Needham Times: Letter to the Editor Published on November 28

Thanks for compassion and courage

I am writing to thank Ms. Liora Harari for her leadership on the Needham Human Rights Committee. On Wednesday, Nov. 14, the HRC voted to recommend to the Board of Selectmen that Needham suspend affiliation with No Place for Hate, a Human Rights program sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League. This change was necessitated when it was discovered that the ADL was itself guilty of a cruel human rights violation: genocide denial. Over a period of years, the ADL lobbied against Congressional recognition of the Armenian Genocide and, most recently, refused to make an unambiguous statement acknowledging it. Ms. Harari’s moral vision helped guide the HRC to see the conflict in affiliating Needham’s human rights program with an organization engaged in hate speech toward Needham residents of Armenian descent.

As an Israeli-American, Ms. Harari understands clearly the destructive effects of genocide denial. At an earlier meeting, she told the committee, “I come from a family of Holocaust survivors and I know that for them, the recognition of the Holocaust by the world and the recognition of Germany as being responsible for it was very important for them in the process of healing and moving forward.” Drawing on her personal experience, Ms. Harari recognized the injustice being done and was true to her responsibility on the HRC to protect the human rights of others. I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart for her compassion and courage.

Dianne Rees
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11/26 Jerusalem Report: ADL and the Turks

The Jerusalem Report
November 26, 2007

ADL and the Turks

Under a longstanding relationship, Jewish organizations have lobbied against legislation undermining U.S.-Turkish relations (ADL Spars with Armenians, Oct. 29). This strengthened U.S.-Turkish strategic ties and Israel's ties with its sole regional ally. It also furthered the well-being of Turkey's 20,000 Jews - living amidst 70 million Muslims - who are protected by their government but menaced by extremists.

Armenian activists deserve respect for preserving the memory of horrors suffered by their ancestors. But there is respectable, if not unanimous, historical literature concluding there was no genocide. I saw evidence in Van, Turkey, of massacres of Muslims by Russian soldiers collaborating with Armenian insurgents.

ADL National Director Abraham Foxman fired his Boston director for saying it was genocide. When Boston ADL leaders rebelled, Foxman panicked and - without research - reversed decades of ADL policy by saying it was "tantamount to genocide." Foxman's explanation that he was preserving "Jewish unity" is maladroit because he acted against interests of Israel and Turkish Jews. Jak Kamhi, leader of Turkish Jews (whom Foxman did not consult despite promising for years to protect them), wrote, "ADL has put at risk our community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the U.S."

Foxman did say the ADL would oppose the genocide resolution in Congress. But his volte-face strengthened its proponents; if there was genocide, why not proclaim it? The ADL failed to comprehend three key factors: 1. Turks view the campaign as branding them a nation of criminals. It is as if a parliament condemned Israel as genocidal because of Deir Yassin. Turkey's government, pressured by nationalists, could not fail to act against U.S. strategic interests (e.g., supply of troops in Iraq) if the resolution passed. 2. ADL's abrupt reversal precipitated accusations that Jews were conspiring to defame Turkey. Of course, anti-Semitism is to be condemned (Turkey's government should have done more), but Foxman clumsily gave ammunition to those inclined to blame Jews. 3. Armenian activists, who seek to shatter U.S.-Turkish ties, cannot be placated. The ADL remains under fierce attack from Armenians for opposing the resolution.

Other organizations successfully navigated this minefield. JINSA and B'nai B'rith International opposed stigmatizing Turkey as contrary to U.S. interests. The American Jewish Committee revised its position in a thoughtful blog that did not attract brickbats.

A genocide resolution in a prior Congress was halted by a phone call from Shimon Peres to President Clinton. This time, the resolution was shelved when congressmen belatedly realized it portended disaster for the United States. The ADL's actions diminished the importance of the Jewish community as allies of Turkey.

Joel J. Sprayregen Chicago

(The writer is former National Vice Chair of ADL and a member of the Executive Committee of JINSA, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.)

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Lexington Minuteman: Letters to the Editor Published on November 22, 2007

A missed opportunity

I was extremely disappointed to hear that at its National Meeting, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide. This means that the ADL as a whole and not only its national director believe that it is acceptable for a human rights organization to help Turkey’s genocide denial campaign by opposing U.S. recognition of the Armenian genocide.

Before this meeting, I was willing to give the ADL the benefit of the doubt, and blame its hypocritical policy on ADL national director Abraham Foxman alone. Sadly, the ADL lost the opportunity to become the human rights organization it claims to be, and is not qualified to sponsor programs like No Place for Hate in our communities.

Jirayr Beugekian
Emerson Gardens Road

ADL agenda confirmed

On Nov. 2, the National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) announced that it had “decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.” On Nov. 3, the Boston Globe reported that Massachusetts ADL representatives were satisfied with the outcome, as they were assured that the group’s earlier statements were “always intended to be an unequivocal acknowledgement of the Armenian genocide.”

No change in the Anti-Defamation League’s stance on the Armenian genocide means no change in the organization’s policy to oppose congressional affirmation of this crime against humanity. In fact, since the latest controversy in Massachusetts, various ADL representatives have met with Turkish government officials to assure them of the organization’s staunch support for their campaign against recognition of the genocide by the U.S. Congress. On Sept. 26, Abraham Foxman, the ADL’s national director, participated in a meeting honoring Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan in which the latter openly engaged in denialist rhetoric.

It is no secret that the Anti-Defamation League has long been working on behalf of the Turkish government to undermine efforts to secure congressional affirmation of the Armenian genocide. As such, it has become a human rights organization that offers its services to a foreign government engaging in genocide denial. The ADL National Commission’s latest decision in favor of the status quo comes to confirm that the organization is determined to continue to abet Turkey’s denialist agenda, and it is a shame that its Massachusetts representatives have gone along with this verdict.

The Anti-Defamation League is supposed to be a human rights organization. It has chosen to continue to act as an agent of the Turkish government’s campaign of genocide denial. It follows that it can no longer be trusted to be involved with human rights issues in our towns and cities. Because of these reasons, I thank the Lexington Board of Selectmen for dissociating our town from the ADL.

Lilian Mahrokhian M.D.
Marrett Road
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Several More Massachusetts Communities Withdraw from No Place for Hate Program

ADL national condemned for failing to unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and for its opposition to US recognition

ANCEM Press Release
November 21, 2007

Bedford, Massachusetts this week became the second municipality in two weeks to end ties with the Anti Defamation League (ADL) following the decision of the ADL’s meeting of its national commissioners to “take no further action on the issue of the Armenian Genocide,” reported the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts.

Bedford joined the city of Medford, which also decided to end ties with the ADL’s No Place for Hate (NPFH) program because of the ADL’s policy on the Armenian Genocide. Also this month Needham and Newburyport took steps toward ending their communities’ ties with the ADL.

Over the past few months, other Massachusetts towns including Watertown, Newton, Westwood, Belmont, Arlington, and Lexington have withdrawn from the ADL’ s NPFH program, due to the ADL’s policy on the Armenian Genocide.

The ADL held its national commissioners’ meeting on November 2 at which time the ADL was expected to formally evaluate its policy on the Armenian Genocide.
In a one-sentence press statement dated November 2, the ADL announced that it “decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

Armenian American organizations were not satisfied

“Municipalities were left with no choice,” stated Sharistan Melkonian of the Armenian National Committee. “Many of us had hoped that the ADL-National would rethink its policies at its national commissioners’ meeting, properly and unambiguously recognize the Armenian Genocide, and put an end to its efforts to actively oppose its reaffirmation by Congress. It is disappointing that the ADL didn’t come to the right side of this issue.”

Herman Purutyan, Massachusetts chair of the Armenian Assembly agreed. "The national commissioners of the ADL had an opportunity to restore the league's credibility as a Human Rights organization by unequivocally recognizing the Armenian Genocide and ending its opposition to the US recognition of this Genocide. Instead, they missed this opportunity and chose to take no action on Armenian Genocide recognition during their annual meeting,” stated Purutyan. “Town after town is coming to the conclusion that an organization that refuses to properly recognize a genocide and actively opposes its wider recognition is not the right partner to promote tolerance in our communities."

The No Place for Denial team went one step further with its criticism. “By this decision, the ADL has formally chosen political expediency over a clear moral imperative --that of condemning and combating genocide and Holocaust denial in all its forms-- and has disqualified itself as a defender of human rights for all,” stated Sevag Arzoumanian. “What the Armenian community, the Jewish community and the human rights community expected of the ADL national meeting was that they take a clear stand to distance themselves from the policies of the past: aiding and abetting the government of Turkey to diminish and deny the Armenian Genocide in the United States.”

On November 19, the Bedford Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to suspend the town's participation in the ADL-sponsored NPFH program. Selectmen noted that the ADL's failure to further clarify its position regarding the Armenian Genocide at its National Convention in early November was the reason for this action. The Board of Selectmen acted on the recommendation of Bedford 's Violence Prevention Coalition (VPC), which met the previous week and issued a statement recommending suspending the town's participation in the NPFH program because of the ADL's position on the Armenian Genocide.

According to the VPC statement, “The stance of the ADL regarding the Armenian Genocide is contrary to the mission of the VPC. We expect the ADL to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and endorse the Resolution regarding it now before Congress.”

In a letter urging the Selectmen to follow through with the VPC’s decision, representatives of the Bedford Armenian community stated, “The ADL decided to maintain its long-standing policy regarding the Armenian Genocide, which was discussed at its national meeting held November 2, 2007. As such, it remains the policy of the ADL to refrain from unequivocal acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide and separately to engage in lobbying efforts to prevent symbolic recognition of this by the United States Government.”

The letter continued, “In view of this defining moment for the organization with its final decision on this critical human rights matter, it is clear that the ADL does not have the moral authority to sponsor any kind of tolerance and diversity program… None benefit when the sponsor of a town program discriminates against a segment of the town’s population, denying its historical truths and seeking to prevent recognition of this.”

Less than one week before the Bedford decision, the Medford City Council voted to suspend the city’s membership to the NPFH program citing the ADL’s failure to support national recognition of the Armenian genocide. In light of this decision, the Medford Human Rights Committee this week removed NPFH signs across the city.

On November 14, the Needham Human Rights Commission (HRC) voted to recommend that the town’s Board of Selectmen suspend its involvement in the NPFH program. At the Needham HRC meeting, two representatives from the regional ADL spoke about the results of the organization’s national commissioners’ meeting. The Needham decision came approximately a month and a half after the HRC sent a letter to the ADL asking the organization to unequivocally recognize the Armenian Genocide and back Congressional legislation doing the same.

In September Needham’s HRC sent a letter to the ADL declaring that the HRC was surprised and disappointed “that the national board of the ADL has not stood with the Armenians as they seek justice and fair treatment.”

The letter further called on the ADL national to “acknowledge the Armenian genocide as a genocide, not 'tantamount to genocide'; support the resolution before Congress which officially recognizes the Armenian genocide; and to make these policy changes promptly.”

The HRC and others had hoped the ADL would change its policy at its November 2 meeting.

Also on November 14, the Newton Human Rights Commission--which two months prior had voted to "cease participation in the ADL sponsored NPFH program" unless the ADL came to the right side of the issue at their November meeting-- resolved to take "no further action" or have any further discussion of the issue. The commissioners simply stated that "the HRC and the City of Newton stand firm on their prior decision.”

Just one day before the Needham and Newton action on November 13, the Arlington No Place for Hate steering committee voted to permanently end its relationship with the ADL. Earlier this fall Arlington’s NPFH program had suspended its association with the ADL because the ADL has failed to recognize unambiguously the Armenian Genocide and has opposed efforts in Congress to do so. The decision was endorsed by the town’s Human Rights Commission and its Board of Selectmen, in hopes that the ADL would change its policy at its November meeting.

Earlier this month Newburyport’s Commission for Diversity and Tolerance also voted to sever ties with the ADL’s NPFH program.

“If the ADL didn’t purport to be a human rights organization whose mission is ‘to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike,’ they would be considered like any other advocacy organization,” stated Melkonian. “But they claim to be a human rights organization and as such, have come into our towns, our schools. They teach our children. We all expect more from human rights organizations. We expected more from the ADL.”


The ADL has for many years refused to acknowledge that the systematic massacre of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 was genocide. To make matters worse, the ADL has actively engaged in efforts to oppose Congressional affirmation of the Armenian Genocide.

Only after intense pressure which started in Watertown, Massachusetts earlier this summer did the national ADL issue a “Statement on the Armenian Genocide” on August 21, 2007.

Referring to the events of 1915-1918, the statement declared, “The consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide.” Aside from the fact that the Armenian Genocide began in 1915 and continued through 1923, the statement was not a full, unequivocal acknowledgement of the Armenian Genocide.

Not only was the qualifier “tantamount” inappropriate, but the use of the word “consequences” was seen by many as an attempt to circumvent the international legal definition of genocide by avoiding any language that would imply intent, a crucial aspect of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention definition.

The ADL convened its national meeting in New York City in early November at which time the issue of the Armenian Genocide was discussed.

Upon conclusion, a one sentence press statement was issued that “The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

Recent Efforts by the Armenian American Community Toward an ADL policy Change

In October the Armenian National Committee of Massachusetts and the Armenian Assembly of Massachusetts sent a joint letter and information packet through the New England ADL to the ADL commissioner’s meeting.

The letter contained three specific demands. “We ask that the ADL remain true to its mission and 1) fully and unequivocally acknowledge the Armenian Genocide, 2) refrain from advocating for Turkish calls for a “historical commission,” and 3) express support for U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

In addition, the national office of ANCA sent a letter to the ADL officially endorsing the contents of the Massachusetts community letter. “I am writing, as you prepare for your national meeting, to go on the record formally requesting that the national leadership of the Anti-Defamation League clearly recognize the Armenian Genocide and openly support proper U.S. recognition of this crime against humanity…,” stated Aram Hamparian, Executive Director of the ANCA. “We share the points raised and concerns expressed by our Massachusetts chapter, along with our friends in the Armenian Assembly’s Massachusetts chapter, in their letter, and join with them in respectfully requesting an apology from Abraham Foxman for his longstanding denial of the Armenian Genocide.”

A strongly worded letter addressed to Mr. Foxman was also sent by Archbishop Khajag Barsamian on behalf of the Diocese of the Armenian Church. “While the ADL’s position on the recognition of the genocide has become clearer, I urge you and your colleagues to take the next, necessary step and make unequivocally clear the condemnation of the Armenian Genocide… To acknowledge the Armenian Genocide only to speak against resolutions condemning it sets a terrible, moral precedent. Recognition leads to condemnation and without that, there can be no steps towards prevention… I urge you and all members of the ADL leadership, to join in removing all objections to the condemnation of any and every genocide and crime against humanity.”

These letters and the “Informational Packet” which accompanied the ANC/Assembly letter can be accessed at:

For complete information about the ADL controversy surrounding the Armenian Genocide visit
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Letter from Bedford Violence Prevention Coalition to Bedford Selectmen Regarding Bedford’s Participation in “No Place For Hate” Program

Violence Prevention Coalition
Town of Bedford
Bedford Massachusetts 01730

November 14, 2007

TO: Bedford Selectmen
FROM: The Violence Prevention Coalition
DATE: November 6, 2007
RE: Bedford’s Participation in “No Place For Hate” program

Dear Selectmen:

As you will recall, after our meeting September 4, 2007 we sent you a letter saying that we were taking a serious look at Bedford’s participation in the ADL’s “No Place For Hate” program. We told you we were awaiting a decision by the ADL regarding the position they had taken on the Armenian Genocide resolution before Congress. We submitted this statement to you at that time:

“The stance of the ADL regarding the Armenian Genocide is contrary to the mission of the VPC. We expect the ADL to unambiguously acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and endorse the Resolution regarding it now before Congress. Unless the ADL does so, we would recommend that Bedford suspend participation in No Place for Hate.”

After their meeting in early November, the ADL posted the following notice on their website:
“ADL National Commission Decides To Take No Further Action on Armenian Genocide Issue
“New York, NY, November 2, 2007 … The National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today, at its annual meeting, decided to take no further action on the issue of the Armenian genocide.”

Clearly we were hoping for a different response from the National ADL. We believe that their position on this issue is in conflict with the basic values of the ADL’s own mission statement which reads,
"The immediate object of the League is to stop, by appeals to reason and conscience and, if necessary, by appeals to law, the defamation of the Jewish people. Its ultimate purpose is to secure justice and fair treatment to all citizens alike and to put an end forever to unjust and unfair discrimination against and ridicule of any sect or body of citizens."
ADL Charter
October 1913

After due and thoughtful consideration, the Violence Prevention Coalition now recommends that Bedford suspend its participation in the ADL program. We believe that the ADL’s position has undermined its own program. We believe that organizations and communities cannot pick and choose when to be “No Place for Hate” and when not to be. We see this as an opportunity to demonstrate a non-violent response to an action that we find in conflict with our values.

We have chosen the word “suspend” carefully; we want to leave open the door for hope that we might be able to reverse this decision at some future time. By suspend we mean that we will not at this time post the signs and symbols of the No Place for Hate program nor will we accept program money or be an active participant in that program.

The Violence Prevention Coalition was established in 1997. We were first designated a “No Place for Hate” community in 2002. We served Bedford with programs before that designation and we will continue to do this work. We are committed to our mission that reads, “We believe that all forms of violence are unacceptable and that community life requires nonviolent resolution of conflict.” We will continue to focus on our goal “of being proactive in stemming the tide of violence through education, resource identification, referral networking, and direct assistance, where appropriate, and in general creating an atmosphere for peaceful resolution of conflict.”

The Violence Prevention Coalition

Jim Hicks, Bedford Police
Cathy Cordes, Bedford Selectman
Carolyn Bottum, Bedford Council on Aging
Sue Baldauf, Bedford Youth and Family Services
Linda Christen, First Church/Bedford High School Parents Association
Schwanna Collins, Hansom Air Force Base
Lois Pulliam, Human Relations Council
Carolyn Colonero, Congregational Church, Councilor-at-large
Frank Fornaro, St. Paul's Episcopal Church
John Gibbons and Maud Robinson, First Parish Unitarian Universalist
Nancy Asbedian, Network for Women’s Lives
Renee Anderson, John Glenn Middle SchoolJacquelin Apsler Domestic Violence Services/DVVAP
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Lexington Minuteman: Letter to the Editor Published on November 15, 2007

Foxman isn’t the problem

At the Sept. 24 meeting of the Lexington Board of Selectmen which I attended, a Jewish-American woman, citing the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) denial of the Armenian genocide, urged the selectmen to sever ties with the ADL. She also expressed her belief that the problem with the ADL was its national director, Abraham Foxman.

Unfortunately, that turned out to be wrong. The ADL National Meeting had the opportunity to reverse Mr. Foxman’s long-standing opposition to Armenian genocide recognition, but chose not to do so. Therefore, we can no longer blame Mr. Foxman alone for the ADL’s double standard in combating Holocaust and genocide denial.

The ADL, supposedly a human rights organization, has given in to the blackmail of the Turkish state, which funds a multi-million genocide denial campaign. By refusing to change the ADL’s position at its National Meeting, the ADL, not just Mr. Foxman, decided to continue abetting Turkey’s denial of the Armenian genocide. The Lexington Board of Selectmen did the right thing in dissociating Lexington from the ADL.

Anny Deirmenjian
Chadboure Road
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Holocaust Education Week Presents Nazi Germany, Armenians and Jews

International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies
(A Division of the Zoryan Institute)

November 16, 2007

Toronto, Canada—It was an eye-opening experience for the people of Temple Har Zion and the Armenian Community Centre to learn that there are so many links between the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust, as presented in a lecture by Prof. Eric D. Weitz, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of History and Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair in the College of Liberal Arts, where he is also Chair of the History Department.

Len Rudner, National Director of Community Relations for the Canadian Jewish Congress, noted in his introductory remarks, “This is the 27th year of Holocaust Education Week, an event sponsored by the UJ Federation’s Holocaust Education Centre of Toronto. It is one of the most comprehensive Holocaust education programs in the world. Our goal is to educate people of all ages, ethnic backgrounds and religions about the Holocaust and the extreme dangers of religious and racial intolerance.” In that spirit, the lecture was organized by the International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (A Division of the Zoryan Institute), with the participation of the Armenian Community Centre the Armenian General Benevolent Union of Toronto, and the Canadian Jewish Congress-Ontario Region.

Prof. Weitz began his lecture by discussing Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word “genocide.” Lemkin, who was deeply influenced by his study of both the Armenian Genocide and the Jewish Holocaust, devoted his life to creating international law for the prevention and punishment of genocide, adopted as the United Nations Genocide Convention in 1948. In his autobiography, Lemkin expressed disappointment and concern that the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide had not been punished by the Allied Powers. Some of the other points Weitz discussed are presented below.

  • Contrary to orders, German Army medic Armin T. Wegner, took many pictures of the Armenian Genocide, some of which have survived and become iconic representations of this terrible crime against humanity. Wegner was the same German humanitarian who, in 1933, dared write a personal letter to Adolf Hitler protesting Nazi Germany’s treatment of the Jews. That act resulted in his own persecution by the Nazis and his exile from Germany.
  • The use of technology to facilitate the destruction of the Armenians and Jews was used by both the Young Turks and the Nazis. For example, the trains to deport Jews efficiently to the concentration camps have become a widely recognized symbol of the Holocaust. Similarly, the Ottomans used trains to move large numbers of Armenians to eastern Turkey where they were subsequently marched to the desert of Der Zor and their ultimate death.

  • Germany’s foreign policy, as the military and political ally of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, was interested in seeing that empire succeed in its war aims so that Germany itself could expand its influence eastwards into the region. Accordingly, when German consular officials in the Ottoman Empire continually wrote to Berlin protesting the Turkish annihilation of the Armenians, the German government by and large chose to ignore it. This is the same policy followed during World War II in its expansion eastward into Poland and beyond.

  • German officers served with Turkish commanders as military advisors. They observed the Armenian Genocide first-hand, some were actively involved, and some went on to become Nazi supporters.

  • The cold, impersonal reporting by some German officials in the Ottoman Empire as they described the extermination of the Armenians was echoed in the reports by Nazi bureaucrats regarding the number of Jews exterminated in the eastern front.

  • The absence of punishment for the perpetrators of the Armenian Genocide by the Allied Powers gave confidence to Hitler to declare in August 1939, “Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians,” while justifying to his generals his plan to kill, oppress, and brutalize the Poles, and to conclude that he could get away with exterminating the Jews and committing other crimes against humanity.

  • The radical nature of both political parties—the CUP in the case of the Turks and the Nazis in the case of the Germans—took control of the government and succeeded in mobilizing significant sectors of society to be involved in the mass killing, or at least condone it.

Giving a positive example of similarities, Prof. Weitz mentioned that there were many cases of gentiles who saved Jews, as were there Turks who also saved Armenians.

Not being familiar with the connections between the two cases of genocide, and empowered by Prof. Weitz’s historical information and analysis, the audience raised numerous earnest questions about the linkages and particularly the relation of geo-politics to denial. It was pointed out by one audience member that the recent denial of the Holocaust by the President of Iran and the recent support for Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide by the President of Israel caused a great outcry around the world, because of the pain both those denials caused survivors of the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide and their descendants.

“This was a timely collaboration between Jewish and Armenian organizations,” said another member of the audience, referring to the recent controversy surrounding the Anti-Defamation League in the United States, which publicly opposed official American recognition of the Armenian Genocide, House Resolution 106, and the recent complicity in that effort by top officials in Israel and the United States.

Prof. Weitz closed his lectures by stating that genocide is not only a political decision but a personal choice, not an accident. He stated that the “Holocaust and Armenian Genocide are too important to be left just to the Armenians and Turks or the Jews and Germans, as the common history and lessons they contain should be used to help ensure that no community has to suffer in the future what they did in the past.”

George Shirinian, IIGHRS Executive Director, stated his “firm belief in the solidarity of Armenians and Jews, as well as other national groups who have endured the overwhelming trauma of genocide, as these are inter-related and part of a continuum of human tragedy. We have much to teach the world, and we have much to learn from one another.”

The International Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies (A Division of the Zoryan Institute) is dedicated to the study and dissemination of knowledge regarding the phenomenon of genocide in all of its aspects. This is achieved through the annual Genocide and Human Rights University Program, public lectures, seminars and publication of Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal in partnership with the International Association of Genocide Scholars and the University of Toronto Press.
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11/08 Boston Globe: Letters to the Editor

It's simple, ADL: It's either justice for all, or else it's not

Advocating severing ties with the Anti-Defamation League is emotional rhetoric expressing anti-injustice and not anti-Semitism.

In reading the article "Hard to forget: Debate over ADL stance unleashes painful memories" (Globe NorthWest, Nov. 1), I felt sorry that anyone is left with the latter impression.

Any organization that supports universal concepts but for political reasons practices selectivity cannot help but be suspect and have the intent of its programs questioned.

ADL appears to have a distinct bias that speaks against the very program it is advocating. What I believe many Armenian groups and Jewish groups are saying is that either one believes in justice for all, or one doesn't believe in justice for all.

To put on a universal hat and preach selectivity can be construed as promoting injustice; at the least it is dishonest and misleading.


In dumping No Place for Hate, a rush to judgment

Congratulations to you and your reporter, Penny Schwartz, on the sensitively reported article "Hard to Forget: Debate over ADL stance unleashes painful memories" (Globe NorthWest, Nov. 1).

According to the story, one of your interviewees claims that we are all better for having to face the question of the ADL's position on the Armenian genocide.

I would have agreed several months ago. But since then, communities have destroyed their No Place for Hate programs despite the national ADL's change in policy and decision to take up the matter at its November meeting.

The ADL's prior stand on the Armenian genocide came not from a hatred of Armenians, but from a concern for the welfare of Jewish people living in Israel and Turkey. It is distressing that many activists refused to acknowledge the poignancy of the ADL's motives, however wrong-headed its conclusions.

The dedicated people of Lexington's NPFH steering committee came out loud and clear against the national ADL. Their proven record of profoundly great work entitled them - and our community - to the courtesy of a few more weeks for a final ADL decision.

Instead, we saw activists who were denied access to an NPFH steering committee meeting accusing NPFH of violating open meeting laws - laws which, in fact, did not apply. In this way, they manufactured a phony scandal in an attempt to smear a group of citizens who, for seven years, served Lexington with distinction and undeniable integrity.

The opposite of genocide is reasonableness and compassion. I see neither in the rhetoric of some activists or in the premature decisions of our communities to end their NPFH programs. So how, exactly, are we better off?

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Foxman and Tarsy on The Forward 50

The Forward 50 is a list is compiled each year by the Forward's staff, based on what we have reported over the past year, what we have heard from community members speaking about other community members and whatever objective signposts ― rising or falling budgets, book sales, published buzz, adoption of new laws or proposals ― can be deemed to indicate public influence.

Membership in the 50 doesn't mean that the Forward endorses what these individuals do or say. We've chosen them because they are doing and saying things that are making a difference in the way American Jews, for better or worse, view the world and themselves.

Abraham Foxman

Accused by The New York Times Magazine of crying wolf on antisemitism, by political scientists John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt of stifling debate on Israel and by Armenian groups of denying the truth of the Armenian genocide, it's been a rough year for Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. Yet, despite all the barbs, Foxman, 67, shows little sign of slowing down. He is at once a lightning rod and a battering ram - with Foxman, the metaphors come easily - and quite possibly the most influential figure at work in the Jewish organizational world today. Though his most trusted medium remains the sharply worded press release, Foxman this year published a book, "The Deadliest Lies: The Israel Lobby and the Myth of Jewish Control," that offers a sustained, sober retort both to Walt-Mearsheimer and to Jimmy Carter's "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."

But perhaps the most bruising battle of the year, both for Foxman and the organization he has headed for 20 years, was the debate over the Armenian genocide. The ADL, like other major Jewish organizations, has long avoided the term "genocide" in referring to the World War I-era massacres of Armenians, in deference to Turkey's role as Israel's most important friend in the Muslim world. But when Armenian groups in Massachusetts began to press for a boycott of an ADL anti-bigotry program - and when the ADL's own regional leadership repudiated the national organization's policy - Foxman was forced into an awkward about-face. It was an issue rife with painful ironies. The ADL, normally so vigilant when it to comes to the language of genocide, suddenly let such sensitivities fall by the wayside. It was the Armenians who seemed to be using the ADL's usual playbook. And yet, when the House Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution calling the massacres genocide - and Turkish-American relations became strained overnight as a result - Foxman's concerns suddenly seemed prescient.

Andrew Tarsy

For all but a few days this past year, Andrew Tarsy, 38, was the New England regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. But it's those missing few days that are the key. In an August 16 phone conversation with the ADL's national director, Abraham Foxman, Tarsy labeled "morally indefensible" the organization's unwillingness to describe the World War I-era massacres of Armenians as "genocide." He was fired the next day. But just four tumultuous days later, Foxman, facing an uprising from Boston Jewish leaders galvanized by Tarsy's act of defiance, changed course and called what happened to the Armenians "tantamount to genocide." Tarsy was reinstated soon thereafter. Tarsy, who served in the Civil Rights Division of the Clinton Justice Department before joining the League, showed that, contrary to popular belief, the ADL is more than just a platform for Foxman: It can be a forum for debate and dissent, capable of being nudged in the right direction when it strays.
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11/06 Harut Sassounian: Genocide and Holocaust Deniers Must be Condemned, Not Honored

By Harut Sassounian

Publisher, The California Courier

It goes without saying that those who deny any genocide must be condemned, not honored. There should be no exceptions and no double standards. Yet, periodically, one comes across bizarre situations when those who engage in genocide denial are rewarded rather than ostracized by none other than those who condemn Holocaust denial.

Last month, the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, traveled to Armenia to discuss bilateral trade and review major projects being undertaken by the two countries. After meeting with Armenia’s leaders, the Iranian President visited Yerevan State University (YSU) where he gave a brief talk to students and answered their questions. He carefully sidestepped the issue of the Armenian Genocide, by simply stating that Iran condemns all crimes against humanity. Following the established protocol for all visiting heads of state, YSU officials dutifully handed Ahmadinejad an honorary doctorate and a gold medal. Apparently, no one at the University bothered to make an independent assessment of whether the visiting dignitary deserved to be honored or not. In October 2006, when the President of Romania visited Yerevan, he too was presented an honorary doctorate and a gold medal by YSU, even after he told university students that he was not prepared to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide in order not to ruin his country’s friendly relations with Turkey.

Last month, after YSU hosted Ahmadinejad, various Jewish groups condemned the Armenian University for honoring the Iranian President, a notorious Holocaust denier.

Rima Varzhapetyan, the President of the Jewish community of Armenia, was the first to criticize YSU. Contrary to some American Jewish groups, she is fully entitled to do so, as she does not practice a double standard. Indeed, Ms. Varzhapetyan properly and even-handedly condemns all genocide and Holocaust deniers. Hence, she has earned the moral right to criticize such wrongdoing by her Armenian countrymen.

Other Jewish groups, however, have abdicated that right. Both the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued statements last week condemning YSU for honoring Ahmadinejad. It is highly improper and unethical for the AJC to criticize YSU, given AJC’s refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide and its collaboration with Turkey’s denialist regime. This is an egregious example of a double standard. Those who live in glass houses should not throw stones at others. AJC’s leaders have lost the moral standing to lecture anyone else about the denial of the Holocaust. Therefore, their criticism of YSU cannot be taken seriously.

Even more dubious is the position of Abraham Foxman, ADL’s National Director. After refusing to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide for many years, Foxman was recently forced by influential and righteous Boston-area Jewish leaders to issue a statement that included a reference to the Armenian Genocide. Even more surprising is the fact that Foxman dared to criticize YSU for honoring Ahmadinejad, yet he himself presented Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister of Turkey and a denier of the Armenian Genocide, ADL’s “Courage to Care Award” back in 2005 at the organization’s headquarters in New York.

It is noteworthy that some members of the Jewish community were quick to criticize Foxman’s actions. Molly Freeman, a reader from Berkeley, California, sent a letter to the editor of The Forward, harshly condemned the ADL for presenting an award to Erdogan.

In her letter titled, “ADL acts hypocritically in honoring Turkish PM,” Freeman wrote: “So egregious is the ADL award to a head of a state that denies responsibility for the annihilation of 1.5 million of its own Armenian citizens that I believe the ADL is contributing to antisemitism. What could be more hypocritical and useful to anti-Jewish bigotry than honoring a denier of genocide? The ADL is not making the world safe for Jews; rather it is contributing to our insecurity and to the discontinuity of our moral tradition. I wish that the ADL would take seriously the words of Hillel: What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. In the case of the award to Erdogan, the ADL is actually denying a cornerstone of rabbinic law as it dishonors its neighbors, the Armenians. By rewarding Erdogan, it is doing something it never would countenance to be done to Jews.”

A similarly shameful double standard was exhibited by yet another Jewish group, the American Jewish Congress, which honored Erdogan in 2004 with its “Profiles in Courage” award in New York.

Two Armenian American newspapers, the Armenian Weekly and the Armenian Reporter, in their editorials last week rightly criticized YSU for giving an award to Ahmadinejad. However, both newspapers should have also condemned the ADL and the American Jewish Congress for honoring Turkey’s denialist Prime Minister.

Condemning the denial of the Holocaust should not be a one-way street. There should not be a double standard. The Armenian Weekly’s editorial correctly pointed out that Ahmadinejad and Erdogan have made similar calls for more research to find out whether these atrocities have in fact occurred - a call that is shamefully supported by the ADL and others in the case of the Armenian Genocide, but not the Holocaust. Just as Armenian-American organizations never question the Holocaust, Jewish groups should never question the facts of the Armenian Genocide.

Jews and Armenians and everyone else should apply the same standard in dealing with genocide and Holocaust denial. No one should get away with denying either tragedy and no group should honor anyone who dishonors the memory of the victims of such crimes against humanity.

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Community Public Forum on November 7 @ 7:30pm

Community Public Forum

What is going on with
* H.Res 106, the Armenian Genocide Resolution, and
* No Place for Hate, the ADL and the Armenian Genocide

Wednesday, November 7, 2007
7:30 – 8:30 pm
[event to start at 7:30 pm sharp]

Holy Cross Armenian Catholic Church
200 Lexington Street, Belmont MA 02478

What is going on with the Armenian Genocide resolution in DC?
Anthony Barsamian, Armenian Assembly
Sharistan Ardhaldjian, Armenian National Committee

What is new with No Place for Hate, the ADL and the Armenian Genocide?
No Place for Denial Team

Free and Open to the Public

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Wiesel is Right on Genocide Recognition; Wrong on Armenians’ Quest for Justice

Nov. 1, 2007
The California Courier

By Harut Sassounian
Publisher, The California Courier

The Philadelphia Jewish Voice published on October 28 an important interview with Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. Reporter Charles Smolover asked him to comment on the fact that "some in the Jewish community are reluctant to touch this issue [congressional resolution on the Armenian Genocide] for fear of damaging Turkey’s relationship with Israel."

Mr. Wiesel’s response: "I have been fighting for the right of the Armenian people to remember for years and years. How could I, who has fought all my life for Jewish remembrance, tell the Armenians they have no right to remember? But I understand the [Bush] administration's view. Fortunately, as a private citizen I don’t have to worry about Turkey’s response. But I do feel that had there been the word ‘genocide’ in those days, what happened to the Armenians would have been called genocide. Everyone agrees there was mass murder, but the word came later. I believe the Armenians are the victims and, as a Jew, I should be on their side."

This is a very important and straightforward answer from someone of Mr. Wiesel’s moral stature. As an internationally-acclaimed personality, his pronouncements carry great weight. Despite the fact that the reporter’s question linked the recognition of the Armenian Genocide to possible damage to Israel’s relations with Turkey, Mr. Wiesel remained steadfast on the side of the truth.

Mr. Wiesel, however, was not as forceful back in 1982 when the Israeli Foreign Ministry, under pressure from the Turkish government, asked him to exclude Armenian scholars from an international conference on the Holocaust and Genocide that was to be held in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Faced with the dilemma of not wanting to eliminate Armenian participation or acceding to Israeli government’s demands, Mr. Wiesel resigned as president of the conference. He explained that he chose to remove himself rather than challenge the Israeli government’s demands, because he had to be mindful of the threat to Jewish lives in Turkey.

In recent years, Mr. Wiesel has been much more resolute in defense of the Armenian Genocide. In his introduction to the 1986 French edition of Franz Werfel’s Forty Days of Musa Dagh, he described the brutalities committed by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian minority as "mass murders aimed at the extermination of a people in its entirety," and called the brutal killings "the first genocide of the 20th century."

On March 7, 2000, he joined 126 Holocaust scholars in signing a joint statement affirming that the Armenian Genocide was an incontestable historical fact and called on Western governments to likewise recognize it as such.

Earlier this year, he joined more than 50 other Nobel Laureates in signing a statement that recognized the Armenian Genocide.

On August 21, 2007 Abraham Foxman, the National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, said he consulted Elie Wiesel before issuing a statement acknowledging for the first time that "the consequences" of the Armenian atrocities were "indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide."

Mr. Wiesel, however, leaves a lot to be desired in answering Philadelphia Jewish Voice reporter’s second question on whether "the Turks have an obligation to take some responsibility" for the Armenian Genocide?

Mr. Wiesel responded by saying: "No one is asking for the Turks to take responsibility. All the Armenians want is the right to remember. Seven generations separate us from the events that happened in World War I and nobody in his right mind would say that today's Turks are responsible for what happened. The Armenians don’t want reparations; they don’t even want an apology. They want the right to remember. The Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened. I have spoken with Turkish leaders at the highest level and their attitude about this issue is totally irrational except for one thing, which I do understand. They don’t want to be compared to Hitler. But of course, nobody does."

Just about every single statement contained in the above paragraph is inaccurate. Contrary to Mr. Wiesel’s assertions, Armenians do not need anyone’s permission to remember or mourn their dead. Their right to remember has never been in question. It is also untrue that "seven generations separate us" from the era of the genocide. There are still surviving eyewitnesses of the Armenian Genocide. This writer is the grandson (third generation) of genocide survivors.

Regarding Turkish responsibility, while Armenians do not blame today’s Turks for the killings, they do hold the Turkish state responsible for falsifying and denying the facts of the Armenian Genocide. Furthermore, Mr. Wiesel is wrong in asserting that "Armenians don’t want reparations, they don’t even want an apology. They want the right to remember." The fact is that Armenians do not really care whether Turks apologize for the killings or not. Armenians do insist, however, on obtaining adequate restitution for the enormous damages they suffered. Why is it that the victims of the Holocaust are entitled to reparations and Armenians are not? In contrast to the Jews, Armenians were uprooted from their ancestral homeland losing their property, cultural heritage as well as their lives. One has to agree, however, with Mr. Wiesel’s assertion that "the Turks would gain a lot if they simply acknowledged the reality of what happened." Yet, contrary to Mr. Wiesel’s expectations, and probably that of the Turkish government, there can be no reconciliation between Armenians and Turks without justice, which requires the return of the occupied lands and looted properties, and restitution for the 1.5 million murders.

Since the Philadelphia Jewish Voice describes Mr. Wiesel as an "outspoken advocate for justice," it is hoped that he would live up to that reputation in both the Jewish and Armenian cases. While Mr. Wiesel may not choose to be an advocate for Armenian demands, he should not misrepresent Armenians’ quest for justice!

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