August 21, 2007


Calls It A Step Forward

Washington, DC – The Armenian Assembly of America today welcomed the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) statement, following repeated calls by members of the Armenian, Jewish and other communities in Massachusetts and elsewhere, to persuade the human rights group to reverse its longstanding policy on the Armenian Genocide.

The Assembly regrets however, that the ADL continues to oppose the Armenian Genocide resolutions pending in the House and Senate (H. Res. 106 and S. Res. 106) because the entire Armenian community the world over is convinced that this is the most viable option in the face of Turkey’s continuing denials and distortions. The United States owes the Armenian community the obligation of reaffirming its own record on this fact of world history. The ADL should follow the example of its grassroots activists in the Jewish-American community and support formal congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

The Assembly also remains concerned about the treatment of minorities in Turkey and calls upon the United States to impress upon its NATO ally to uphold the rule of law and respect the civil rights of the Jewish, Greek and Armenian minorities. This has been a matter of concern for many years and should have been long-ago resolved.

Considering the relations between Turkey and Israel, it is surprising to hear from as well-informed a source as the ADL that the Jewish community in Turkey may be put at risk should the U.S. Congress enact the Armenian Genocide Resolution. That should have stopped long ago in a country that purports to be a secular democracy. Perhaps Turkey should adopt the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program in its cities and municipalities.

The “No Place for Hate” program sparked the ire of the Armenian community in Watertown, Massachusetts last month when residents there learned that while the organization recognized the atrocities, it refused to qualify them as genocide. Remarkably, when Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national leader, was asked if he recognized that the events of 1915 in the Ottoman Empire constituted genocide, Foxman answered simply “I don’t know.”

The Armenian community responded by calling for a local and nationwide boycott of the “No Place for Hate” campaign until the ADL publicly recognized the Armenian Genocide. Earlier this week two members of the ADL Board, Stewart Cohen, a former chairman of the Polaroid Corp. and Boston City Council member Mike Ross, both stepped down after the ADL New England Regional Director Andrew H. Tarsy was fired for breaking rank with national ADL policy and acknowledging the Armenian Genocide.

Tarsy found Foxman’s position untenable and told the Boston Globe in no uncertain terms: “I strongly disagree with the ADL's national position. It's my strong hope that we'll be able to move forward in a relationship with the Armenian community and the community in general.”

The ADL is one of the oldest and most influential Jewish organizations in the United States and has been working to combat anti-Semitism and bigotry for more than 90 years.