WASHINGTON, DC – The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), under pressure from a national campaign of protests initiated by the Armenian National Committee of Eastern Massachusetts, backed nationally by the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA), and supported by leading voices in the Jewish American community, today reversed its longstanding policy of complicity in Turkey’s denial of the Armenian Genocide.
In a statement issued today, ADL National Director Abraham Foxman formally recognized the Armenian Genocide but – in what appeared to be a gesture intended to appease the Turkish government – voiced the organization’s continued opposition to legislation before Congress (H.Res.106 / S.Res.106) marking this crime against humanity.
“The ANCA welcomes the Anti-Defamation’s League’s decision to finally end its longstanding complicity in Turkey’s international denial campaign by properly recognizing the Armenian Genocide. We remain deeply troubled, however, that elements of its national leadership seek to prevent the United States from taking this very same principled step by adopting the Armenian Genocide Resolution currently before Congress,” said ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian. “Much work remains, both in bringing the ADL fully to the right side of this issue and on the broader challenge of achieving proper U.S. recognition of the Armenian Genocide. But we are, today, gratified by this step forward, and want to offer our thanks to all the many Armenians and Jews who cooperated together on this issue on the basis of our shared values of tolerance, truth and justice. We further urge the ADL leadership to review its unfair and unjustified decision to fire New England Regional Director Andrew Tarsy, who had the courage to speak truthfully on this key human rights issue.”
The ADL’s actions come in the wake of a growing controversy stemming from the decision last week by the Watertown, Massachusetts Town Council to end its association with the ADL’s “No Place for Hate” program due to the ADL’s denial of the Armenian Genocide. This decision led to sharp divisions within the ADL, with Foxman firing New England Regional Director Andrew Tarsy for his public recognition of the Genocide, a move that precipitated the resignations of two regional board members.
The ADL National’s heavy-handed response was greeted by a groundswell of support by the Jewish American community for Tarsy and for ADL National recognition of the Armenian Genocide and its reaffirmation by Congress. The Boston Globe reported today that “Nancy K. Kaufman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, e-mailed a letter yesterday to some 40 prominent Jewish leaders in Massachusetts, asking them to support the ousted director [Tarsy] and to recognize the genocide against Armenians. . . Within hours of sending the letter, Kaufman said that 11 groups had signed and that more were expected to do so shortly.”
Members of Congress also added their concerns about the ADL’s Genocide denial and its effects on its credibility as a civil rights organization. In a statement issued yesterday, Congressional Armenian Genocide Resolution lead sponsor Adam Schiff (D-CA) condemned Tarsy’s firing, stating that “this decision does not reflect well on the organization and compound’s the error of failing to speak candidly about the past with firing someone who did.” Rep. Schiff compared the move to the State Department’s decision to fire former U.S. Ambassador to Armenia John Evans for properly characterizing the Armenian Genocide.”
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) stated that “The Armenian Genocide is not an historic dispute or a rhetorical argument over semantics. The failure of the international community to deter and, if necessary, stop genocide by use of force, has only served to embolden those who seek to do evil. . . As a friend of the ADL, I encourage the national organization to reconsider its position and recognize the Armenian Genocide, and I also commend the New England region for its principled decision on this important issue.”
For a full listing of the press coverage this issue has received, visit: www.noplacefordenial.com
The Armenian Genocide resolution (H.Res.106), introduced on January 30th by Rep. Adam Schiff and spearheaded by Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA), Congressional Armenian Caucus Co-Chairs Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Joe Knollenberg (R-MI), Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) and Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI), calls upon the President 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. The measure currently has over 220 cosponsors, more than 50% of the membership of the U.S. House. A similar resolution in the Senate (S.Res.106), introduced by Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) currently has 31 cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (D-NY).
The complete text of the Abraham Foxman’s statement is provided below.
ADL Statement on the Armenian Genocide
New York, NY, August 21, 2007 … Abraham H. Foxman, National Director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today issued the following statement:
In light of the heated controversy that has surrounded the Turkish-Armenian issue in recent weeks, and because of our concern for the unity of the Jewish community at a time of increased threats against the Jewish people, ADL has decided to revisit the tragedy that befell the Armenians.
We have never negated but have always described the painful events of 1915-1918 perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire against the Armenians as massacres and atrocities. On reflection, we have come to share the view of Henry Morgenthau, Sr. that the consequences of those actions were indeed tantamount to genocide. If the word genocide had existed then, they would have called it genocide.
I have consulted with my friend and mentor Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel and other respected historians who acknowledge this consensus. I hope that Turkey will understand that it is Turkey’s friends who urge that nation to confront its past and work to reconcile with Armenians over this dark chapter in history.
Having said that, we continue to firmly believe that a Congressional resolution on such matters is a counterproductive diversion and will not foster reconciliation between Turks and Armenians and may put at risk the Turkish Jewish community and the important multilateral relationship between Turkey, Israel and the United States.