Statement by Jewish Community in Armenia Addressed to Abraham Foxman

Abraham H. Foxman
National Director Anti-Defamation League

Dear Mr. Foxman,

The Jewish Community of Armenia has been following with great interest the recent developments in New England. What an extraordinary and historic month this is for all of us! The ADL took a firm and strong position, and publicly recognized the Armenian Genocide. We commend you. There is no room in this world for any genocide, against any people, to go unrecognized or unpunished. We also commend you for fully reinstating ADL New England Regional Director Andrew H. Tarsy. His conviction – and the ADL’s as well – that recognizing the Armenian Genocide is morally correct is vital to each of us.

ADL and all its supporters should be proud that ADL has confronted this issue and publicly acknowledged the Armenian Genocide.

However, Mr. Foxman, I also wish to convey to you my community’s deep regret that ADL does not support H. Res. 106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution pending in the U.S. Congress. My community fully supports this legislation which calls upon the President of the United States “to ensure that the foreign policy of the United States reflects appropriate understanding and sensitivity concerning issues related to human rights, ethnic cleansing, and genocide documented in the United States record relating to the Armenian Genocide, and for other purposes.”

We must speak up not only for ourselves, but also for those who are not heard. As stated in your biography (on the ADL website), “I think just as it is important to remember the brutality and bestiality, it is important to be able to bear witness to human compassion and the goodness of life. I want my children to be able to understand, that yes, there is evil and yes, there are Jews and other groups of people being persecuted even today, but there are also decent human beings who will stand up for others.” Your actions in publicly recognizing the Armenian Genocide and reinstating Mr. Tarsy articulate that belief. Yet, ADL support of H. Res. 106 is imperative and would be far more eloquent to any who dare to deny genocides. Without support of this resolution, the ADL position is not clear and straightforward and provides a dark shadow behind which deniers––and yes, even perpetrators––of genocides can hide.

It is our hope that the Anti-Defamation League will publicly support this important legislation.

As you know, January 27 is commemorated worldwide as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this day we reflect upon the horrors that befell our people, as well as the causes of that crime against humanity. It must be clearly understood that because the Armenian Genocide had not been properly recognized globally, and appropriate steps were not taken to ensure that such a tragedy never again occurred, the road was paved for Hitler to commit his atrocities against our people. Passage of H. Res. 106 is one step towards stopping future genocides.

Jews have lived on the territory of Armenia since the times of Armenian leader Tigran the Great (95-55 B.C.) Today, our community lives in peace and harmony in Armenia. We enjoy good relations with our Armenian brothers. Perhaps it is because our histories have been similar in that we have suffered discrimination, tragedy and genocide—only because we were Jewish or Armenian.

Last October, we unveiled the only memorial in the world dedicated to the memory of the victims of both the Jewish Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide. The memorial pays tribute to our forefathers and serves as a reminder that all of mankind must unite in combating injustice, inhumanity, and genocide. Each of us can—and must—take steps to promote democracy, mutual understanding, tolerance and dialogue. The ADL’s No Place for Hate program and Resolution of Respect is an excellent example of how this can be done.

Mankind can no longer afford denial of the Armenian Genocide. The Jewish Community of Armenia joins all supporters of the H. Res. 106 and expresses its hope that not only will the United States recognize and affirm the Armenian Genocide, but that the Jewish Community, worldwide, will do so as well.

Mr. Foxman, on behalf of my community in Armenia, I urge you and the Anti-Defamation League to publicly support H. Res. 106, joining over 220 Members of the U.S. Congress, over 50 human rights, ethnic and other organizations, representing millions of American citizens, including prominent Jewish Members of Congress and prominent Jewish organizations, and work with the Armenian Assembly of America to pass H. Res. 106.

Sincerely yours,

Rimma Varzhapetyan (Feller)

President of the Jewish Community of Armenia

August 30, 2007