calls to plan for his eventual departure. In response to a 2003 effort by regional lay leaders to force Foxman's hand on this matter, he blithely told the Forward that when "I'm ready to retire or do something else, I will notify my lay leadership." As someone who believes in the enduring value of the ADL's work on behalf of a more tolerant and pluralistic America, I hope Foxman realizes the time has come.

Evan R. Goldstein is a writer in Washington, D.C. and a contributing editor at Moment magazine.

Lexington, Massachusetts Board of Selectmen Meeting
October 15, 2007

Helen Epstein

“It may be politically expedient to deny the Armenian genocide but it's morally wrong.

As the daughter of Czech Jews whose families were murdered during the Holocaust, [I understand] not only the facts of destruction of life, culture and community, but the long-term psychological ramifications of genocide and the healing power of validation.

. . . ‘It is very tempting to take the side of the perpetrator,’ writes Judith Lewis Herman. The perpetrator asks nothing of us but to be silent. The victim, on the contrary, asks the bystander to share the burden of pain. The victim demands action, engagement and remembering.

The head of the ADL has chosen not to do this. As a Jew who understands what this means, [I urge] that No Place for Hate sever ties with the ADL.”

Helen Epstein is the author of “Children of the Holocaust”