2007.08.16 -- Jewish Advocate: Letters to the Editor Published on August 16, 2007

Letters to the editor

Don’t Single Out The ADL

Your article misconstrues our position on the Armenian massacre by the Ottoman Turks at the end of World War I (“ADL uproar in Watertown sparks debate on genocide,” Aug. 10).
ADL never has denied that the massacres took place. We believe that the Turkish government must do more than it has to confront its history and to seek reconciliation with the Armenian people. We have said that to the Turkish government and its officials, and continue to do so. We also continue to work to convince Turkey to pursue recognition and reconciliation, and we will seek ways to encourage this process.
We don’t understand why you are singling us out. ADL’s position on this issue is in line with that of a number of other major American Jewish organizations, who believe, like us, that efforts in Washington to enact legislation on the Turkey-Armenian question are counterproductive to the goal of having Turkey itself come to grips with its past. That is why we have taken no position on what action Congress should take on the measure.
We continue to believe this is the best way to proceed, particularly because Turkish Jews have expressed concerns about the impact on them of a U.S. Congressional resolution, because Turkey is a key strategic ally and friend of the United States, because Turkey is a critical friend of Israel and because Turkey is the most critical country in the world in the life and death struggle between Islamic extremists and moderate Islam. We also believe that legislative efforts outside of Turkey will continue to be counterproductive.
The controversy in Watertown is nothing more than an unfortunate attempt to derail a successful community program that works to confront hatred, prejudice and bigotry. It is sad that people who speak in terms of respect are indifferent to the positive impact of the “No Place for Hate” program.

Andrew H. Tarsy
New England Regional Director
Anti-Defamation League

We Can’t Deny A Genocide

Congratulations on getting this story out. It is indeed a very delicate issue and you’ve done a fabulous job.
The problem here is not just with Abe Foxman’s duplicity. The problem here is a lack of a long-term vision on the part of certain Jewish groups, and not just on the part of the ADL. If denialist agendas are allowed to succeed in repressing the reality of the Armenian genocide, then no one is safe. Next they will feel empowered to successfully deny the Holocaust.
The Armenian genocide occurred 90 years ago, and we see how easy it has become today for someone like Abe Foxman to simply refer to it as “history” and say “I don’t know what happened!” In 50 years or less, when there are no more Holocaust survivors, we will likely hear similar “arguments” from high-ranking public figures – just like we are hearing from Abe Foxman today.
Turkish denialists are gloating about their success at enlisting Jewish support in their campaign to defeat the Armenian Genocide resolution. But make no mistake, they are using the same tactics that are applied for Holocaust denial. And they are paying handsomely for it: There is ample evidence that Turkey has not only hired K-Street lobbyists but also prominent Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites to apply their sinister methods onto the Armenian genocide and the Armenian people.
Ironically, these same anti-Semites who voiced complaints about a “Holocaust industry” are now the ones profiting from a “denialism industry.”
In the long-term, it would indeed be a historical calamity if organizations such as the ADL inadvertently contributed to the propagation of such a “denialist industry.”

Dany Beylerian
Memphis, Tenn.

The Turks Are Not Trustworthy

I would like to comment on the article by Raphael Kohan (“ADL uproar in Watertown sparks debate on genocide,” Aug. 10) tackling the issue of ADL’s position on the Armenian genocide and the split that has resulted within the Jewish community.
As survivors of the Armenian genocide – yes today every living Armenian is a survivor of that crime that wanted to put an end to the existence of the Armenians – we look at the position of some Jewish organizations, and indeed the state of Israel, with utter sadness and disappointment. Here are a people, Jews, struggling daily against revisionism and the threat of war with a neighbor that threatens the existence of Israel, denying the same right to another people to establish the truth and safeguard the future by eliminating the threat of physical annihilation. Armenia today is surrounded by two Turkic nations who want nothing short of the elimination of the state of Armenia.
Armenians have lived long enough with the Turks to “taste” the benevolence of Turkish friendship. Israel is trying to convince herself that a moderate Islamic Turkey, whatever that means, is a good alternative to what surrounds her. History has shown how an entire population of this region were brought to the verge of elimination by believing in such deceitful friendship. The Young Turk regime in 1908 was supposed to liberate the citizens of the Ottoman Empire from the tyranny of the Sultan.

Zareh Sahakian

Don’t Ignore Armenian Loss

Under Article II of the Convention, the murder of 1.5 million Armenians is genocide. Genocide “acts with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” Simply put, some things are beyond qualification, and genocide is one of them. Using Turkish airspace and bases, sharing water resources and secrets, maintaining good relations for security have little to do with acknowledging the past. For God’s sake, we trade with Germany; we are tourists in Poland. The Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee make attempts to explain our community’s neutral stance, distance us, keep us bystanders to the Armenian genocide. The absolute minimal requirement of our community is to acknowledge that what really happened, really happened. Name it: genocide. Armenians are mad with desperation because withholding affirmation of their historical agony is crazy-making and, worse, keeps the wounds alive and, worse still, continues the wounding.

Tamar Miller