New School University’s Academic Integrity Clouded as it bestows Honorary Degree upon Court Adjudged Armenian Genocide Denier

May 22, 2002

WATERTOWN, MA — The Armenian National Committee of America Eastern Region (ANCA ER) protested the decision by New School University President Bob Kerrey to bestow an honorary degree upon long-time Genocide-denier Professor Bernard Lewis. The Doctorate of Humane Letters degree was presented to Lewis at the school’s annual Commencement on May 22, 2002.

In a letter signed by ANCA ER Director Arin Gregorian and addressed to former United States Senator Bob Kerrey, the ANCA ER called into question the appropriateness of honoring Lewis, explaining that the school’s “decision to honor Professor Bernard Lewis — a known genocide denier — is part and parcel of a conspiracy of silence or, worse yet, denial that, for decades, has victimized a nation that fell victim to the first Genocide of the 20th Century.”

The letter also reminded President Kerrey that “Professor Lewis’ denial of history contradicts even his own research, as noted in the 1961 publication of The Emergence of Modern Turkey, in which he describes the ‘terrible holocaust of 1915 when a million and a half Armenians perished.’”

“The honor bestowed on Bernard Lewis casts a serious doubt around the academic integrity of New School University,” stated Sharistan Ardhaldjian, Chairperson of the ANCA ER. “We regret to have had to write this letter on what should have been a memorable day for the 2002 graduates of New School University, Commencement Day. Unfortunately, by honoring a court adjudged genocide denier, the University has become part of the Republic of Turkey’s policy of distortion of world history,” continued Ardhaldjian.

On June 21, 1995, Prof Lewis was condemned by a French court for statements he made denying the Armenian Genocide. The ruling affirmed that, “The historian is bound by his responsibility toward the persons concerned when, by distortion or falsification, he credits the veracity of manifestly erroneous allegations or, through serious negligence, omits events or opinions subscribed to by persons qualified and enlightened enough so that the concern for accuracy prevents him from keeping silent about them.”

“The decision by New School University to honor the work of a known genocide-denier is not merely inappropriate, it is a betrayal of the public trust in the integrity of academic institutions of higher learning,” stated Ardhaldjian. “The academic community would be equally outraged if a holocaust-denier was bestowed such an honorary degree by an institution which claims to have a ‘rich, tradition of educational excellence… and a commitment to social justice,’” continued Ardhaldjian.

The Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) is the largest and most influential Armenian American grassroots political organization. Working in coordination with a network of offices, chapters, and supporters throughout the United States and affiliated organizations around the world, the ANCA actively advances the concerns of the Armenian American community on a broad range of issues.


For Immediate Release
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Armenian National Committee of America
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